William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Summary Against Modern Thought: God’s Will Is Not Chance

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

We reach a minor goal today, in understanding God’s Will is not chance. But I think this is enough about God’s will, except for one or two other matters, which we’ll clear up next week. And then move to free will (again).

Chapter 77 That The Multitude Of Things Willed Is Not Inconsistent With The Divine Simplicity (alternate translation)

[1] HENCE it follows that the multitude of things willed is not inconsistent with the oneness and simplicity of the divine substance.

[2] For acts are distinguished according to their objects. If, then, the plurality of things willed by God indicated any kind of multitude in Him, it would follow that there is not only one operation of the will in Him: and this is contrary to what has been proved.[1]

Notes Return to the idea of act and potential. If God was not simple in the technical metaphysical sense, He would be made of parts, and then what would account for the operation of these parts? Whatever it was couldn’t be in God ultimately, it would have to be outside Him, and therefore that which is not simple couldn’t be God. Well, that’s rough shorthand for what we proved before. Review the material on what God is simple means.

[3] Again. It has been shown[2] that God wills other things in as much as He wills His goodness. Wherefore things stand in relation to His will for as much as they are comprised in His goodness. Now all things are one in His goodness: because other things are in Him according to His mode, to wit material things immaterially and multitude unitedly, as we have shown above.[3] Hence it follows that the plurality of things willed does not argue plurality in the divine substance…

Notes There is a level of impenetrable mystery here. God is outside time; we are stuck in it. God is immaterial; we are a fusion of the material and immaterial. God is the First Cause of every change. And God is simple, as we have just reminded ourselves. God is changeless, but the material is change; time is change. How, then, does God interact with the material? How is something that is all-at-once with God perceived as change by us? Behind some technicalities and some hints that infinite power, i.e. omnipotence, is required, I don’t know. The mind boggles. All the analogies we create for ourselves are ultimately unsatisfactory.

The truth is, as St Thomas told us at the beginning of this book, that we can’t know the Mind of God fully. We can only speak analogically. We have some small proofs that God must exist, must be changeless, must be simple, must be omnipotent, omniscient, all loving and all that, but none of this answers the why. As a race, even after a few thousand years (more or less), we haven’t been able to probe very deeply. Keep reading.

Chapter 78 That The Divine Will Extends To Particular Goods (alternate translation)

[1] IT is also evident from the foregoing that in order to safeguard the divine simplicity it is not necessary for us to say that God wills other goods in a kind of universal way, in so far as He wills Himself to be the source of the goods which can flow from Him, and that He does not will them in particular.

[2] For the act of willing is according to a comparison of the willer to the thing willed. Now the divine simplicity does not forbid God’s being compared to many things, even to particulars: for He is said to be best or first even in comparison with singulars. Therefore His simplicity is not inconsistent with His willing things other than Himself even in special or particular…

Notes So here is a partial answer. In mathematics, we’d call this an existence proof. We know the thing of which we speak exists, but we have no idea how to get to it or why it is what it is. For that, we need a constructive proof—and that, I think, is not ours to have. And note the next argument.

[4] Moreover. According to the Philosopher (11 Metaph.) there is a twofold good of order in the universe: one consisting in the whole universe being directed to that which is outside the universe, just as the army is directed to the commander-in-chief: while the other consists in the parts of the universe being directed to each other, as the parts of an army: and the second order is for the sake of the first. Now God, through willing Himself as end, wills other things that are directed to Him as their end, as we have proved. Therefore He wills the good of the order of the whole universe in relation to Himself, and the order of the universe as regards the mutual relation of its parts. Now the good of order arises from each single good. Therefore He wills also singular goods.

[5] Further. If God wills not the singular goods of which the universe consists, it follows that the good of order is in the universe by chance: for it is not possible that some one part of the universe arranges all the particular goods so as to produce the order of the universe; and only the universal cause of the whole universe can do this, which cause is God Who acts by His will, as we shall prove further on. But it is impossible for the order of the universe to result from chance: since it would follow a fortiori that other things which come afterwards are the result of chance. Therefore it follows that God wills even each particular good…

Notes By “further on” St Thomas means the next book, which is still a few weeks away. And St Thomas doesn’t say it, but nothing can be the result of chance. Chance is not a force, a field, or a physics. Chance is entirely epistemological and in no way ontological. Whatever is changed is caused to be changed by some real thing. Thus at base it has to be God and not Chance.

This Week In Doom: A Mighty, Doom-Laden Seven Days


Thank You Sir, I’ll Have Another

Homosexual Activists Tell Kim Davis: ‘We Will Kidnap Your Husband, Tie Him Up And Force Him To Watch Us Raping You. We Will Burn You Alive.’

Before they went to bed, the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old—all the people to the last man—surrounded the house. They called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have sexual relations with them.”

Oops. Wait. Wrong story. This is right one:

Kim Davis said in an interview: “They told my husband they were going to burn us down while we slept in our home…He’s been told that he would be beaten up and tied up and made to watch them rape me. I have been told that gays should kill me.”

Video at the link.

Cue The Mob!

Office Depot has refused to print a flyer “Quick Facts about Planned Parenthood” because, said the timorous spokeshuman, it made “employees feel uncomfortable”.

Naturally, the same “outraged” mob who screeched and screamed and dribbled and gibbered about bakers and pizzerias not baking gmarriage cakes and pies will soon descend upon Office Depot to show them a thing or two. An F-5 Twitter storm! Judges are sure to send Office Depot management to reeducation camps, just like before!

Either that, or a pathetic silence.

My dear fellow Christians, it’s time for some boycotts—while there are still enough of us to have a monetary influence. Office Depot is free to print or not as they wish, just as we are free not to shop there. (Of course, we’re not free not to buy health insurance, so who knows if the government will eventually mandate we print our fliers at Office Depot.)

A Smug Host

You’ll pardon me for being gleeful. I like it when I make accurate predictions. I’ll be smiling like duck on the day they walk me to the guillotine as long I predict the date right.

My sisters have lived together for 30 years. Now they should be allowed to tie the knot.

Seems England has punishingly stupid death taxes, and once the elder sister dies the younger will have to sell the house she shares to pay the taxes. So this Utley fellow makes a plea that the sisters should be allowed to gwed. Hey, why not? What exact argument do you have against this idea? As Utley makes clear, if you accept gmarriage, you must accept that two sisters can gmarry. It’s wuv!

This sort of thing—ahem—was predicted.

Forget College

I have one of the best jobs in academia. Here’s why I’m walking away.

You know it’s bad when even lefty academics notice how rotten the foundations have become. “Our federally backed approach to subsidizing higher education through low-interest loans has created perverse incentives with disastrous consequences…When I started out, I believed that government regulation could solve every problem with relatively simple intervention.” The poor dear.

My solution? Universities: Nuke ’em From Orbit. It’s The Only Way To Be Sure.

Scientifically Speaking

American adults get a D in science; 22% confuse astronomy and astrology

Men outscored women, 8.6 to 7.3, on average. Even when the report authors accounted for the fact that the men who took the survey had more years of education than the women, the gender gap remained, according to the report.

Wait a second. This item doesn’t belong filed under Doom. It’s good news. It proves what some of us scientists have known for a long time: that science is not that important to the daily lives of most people. Do the mating habits or the Chilean water snipe or the mass of quarks shed any light on which grocery store to patronize? No, sir, they do not.

Democracies have the conceit that everybody can learn everything.

This Is Killings Me

George Will—and not for the first time—outs himself as a progressive. He’s all for the execution of civilians who ask to be killed. Wesley Smith, in the pages of the same journal, schools poor Will. Not that it will take. Will, I think, still longs to be seen as relevant to the Powers That Be.

Smith also wrote “Quebec Government Sends ‘Euthanasia Kits’ to Doctors to Kill Their Patients”. They’ll soon, I am guessing, be offering door-to-door service. It’s for your own good.

California Assembly approves right-to-die legislation, but that’s be expected in a state in which the main sport is narcissism. On the other hand, “UK Parliament massively defeats bill to legalize assisted suicide”, which surprised many who thought the UK had all but bled to death from self-inflicted wounds.

Light In The Wallet, Light In The Shoes?

Science asks Could Wealth Inequality Lead to Homosexuality? Their answer, because of wee p-values, is yes. The real answer is of no interest, because no journal would ever publish the answer.

How long until people realize there is no such thing as a “homosexual” person, as a kind of creature not quite human, but something else? See the first item for a big hint.

It’s For Your Own Good

The 2030 Agenda: This Month The UN Launches A Blueprint For A New World Order With The Help Of The Pope.

Did you know that the UN is planning to launch a “new universal agenda” for humanity in September 2015? That phrase does not come from me — it is actually right in the very first paragraph of the official document that every UN member nation will formally approve at a conference later this month. The entire planet is going to be committing to work toward 17 sustainable development goals and 169 specific sustainable development targets, and yet there has been almost a total media blackout about this here in the United States.

And also this: “Holy See expresses cautious support for UN development goals”.

If the World wants it, it must be a good thing, right?

Lawrence Krauss Wants All Scientists To Be Militant Atheists

This cannot have come from nothing: nothing is the complete absence of everything.

This cannot have come from nothing: nothing is the complete absence of everything.

Krauss’s biggest mistake in the first part of his “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists” article is to assume the (secular) government gets to decide right and wrong. Krauss is a scientist and like many scientists and products of our modern educational system has not done much reading in history, a subject which shows this idea is beyond asinine, or if he has done his reading, the lessons history taught didn’t stick.

But let this pass. We’re more interested in his scientific opinions.

In science, of course, the very word “sacred” is profane. No ideas, religious or otherwise, get a free pass. The notion that some idea or concept is beyond question or attack is anathema to the entire scientific undertaking.

Global warming, any one? Types of evolution? Gender “theory”?

This commitment to open questioning is deeply tied to the fact that science is an atheistic enterprise.

Bovine spongiography. It is true some atheists practice science, but false in general that science is an atheistic enterprise, and this is because science must needs rely on a metaphysics, which at the least mentions mathematics and says something about cause. And if you start speaking about cause, you end up with God as the First Cause.

It’s ironic, really, that so many people are fixated on the relationship between science and religion: basically, there isn’t one. In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature—just as it’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not citizens are obligated to follow the law.

Never heard God mentioned, eh. Well, if he says it’s so it must be so, but I have been to plenty of meeting and have heard it. It may be because some scientists have cut themselves off from classical metaphysics that they can’t see the connection between their fields and religion. But that is a choice, an assumption, a prejudice. And some science reeks of religion. Big Bang, anyone? That was is super consonant with the Bible. Religious belief, on the other hand, is highly relevant to following laws.

I wonder if Krauss, like many who were chanting “Law of the Land!” in the Kim Davis affair, uses the term “undocumented immigrant”? Let it pass.

Because science holds that no idea is sacred, it’s inevitable that it draws people away from religion. The more we learn about the workings of the universe, the more purposeless it seems. Scientists have an obligation not to lie about the natural world. Even so, to avoid offense, they sometimes misleadingly imply that today’s discoveries exist in easy harmony with preexisting religious doctrines, or remain silent rather than pointing out contradictions between science and religious doctrine.

Say, Larry, does science hold the idea that religion has no place in science as sacred? Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

The more we learn about the workings of the universe, the more purposeful it seems. Anyway, if Krauss really does embrace purposeless, why does he care what anybody thinks? It’s all purposeless. There is no right and wrong, science holds no special place. There is only Larry and his opinions.

It’s true that science, i.e. observation, does invalidate some religious beliefs. So much for those religions, then. But science has invalidated no belief held, say, by the Catholic Magisterium.

Consider the example of Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers are calling for a government shutdown unless federal funds for Planned Parenthood are stripped from spending bills for the fiscal year starting October 1st. Why? Because Planned Parenthood provides fetal tissue samples from abortions to scientific researchers hoping to cure diseases, from Alzheimer’s to cancer…It’s clear that many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are opposed to abortion on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science. Should this cause scientists to clam up at the risk of further offending or alienating them? Or should we speak out loudly to point out that, independent of one’s beliefs about what is sacred, this tissue would otherwise be thrown away, even though it could help improve and save lives?

Why are you so caring about human lives there, Larry? Isn’t that rather a Christian idea you have? I thought science said the universe was purposeless, no?

Now, Lar, you do realize that the lives inside mothers that are being killed are human, right? And you say it’s okay to kill these tiny humans so that science can progress. Well, is it any surprise, then, that some would say To hell with science? It’s not that “tissue” is being tossed onto the ash heap, it’s that your frightening utilitarianism encourages even more killing. If you want to save lives—though I can’t see why you would, science saying the universe is purposeless and all—then stop killing them. Brilliant!

I see a direct link, in short, between the ethics that guide science and those that guide civic life. Cosmology, my specialty, may appear to be far removed from Kim Davis’s refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples…

I stopped reading there.

But I did read this (at times hilarious) commentary from Lubos Motl, suggested to me by our friend Marc Morano.

Stream: Sins of The Synod: Behind The Scenes at The Synod on The Family; Pentin’s New Book


Today’s post is at The Stream: “Sins of The Synod: Behind The Scenes at The Synod on The Family”.

This is a review of Edward Pentin’s must-read new book The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation of Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.

“Earthquake in the Catholic Church!” That, and many like it, was the headline in the Western press after the mid-way point in last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family held at the Vatican. The press, in their calm and sensible way, were reacting to the release of a document which purported to summarize what the attendees of the synod—bishops, archbishops, and cardinals—spoke about during their first week.

The religious temblor was caused in large part because of these words:

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

It’s rare, but the metaphor the press chose in this case was accurate. An earthquake is a violent, unpredictable, destructive, and often deadly cataclysm, an event the wise do not welcome. Yet the press and the liberal blogosphere was aflame with giddiness that the Church was going to abandon some 2,000 years of doctrine and accept same-sex acts as on par with normal sexual relations. Traditionalists who honored Church teachings feared the liberals might be right.

Go there to read the rest.

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