Saturday, June 29, 2019

What would you become if...

i) This is Rauser's M.O. Constantly posing skeptical hypotheticals. While there's some value in that exercise, it's nihilistic to make that your stock-in-trade. 

And it gets to be silly, since you can pose skeptical hypotheticals about anything. "Suppose you came to believe that your wife was actually an extraterrestrial clone of your wife? What would you do then?" What's the point?

ii) In addition, the question is ambiguous. As stated, it's a psychological question rather than a factual question. It's not "what would you become if Christian was false (or demonstrably false)", but "if you came to believe that Christianity is false…" 

iii) Suppose I play along with the question for argument's sake. In that event, I wouldn't become anything. I'd have nowhere else to go. I wouldn't know what to believe. There's nothing else for me to turn to. Nothing else to believe in. 

iv) But here's another response: "What's more likely–that Christianity is wrong or that I'm wrong about Christianity?" 

The Vedek conclave

Michael Voris
DS9 Tribune

Reporting from the Vedek conclave on Bajor. Until he withdrew his name from consideration, in a shocking last-minute move, it was a contest between Vedek Bareil and Vedek Winn to be the next kai. The Vedek conclave has been sharply divided. On the one hand the Sedekaist faction, led by Vedeks Taylor, Sungenis, and Matatics, regard former Kais Meressa and Opaka as anti-kais. And they view Vedek Bareil, Opaka's protégé, as another anti-kai in the making. Meressa, Opaka, and Bareil reflect the modernist wing of the Vedek order, viewing the Celestial temple as nothing but a glorified wormhole and the "Prophets" as extraterrestrials rather than gods. Vedek Bareil's candidacy was championed by Vedeks Martin and Barron.

By contrast, Vedek Winn is the RadTrad candidate. They revere the Celestial Temple as the One True Temple. They venerate the Prophets as deities who reveal their will through the mystical orb. They've championed Vedek Winn's candidacy. As Vedek Taylor explained to me in an exclusive interview, the Bajorian faith has been infiltrated by alien influences like the Cardassians and a human Emissary. But as an outspoken xenophobe, Vedek Winn is eager to purge the Vedek order of foreign contaminants. And now that she's running unopposed, they seem to have the upper hand.

For his part, Bajoran liaison Kira Douthat is conflicted, not feeling at home with either side. On the one hand he's not a Bajoran fundamentalist. On the other hand, he's sympathetic to the Sedekaist prognosis that the modernist wing of the Vedek order will steadily demythologize the Bajoran faith to the point where it's indistinguishable from Gene Roddenberry's secular humanism. But straddling fence is a pain in the crotch, so maintaining that posture becomes increasingly untenable.

AOC's 3-hanky performance

Grab your hankies while you watch AOC's heart-wrenching reaction as she sobs uncontrollably at the sight of a parking lot:

Friday, June 28, 2019


I should say at the outset that I'm terrible at predicting elections. I just don't think like the average voter. In fairness, even folks who do this for a living have been caught off-guard when Obama beat Romney and Trump beat Hillary.

I've read a number of pundits who think Biden can beat Trump if Biden's the nominee. Maybe. But I have reservations.

Biden's strength is his avuncular, down-to-earth, reassuring facade. It's totally phony, but lots of folks can't see through that. And he might bring some blue collar Democrats back to the fold.

However, I suspect Biden suffers from the same problem as Hillary, only for a different reason. By that I mean the enthusiasm gap. I think the base has an appetite for someone like Kamala Harris, not an old white guy. Yeah, they rallied behind Bernie in the last campaign, but Bernie didn't have the competition he now has.

At the time of the primaries and general election, I was living in the bluest county of a very blue state. During the primaries, there was a handful of bumper stickers for Hillary, but far and away most bumper stickers were for Bernie. After Hillary cinched the nomination, I saw hardly any bumper stickers for Hillary. The energy and excitement was gone, like puncturing a balloon. 

Biden is not an inspirational candidate. From what I can tell, he's not the kind of candidate that gets voters to turn out in droves. By contrast, Trump will have many enthusiastic supporters. Admittedly, that cuts both ways since he's a lightning rod. But unless Democrats have a candidate they can put their heart into, their rage at Trump will be harder to mobilize at the polls. 

What Is Race? Four Philosophical Views

What Is Race?

Four Philosophical Views

Joshua Glasgow, Sally Haslanger, Chike Jeffers, and Quayshawn Spencer

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Tracing the Socio-Political Reality of Race, Sally Haslanger
Chapter 2: Cultural Constructionism, Chike Jeffers
Chapter 3: How to be a Biological Racial Realist, Quayshawn Spencer
Chapter 4: Is Race an Illusion or a (Very) Basic Reality? Joshua Glasgow
Chapter 5: Haslanger's Reply to Glasgow, Jeffers, and Spencer
Chapter 6: Jeffers' Reply to Glasgow, Haslanger, and Spencer
Chapter 7: Spencer's Reply to Glasgow, Haslanger and Jeffers
Chapter 8: Glasgow's Reply to Haslanger, Jeffers, and Spencer

What is race?

Just for context: The wider context for this post is what James White recently said about black people. However, I don't discuss White or his remarks in this post. Steve Hays and Peter Pike have already done so: Black abortion, Identity politics for me but not for thee, Victim mentality, Feedback loop, and As Huxley is to Darwin. Instead I thought I'd try to tackle a more basic question - what is race?

1. To my knowledge, the two major positions regarding race are (a) race is fundamentally a social construct or (b) race is fundamentally a biological (genetic) concept. I presume each of these could be further delineated.

A third position is race doesn't exist, but I'll leave that aside since it seems most believe race exists.

2. However:

a. If race is fundamentally a social construct, then (prima facie) that doesn't seem to explain group-distinctive physical features which are hereditary, from generation to generation.

b. If race is fundamentally a biological concept, then (prima facie) that doesn't seem to explain how there's typically more genetic variation within races than there is between races.

3. There are few higher authorities on human genetics than Francis Collins. I think Collins makes a sensible case for what race is from the perspective of a medical geneticist, though I'm not suggesting it's the final word or anything like that:

Increasing scientific evidence, however, indicates that genetic variation can be used to make a reasonably accurate prediction of geographic origins of an individual, at least if that individual's grandparents all came from the same part of the world. As those ancestral origins in many cases have a correlation, albeit often imprecise, with self-identified race or ethnicity, it is not strictly true that race or ethnicity has no biological connection. It must be emphasized, however, that the connection is generally quite blurry because of multiple other nongenetic connotations of race, the lack of defined boundaries between populations, and the fact that many individuals have ancestors from multiple regions of the world...On the genetic side of the diagram, race is an imperfect surrogate for ancestral geographic origin, which in turn is a surrogate for genetic variation across an individual's genome.

4. Suppose (arguendo) race is fundamentally a biological (genetic) concept. Nevertheless that still doesn't get us to the inference that races necessarily share similar mental, psychological, behavioral, and/or moral traits due to their genetics (e.g. IQ, work ethic). A further connecting argument would be needed.

Moreover, such similarities could be due to cultural and/or other factors.

His lightning lights up the world

The Bible contains many descriptions lightning. For instance:

12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
    bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
(2 Sam 22:12-14)

He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
    and sends it to the ends of the earth.
(Job 37:3)

17 The clouds poured down water,
    the heavens resounded with thunder;
    your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    your lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
    your way through the mighty waters,
    though your footprints were not seen.
(Ps 77:17-19)

4 His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all peoples see his glory.
(Ps 97:4-6)

These and other descriptions reflect ancient awe at the spectacle of lightning. Electrical storms at night are especially impressive because they present an extreme contrast between light and darkness. Instantaneous alternat between opposites. One moment an observer can't see anything all. The night is pitch black. A moment later, the sky, down to the horizon, is blindingly bright. For a split second, the landscape is revealed in minute detail in searing light. Flooded with light, but drained of color.

The Christian pilgrimage is like walking home in the dark during an electrical storm. The trail is invisible in the impenetrable darkness. And there's a dangerous ravine alongside the trail. One misstep and you plunge into the ravine. But intermittent flashes of lightning illuminate the trail. For a split second, you can see ahead in crisp detail. The lightning guides you forward. But you must move in the direction you remember, from instantaneous flashes of light. Due to vision persistence, your perception the landscape lingers slightly longer than the illumination, but it fades. Most of the time, you can't see the trail. You must go by what you recall, during the last flash of lightning. But the trail isn't straight. As you're about to tumble into the ravine, there's another flash of lightning that enables you to make a last-moment correction. 

The future is like a trail at night. We can't see where we're going. We're walking blind. But the journey is punctuated by flashes of lightning that show us the next stretch of the trail. Then the view goes dark. We don't walk by what we see but what we saw

Dropping the metaphor, we have what God told us in the past (Scripture). Occasionally, God may give us a sign (miracle, revelatory dream, audible voice, answered prayer, remarkable providence), but that's unpredictable, and even if it happens, it's a flash of lightning, affording us a momentary glimpse of the way ahead, but the rest is by faith. 

A map is not enough

Been a while since I discussed Scripturalism. According to standard Scripturalist epistemology, the Bible is the only source of knowledge. All other sources of information are consigned to opinion.

Scripturalism is like giving someone a map. The Bible is the roadmap. That's all you need–or is it? 

Problem is, a map in itself, however accurate and detailed, is useless unless you know where you are in relation to the map. To be able locate your destination, and the route to take, you must be able to locate yourself on the map. But that information is not on the map. The map doesn't show you. So you must be able to compare the map to recognizable street signs or landmarkks to get your bearings. To use the map, you need information outside the map. 

Ryan Hedrich may be able to make the necessary modifications to Scripturalism. We'll see how that goes. 

Traveling by car or train

The process [of canonization] was more "bottom up" via local churches, than "top down" from a big Church council. P. Helm, Just Words? Special Revelation and the Bible (Evangelical Press  2018), 40. 

This points to a basic difference Catholicism and evangelicalism. Both believe there's an interplay between providential and supernatural factors with respect to divine activity in the world, but there's disagreement on the extent. Catholics imagine that their denomination enjoys special divine guidance and protection from error. And that includes conciliar or papal pronouncements. That's a topdown view of divine agency. 

Evangelicals don't deny that God sometimes uses a topdown approach. The paradigm example is biblical revelation. 

To change metaphors, the topdown approach is like handing a driver a roadmap. It's up to the driver to read the map, comparing the map to what he sees through the windshield. 

The bottom-up approach is like putting somebody on a train. So long as they're on the right train, that will take them to the destination. All they have to do is board the right train, and the train takes care off the rest.

Metaphors are flexible, so it's possible to develop the same figurative illustration in different ways. However, the point of my comparison is that on the Catholic paradigm, God provides direct verbal guidance throughout the church age. The Magisterium is a living oracle. It gives Catholics up-to-date answers. So that's analogous to having to drive your to your destination, but using a street map or roadmap as an aid.

By contrast, in the Protestant paradigm, especially in Calvinism, divine guidance (over and above Scripture) is usually oblique and providential. God directs our steps by ordering the circumstances of our lives. We're not generally conscious of divine guidance, because it's not direct, topical communication. Rather, one thing leads to another. That's analogous to taking a train, where the medium convenes you to your destination.

As Huxley is to Darwin...

In his recent Dividing Line broadcast (, the Honorable Doc James White informs us (at the 11:08 mark) that he is "the most active English-speaking Christian apologist in the current day."  Which surprised me a little.  But you know, I can let him have Thursdays.  There's six more days to go around.

Although maybe he's talking about active on his bike.

White also informs us (earlier at the 10 minute mark) that he's been consistently careful and charitable.  I am actually quite grateful that he told us this, because otherwise no one would be able to tell.

I mean, just look at what White says at the 40 minute mark: "It is absolutely time to work through a basic outline on something called logic. Formal fallacies. Bad argumentation. What's modus ponens, what's modus tollens?  What's the law of the excluded middle?  What are these things? ...They are the laws of thought.  And, what happened last week?"

And yes, so far I'm with White.  But then, without a hint of irony, in the very next breath (literally--queue it up and listen), White proves how rational, logical, consistent, charitable, and reasonable he is: "Now, there have been various people who've attacked me.  People like Steve Hays.  Oh my gosh.  Steve, dude, um, that was one of the worst things that ever appeared on Triablogue.  I mean, you can't even pretend any longer to be even slightly unbiased.  At all.  I mean, you missed the forest for the trees so badly on that it was just shameful.  I'm sorry dude you've lost it."

This is his entire response to Hays.

It takes a special kind of mind to go off on a complete abusive ad hominem WHILE IN THE MIDDLE OF SAYING YOU WANT TO TEACH LOGIC all whilst never examining even a single argument Steve Hays wrote.

And it's easy to see why White did this.  The good doc is going after the people who responded to him from the side of critical theory and, as is wont the case when an ugly fact destroys a beautiful theory, Hays didn't attack White on that basis.  He agreed with White's view on critical theory.  Thus, Hays doesn't fit White's narrative.

Just to make it even more ironic, I happened to see some interaction that Hays had with some members on Facebook who were discussing this, and one of them literally said to Hays, "This might come as a shock, but White's Dividing Line show was not a response to your (far more reasonable) criticisms."

Far more reasonable.

Hmm.  So White spends a ton of time going after the people who were far less reasonable, and he completely ignores Hays's arguments, instead substituting verbal abuse for argumentation.  Yes, I'm sure that's the way to win hearts and minds.  Even better, while doing that he should demand that people be calm and reasonable toward him, and that DeWitt provide logical arguments and reasons for treating White the way DeWitt did.

Oh wait.  That is what he did?

Well then.

Is White consistently careful and consistently charitable?  Well, he's consistently something.  I'm thinking the word is "hypocritical."

Wait a second.  Hypo...CRITICAL!

Critical Theory adherent confirmed!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

All the world's a stage

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should've opted for a career in Hollywood rather than politics. In fact, I'd say she deserves an Oscar nomination for her acting! For example:

1. Look straight into the camera for heightened dramatic effect. Sad, angry eyes, heavy with grief. A challenge to the audience.

2. Weep woeful tears, tears of shame and guilt for great wrongs done, vicariously experiencing the same tragedy the illegal immigrants are experiencing. (Alas! If only these "refugees" could somehow have turned around, then they wouldn't have ended up becoming "prisoners" in "concentration camps" at the border.)

3. A final forlorn glance, eyes staring off in the distance, in deep contemplation over the horrors she has witnessed, the unbearable weight of the world upon her shoulders.

4. And let's not forget the cameraman and other crew who captured AOC in all this - finding the right angles, the best lighting, positioning AOC in the proper poses and postures. Surely they're in the running for a Pulitzer prize for photography!

Hail, gladdening light

Once again I'm going to revisit one of my favorite topics: the biblical symbolism of light. There's always something new to say. 

i) Let's begin with some preliminary distinctions. Take the distinction between interior and exterior illumination. Natural examples of interior illumination include lamps, candlelight, and a fireplace. Natural examples of exterior illumination include lightning, sunlight, full moonlight, and campfire. 

ii) Interior illumination may create a contrast between light on the inside and darkness outside. Conversely, exterior illumination may create a contrast between darkness on the inside and light on the outside.

iii) A building may be illuminated from the inside (e.g. candlelight) or the outside (e.g. sunlight shining though windows, skylights, oculus). 

iv) Inside and outside are comparative relations. For instance, heaven is external to the world while the world is external to heaven. 

v) In addition to interior/exterior illumination is portable illumination (e.g. a torch). Portable illumination can shift from interior  to exterior illumination or vice versa. For instance, you can light a torch from a campfire, then take that inside to illuminate the dark interior. Or you can light a torch from a fireplace, then take that outside to shine in the darkness.  

No country for good men

The following post on Rod Dreher's website is from a homosexual man named Matt in VA who makes makes a number of insightful observations about homosexual culture: "The Wild West Of Male Sexual Desire".

Matt in VA's post is well worth reading in its own right. However, in my post here, I simply use it as a jumping off point to discuss different matters. Also, my thoughts don't have an entirely cohesive theme, just a loosely connected one at best.

Book Review: Infiltration by Taylor Marshall

Why be Catholic?

I recently asked a Catholic philosopher why he's Catholic rather than Protestant. I asked him because he's the smartest Catholic philosopher of his generation, so I was curious to get an answer from the best of the best, instead of the garden-variety Catholic apologist. Here's his reply:

In short: Scripture tells us that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 16:13; 1 Tim 3:15). And only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have a plausible case for having the same teaching as the early Church. Sexual ethics is perhaps the clearest case: Protestants have largely abandoned the teaching on contraception and remarriage after divorce.

He's distilled the Catholic apologetic down to what he considers to be the strongest arguments. It boils down to two arguments, using sexual ethics to illustrate one of the two arguments. So let's to back through his reasons:

Brake failure

It's revealing to see how progressives and/or Democrats are led by the nose. They rubber-stamp the progressive cause du jour. When critics point out the consequences of that position, they dismiss the critics as alarmists. When the warnings of the critics come true, the progressives/Democrats don't balk. They don't reconsider their original position. They just do a reset for the latest stage of the progressive cause. They have no brakes. They just go along with whatever the culture elite mandates. They passionately defend whatever the progressive cause du jour happens to be. They are incensed if you predict the consequences. They vehemently deny the consequences. Then when that happens, they instantly adjust to the outcome they angrily denied would eventuate. Two examples:

1. Remember when "marriage equality" was sold on the grounds that it would have no impact on heterosexuals? "If you don't like gay marriage, don't get one!"

But the homosexual lobby didn't stop with "marriage equality" That was just a wedge tac tic. They want gov't to fine Christian business to shut them down.

And when that happens, how do the voters who used to spout the "marriage equality" propaganda react? Do they reverse position now that they were proven wrong? No. They practice amnesia. They act like that development is consistent with their original position. It doesn't even register that they are contradicting their original position. They erase the old line and draw a new line. 

2. When critics of "marriage equality" asked proponents where they draw the line, using pedophilia and pederasty as comparisons, proponents became incensed at the comparison. They said consent was a key difference.

But now the cultural elites are promoting boy drag queens. And the constituency for boy drag queens consists of adult sodomites. That's the leading edge of pedophilia and pederasty. Sexualize young boys to make them erotic objects for gay men. That's the spearpoint of pedophilia and pederasty. 

Are the voters who supported "marriage equality" protesting this development? Not that I'm aware of. Once again, they practice amnesia. Like sleepwalkers who erase the old line and drew a new line. They aren't even conscious of how quickly they shift positions. What they deny and denounce yesterday, they defend and celebrate today. They have absolutely no moral or intellectual independence or guiding principles. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bible translation philosophies


I'm going to expand on a point made by philosopher Christopher Kaczor in a recent interview. A problem with agnosticism is that either we live as if God exists or we live as if God doesn't exist. So the agnostic is living out the answer to that question just as much as the Christian. 

Even if, intellectually, the agnostic suspends judgment, he can't suspend judgment in practice. He must live as if one answer is true while the other is false. Although he can be agnostic in his head, he can't be agnostic with his feet. 

To be consistent with how he must live, an agnostic should try harder to resolve the indecision. His actions ought to match his beliefs, and vice versa.  

Dr. House

I'm going to expand on something Christopher Kaczor said in a recent interview. He was responding to a distinction between intellectual obstacles to Christianity and emotional obstacles to Christianity. 

In the TV series House, Dr. House in a willfully obnoxious, insufferable person. He's disrespectful to everyone: friends, colleagues, administrators, interns, and patients. In the series, he can get away with it because he's a medical genius. He's the best physician in an elite hospital. Normally, patients would quit after the first rude encounter. But because the patients are desperate, and he's the only physician who can cure them, they put up with him. 

Now, I don't think the series is very realistic. I doubt any physician, however gifted and "indispensable", would keep his job if he insulted everyone. But part of the appeal of the show is that he says what some people wish they could say but don't dare.

The point, though, is how this example illustrates a difference in the way people judge religion. Even if a patient has an unpleasant experience with a doctor, they don't boycott medical care. They may boycott that particular physician, but they simply find a different doctor. That's because they depend on medical care to survive and thrive. It's too important to let their emotions get in the way. And even if they couldn't stand a particular doctor, if he was the only physician who could cure them or cure their child, they'd suck it up and endure him because a cure is more important to them than their feelings about the source of the cure.

But that illustrates how irrational people are to walk away from the Christian faith, or never consider it in the first place, due to emotional obstacles. They have a different standard for religion than medical care. Yet your physical wellbeing is infinitely less importune than your eternal wellbeing. 

Feedback loop

I guess this means White will scratch me off his Christmas card list. On a serious note:

1. White's comment is a diversionary tactic. I didn't take issue with his documentation. White is doing his customary bait-n-switch. 

2. However, since he brings it up, let's say something about the documentation. It's good documentation about a dysfunctional segment of the black community. That's fine as far as it goes.

But there's the danger of sample selection bias by comparing the worst examples of the black community with the white community. If you constantly rehearse a one-sided narrative, lots of folks begin to think the ghetto culture is the black community. Endless repetition creates a feedback loop. It fosters a culture of fear by cementing in popular imagination the default association of young black men with pimps, thugs, dope-dealers, and gang-bangers. No longer are they judged as individuals, but prejudged as statistics. Every young black man is viewed with suspicion. That's a good way to get innocent black men killed or falsely convicted. 

A one-sided narrative is an overgeneralization. It needs to be counterbalanced by documenting the positive side of the black community. 

Yes, segments of the black community are in crisis. The same could be said for segments of the white, Latino, and Asian-American communities. 

But James White won't be dissuaded because he's the hero in his own movie. So he stays on script. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Progress in the culture wars

Victim mentality

1. This is my wrapup on the latest White imbroglio. A black Christian friend asked me what my opinion was of his tweet, which is why I originally commented. I did two posts:

2. Today I watched the DL:

In my deliberately limited experience of the DL, it was typical White: a self-adulation fest. Half-baked. Disorganized. Larded with layers of condescension and sneering. Defending the most defensible aspects of his position while ducking the indefensible aspects of his position. Responding to the weakest objections while ignoring the strongest objections. 

It's painful to watch these performances. Some incidental observations before getting to the main point:

3. He played a video by Taleeb Starkes, who begins by noting the victim mental: everything is someone else's fault.

The irony is lost on White. That's White's M.O. He's the voice of reason. He's the adult in the room. All his critics are immature. In my experience, White never takes takes personal responsibility for what he says or does. He always shifts the blame to someone else. And that's a mark of immaturity. 

4.He indicated that the first heard he heard "soft bigotry of lowered expectations" was a few months ago from Voddie Baucham. That's odd since George W. Bush used to say it.

5. In a truly strange turn of events, he compared light-skinned blacks and dark-skinned blacks. He say Samuel Sey is "fully black"–unlike Jason L. Rily, who is "black, too, but not as black as Samuel". Why on earth is a white Baptist elder commenting on something like that? How is that appropriate? Why does he care? 

He also noted how good Samuel Sey looks in a Coogi sweater. You have to wonder what's going on in White's head. 

6. He said 33% of prison inmates are black. While that does point to a serious problem with black criminality (among younger black men), it's a somewhat misleading comparison because a lot of that is due to incarceration on drug offenses. And it's disputable whether so many men should be behind bars for drug possession. 

7. He spent a lot of time inveighing against social justice, intersectionality, and critical race theory. That's fine since I don't support that. That's not the basis of my criticism.

8. He said there's a direct connection between the abortion rate and marital status. A disparity between unmarried women who become pregnant and married women who become pregnant.

But he didn't make that correlation in his tweet. His correlation was based on race rather than marital status. I was the one who suggested we should use marital status rather than race as the basis of comparison. He doesn't get retroactive credit for belatedly appealing to a different variable. 

9. He tardily admitted that one of the factors spiking the abortion rate in the black community is Planned Parenthood, with its white eugenicist past. But once again, that's an issue which I raised in my response to him, not something he originally volunteered. 

Having said that, he denies that it's the "'central cause" of the high abortion rate among black mothers. But that's the framing fallacy. Why assume the abortion rate is reducible to a "central cause"? 

10. He whined about how Twitter only allows you to express yourself in 280 characters. I suspect some people deliberately use Twitter for plausible deniability. If they say something indefensible on Twitter, their loophole is to complain that Twitter is a poor medium for complex analysis. You can't expect a tweet to have detailed qualifications.

But no one is forcing White to use Twitter to discuss the abortion rate in the black community. He could easily write a longer, more qualified statement on Facebook or the Alpha  & Omega blog. So that's a lame excuse. 

11. Now let's get to the nub of the issue. He acted like his tweet was unassailable because the statistic is demonstrably accurate or approximately accurate. He citied articles to back up his claim. 

i) But that's an evasion of the real issue. Speaking for myself, it's not the statistic itself that's controversial, but the statistic in combination with White's explanation for the statistic. What he posits to be the "central cause". He attributes that to "fatherlessness, sexual license, and rebellious sexual ethics". Moreover, fatherlessness isn't really a separate category or variable but reducible to "sexual license and rebellious sexual ethics" since he goes on to say, in the DL, that "Planned Parenthood doesn't force black man and women to fornicate". So according to him, fatherlessness reflects sexually active irresponsible men. 

ii) The logical implication of his statistic in conjunction with his "central cause" is that black men and women are sexually libertine/rebellious at upwards of 3.5x the rate of white men and women. 

iii) In addition, that plays into the old, damaging, defamatory stereotype of black men as oversexed animals. As a recall, that was a justification of antebellum slavery and postbellum Jim Crow laws. Black men had to be kept under heel. 

Furthermore, I believe that stereotype fueled lynchings. If you think black men have a raging, out-of-control libido, then that makes black men presumptive racists. That was the thinking of the lynch mobs, was it not? And that dangerous prejudice continues right up through Dylann Roof  ("Y’all are raping our white women!"). 

It's striking that James White has such a tin-ear for what his explanation entails. And he's impervious to correction by layers of smug impenetrable superiority. 

Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal”

Needle in a haystack

There's a popular Catholic trope that goes something like this: Protestantism poses a dilemma for Protestants: why do you hope to find and join the right church when there are 30,000 candidates to sift through? 

There are several problems with this trope:

i) "The 30,000 denominations" is an artificial, misleading figure, as even Catholic apologists like Trent Horn admit. However, let's grant the 30,000 figure for argument's sake.

Animals In The Enfield Case

A dog doesn't have a human's capacity to be biased or carry out a hoax. For that and other reasons, the involvement of animals in paranormal cases deserves more attention than the subject typically gets. That's true of the Enfield Poltergeist. I want to address several incidents in that case that involved animals. Some of those incidents are ones I've never seen discussed publicly.

It could be argued that the animals were manipulated by humans. But that would come at the cost of further complicating a fraud hypothesis. In addition to arguing that the Hodgson children were unusually skilled at magic, ventriloquism, acting, etc., you'd have to maintain that they also had such skill at manipulating animals, that some highly unusual coincidences occurred, or that there was some other such factor or combination of factors involved.

When I cite the Enfield tapes below, I'll be using "MG" to designate a tape from Maurice Grosse's collection and "GP" to designate one from Guy Playfair's. So, MG32B is tape 32B in Grosse's collection, and GP85A is tape 85A in Playfair's.

In his book on Enfield, Playfair writes about the behavior of a dog in the neighborhood at the time of Janet Hodgson's December 15, 1977 levitation and teleportation:

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Catholic myths"

I'm going to comment on a new interview with Bishop Barron:

I can imagine Barron is very persuasive if you're already sympathetic to Catholicism and desperate for pat answers to objections. Likewise, he's persuasive if you lack a proper frame of reference to assess his explanations. 

The light of nature

James Anderson continues his chapter by chapter review of J. V. Fesko's Reforming Apologetics in "Reforming Apologetics (The Light of Nature)".

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Lost Destination

Ned and Esther Buchanan were already in their 50s when they decided to begin new life in San Francisco. Leaving New Haven, Connecticut by covered wagon, they joined the caravan in Independence, Missouri. But disaster struck when Esther died of snakebite in Wyoming. That left Ned with a terrible dilemma. He couldn't go back. He had no life in New Haven without his beloved Esther. But he couldn't move forward. To make a new life in San Francisco without her was unthinkable. 

He buried her where she died, then used her grave as the site to build a cabin. Her grave lay in the backyard, with a wooden grave marker. Everyday he spoke to her. 

There was a creek nearby. He planted a vegetable garden, and tried to feed himself by hunting, fishing, and trapping. 

As caravans moved through, he traded in the pioneers. They were a source of news. Some of them were sick. He prayed over a boy dying of scarlet fever and a girl dying of typhoid. 

One mother was penniless. He hadn't money enough to spare. He had barely enough to tide himself over for the fearsome winter. He couldn't afford to share what little he had. But his heart went out to her, and having nothing more to live for, he gave her all he had.

Late fall, when the next caravan came through, after a snowstorm, they found the cabin empty. In the backyard they found the frozen body of Ned, seated on the ground, with his back propped up against the grave marker, clutching a Bible in his icy hands. He and Esther made the journey after all, just by a different route.  

Moral dilemmas for the voting booth and battlefield

A couple of problems with French's tweet:

i) Making moral evaluations about voting isn't about assessing a particular candidate in isolation, but a comparative judgment about competing candidates. You are choosing between one candidate and another. 

ii) French's scruples are ironic and lacking in self-reflection when you remember that French is an ex-Marine. He volunteered for service during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. And he was deployed to Iraq.

Now warfare is notorious for its moral dilemmas. "The problem  of dirty hands". Take airstrikes which will inevitably result in the killing or maiming of innocent children. Children who are blinded or horribly burned or lose arms and legs as a result of air strikes. 

If that's justifiable, how is voting for Trump worse than that? Both soldiers and voters are sometimes confronted with moral dilemmas. Presumably, French endorses the lesser-evil principle to justify his own, voluntary participation in the horrors of war. Why does he have different moral standards for voting and warfare? 

Identity politics for me but not for thee

I posted on this once before:

But now I'd like to make some additional, related observations:

i) James White is a critic of identity politics. And that's fine. Identity politics should be opposed. The problem is when he unconsciously uses identity politics to further his own argument. 

ii) Now a critic of identity politics could use identity politics in a tu quoque argument. Let's assume identity politics for the sake of argument, then draw some conclusions or parallels that should make proponents of identity politics balk. But that's not what White is doing where. 

iii) Likewise, judging individuals by group association isn't fallacious if particular beliefs or behavior are intrinsically related to that affiliation. For instance, it's proper to make assumptions about a Klansman, since that's what the KKK stands for. It's proper to judge a Democrat politician by the party he represents, since his party has official ideological positions.  

iv) It is, however, fallacious and unjust to associate individuals with group membership behavior when that's an adventitious association or incidental feature of their affiliation. Since there's no intrinsic relationship between abortion and race/ethnicity, making invidious comparisons between black mothers in general and white mothers in general vis-a-vis abortion unthinkingly buys into the tactics and assumptions of identity politics. 

v) Moreover, that's not an isolated example. James White seems to have a blind spot in that regard. Remember this incident?

Once again, that's a classic example of White's subconscious identity politics. He stereotypes the black teenager by reducing him to a statistic. He slots the teenager into a standard narrative. What could be more prejudicial? Typecasting the teenager based on a single fleeting encounter, backfilled by statistics. 

Perhaps White would say he's not making assumptions about the teenager just because he's black but because he flipped off the police. Well, I daresay lots of teenage boys of all different racial or ethnic backgrounds are antagonistic towards the police. Would White posit the same backstory for all of them? 

vi) It's especially ironic because it reveals a subliminal double standard. On the one hand, White bends over backwards to disassociate Muslims in general from support for jihad, honor killings, a rape culture, &c. On the other hand, he has the opposite reaction when it comes to black Americans.