William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Summary Against Modern Thought: God Wills The Future

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.

This chapter starts with four counter-arguments which are then answered, much in the way St Thomas would come to write his future disputations.

Chapter 79 That God Wills The Things That Are Not Yet (alternate translation)

[1] Now if the act of willing is by comparison of the willer to the thing willed, someone might think that God wills only the things that are: since relatives must needs be simultaneous, and if one cease the other ceases, as the Philosopher teaches. Wherefore if the act of willing is by comparison of the willer to the thing willed, no one can will other things than those which are.

Note Relatives in similar sense of simultaneous cause and effect, as is clearer in the next example.

[2] Moreover. Will relates to things willed, even as cause and creator. Now not even God can be called Creator, or Lord, or Father, except of the things that are. Neither therefore can He be said to will other things than those which are.

[3] One might conclude further, if God’s willing is unchangeable, just as the divine being, and if He wills nothing but what actually is, that He wills nothing but what always is.

[4] To these arguments some answer that things which are not in themselves are in God and in His intellect. Wherefore nothing prevents God willing things even which are not in themselves, in so far as they are in Him.

[5] This reply, however, is seemingly insufficient. For every willer is said to will a thing in so far as his will is referred to the thing willed. Wherefore, if the divine will is not referred to a thing willed that is not except in so far as it is in God or in His intellect, it would follow that God wills it merely because He wills it to be in Himself or in His intellect. Yet those who make the above statements do not mean this, but that God wills things which as yet are not to be also in themselves.

Note This is the summary of the counter-arguments. Long sentences! The objection is, in other words, that God wills future things as they are in themselves and that the future is not in God’s intellect. And how could this God-independent future come about by God?

[6] Again, if the will be referred to the thing willed through its object which is a good understood; the intellect understands that the good is not only in (the intellect) itself, but also in its own nature: and the will must be referred to the thing willed not only as it is in the knower, but also as it is in itself.

[7] Accordingly we must say that, since the apprehended good moves the will, the act of willing must needs follow the condition of the apprehender, even as the movements of other movables follow the condition of the mover which is the cause of the movement. Now the relation of the apprehender to the thing apprehended is consequent upon the apprehension, because the apprehender is referred to the thing apprehended through its apprehension thereof. Now the apprehender apprehends the thing not only as it is in the apprehender, but also as it is in its proper nature: for we not only know that a thing is understood by us, which is the same as the thing being in our intellect, but also that it is, or has been, or will be in its proper nature. Wherefore although the thing is then only in the knower, yet the relation consequent upon the apprehension is referred thereto not as it is in the knower, but as it is in its proper nature which the apprehender apprehends.

Notes Got that? Apprehender, apprehended, apprehension, apprehends. A whole lot of thinking going on. If you know a thing, such as your dog Spot, he is in your intellect. You also know his nature or essence, what it means to be a dog (at least in some rough sense; nobody knows everything there is to being a dog; knowing a nature or essence does not imply you know everything). You can understand what it means for him to walk in the room, even though he’s not currently in it.

[8] Accordingly the relation of the divine will is to a nonexistent thing, as it is in its proper nature in reference to a certain time, and not only as in God knowing it. Therefore God wills the thing that is not now to be in reference to a certain time, and He does not will merely to understand it. Nor does the comparison hold with the relation of willer to thing willed, nor of creator to creature, nor of maker to thing made, nor of Lord to the creature subject to Him. For to will is an act abiding in the willer, wherefore it does not necessarily imply anything existing outside. But to make, to create, and to govern denote an action terminating in an external effect, without the existence of which such an action is inconceivable.

Notes I kept this whole argument this week because I want the reader to understand that even such a simple contention that an omnipotent, omniscient “being” can will the future, which is obvious in its own way, requires proof. And St Thomas’s proof is as meticulous as they come. Mathematicians would say it is rigorous. Thus far, we have a 79-Chapter continuous argument. If you aren’t astonished by the miracle that was St Thomas, you haven’t been paying attention.

This proof also fulfills another goal of our review of this book. To prove to us moderns that theology, at least as it was practiced by the schoolmen, was an intellectual achievement of the highest order. This sort of thinking is practically unknown among modern atheists because they haven’t bothered to look, which is why modern atheists are always chattering about “invisible friends in the sky” and other such things.

Notice, too, that any scientific observation is irrelevant to what we have done so far. This is metaphysics, the science behind science. The philosophy that necessarily must exist before any science gets off the ground.

Anyway, next week, like I falsely promised last, we’ll skip ahead more quickly.

This Week In Doom: Rejecting Sex With HIV+ Is Now Discrimination

Journalism professor demonstrates a lesson.

Journalism professor demonstrates a lesson.

This headline appeared in a paper with enormous circulation: “HIV positive man who was rejected on Grindr after bravely revealing his condition gives witty response that sweeps Facebook.

Grindr is (they say) an app that allows men with same-sex attraction to find partners for transient and potentially harmful sex-like acts. There is immediate astonishment that this newspaper is encouraging these activities that comes before the realization that the man has a debilitating if not deadly disease, one which is passed on in just those activities the man is openly seeking. The summary:

* Tom Knight, 28, from London was using the gay dating app Grindr
* He bravely revealed he was HIV positive to a prospective date
* The potential date replied: ‘I’m not ready for that kind of complication’
* Tom replied: ‘Oh you still wear flared jeans… I’m not sure I’m ready for that kinda complication in my life’

What’s the worst sin the paper, and apparently a large chunk of Facebook, could identify? That the second man seeking immoral acts wears flared jeans? Or that this second man rejected unprotected sex-like activities with an HIV infected partner? The paper said (ellipsis original):

Tom [the man with HIV], who has 526 followers, later revealed that the [second] man in question had responded again saying: ‘Someone in your situation should be a bit more realistic.’

However with enough ammunition for another come back, he wrote: ‘Well the good news is my HIV can be treated. Your fashion sense however…’

Friends were quick to post their messages of support. One wrote: ‘Well done luvey! x’

Another commented: ‘Oh the life! Love your reply!!’

Tom told the MailOnline: ‘I wasn’t having a hissy fit because I got turned down for sex or anything of the sort.

The second man, the flared-jeans wearer, retained a notion that his health was important and was ridiculed for it. Tom said about his trolling, “It is what it is. I am proud of who I am and what I’ve done. I am by no means glamourising HIV or unprotected sex. I am simply living my life and doing my bit for a world I’m part of.”

He’s not glamourising it, he says, but he’s still seeking and engaging in unprotected sex-like activities. That’s “doing his bit” for the world.

This story was picked up on inter alia Buzzfeed. Their title? “This HIV-Positive Guy Gave The Perfect Slapdown To Someone Who Rejected Him On Grindr: ‘Oh you have HIV…I’m not ready for that kind of complication in my life,’ said the man on Grindr. BuzzFeed News spoke to Tom Knight about his awesome response.”

Perfect slapdown. Awesome response.

In the story, Tom said, “I saw a story the other day from the Evening Standard and he [an HIV-positive man] was saying, ‘HIV isn’t a problem, it’s the attitudes around it.'”

Throughout these articles, those with HIV are painted as harmless victims suffering unwarranted, unreasonable discrimination. Not only is their HIV not their fault, but if you refuse to engage in immoral acts with those who have HIV, it is you who is at fault. You are the one with the problem.

Let’s categorize. The number of folks who still hold, via natural law or tradition-based arguments, that same-sex acts are immoral, are no longer a majority, but they’re not terribly far from one either, despite media portraits. The media pounds its stretched skins to make it appear that more agree with them than actually do. That technique does win converts, so to speak.

Of the majority who hold, via desire-based or so-called libertarian arguments, that same-sex acts are moral, I think most still agree that purposely seeking same-sex acts with the risk of transmitting HIV is immoral. Such acts intentionally cause harm in others, which is the only libertarian no-no. Libertarians are weak on what defines “harm”, which is their weakness.

The media never tires of beating its drum, so it tries to show that even these libertarians are wrong, and that the true immorality is in rejecting the desires of the HIV positive. Judging by the wealth and nature of comments to the stories linked above, the media is winning its war.

HIV is just a disease, and what’s wrong with that, you bigot. If two consenting adults want to share it, what’s that to you? How dare you deny somebody sexual access? Have you no love? Where’s Anthony Kennedy when you need him?

I’ve said this before, but we are rapidly approaching the state where the only perversion left will be holding the traditional position. In the near future, you will not be allowed, in polite company, to say same-sex acts are (for instance) disgusting, dangerous, or immoral. To be socially rewarded, you will have to announce that same-sex acts are good, even appealing. The most moral will not be the man who claims predominant same-sex attraction, but the heteronormative man who says he (or his children) would be willing (or excited?) to “experiment.”

Now this is a verifiable predictive, dear reader. The only thing I’ve left out is a date. Good question, that. Ten years?

Bonus Pay attention to the bottom-right corner of a magazine featured in the Buzzfeed article. Who said having same-sex attraction had anything to do with sex?

Update Did I say ten years? “The U.S. government says it will begin using the term ‘sexual rights’ in discussions of human rights and global development.

Update Apropos to timing. “Frito-Lay announced Thursday that for a limited time Doritos will come in rainbow colors to show support for the LGBT community. Sales will go to It Gets Better, a non-profit group started by the infamous anti-Christian bully and bigot Dan Savage.”

Update One of the Buzzfeed comments caught my eye. It was by a man responding to a comment that the second man had a right not to be infected (all sic).

Hello there you are right to a point but do you know how many married men gets on grindr and How many younger guys that don’t care if they get HIV. I know for a fact because I had plenty asking me to give them HIV to them. And Tom didn’t ask for a date or a LTR or to get married.

Recall “bug hunting” or bugchasing, i.e. the intentional search for HIV infection. I had an email conversation with a long-time blog reader. It was painfully difficult for her to admit that this kind of behavior was immoral.

Failed Climate Scientists Call For RICO Investigation To Stop Criticisms, And Non-Scientist Claims Scientists Will Cause Next Genocide

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If I ever meet NCAR’s Keven Trenberth (again), I’m going to punch him in the mouth. Same thing if I cross paths with Rutgers’ Alan Robock. Pow! Right in the kisser. I’m too much of a gentleman to pop one across the chops of University of Maryland’s Eugenia Kalnay, but she has it coming.

Why?

These cowards, these inferior intellects, these cry babies, these poor losers, these promulgators of a failed science want to sic the full force and might of United States Government on persons like yours truly and the companies or organizations that might fund me. (None do, unfortunately.)

A whole slew of these people wrote a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, and Science Adviser Holdren. It said in part:

We appreciate that you [President Obama] are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool — recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse — is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change…

If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done.

The RICO act! Dems fightin’ words, dammit. These delinquent meager mentally deficient blights attempt to crush their enemies, not through truth logic reason and rational demonstration, but by running behind the skirts of a merciless army of mindless bureaucrats and lawyers. Craven gutless poltroons.

This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. I and my brother scientists have been called treasonous, Anti-American, evil, and every other name you can think of. We have had people say we should be fired, fined, jailed, even hung. All for holding a view of science that just happens to comport with reality.

I’m sick of it. I’ve taken all I’m going to take. So when next I meet any of these pusillanimous spineless unmanly (and unwomanly) dolts, I’m coming out swinging.

Look. Civilians don’t realize how much of science is raw bullying, how many theories that are touted as unquestionable truths are in reality teetering on the flimsiest evidence, how much bluster and brashness are a cover for deep ignorance. Fights are inevitable. And because big brains and even bigger egos are involved, these quarrels are waged as dirty as any tavern brawl.

But I am a scientist and I know how shaky things are. I expect fights. I don’t even mind them. I like them. A good argument with a truly intelligent opponent is like sparring around with Joe Louis. Keeps the wits sharp. Saves you from growing complacent.

What these mamma’s boys (and girls) are doing isn’t sticking to the rules, though. The instant these weak-wits realized they were losing—and we were really creaming them—they ran off the playground to get the principal, hoping their hot tears would enrage him enough to break out the paddle.

Given the way things are, their cheap trick might even work. It’s certainly suckering in those in the academy who haven’t much resistance to fringe thought.

Like this guy, Timothy David Snyder, non-scientist specialist in slave societies like the Soviet Socialist Republics and the National Socialist Germany, who says climate “deniers” will cause the next genocide.

This foolish man took to the pages of well known broadsheet and said:

Hitler spread ecological panic by claiming that only land would bring Germany security and by denying the science that promised alternatives to war. By polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the United States has done more than any other nation to bring about the next ecological panic, yet it is the only country where climate science is still resisted by certain political and business elites. These deniers tend to present the empirical findings of scientists as a conspiracy and question the validity of science — an intellectual stance that is uncomfortably close to Hitler’s.

Hitler. Boo!

Where does this uncouth uncultured unknowing uncomprehending twit get off telling the world that scientists with whom he disagrees will cause the next genocide? Genocide! From people like Trenberth, Robock, and Kalnay, that’s who.

If I ever have the chance to meet this jackass, I will explain to him as to a child, with care and great patience, just where his thoughts have gone awry.

Who Wants Viewpoint Diversity In The Academy?

A student meets the academy.

A student meets the academy.

Reader Gary Boden sent over a link to Heterodox Academy. Some friends of ours are part of this, like Judith Curry and Scott Lilienfeld. In their words:

We are social scientists and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines. We have all written about a particular problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” It’s what happens when everyone in a field shares the same political orientation and certain ideas become orthodoxy. We have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy.

Their big move was a paper “Political diversity will improve social psychological science.” The Abstract:

Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity — particularly diversity of viewpoints — for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving….

Stop right there. Diversity is one of those words pleasing to the ear, it sings a seductive song, it tells of a golden destination, it…well, enough floweryness (this is for Will). Nobody in their right mind wants diversity in the academy, or, come to that, anywhere.

Diversity in viewpoint is a good thing, is it? The full range of thought possible by humans would be the most diverse, therefore we should seek infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Yet only the insane would demand true diversity of thought.

One guy holds the idea, and teaches and advocates for the same, that faculty should be split open and their carcasses put on a spit. Another guy has the same idea for the faculty’s children. Another has the same idea for you.

In the Department of Family Studies is a new fellow who thinks your mother is a puta and leads the class to her house to chant, some in support of your mother’s experiment in living, others opposed. Over in Logic is a professor who will try his utmost to convince his students, using all his powers of persuasion, that there is no such thing as cause or truth.

Oh, wait. We actually already have those guys.

But enough. You get the idea. Supply your own examples. Diversity of thought is dumb.

How about diversity of ability? Well, why not hire the severally encephalopathic to staff the myriad departments of Diversity? Surely they couldn’t do a worse job. But putting them in the Physics Department is not such a wise idea. I won’t give any more examples; they’re easy enough for you to generate.

Diversity of ability is dumb.

That leaves diversity of characteristics. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply—the implication being non-women, non-minorities are discouraged. Would hiring more black females pretending to be men but who self-identify as “gay” (did you think I made that one up?) improve the Mathematics faculty? If so, then by all means let’s have quotas. Otherwise, let’s not.

Diversity of characteristics is dumb.

Now what the Heterodox demonstrate is that the Academy, particularly in Sociology departments, are staffed almost entirely by lefties. Which is what everybody already knew. They also demonstrate what readers of this blog already knew, that ideology often masks for research (I’ve done hundreds of examples; they have others in their paper). And they make the obvious point that this ideology-as-research is harmful.

Their solution is to leak in some righties to mix with the lefties to temper their enthusiasm. They call this “viewpoint diversity.” And they want to increase diversity for diversity’s sake because they, like nearly all of us these days, see diversity as a good in and of itself.

Diversity isn’t an unconditional good; it is an unconditional evil.

What we really want are people devoted to the truth. Okay, easy to say, hard to do. After all, the current staff over in Sociology think they have the truth, which is why it’s so easy for them to miss their confirmation bias. Too, the lefties are increasingly coming to believe that their enemies are not just wrong, but immoral. Hiring a token neo-conservative isn’t likely to have much of an influence in that kind of atmosphere. Given budgetary and other constraints, forcing any department to be 50-50 on some disputed and disputable measure of politics will never fly.

Solution? Treat ideological departments as we would any other toxic waste site. Rope them off, keep the kids away, do your best to ignore the fumes seeping out. And rebuild somewhere else.

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