Monday, March 21, 2022
Nobody denies that conspiracies occur. They happen every time two or more people collude in order to secure some malign end. When people criticize “conspiracy theories,” it is a particular kind of conspiracy that they find implausible. I’ve written several times before about some of the marks of conspiracy theories of this dubious kind. rather than a rigorous and dispassionate consideration of the merits and deficiencies of all alternative possible explanations. They tend to violate Ockham’s razor, posit conspiracies that are too vast and complicated to be psychologically and sociologically feasible, and reflect naiveté about the way modern bureaucracies function. The vastness of the posited conspiracy often has implications for the reliability of news media and other sources of information that and unfalsifiable. (For simplicity’s sake, from here on out I’ll use the expression “conspiracy theories” to refer, specifically, to theories having vices like these – acknowledging, again, that there are conspiracies of a more plausible kind, and thus conspiracy theories of a more plausible kind.)
Monday, March 14, 2022
Friday, March 4, 2022
At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
End quote. I submit that Russia’s invasion clearly fails to meet the first, second, and fourth criteria, and NATO military action against Russia would clearly fail to meet the second, third, and fourth criteria.
Friday, February 25, 2022
Monday, February 21, 2022
Friday, February 18, 2022
Friday, February 11, 2022
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
At the Claremont Review of Books, Joseph M. Bessette sets out .
Aidan Nichols on , at The Lamp.
At UnHerd, Thomas Fazi and Toby Green make At The Tablet, Alex Gutentag on . “Mandatory panic”: Freddie deBoer on . A Johns Hopkins University study lockdowns did no good and caused much damage..
Thursday, January 27, 2022
We’ve been talking about Balthasar’s view that we may at least hope that all human beings are saved. Now, Balthasar was a Catholic theologian who was careful to try to avoid contradicting definitive Church teaching on the subject. That is why he does not endorse the universalist view that all must and therefore definitely will be saved, which is heretical (as is shown and ). But it is also significant that in the title of , he is careful to frame his question: “Dare we hope ‘that all men be saved’?” In other words, he’s asking about whether all human beings might be saved. He’s not asking whether all creatures with intellect and will, including fallen angels, might be saved. Indeed, in the book he says, of demonic powers:
Let it be said at the outset that theological hope can by no means apply to this power. The sphere to which redemption by the Son who became man applies is unequivocally that of mankind… [O]ne cannot agree with Barth’s claim that the angels had no freedom of choice and that the myth of a “fall of the angels” is thus to be rejected absolutely… [T]he doctrine of a fall of the angels, which is deeply rooted in the whole of Tradition, becomes not only plausible but even, if the satanic is accepted as existent, inescapable. (pp. 113-14)
Friday, January 21, 2022
If it is said of God that: “God our Savior … desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:4-5), then this is the reason for the fact that the Church should make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings … for all men” (1 Tim 2:1), which could not be asked of her if she were not allowed to have at least the hope that prayers as widely directed as these are sensible and might be heard. If, that is, she knew with certainty that this hope was too widely directed, then what is asked of her would be self-contradictory. (pp. 23-24)
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Sunday, January 9, 2022
Saturday, January 1, 2022
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Saturday, December 25, 2021
(1 Kings 19:11-13)
Among the lessons of Christmas is the truth of the principle illustrated by this famous Old Testament passage. We often expect, or at least desire, special divine assistance to be instant and dramatic, like a superhero swooping to the rescue in a Marvel movie. And we lose hope when that doesn’t happen. But God only rarely works that way, and such dramatics have to be rare lest grace smother nature. Special divine assistance is in the ordinary course of things subtle and gradual – a still, small voice rather than a whirlwind, earthquake, or fire – but nevertheless unmistakable when the big picture is kept in view.
Sunday, December 19, 2021
Monday, December 13, 2021
Ours is a civilization in decline, and at a rapidly accelerating pace. That isn’t new in human history. But the precise manner in which it is disintegrating seems to be unprecedented, which is the reason for the title of Anton’s essay. What has effectively become the ideology of the ruling classes, which goes by many names – political correctness, “wokeness,” “critical social justice,” the “successor Ideology,” the baizuo mentality, and so on – manifests a perverse self-destructiveness and nihilism that, as Anton argues, appears sui generis.
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Recently we dipped into Peter Geach’s book . Let’s do so again, looking this time at what he has to say about the doctrine of original sin. Geach says that the doctrine holds that human beings have “inherited… [a] flawed nature,” and indeed that:
The traditional doctrine is that since the sin of our first parents, men have been conceived and born different in nature from what they would have been had our first parents stood firm under trial. As C. S. Lewis puts it, a new species, not made by God, sinned itself into existence. (pp. 89-90)
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Saturday, November 13, 2021
In a passage of his… [Aquinas] touches upon the question, whether the pastors of souls or the professors of theology have a more important position in the life of the Church, and he decides in favor of the latter. He gives the following reason for his view: In the construction of a building the architect, who conceives the plan and directs the construction, stands above the workmen who actually put up the building. In the construction of the divine edifice of the Church and the care of souls, the position of architect is held by the bishops, but also by the theology professors, who study and teach the manner in which the care of souls is to be conducted. (p. 5)
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
The “supernatural,” as that term is traditionally used in theology, is that which is beyond the power of the natural order to produce on its own. Hence it can be produced only by what has causal power superior to that of anything in the natural order, namely the divine cause of the natural order. Insofar as the natural order depends on this supernatural cause, the supernatural is metaphysically prior to the natural. However, the natural is epistemologically prior to the supernatural, insofar as we cannot form a conception of the supernatural except by contrast with the natural, and cannot know whether there is such a thing as the supernatural unless we can reason to its existence from the existence of the natural order. A proper understanding of the supernatural thus presupposes a proper understanding of the natural order and of the causal relation between that order and its cause. This chapter offers an account of these matters and of their implications for theological issues concerning causal arguments for God’s existence, divine conservation and concurrence, miracles, nature and grace, faith and reason, and the notion of a theological mystery (viz. what is beyond the power of the intellect to discover on its own).
Friday, October 29, 2021
Our series has examined how atheists of earlier generations often exhibited a higher degree of moral and/or metaphysical gravitas than the sophomoric New Atheists of more recent vintage. As we’ve seen, this is true of , , , , and even . There is arguably even more in the way of metaphysical and moral gravitas to be found in our next subject, Arthur Schopenhauer. Plus, I think it has to be said, the best hair. So let’s have a look, if you’re willing.
Sunday, October 24, 2021
In First Things, William Lane Craig Christianity Today about ..
, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen on the release of two live albums and the prospect of a new album. Fagen is interviewed at and . The Ringer on . Elliot Scheiner on .
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Last June, I presented a talk on the topic “Truth as a Transcendental” at the Aquinas Philosophy Workshop on the theme Aquinas on Knowledge, Truth, and Wisdom in Greenville, South Carolina. You can now listen to the talk at the Thomistic Institute’s Soundcloud page. (What you see above is the chart on the transcendentals referred to in the talk. Click on the image to enlarge. You'll also find a handout for the talk, which includes the chart, at the link to the Soundcloud audio of the talk.)
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Monday, October 11, 2021
Thomistic natural law theory and Catholic moral theology are not libertarian, but neither are they statist. They acknowledge that we can have enforceable obligations to which we do not consent, but also insist that there are limits to what government can require of us, and qualifications even where it can require something of us. In the case of vaccine mandates (whether we are talking about Covid-19 vaccines, polio vaccines, or whatever), they neither imply a blanket condemnation of such mandates nor a blanket approval of them. There is nuance here that too many hotheads on both sides of the Catholic debate on this issue ignore.
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Friday, October 8, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Like other academics, I first became aware of John Ioannidis through his influential 2005 paper That essay was widely praised as a salutary reminder from one scientist to his fellows of the need for their field to be self-critical. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Ioannidis would become far more widely known, this time for expressing skepticism about some of the scientific claims being made about the virus and the measures taken to deal with it. His warnings were in the same spirit as that of his earlier work, and presented in the same measured and reasonable manner – but this time . In , Ioannidis reflects on the damage that has been done to the norms of scientific research as politics has corrupted it during the pandemic.