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(just stuff I happen to be thinking about)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

-2+2 equals 0, but not Nothing

A cosmologist was on CNN recently insulting the Catholic faith, making statements about theology which themselves proved his lack of competence to speak on the matter. In his own subject, quantum physics, he claims that the existence of negative energy proves that the universe could have come from nothing. In other words, since it is possible that there is enough negative energy to cancel out all of the positive energy, the universe might actually be nothing, like a person who has a savings account with $1000 in it and a credit card debt of $1000.

Does this really answer the problem of the unmoved mover, one of the main proofs of God's existence? Maybe, but it does not solve the problem of the necessary being who causes contingent events. If I have a debt of $1000 and a balance of $1000, it might be accurate to say that I actually have no money, but it is not accurate to say that therefore I do not use money. Perhaps the total energy of the universe does cancel out. Perhaps not. Either way, the fact that there is a reality, even one with zero-sum energy, proves the existence of God.

BTW, I thought he was at his most hilarious when he was declaring that science disproves the miracles of the Bible. Since a miracle is ipso facto an event contrary to the rules of science, science cannot disprove them. At best, science can prove that the event which occurred was actually miraculous. Science cannot prove that the sun will never rise in the west. It can only say that, if the sun ever did, it would be a miracle.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Theology Potluck: Gender, Politics, and the Church

There will be a Theology Potluck on Sunday, from 5-7pm, at St. John Evangelist Church in Rochester, MN. We will be discussing gender, the nature of gender, gender-based morality, and what role the morality of the Church should play in politics.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Forward!

President Obama's chosen slogan for his campaign this year "Forward." is causing some stir because this word has usually been associated with communist organizations. It is an unusual choice for a politician who is often accused of having a secret communist philosophy. Is it a secret code word for the communists, so they know that he is on their side? Or is he and his campaign simply unaware of the history of politics?

But what really matters is why? What do this president and communists worldwide share that makes them choose the same slogan? Fundamentally, it is a belief that there is such a direction. Of course, time moves forward, if we are going to give the direction of time a name, but if this were the promise, it would be as silly as a politician who promised to make the sun rise each morning. I am quite sure that time will move forward regardless of who is president. No, what is meant is that somehow our society moves forward as well. Both the president and the communists believe that society is moving and can be forced to move forward and that they know what direction forward is.

Of course, they actually do not. They can imagine a better society, but their imagination is too limited. It cannot look into every corner of society to learn all the consequences. Our president sees happily married gay couples, but he does not know what effect that will have on the rest of society. He sees higher taxes for the rich and more health care for the poor and free abortions for everyone, but he cannot claim to see all the consequences of those actions. Only God sees everything.

I was just reading about a lawyer who in 1994 forced a girl to move out of her home and into foster care because he wanted all American Indian children to be raised by tribes. He was proud of the victory then, and is fighting on the other side in a similar case now. That girl's life was very unpleasant because of this action, because of a well-meaning action. He did that back in 1994 and is sorry now, but on what basis did he think that he knew what he was doing then? Most of the worst things ever done have been, in their time, a forward-thinking innovation.

If President Obama and the communists think that there is a perfect world to get to, they will keep trying to move the world forward. Those of us who believe that the world is about as good as it will be, until Jesus returns, are more interested in making sure that the current good things we have are sustainable and small improvements are made where possible. Not that the average conservative politician is doing that. The progressives are trying to move the world closer to utopia. The conservatives are trying to rob the world of what good can be found by no longer building infrastructure and eliminating wise laws like the minimum wage.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Theology Grounds this Friday

On Friday, September 7th, 7:45 - 9:00pm, I will be speaking at St. James Coffee in Rochester, MN. The topic is What Do Catholics Have to Believe?.

Disregard for the Truth

I was reading this article which claims that President Obama would have to make history in order to be reelected. What history? "No incumbent has ever been re-elected with unemployment this high", the author claims. My immediate thought was, that cannot possibly be right. So I looked it up. The real difficulty is that unemployment has only rarely been this high (about 8.5%) a few times since they began counting it. Nevertheless, FDR was reelected with higher unemployment in 1936 and 1940, and Reagan was reelected in 1984 with 7.5% unemployment.

So why would someone write an article with a faulty premise brought forward as the headline issue? Probably for the same reason that other articles are written in the form of lists so that they can be headlined something like The 5 Most Important Things. Headlines generate clicks and clicks are all that matter in online writing. It is not exactly that the integrity of every journalist is for sale, but a careless disregard for the truth is now a necessary part of the job; there is no time to check facts. Speed and the ability to generate instantaneous interest are the most valued attributes in a modern journalist.

Celebrating Work on Labor Day

Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote, “Work thus belongs to the vocation of every person; indeed, humans express and fulfils themselves by working.” Today we are taking the opportunity to celebrate labor. We celebrate and thank God for our ability to work. It is by work that we get what is necessary for life and provide for our families. It is a gift of God that we are able to be productive and earn a living. Whether a person works for themself or for another, whether they work at home, in the fields, or in the city, the effort they put in each day and the fruits of their labors dignify them. Though some through age or disability are unable to do everything they want, the work they do each day, no matter how small, is a sign of their dignity as human beings.

The association of humans with work goes back to Adam whom God put in the Garden of Eden “to work it and care for it.” After the fall, God told Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” And humans have worked for thousands of years, building civilizations and families. Most work is forgotten because nothing remains for future generations, but some work is memorialized for ages. What are the pyramids but monuments to human labor? The cathedrals of Europe reveal artistry and engineering and trade and construction and leadership. Every highway and street is a monument to human labor. Even the work that is passes away has its monument in the continuation of human life: proof that our ancestors grew food, defended their society, cared for the sick, raised children, made clothing and houses, and so many other things without which we would not exist.

On Labor Day we celebrate not only the gift of our own work and the work of our ancestors but the work of every other person on earth. How easy it is to eat a hamburger without thinking of the cook, the baker, the butcher, the rancher, the farmer, the trucker, the civil engineer, the dishwasher, and so many others who make that hamburger possible! On this day, let us pause and be grateful for water that runs in our homes and food available in such abundance: all the signs of people who work. No one makes the sun rise each day, and the rain tends to fall on its own, but most everything else we take for granted is the result of someone working behind the scenes. We hear praise of job-creators, and their work is important, but so is the work of the job-doers. As Pope Leo XIII wrote, “It may truly be said that it is only by the labor of workers that nations grow rich.”

Today many workers are rightly concerned that the loss of religious liberty will make them slaves to the culture. It is one thing for a person to not discriminate against others, but something else for someone to be forced to make a cake celebrating homosexuality, as has happened. People are particularly aware of these consequences in the medical field. Some people want to put all the rights in the hands of the customers, clients, or patients, but what about the dignity of the worker who has a right to define their own work according to the truth? On Labor Day let us celebrate the work we can do, the work of others, and the right to do work in the right way.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Please Indoctrinate your Children

Bill Nye, the famous science guy, has released a video telling parents not to teach creationism to their children. I believe that God created the universe. That does not mean that I do not believe in evolution. Honestly, I do not care about evolution. I do not think it must be proven wrong, though I would not defend it either. I do have a problem with what Bill is saying here though. "We need them" he says, referring to the children of those who believe in creationism. Well, they are not your children, Bill. If you needed children so badly, you should have raised some. Where do you get off telling parents how to raise their children because you and the scientific establishment need them?

I have heard this argument before against the indoctrination of children. It is usually put out there by people who are frustrated by all the religious people with their big families. They can see their inevitable demographic defeat, so they try to convince parents that they are doing something wrong by teaching their children the truth. Few parents will be convinced by these arguments. The kind of parents who let their children choose their own religion when they are old enough to do so probably do not believe very strongly in their own faith. The danger is that before they are outnumbered, the anti-religious people might try to restrict parents by law from passing on the faith.

The arguments are foolish. If they were right, we may as well have every child raised by wolves until they turn 18. Children do not grow up in spite of what they learn. They grow up because of what they learn. Really, this is why the anti-religious want children to stop learning religion: they see how millions of adults who stray from their faith are pulled back by the childhood lessons they were taught.

I hope parents indoctrinate their children, teach them about the God who loves them, who is all-good and all-powerful, teach them to thank him for his gifts and to praise him just because of who he is, teach them to love truth and not lies, to love good and not evil, and to see beauty where it can be found. Parents have a responsibility to give all the good they possess to their children and have nothing to fear from the disapproving eye of Bill Nye.

Why are they so protective of evolution? If every scientist really believes it, as the establishment claims, the evidence must be overwhelming. The way they talk, you would think that there was not even a minuscule chance that it could be wrong.