Thursday, January 31, 2008

Neuroscience and the Brain...

has almost nothing to do with this:

This video would have had me in stitches ...: "

... were I not'already in stitches. Ha!

The 'Tale of Two Brains''— male vs. female'— arrived in my e-mail today from a priest. Be careful not to watch it while eating or drinking anything that may damage your computer screen.


(Via The Dawn Patrol.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Common Sense in Philosophy

is so rare. Ask Chesterton (and Mark Shea) why:

Rubbish: "

 Seventy years ago, Chesterton remarked:

Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobodys system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybodys sense of reality: to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense.

read more


(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Constantine, Christians and the Cross

Sometimes our hard-won facts turn out to be less than true. I, also, read, many times, that prior to Constantine's vision, Christians didn't use the cross or crucifix in their iconography. It seems that may not be true after all:

Cross Currents: "

Picked up some kind of bug and have been feeling (in the words of my 4yo daughter Treesie) ‘Gwoss.’ Even with such minor discomfort, a Christian’s thoughts naturally turn to the cross. And it seems more and more likely that it’s always been that way. Consider the recent discoveries:

* In Syria, archeologists have found two cruciform cemeteries from the third century (here and here).

* In the Basque region, archeologists unearthed a town that had been covered by a third-century landslide; and in one home they found a crudely drawn crucifix, complete with corpus.

* Scholars have begun to reconsider the dating of some gems engraved with the crucifix, placing them, too, in the third century.

* Larry Hurtado has catalogued the occurrences of staurograms and other crypto-crosses in manuscripts as far back as the early second century. He says that the staurogram — usually an embellished rendering of the Greek letters tau or chi or the Coptic ankh — ‘obviously refers to the crucifixion/cross of Jesus, and so (along with the abundant textual evidence) reflects an importance given to Jesus’ crucifixion in Christian faith/piety, from at least as early as the late second century.’

All this, of course, runs counter to what I learned in school, and probably to what most people learn in school today. It has, for generations, been commonplace to say that there were no crosses before Constantine. The standard current textbook in Christian archeology states flatly that there was ‘no place in the third century for a crucified Christ, or a symbol of divine death.’

If cruciform figures appeared in digs, they were dismissed as random scratches, mere geometric ornamentation, or later ‘contaminations’ in early strata. The argument followed a circular logic:

1. We know there were no crosses before 300 because we’ve never found any.

2. When we seem to find crosses, we know they’re late or not really crosses, because of course there WERE no crosses before 300.

3. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Hurtado points out that preachers and letter-writers in those early years often refer to the cross of Christ. Other scholars point to this very early anti-Christian graffito, which portrays a donkey hanging on a cross. It’s unlikely that bigots would seize upon that symbol unless it had already been widely used and cherished by the Christians.

My money’s with the vanguard in this controversy. It seems that when we suffer and we survey that wondrous cross, we’re very likely doing what the earliest Christians did.


(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This is a cute turn of an otherwise silly idea:

A Winning Argument on Cloning?: "

‘Farming cloned livestock should be banned because the animals suffer too much, EU ethics experts said last night.’

Meanwhile, in the USA, there is no restriction-at all-on human cloning, be it for so-called ‘therapeutic’ purposes (i.e. where a human being is cloned and then the clone is dismembered for parts) or for reproductive purposes (that is, in America it’s A-OK to clone-for-babies). But maybe once we see that the animals suffer too much we’ll do something about the humans-we wouldn’t want to be speciesists, after all.


(Via First Things.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reasoned Debate

is, sadly, so rare in the abortion controvesy:

Peter Kreeft debated abortion...: "

... at the University of Colorado with Dr. David Boonin this past Friday. Catholic News Agency reports on the well-attended event:

A Catholic-sponsored debate about the ethics of abortion packed hundreds into an auditorium on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, CO this past Friday night. The debate featured two prominent philosophy professors—Drs. Peter Kreeft and David Boonin—who defended their views on the ethics of abortion.

Listeners filled all 288 seats of the auditorium, while others sat in the aisles.' Still more sat in the overflow seating in the basement hallway, and even crowded the stairs leading up from the basement, a total audience easily surpassing 400 in number.

The debate, sponsored by the Thomas Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought, addressed the question 'Is abortion morally justifiable?'' Dr. Peter Kreeft, of Boston College, answered that it could never be while Dr. David Boonin of the University of Colorado argued that abortion was sometimes a moral choice.' Both professors offered many reasons and counterarguments defending their position.

The professors are both prominent in their field and in the public eye.' Kreeft has authored more than 45 books dedicated to defending Christian beliefs and understanding suffering, morality, philosophy, life, and God.' Dr. Boonin’s 2003 book ‘A Defense of Abortion’ won an honorable mention from the American Philosophical Association.' Boonin is also the chair of the University of Colorado's philosophy department.

Read the entire story.

Introduction to Three Approaches to Abortion | Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Insight author page for Peter Kreeft


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

I Didn't Tell You Everything

about The Spiritual Brain: it's subtitle is A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul. Apropos that, here is an article:

Neuroscientist: Most opposition to new science ideas comes from fundamentalism within science: "Well, another non-materialist neuroscientist has just been sighted.

Edward F. Kelly, lead author of Irreducible Mind, writes at the Rowman blog (sponsored by publishers Rowman and Littlefield),

The word ‘fundamentalism’ probably evokes for most of us only images of bomb-wielding Islamic terrorists and other examples of religious extremism, but fundamentalism exists within science as well. When scientific opinion hardens into dogma it becomes scientism, which is essentially a secular faith and no longer science. Galileo was persecuted by the Inquisition, but in modern times the main opposition to new scientific ideas has derived not from religious orthodoxies but from other scientists for whom contemporary opinion established the limits of the possible.

Consider in this light the question of post-mortem survival. The notion that aspects of mind and personality survive bodily death is central to the world’s great religions yet scorned as impossible by present-day establishment science. But few participants in this contentious debate have any inkling that there exists a large scientific literature collectively suggesting that at least some of us, under largely unknown conditions and for some unknown period of time, do in fact survive. The primary threat to this interpretation, ironically, has nothing to do with the quality of the evidence—problems of fraud, credulity, errors of observation or memory, and the like—but with the difficulty of excluding non-survivalist interpretations based solely upon supernormal (‘psi’-based or parapsychological) processes involving living persons. The voluminous evidence for such processes includes both spontaneous cases and experimental studies, and in my opinion has long since passed the threshold where competent persons who take the trouble to study it in depth and with an open mind will routinely conclude that these things exist as facts of nature. Indeed, future generations of historians, philosophers, and sociologists will undoubtedly make a good living trying to understand why it took so long for scientists in general to accept this conclusion.

Kelly is Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Hat Tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose"

(Via Mindful Hack.)

Now That's a Reductio Ad Absurdam!

Try this bit of moderation on for size:

Roe v Wade: 35 years of legal baby killing: "In remembrance of National Right To Life Day, celebrated every January 22nd on the annual anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Roe vs. Wade (1973), and in honor of the tens thousands of protestors who annually drive or fly to Washington, D.C., to march from the Washington Monument to the Supreme Court (sometimes in the freezing cold), lobby senators, and get themselves ignored by the media in favor of the eight or nine abortion-rights activists who manage to come out and get themselves interviewed on national television, it seemed only decent and proper to dig out my annual 'thought for the day' -- a parody of tortured pro-choice logic by Princeton professor, Robert P. George, which might be entitled:

'In short, I am moderately 'pro-choice.''

I am personally opposed to killing abortionists. However, inasmuch as my personal opposition to this practice is rooted in sectarian (Catholic) religious belief in the sanctity of human life, I am unwilling to impose it on others who may, as a matter of conscience, take a different view. Of course, I am entirely in favor of policies aimed at removing the root causes of violence against abortionists. Indeed, I would go as far as supporting mandatory one-week waiting periods, and even non-judgmental counseling, for people who are contemplating the choice of killing an abortionist. I believe in policies that reduce the urgent need some people feel to kill abortionists while, at the same time, respecting the rights of conscience of my fellow citizens who believe that the killing of abortionists is sometimes a tragic necessity--not a good, but a lesser evil. In short, I am moderately 'pro-choice.'

[Dr. Robert P. George is George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and earned his doctorate in philosophy of law at Oxford University. He currently sits on the President's Council of Bioethics and is author of numerous books on constitutional law and jurisprudence. Just in case anyone is still wondering, the foregoing statement is not intended to be taken at face value, but as a parody and reductio ad absurdum refutation of the fallacious reasoning employed pervasively by proponents of a 'pro-choice' position favoring 'abortion rights.' I offer this explanation not to insult the reader's intelligence, but only because of having learned the importance of covering one's bases: several years ago, I heard that when the faculty, staff, and students of a Lutheran college received emails containing George's quotation, a President's cabinet meeting was called to address the issue, and, the dean of students, frantic to ensure the institution's political correctness, sent out a follow-up message indicating that the views of the original email did not reflect the views of the institution and that the college did not endorse the killing of abortionists! Well guess what? Neither do I or Bobby George! This isn't rocket science.]

Schedule of EWTN's live streaming of March for Life 2008 events (all times EST):

Of related interest: See on site photo coverage by American Papist
[Hat tip to T.P.]"

(Via Musings of a Pertinacious Papist.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I should have specified which van Eyck I was referring to in the previous post: Jan. He of this master work:

Hope for the Aging Brain

I'm currently ploughing through The Spiritual Brain by Mario Beauregard, Ph.D. & Denyse O'Leary. Excellent! Hope to finish it tonight so I can get back to studying. Cimabue, Giotto and van Eyck are waiting for me.

Who is Richard Warman?

And why does the Human Rights Commission agree with him all the time?

(On the other hand a 100% conviction rate must mean the Human Rights Commissions are perfectly effective, right?)

Coming Soon

Our American cousins are watching developments here with some concern. Can't wait to see how those hate crime laws work out, eh?

Human Rights vs. Free Speech: "

David Warren at Real Clear Politics has a very good article on Canada’s ‘human rights commissions,’ which put people on trial for saying things that these human rights commissions dislike. That’s a bit glib, but only a bit. Ezra Levant published the Danish cartoons on the Prophet Mohammed to show his readers that all the fuss was overblown. He is now on trial before an Alberta human rights tribunal. Catholic Insight, a monthly magazine published in Toronto, is being prosecuted by a man in Edmonton for upholding the Church’s teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior. Even if he differs with the content or tone of such publications, an American can be grateful for the freedom of speech. Not so for Canadians, it would appear. Warren describes the situation as follows:

There are other meandering cases in the works, or that were in the works, often against Internet website owners or the contributors to their online forums. It is almost impossible to get clear information about these. In the notification process, the recipient of a human rights complaint need not be told who the complainant is, or what he is alleging. The recipient is just left to guess for a while, as the bureaucratic machinery of quasi-legal ‘justice’ proceeds at its glacial pace. Truth and rumours become hard to distinguish in this kafkaesque environment.

These human rights commissions are worth keeping an eye on. Though a healthy respect for the freedom of speech exists in most of America, let us hope that these ‘human rights’ commissions can be quarantined and eliminated in Canada lest they spread south.


(Via First Things.)

Friday, January 18, 2008


are rapidly fading. I'm sure the version of A Certain Justice that I was vaguely remembering was the tv version. P.D. James is a brilliant writer. I'm glad I read this one.

Where Do I Go to Become a "Human Rights Expert"?

It's not just here in Canada (not Soviet Canuckistan) that there are problems with the Human Rights Industry. I can hear the sardonic laughter of George Orwell...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Freedom of Speech and Wisdom

What Mark said (Sapienza being Italian for Wisdom, by the bye):

Communion and Liberation on Sapienza's Cretinous Move to Shout Down Benedict in...: "Communion and Liberation on Sapienza's Cretinous Move to Shout Down Benedict in the Name of Freedom of Thought

It's' best that the nice people at CL write these things, cuz I would just issue a press release titled 'Academic Black Shirts on the March!', call them a bunch of goose-stepping fascistic maroons, and be done with it."

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Freedom of Speech Is Not Newsworthy

especially if you're in the process of becoming an unperson. The Blogosphere has been alive with coverage of the tribulations of some of those being prosecuted via the HRC's.

One of the defendants from one of the cases explains chill as it compares to libel chill. Various overviews have been offered. And a petition calling for human rights commissions in Canada to be suspended until a review can be conducted is here.

While I've been following these and similar cases over the years, today's post was precipitated by this:

Biggest story breaks, Media no where to be seen: "

It’s been a busy few days since my ‘human rights’ interrogation on Friday afternoon. As of yesterday, the video clips I uploaded were viewed nearly 200,000 times, making them the 5th most watched ‘channel’ on YouTube. I’d like to thank the blogosphere for covering a story that has been under-reported by the mainstream media, and I’d like to thank generous visitors for their financial support for our legal defence via PayPal. (Ezra

Yet another shining example of how useless and irrelevant the mainstream media is given their ‘coverage’ of it. All I have to say is thank the Lord for the internet.  It’s a sobering thought to think where freedom loving people would be without it. It’s not surprising that the Commission sought to restrict Ezra’s video postings of their steroid pumped, Rodney King like ‘can’t-we-all-just-get-along’ court.

Yet another disaster and embarassment for these chumps. Why do they even bother calling themselves journalists?  After a while the label gets a little tiring and hard to believe.


(Via SoCon Or Bust.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Reading

Just so you know it wasn't all Stuffing washed down with spiced rum and eggnog:

A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry is set in Victorian England with some characters from her other murder mysteries set in that era. The protagonist, a cantankerous Grandmama, solves the mystery and grows a not a little in doing so.

Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes also uses an established character, Richard Jury of Scotland Yard. Several murders over the snow-bound days leading to Christmas are solved by Jury and his friend Melrose Plant.

I'm now working on A Certain Justice by P.D. James, my favourite mystery writer. Unfortunately, I have the distinct feeling of dèjá vu reading this. Either this is the second time around or there was a tv adaptation. Never mind, I can't remember who did it or how it was solved. Old age has it's compensations...