World-Famous Scientist: God Created the Universe | Intellectual Takeout

‘The final resolution could be that God is a mathematician.’

Source: World-Famous Scientist: God Created the Universe | Intellectual Takeout

Now, this does not come as any surprise to me! I have long believed that science and religion, properly understood, are not and cannot be in opposition to one another – except in the sense defined by British physicist Sir William Bragg:

“From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”

Sir William Bragg, in Sir Kerr Grant, The Life and Work of Sir William Bragg (1952), 43.

Indeed, it seems to be physicists who, among scientists, are most prone to adopt a theistic worldview. It may be that those whose life’s work leads them to ponder the secrets of the cosmos itself are more inclined to discover that one of those secrets is the secret of design. And design, of course, requires a Designer…

Unless, of course, one is so dead-set against the notion that one comes off sounding strident and silly in one’s opposition, as (for example) Richard Dawkins does, to anyone who is not among his defenders… but I digress!

Michio Kaku, who as the linked post notes, “has made a name for himself as a world-leading theoretical physicist unafraid to speak his mind,” has dropped a bit of a bombshell:

“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” Kaku said, as quoted by the Geophilosophical Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies. “To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance…

“The final resolution could be that God is a mathematician,” says Kaku. “The mind of God, we believe, is cosmic music. The music of strings resonating through 11-dimensional hyperspace.”

I must say, I like that image!

When I consider thy heavens, even the work of thy fingers; the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

O Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world!

— Psalm 8:3-4, 9 (Psalter, Book of Common Prayer 1928)

Amen, and amen.

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Does Modern Secularism Have a Memory Problem? | Word on Fire

Source: Does Modern Secularism Have a Memory Problem? | Word on Fire

This is a truly superb article, to which I was pointed by a friend (you know who you are!); such that I almost cannot praise it strongly enough. Among the many excellent insights contained herein:

“After many years of awkward silence, the secular media is finally recognizing some of the most profound social problems facing American society… The Atlantic woke up to smell the coffee earlier this year, running an article arguing that America’s secularization has made the political climate less tolerant and more antagonistic…

To publications that often criticize religion, like The Atlantic, rising secularism breeding unrest is counterintuitive. But it makes perfect sense. Sociologists have long known about the link between religious observance and social stability. A devout person is more likely to be financially stable, avoid addiction, maintain a marriage, and generally healthier than a less observant person in the same socioeconomic profile.

“In other words, religious people perform better in key categories of social stability than their less religious peers living under the same conditions. That stability (or lack thereof) has serious political implications, and we see it playing out now with certain grassroots political organizations showing flashes of violence and demagoguery.”

As I read this, I cannot help but think of our first President (under the Constitution), the ever-wise George Washington, who warned us – literally centuries ago – in his Farewell Address (1796) of what could happen:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.”

Yet that is exactly what far too many people have been doing, for the last five or six decades. And we are surprised that things are going poorly? Continue reading “Does Modern Secularism Have a Memory Problem? | Word on Fire”

“Building, Dwelling, Thinking” – Heidegger

“Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build. Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and...

If I may follow on with the architectural theme from this morning:

“Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build. Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and heaven, divinities and mortals enter in simple oneness into things, ordered the house. It placed the farm on the wind-sheltered mountain slope, looking south, among the meadows close to the spring. It gave it its wide overhanging shingle roof whose proper slope bears up under the burden of snow, and which, reaching deep down, shields the chambers against the storms of the long winter-nights. It did not forget the altar corner behind the community table; it made room in its chamber for the hallowed places of childbed and the ‘tree of the dead’ — for that is what they call a coffin there: the Totenbaum — and in this way it designed for the different generations under one roof the character of their journey through time. A craft which, itself sprung from dwelling, still uses its tools and frames as things, built the farmhouse.” 

— Martin Heidegger, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” in Poetry, Language, Thought

I do not know enough about Heidegger to say anything about his philosophy in general; but I will say that – in my opinion – he is square-on in this!

Seven Misunderstandings about Classical Architecture | Quinlan Terry

I try to practice as a classical architect today, and I enjoy it. There are many ways in which classical architecture is misunderstood…

Source: Seven Misunderstandings about Classical Architecture | Quinlan Terry

In which a currently-practicing classical architect – a sadly rare breed, these days – discusses seven common misconceptions concerning classical architecture: Pastiche, Functionalism, New building types, Materials, Cost, Tradesmen, and Politics. A most interesting treatment!

Though he is obviously trying to simplify as much as possible for a general audience, I confess that I got a little bogged down in some of the technical aspects, and had to resort to a dictionary more than once. Alas, my education in classical architecture, as in many other realms, is not all I could wish! Nonetheless, I had no trouble grasping the essence of what he was saying, and I am quite sure that will be true with any reasonably educated, or simply well-read, reader.

He makes many good points, some of them of a strictly architectural nature (which means, the interrelation between humans and the buildings in which they live and work), while others might be seen to have a more general application. Here is one of the latter:

” I think the working man is misunderstood by everyone, not least himself. There is, after all, no fundamental difference between the tradesman, the architect or his employers. They are all men made in the image of God with needs and aspirations. But I have noticed that we are all far less covetous when we are working on a job we enjoy; at the end of the day we can go home and think about it and return the next day to take the work a little further. I have heard this from so many tradesmen, that it must be true; it is the boredom of repetitive work, work which requires nothing from you, that makes for an empty mind. The empty mind is a dangerous thing because it soon gets filled with a host of other thoughts which no industrial expert can control…”

And then there is this:

“It is often said that there are political implications in the classical style… The truth is that it does express the society that uses it, just as man’s or woman’s face expresses what is in their heart, but this does not mean that it takes sides… [He goes on to list a startling variety of groups and philosophies, throughout history, who have utilized elements of classical architecture.] Although the spiritual, political, material and temporal influences are crystallised in wood and stone, and expressed in classical forms, the classical grammar remains neutral; like the paint on the artist’s palette.”

As someone who tends to the conservative and traditional, socially and politically as well as philosophically, classical architecture has an obvious appeal to me. I value such elemental ideals as timeless beauty, stability, permanence, order, and craft. As Architectural Revival puts it,

“Create places our ancestors would recognise and our descendants will be proud of. Stand for Beauty, Tradition, Heritage, Identity, Order & Craft.”

It is true, however, that the elements and ideals of classical architecture are not limited to any particular political, economic, or social philosophy. They transcend such matters, cutting to the heart of the human spirit. This should not be surprising, if we recall that Beauty is, along with Goodness and Truth, one of the classical Three Transcendentals: all of which are interrelated, and all of which are gifts of, and indeed expressions of, the One Who perfectly embodies all three – that is, God Himself.

But whether you follow that line of metaphysical reasoning or not, the fact remains that the beauty and value of classical architecture transcends any particular use to which humans may put it, or context within which we may place it. The ancients did not create the classical standards of beauty, proportion, etc.; they discovered them. The appreciation of them is innate to our human nature, for it is grounded in Nature itself.

[Which, of course, is another way of saying the created order, which both stems from and leads to the Creator… and there I go, getting all metaphysical again! But what do you expect, of a Christian cleric?]

And this is why classical architecture continues to have such aesthetic appeal, and continues to give us such feelings of satisfaction, completeness, and pleasure when we gaze upon it, whether the building in question was erected thousands of years ago, or just last week.

Unmoored Freedom is No Freedom – A Reflection on the 4th of July | Community in Mission

https://i0.wp.com/blog.adw.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/bible-american-flag1.jpg

To most modern minds, freedom is a very detached concept; it is an abstraction of sorts, a free-floating power unmoored from any limits or defining standards.

“Freedom today is often viewed as personal and self-referential, with little consideration as to how one’s ‘freedom’ might affect that of someone else. A healthy sense of the common good suffers mightily in a world of deeply conflicting personal freedoms.”

Source: Unmoored Freedom is No Freedom – A Reflection on the 4th of July | Community in Mission

Cogent thoughts on freedom, limitation, and the folly of trying to create (or maintain) culture without cultus.

“Obviously, the word cultus is at the heart of the word culture. In Latin, a cultus is something for which we care or about which we are concerned; it is something of worth, something considered valuable. It describes the most central, fundamental values of a group. In later Latin, cultus came to describe the worth or value we attribute to God, who is our truest goal.

“Remove the cultus from culture and you get the breakdown we are seeing today. While pluralism and diversity have value, they must exist within a framework that is shared and agreed upon. Otherwise pluralism and diversity are unmoored and become like ships crashing about in a stormy bay.

“In order for a culture to exist, there must be a shared cultus, a shared focus on what is good, true, beautiful, and sacred. Our modern experiment shows the failure of trying to have a culture without this.”

There are just a few excerpts; the entire article is well worth reading. Here is a bit more, a quote from (Roman Catholic) Bishop Robert Barron:

“The setting aside of God can take place both explicitly (as in the musings of the atheists) or implicitly (as in so much of the secular world where “practical” atheism holds sway). In either case the result is a shutting down of the natural human drive toward the transcendent and, even more dangerously, the elevation of self-determining freedom to a position of unchallenged primacy…

“On the typically modern reading, truth is construed as an enemy to freedom—which explains precisely why we find such a hostility to truth in the contemporary culture. Indeed, anyone who claims to have the truth—especially in regard to moral matters—is automatically accused of arrogance and intolerance.

“Society will be restored to balance and sanity, (Pope) Benedict (XVI) argued, only when the natural link between freedom and truth — especially the Truth which is God — is reestablished. … Behind all our arguments about particular moral and political issues is a fundamental argument about the centrality of God” [Vibrant Paradoxes, pp. 217-218].

Indeed. At root, much of the trouble we are facing today, as a society, can be traced to the Enlightenment project of topping God as the center and pinnacle of our musings, striving, and contemplation, and the Good, the True, and the Beautiful – the pursuit of which lead us to God, as their Source and culmination – as the desirable goals of a human life well-lived – and replacing both Him and them with the deification of unaided human reason (*), and later, emotion and self-gratification.

Lacking that solid anchor and reference point, is it any wonder that we have become “like ships crashing about in a stormy bay”?

 


 

* Human reason is indeed one of the most precious gifts of our benevolent Creator, an extremely valuable human faculty. But because we are finite, limited, mortal human beings, our human reason is also finite, limited, and mortal. It is not intended, nor is it possible, to function alone, unaided by what the Anglican tradition names as Scripture and Tradition.

That is to say, the revelation of God as revealed in Scripture, Nature, and Antiquity: the latter referring to the theological and philosophical insights of those who have come before, especially those which are clearly part of the Great Tradition of Christianity, into which certain of the great Classical philosophers – such as Plato and Aristotle – have been incorporated, because they have foreshadowed it, because their thought illuminates, explicates, or complements parts of it, or all of the above).

To function and flourish properly, human reason also requires the water and fertilizer of not only Divine revelation (as shown through the Scriptures), but prayer – both personal and extemporaneous, and liturgical, through what the Anglican tradition calls “Common Prayer” – and the sacraments. As this essay points out,

“Freedom can only exist in a healthy and productive way when it is in reference to the truth — and truth is rooted in God and what He has revealed in creation, Sacred Scripture, and Tradition. This is the cultus necessary for every culture. True and healthy freedom is the capacity to obey God. Anything that departs from this necessary framework is a deformed freedom, on its way to chaos and slavery.”

To be effective, therefore, and to be whole persons, in a right relationship to God and to one another – to be truly free, in other words, both personally and in the context of our social organization – we need not just reason, but sanctified reason. Even at that, we sometimes (often) fall short! Without it, we are indeed “ships crashing about in a stormy bay,” with little or no hope of reaching a safe harbor.

 


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Education, the arts, metaphysics, and robber-barons – inspired by “I’ll Take My Stand”

https://i1.wp.com/solidarityhall.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/takemystand1.jpg?resize=202%2C300Here’s another excerpt from Donald Davidson’s essay, “A Mirror for Artists,” in I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930), with my thoughts inspired thereby, following:

“Education can do comparatively little to aid the cause of the arts as long as it must turn out graduates into an industrialized society which demands specialists in vocational, technical, and scientific subjects. The humanities, which could reasonably be expected to foster the arts, have fought a losing battle since the issue between vocational and liberal education was raised in the nineteenth century…’

“The more they indoctrinate the student with their values, the more unhappy they will make him. For he will be spoiled for the industrial tasks [and the same could be said of technology, or the “service economy”] by being rendered inefficient. He will not fit in. The more refined and intelligent he becomes, the more surely he will see in the material world the lack of the image of nobility and beauty that the humanities inculcate in him.”

Maybe this is the true reason that so many colleges and universities seem to be trying to re-envision themselves as glorified vocational schools! The proximate cause may be the (arguably laudable, on the face of it) desire by institutions of higher learning to make themselves more “relevant” and help their students get jobs with their diplomas.

But it may be that the ultimate cause is the desire of the puppeteers that pull the strings in so many aspects of society – the globalist, corporatist plutocrats, the vulture capitalists and profiteers, the robber-barons of the 21st century – to suppress aspirations toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in favor of their (un)holy trinity of Production, Consumption, and Profit.

It certainly would suit those whose goal in life is to make money by selling “stuff” (whether goods or services) to promote the creation of a society of mindless drones who are numbed by the technological equivalent of “bread and circuses” into a passive existence where getting said “stuff” and being entertained (mostly electronically, which doesn’t even require a person to leave the house) becomes the goal of an otherwise largely futile and nihilistic existence.

They certainly wouldn’t want people to be seriously wrestling with questions like “what is the Good?” or “how do we reach it?” or “what is the proper end of a human being?” Or struggling with attempting to discern the meaning of Truth, or which volitional (self-willed) acts of a human being are ethically virtuous, and which are ethically vicious. Or even grappling with the characteristics of genuine Beauty, and the relationship between and among Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, the classical Three Transcendentals.

Best not to even admit that there might be such a thing as transcendence. Certainly under no circumstances should they be led down trails which might lead them to the consideration that there may be some sort of actual, objective Divine Reality, outside the constraints of our physical-sensory universe (although in significant ways immanent within it) – and especially not one which is personal, concerned with humanity, and which has both plans for, and expectations of, us humans!

Human beings concerned about such matters would be lousy consumers of “stuff,” since they might begin to suspect that there may after all be higher aspirations which are, in the long run, more important…

“Tolerance is not a Christian virtue.”

Tolerance is not a Christian virtue

“We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty — these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square — peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.”

– Archbishop Charles Chaput

What the Archbishop says about (Roman) Catholics applies to all other Christians, as well.