Monday, November 28, 2005

Chess for Zebras?

Jonathan Rowson has written a book by this name. There’s an interesting video of him giving a lecture based on the themes from this book (though without a really satisfying account for the name of the book) here.

Thanks to Dennis Monokroussos of The Chess Mind.

ID Redux

There are some excerpts from a nice interview with Dr Santiago Collado (original interview by Mercator.Net) over at Insight Scoop the Ignatius Press blog. It’s worth a read.

It’s citation of an earlier interview with Dr. Benjamin Wiker, co-author of Architects of the Culture of Death, bears repeating:

I think there are two very serious misconceptions about Darwinism today. First, that Darwinism is a well-established theory, with no considerable intellectual difficulties. The second, one more directly related to Architects, concerns the essential moral implications of Darwinism. Generally, historians and scientists alike have tried to distance Darwin’s biology from the eugenics movement—an understandable move, given the ugliness of the eugenic programs of Nazi Germany. If we read Darwin, however, we find that he himself understood eugenics to be the obvious inference from his biological theory of evolution through natural selection. Natural weeds out the unfit; so should we, or at least keep the unfit from breeding. Further, he also understood quite clearly that his evolutionary account of morality, which destroyed the permanency of human nature, provided the most radical moral relativism possible. As for the scientific community, it generally accepts Darwinism without question, which means that it generally hasn’t studied the theoretical and evidential problems facing Darwinism. Happily, more and more scientists have found the courage to look at Darwinism with a clearer, more critical eye.

So my reservations about Darwinism (sometimes described currently as Neo-Darwinism and/or Syntheticism) are not completely off the wall, ok? All of which hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement of Intelligent Design, so-called.

I still believe that the role of Natural Theology is being ignored or misunderstood by some of the ID advocates.

Albertus is under the Weather

but have a read of his latest entry anyway. The feel of a book, it’s smell, turning the pages, beautiful pictures: it’s almost enough to get one away from the keyboard.

Sin Make You Stupid

So says Mark Shea and this seems to be evidence in favour of that.

But Hope Springs Eternal

(Who said that anyway?) Amy Welborn at Open Book points out a rather more balanced presentation of the Nativity Story than we might have expected a decade or two ago. Is something changing behind the scenes?

With Advent upon Us

I should mention that Santa Claus has never visited our family. Saint Nicholas, however, visits every December 6th. The wife has been asking the girls if they aren’t a little too old for Saint Nick presents, they answer, soundly enough, “You’re never too old for Saint Nick”.

So this effort in Germany has my complete support.

Thanks to Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It for the link.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho!

But before going to work I’ll let you know that I’ve finished Mapping Human History. The author’s intention is best summarized by his last sentence: “We are members of a single human family, the products of genetic necessity and chance, borne ceaselessly into an unknown future.“

I learned about Y-chromosome Adam (the common male ancestor of all living men) and learned more about mitochondrial Eve—the common mother of all the living. (There's no biological evidence these two knew each other.) Now I’m curious about the ”Seven daughters of Eve“ thesis that someone came up with.

Anyway, I’m now starting Sophie's World. Got to go.

Friday, November 25, 2005

While I'm Busy..

I still have time to read (on breaks and at bedtime). One of the books I borrowed from the library is quite engrossing: Mapping Human History. He’s a bit sloppy about terminology at times (what he calls History in the title is really Pre-History). Otherwise a real pager turner.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Aging Improves You, Right?

At least the seventy-one year old FIDE Master can say so, having dispatched a Grand Master. It gives one hope...

Thanks to Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind for the link.

And One More...

Have a look at Denyse O’Leary’s blog entry on the Catholic Church and Darwinism. I’m also reading some stuff about the Evolution, Darwinism, Intelligent Design issues. More later.

Gotta Run

This is the first of five twelve-hour shifts in a row--ouch!
I borrowed Sophia’s World from the Library (a recommendation of Albertus Minimus in the Comments on Philosophy for Everyman blog.

And the girls, the youngest in particular, got me a little excited about another option. Those sixty-years old or more can attend University (the government subsidized ones anyway) for free. I spent some time drooling over the course and program descriptions at SFU last night. Who knows?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Philosophy and Science

One of my honorary daughters links me to this exposition on Intelligent Design. I did blog briefly on this controversy here. It’s easier to say: “A pox on both their houses!” and ignore the details of the debate, to the extent there is one. I’ll try to expand my thoughts a bit here.

One of the points that interests me is the concept of irreducible complexity. Intelligent Design advocates criticize Darwinism (so-called) because it’s gradual-change-through-small-variations-leading-to-major-differences-we-now-see hypothesis assumes that all current differences, and, indeed, some apparent similarities, can be explained this way.

Two of the battlegrounds are eyes and feathers. Can gradual small changes account for the different types of visual organs we now see? Can the existence of feathers at all (seemingly only good in their current configuration for flight) be explained by minor genetic modifications over millions of years?

I don’t have a dog in this race. This is clearly a question for scientists to answer, I would think. Plausible pathways for genetic changes have to be illustrated to defeat the i.c. argument and bolster the Darwinist hypothesis. Let that debate continue to it’s natural conclusion.

More of a concern (as distinct from an interest) is the relationship between Natural Theology and Science that might be ignored in these debates. At first blush, the Intelligent Design side seems to be in danger of violating the “proper limits of science”. Again, this is an open question for me as yet. Let that discussion continue as well.

But something about some presentations of the Darwinist hypothesis (usually presented as if it reflected scientific fact and law) smack of an atheistic back-door attempt to pre-empt Natural Theology occurring at all. Darwinism as a brilliant hypothesis that has been promoted to a pseudo-scientific religious dogma (proving that belief in God is unscientific) is what concerns me. Some expositions of “Evolution” along these lines are critiqued by Intelligent Design proponents and others in ways that resonate with me.

Perhaps that is more forthcoming than my previous post. Thanks to KC for the link.

The Un-Philosopher

How could I forget G. K. Chesterton from my list of philosophers-that-I’ve-read? Perhaps because he thought of himself as a Journalist and would have rejected the title (of Philosopher).

Thanks to Amy Welborn at Open Book for a link to a BBC program that puts The Man Who Was Thursday on the radio.

Philosophy for Everyman

A patient’s husband at work is an autodidact and we have been enjoying talking a bit about history and philosophy lately. He started, late in life, reading the classics of literature. I’m so impressed with his enthusiasm and energy. Another potential model for my impending retirement.

I guess I’m also somewhat disappointed that he seems to have fallen into the village atheist trap. He is now writing a book How to be a Freethinker. But he’s a decent and engaging person and I look forward to our conversations.

But all this got me to thinking: while I recognize names and know a few details about various philosophers, which ones have I actually read in the original?

In High School we had to read parts of The Republic by Plato. Since then, I’ve read some of Jacques Maritain’s and Etienne Gilson’s works, That was in High School and early youth. In the last twenty years or so there has been very little reading in Philosophy. Mortimer Adler was a guiding light for a while, so I’ve read several of his books.

What have I read lately: Peter Kreeft. His imaginary dialogues are particularly Platonic (creating conversations to illustrate the clash of opposing ideas). And, more often than not, like Plato, he uses Socrates as his primary interlocutor.

And all this thanks to a link from Lex Communis.

The Presentation

Today’s Feast is a peculiarly Catholic one: the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is true on different levels.

First of all, there is no Scriptural support for the story that this feast celebrates (the child Mary dedicated to Temple service by her parents.) Rather the first version of this legend is in the Protoevangelium of James, a Second Century document that contained a number of imaginative stories about Mary’s family history and the Holy Family.

It’s also Catholic in the sense of being part of a gradual accretion and growth. In fact the feast wasn’t celebrated in the West (those in Union with the Roman bishop) until the Fourteenth Century. A Pope heard, while he was in exile in Avignon, France, that the Greek Christians (the Orthodox) celebrated this feast . He added the feast, which then had a mixed history before being firmly established in the Sixteenth Century. Here’s a lovely Orthodox site on this feast. For them it is a major and very old feast indeed.

And that brings the Catholic aspect of this feast to completion: that a holy practice exists honourably in one part of the Church (albeit separated at the time) makes it acceptable to the Church as a whole. It is, indeed, the Catholic (Universal) Church.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

While I'm Working...

you can read Blogworthies. I’m off tomorrow and Tuesday. Maybe I’ll find something interesting to say then.

Since today is the feast of Christ the King: Viva Cristo Rey!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An Answer to my Question?

My blog theme is anticipating retirement and wondering what comes next. Listening to the EWTN Live podcast this evening Father Pacwa was talking to Fr. Jim Conroy, SJ about the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps. Their theme is “Your most important work may not begin until after you retire.” Interesting...


Lorna and I conscientiously drank bottled water all the time we were in Italy. While in Rome for nine (glorious) days we found a supermercato that wasn’t much larger than a corner grocery store here. But they had cheap bottled water--aqua naturale, of course.

I did inform Lorna that Rick Steves insists that the public water outlets in Rome are perfectly safe, but that wasn’t good enough. All of this was brought back by today’s post at Dilbert.Blog. I had a good laugh.

Thanks to Lane Core for the link.


Albertus Minimus has added me to his blogroll. I’ll have to make more of an effort to write every day. It’s a challenge on the days I have twelve-hour shifts, though.

In the meantime I’ll add him to mine. Done. I had to do it by hand because I can’t remember the name of the application that takes my NewNewsWire Subscriptions and converts them so I can simply put them in the blogroll.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Saint Albert the Great

Today is his feast. He is, I suppose, a patron saint of mine, at least I’ve always thought of him that way. But I made the mistake of asking my dear departed Mother, may God have mercy on her, how she came up with my names. She was utterly indifferent to the question.

You can find links related to the Universal Doctor here. (With thanks to Albertus Minimus for the link).


Inspired by something Peter Kreeftwrote (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven-- But Never Dreamed of Asking), I have tended to think of Purgatory (and, by extension, Hell) as being the same place as Heaven: being in God’s Presence.

How we experience it is determined by how we live now. Few, if any, of us will experience it as complete joy, even though we should. Catholics of an older sort expect to experience an initial discomfort in His Presence that will gradually be removed, as if by fire (1 Cor. 3:15).

What provoked this was a short piece by Albertus Minimus. And I’m in the mood to think about Purgatory and Marriage: Lorna returned last night from Ohio. My enforced bachelorhood is over, for now. And I’m glad. I’ll take this Purgatory to that of the single life.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Looking Back

The Calender shows that today is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. This is the Mother Church for Catholics in a way, though most don't know that. It is the official Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, not the Vatican as you might have assumed.

The picture is of the side entrance that Lorna and I found on a bus trip from the catacombs.

The walk down the Via Appia Antica (itself following an adventure on the Roman Bus system) earlier that day is what I remember fondly.

Anniversaries (like today's feast day) are ways to remember in a structured way that encourage us to move on after the remembrance. Otherwise we risk dwelling in memories and ignoring life going on around us. (I know this is trite, but I'm loathe to pose for pictures and here are two with me smack in the middle of them. More about me and photos another day.)