Wednesday, 28 February 2007
I just discovered a terrific blog. It’s associated with Commentary magazine. I will add it to the blogroll.
Dick Morris thinks our political system is undergoing a sea change. Whether it’s a change for the better remains to be seen. One thing I find interesting is how frontrunners in the two major parties try to portray their nominations as inevitable. Getting people to think you can’t lose goes a long way toward ensuring that you don’t lose. I think this is why Hillary Clinton’s campaign lashed out so harshly at Barack Obama. Comments made by Obama supporter David Geffen made Hillary appear vincible, which thwarted her strategy of appearing invincible. I expect bloody contests in both parties, with Hillary and Bill emerging as the Democrat nominee and either John McCain or Rudy Giuliani emerging as the Republican nominee. (I’m still with you, Mitt, but things aren’t looking good.) The combat will be encouraged, and to some extent facilitated, by talk radio, cable television, and the blogosphere.
If there is no God and no after-life, it is important that we should believe this because it will prevent us wasting our time in prayer and worship and vain pursuit of everlasting life; it will also prevent us disseminating false information on important matters. Nevertheless, it is, I think, difficult to avoid the view that it is more important to believe that there is a God, if in fact there is a God, than to believe that there is no God, if in fact there is no God. Thus failure to hold a true belief that there is a God could lead to us failing to worship a God to whom worship is due; whereas, if through a false belief that there is a God, we worship a God who does not exist, no-one is thereby wronged. Further, failure to hold a true belief that there is a God could lead to the loss of everlasting life, for if this belief is conjoined with a true belief that, if there is a God, he will give everlasting life after death to those who live a certain kind of life on Earth, a man who has these beliefs is in a position to gain that life. And even if the other religious belief is that if there is a God he will give everlasting life after death to any who try to live a good life on Earth, those beliefs together could encourage a man to persevere with a worthwhile life on Earth and so gain that everlasting life . . . , whereas failure to hold a true atheistic belief could involve at most the waste of a short finite life. This seems to be one correct point in the argumentation of Pascal’s Wager, in which there are a number of incorrect points which I shall discuss later in the chapter.
(Richard Swinburne, Faith and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], 81 [ellipsis added])
George Hincapie is snakebitten. A year ago, his handlebars broke during Paris-Roubaix, causing him to crash. A couple of years earlier, he slid into a ditch while being paced by Tom Boonen. This year, during the penultimate stage of the Tour of California, he broke his wrist in a crash. Here is the latest (from Cyclingnews):
After crashing at the Tour of California and breaking his left wrist, George Hincapie has undergone successful surgery. Surgeons inserted a plate into his wrist. “The surgery went well, straightforward and no complications,” Discovery Channel Team Manager Johan Bruyneel told AFP. “Now we just have to wait and see how he recovers.”
Still, Hincapie will probably miss out on his all-time target, Paris-Roubaix, as it is not clear when he would be back to racing. “We’ll wait one week and see how it goes. He will be able to ride his bike pretty soon, but it’s not very realistic to think about Paris-Roubaix,” Bruyneel added. “It’s not just a Classic. It’s the cobblestones. That’s the issue.”
Poor Georgie. He lives for Paris-Roubaix. Knowing him, he will do whatever it takes to participate in this year’s event.
Somebody explain something to me. I’m out running just now. I approach an intersection at which I have the right of way. There are stop signs at the street that’s perpendicular to my path. A white muscle car with tinted windows approaches from the left and comes to a stop. I keep running at the same pace. Just as I enter the intersection, the car shoots through, missing me by five feet. Instead of waiting for three seconds to let me get through the intersection safely, the driver strikes the fear of death into me. Three seconds. And you wonder why people care so little about animals. Many of them don’t give a damn about human beings. Why is this?
During the Middle Ages, one could be burned at the stake not just for defending atheism, but for producing weak proofs of the existence of God. Before all is said and done, Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) will be burned at the stake by his fellow atheists (figuratively speaking) for producing weak proofs of the nonexistence of God. Kevin Stroup drew my attention to a new book (by Oxford professor Alister E. McGrath) entitled The Dawkins Delusion? Thanks, Kevin! I shall order it forthwith.
Addendum: Here is information about McGrath (from his website). Dawkins has been trading on his association with Oxford University for many years. McGrath has a D.Phil. degree in natural science and a Doctorate of Divinity degree—both from Oxford. Both men teach at Oxford. I’m not suggesting that we should evaluate the arguments of these men on the basis of their credentials. We should not. I’m suggesting that it would be inconsistent to consider Dawkins, but not McGrath, an expert, for their credentials are the same. If anything, McGrath has an edge on Dawkins, since he has studied both science and theology. McGrath has also been an atheist. Has Dawkins been a theist?
I’m a philosopher, not a scientist, which means (among other things) that I don’t have to get the informed consent of the concepts, methods, and arguments I study. See here. By the way, it’s absurd that Institutional Review Boards are described as “ethics” panels. They’re regulatory bodies, created and governed by law. They’re coercive, not persuasive. Ethics, as Plato wrote in The Republic long ago, is about how we ought to live; it is not about using law to control behavior.
To the Editor:
David Brooks hits on the remarkable fact that self-styled radicals cannot stand to engage in any conservative behavior.
Parenting is an inherently conservative job. It requires one to be a strong authority figure, at times establishing rigid guidelines for the child.
I can only tremble at the type of guidelines these hipster parents are setting, or most likely, not setting, for their children. Once these parents’ children grow up, will they have any sense of limits?
Brooklyn, Feb. 26, 2007
Please, God, let Al Gore run for president. I want to see Al and Hillary claw each other to death. And won’t it be grand to see Bill Clinton turn on the man who served as his vice president for eight years?
The Texas Aggies and Texas Longhorns football coaches were at a convention. As they sat sipping drinks in the lounge, the Longhorns coach remarked that his quarterback’s intelligence left something to be desired. “I’ll bet mine is dumber,” the Aggies coach said. So they placed a bet. The quarterbacks were in attendance, so the Longhorns coach called his quarterback over. “Son, here’s a dollar; go buy me a Cadillac.” The quarterback took the bill and scampered off. “See?” said the Longhorns coach. “That’s nothing; watch this,” replied the Aggies coach. Calling his quarterback over, he said, “Son, go up to my room and see whether I’m there.” “Sure thing, coach,” said the young man as he trotted off. Moments later, the quarterbacks run into each other. “Man, you won’t believe how stupid my coach is,” said the Longhorns quarterback. “He gave me a dollar and told me to buy him a Cadillac.” “That’s nothing,” said the Aggies quarterback; “my coach just told me to go to his room to see whether he’s there—and there was a telephone right beside him!”