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May 18, 2018 | 5 Comments

Insanity & Doom Update XXXIV

Special Extra Edition of Insanity & Doom! Have to find a way to empty my mailbox.

Item National Council of Math Teachers Annual Meeting

Taking a Knee in Mathematics Education: Moving from Equity Discourse to Protest and Refusal
Danny Bernard Martin, University of Illinois at Chicago

Friday, April 27 | 11:00 a.m.–Noon

I offer some thoughts on why equity-oriented discourse and practice are necessary but not sufficient responses to oppression and dehumanization in mathematics education. In various ways, equity-oriented reforms have maintained the status quo. I offer some additional thoughts on protest and refusal in mathematics education.

Oppression and dehumanization in mathematics education? As in requiring correct answers? Nevertheless, I hope this taking a knee catches on here, and in all subjects. Especially in colleges. We need far less cathedralized “education”.

Thanks to Ray Futrell for the tip.

Item Straight people don’t exist — so why do half of bisexual men fear coming out?

Today, Stonewall published their LGBT in Britain — Work Report which has found one in three LGBT people fear telling colleagues their sexuality or gender identity. Whilst this figure alone is shocking, the report found that some of the biggest issues are felt by bisexual men.

According to the survey, 49 percent of bi men are not out to anyone at work, compared to seven per cent of gay men and four per cent of lesbians…

What this really comes down to is society not understanding men well enough, in particular how their sexuality works. Recently researchers at Cornell University concluded that men are never 100pc straight. By measuring eye dilation when exposed to both male and female solo pornography, they came to the conclusions that “straight people do not exist.”…

Being bisexual is normal. Men may be used to having to appear a particular way to be perceived as strong but their sexuality is no more negotiable than their skin colour. Whether you see them or not, bisexual men are everywhere.

Yes. Eye dilation. Everybody enjoys non-reproductive sexual simulation because eye dilation. Sexual desire of dead bodies and animals, as is felt by many, is no more negotiable than their skin colour. Doubtless we can verify this by eye dilation. Like the sort of narrowing of slits that occurs right before a man starts swinging his sword. I do not mean sword metaphorically. Sword as in bladed object designed to lop heads off of demonic fools. I’ll emphasize this is Cornell.

Thanks to Arkanabar T’verrick Ilarsadin for the tip.

Item Autism Disorder Increases in U.S. Children, CDC Study Finds

U.S. autism prevalence has grown, according to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, with about 1.7 percent of 8-year-olds affected in 11 states.

The study, based on 2014 research, again identifies New Jersey with the highest incidence. One in 34 children in that state, or 3 percent, fall on what’s called the autism spectrum, which encompasses a range of social, behavioral and learning disorders ranging from the barely noticeable to the profoundly debilitating.

Researchers aren’t sure what causes autism, although they suspect environmental risks or triggers. It has no cure. They caution that more children being diagnosed doesn’t necessarily mean that autism is becoming more common.

Too much soy in mom’s diet? Too much listening to NPR? More exposure leading to more mom’s dragging their kids to the doc? Or a fashionable diagnosis, like ADHD, which some are now saying does not exist. Or all of the above?

Item Counties with fracking have increased rates of sexually transmitted infections

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have discovered that the rates of two major sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gonorrhea and chlamydia, are 21% and 19% higher, respectively, in Ohio counties with high shale gas activity (“fracking”), compared to counties without any fracking. Rates of a third STI, syphilis, were not elevated.

This is what is known as scientific click bait. For just as the activists are ready to march, we read this:

Shale gas extraction is associated with large influxes of specialized, trained workers into rural areas to meet the labor demands of the drilling rigs, and commonly involves the formation of “work camps” composed of relatively young men. The influx of workers in these situations is thought to increase STI risk because male workers typically live and socialize in communities with masculinized social norms, do not bring families and thus have opportunities to seek other sex partners, and may have few emotional ties to the local community.

That’s a lot of words to say very little. This was a “study”. Published in a peer-reviewed journal. “Research” akin to the discovery that there is more dementia in Florida than in California.

May 17, 2018 | 5 Comments

Book Sneak Peek: Imposing Your Beliefs Fallacy

All, here is a segment, a tease, a mere fragment, of an upcoming book of popular fallacies from the chapter Imposing Your Beliefs Fallacy. The Imposing Your Belief Fallacy occurs when somebody says, “You should not impose your beliefs”, which, of course, is an attempt to impose the speaker’s beliefs, and so the command is self-contradictory.

A pertinent example. In the early fall of 2017, Senator Diane Feinstein, a secular Jew (which needs mentioning because of the role religion and group identity plays), in her official role of senatorial inquisitor was questioning Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor from Notre Dame, who was nominated for a federal appellate court judgeship. Feinstein is in favor of would-be mothers having the “right” to kill the lives that live inside them, ensconced (in the United States anyway) in the law decided in Roe v. Wade. Barrett is a Catholic who professes belief in that religion’s stance on abortion, which is that such killing is always immoral, akin to murder, and thus the height of selfishness.

Feinstein was concerned Barrett would draw upon her religious beliefs in making future rulings about abortion. Feinstein said,

You are controversial. Let’s start with that. You’re controversial because many of us who have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems, and {\it Roe} entered into that, obviously. You have a long history of believing that your religious beliefs should prevail.”

She also said, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” We grant that Feinstein had no choice but to live her life as a woman. Incidentally, to prove Americans still have a sense of humor, Feinstein’s “dogma lives loudly” quip instantly became of catchphrase among traditionalist Catholics. Almost before she was done speaking, t-shirts with the slogan were available.

Now there are all sorts of legal quibbles about Feinstein’s method of questioning that are of no concern to us; for instance, whether it is legal or “Constitutional” to ask the question Feinstein did. The point here is that Feinstein implicitly invoked the Imposing Your Beliefs Fallacy. She did not want Barrett’s values to be used in deciding legal questions pertinent to abortion, but she did want her (Feinstein’s) values to be used. Feinstein was anxious to continue to impose her beliefs on the nation.

Feinstein’s tactic of highlighting Barrett’s religious beliefs fails because there is no point in which a religious person’s life is not touched by her religious beliefs, no matter how weak that touch. Of course Barrett’s views on abortion, informed as they are by Catholic dogma, will be used by her in deciding abortion litigation and on matters regarding human life. One can imagine purely bureaucratic or technical rulings associated with abortion which are, at best, faintly religious; for instance, deciding what date hearings will be scheduled on an abortion matter and so forth. But it is just as obvious Feinstein’s religious views arising from her secular background inform her own votes on these matters. Somebody has to win these debates and decide the law of the land; therefore, somebody’s views will be imposed.

It does not matter that Barrett ran from Feinstein’s accusatory fallacy and hid behind the law saying she would “follow unflinchingly all Supreme Court precedent.” That is, it would not matter except if she meant by that that she would readily abandon her Catholic beliefs in the face of precedent, or that she meant she didn’t really hold her religious views strongly. All that matters is Feinstein believed Barrett’s faith was genuine, and thus Feinstein’s line of argument was fallacious.

Because Feinstein’s argument was fallacious, Feinstein bullied Barrett, or tried to. A practice which, I hasten to add, is well accepted in politics. If Barrett estimates she will once in office be unable to blunt these barbs, she ought to consider remaining in the Ivory Tower. Feinstein’s bullying revealed the majority position of the ruling elite (a view which may not be the majority belief of the entire populace). Feinstein argued from a position of strength, taking her own views on abortion as granted and accepted by right-thinking people. So natural are these beliefs to her that she did not see that she imposes her own beliefs. Her failure to recognize minority viewpoints is why the Imposing Your Beliefs Fallacy exists.

May 16, 2018 | 29 Comments

Don’t ‘Taizé’ Me, Bro!: The Attack On The Liturgy — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Taizéd and dazed. We’ve gone to sleep. How did this begin to happen? And when was it we got Taizéd?

Have you ever seen those little inconspicuous signs outside of some mainline Protestant church, saying ‘Taizé Service’? Essentially, they mean ‘we have achieved nuclear parity’. It’s similar to what happened when Stalin exploded his first test nuke, back in August of 1949.

You first need to understand that revolutions don’t just happen by chance. They require planning. And dedication. And persistence. And hate. Hate, always hate. And they never stop, unless they are killed in the cradle. Which we failed to do to Stalin in 1949. Patton was right.

Just like the Russian nuke in 1949, the power to Taizé was a stolen power. Stolen by turncoats. That’s another word for Revolutionary. But that’s what history is all about. Who will betray whom. Ask Viriathus if you’re not sure.

The setting for this story (and it is a big story, which is why you’ve never heard of it) is the early 1800’s, in Europe. We have the Europeans still reeling from the Napoleonic revolution that set out to overturn every monarchy and re-create the world. But this time, in the image of Man. Or rather, the goddess whose name is Reason.

This destruction of the powers of the past had disrupted the people’s memory of the past, and all that was built upon it. The Europe everyone goes to see was not built by the Enlightenment. Sure, some sadists like to see the guillotine, but most would rather not. Who still understands what motivated those people who actually built the palaces and cathedrals that define our image of Europe? Europe, before the bloodshed?

The European people’s only authentic link with the past after the French/Napoleonic Revolution was the Church. Only Her doctrine and liturgy had survived this revolutionary onslaught. All the rest, the material stuff, was either razed or stolen. With the founding of the Solesmes Congregation in 1833 (in the ruins of the abbey demolished by the Revolution) a humble monk named Dom Prosper Guerangér began the second act of the Benedictine re-construction of Europe. And the first step towards this goal was the re-establishment of time. Forget Thermidor. Remember Advent. Guerangér’s masterpiece, The Liturgical Year was the beginning of this return to normalcy. It was a commentary on the saints and liturgy for each day of the year, wrapped in the norms of the ecclesial seasons. With this work Dom Prosper set about the task of re-orienting man towards his true work—his participation in the liturgy. The true worship of God.

What is this liturgy? Man’s public duty to God. It is not just the acknowledgment, but also the understanding of this duty that Gueranér sought to re-awaken. Because of this he is known as the godfather of The Liturgical Movement. And here we find the beginning of the trail of tears. The trail of Taizé. For it was from Taizé (a small village north of Lyon, in France) that the modernist ecumenical movement was unleashed upon the world. The original weapon of Mass destruction. The movement that will eventually rule all the world, if only for a time. And that ecumenical time is coming fast upon us.

I’m not saying that Dom Guerangér was the originator of today’s inversion of liturgical reform. But, as with all movements towards truth, there will be the inevitable spin-offs that, knowingly or not, will divert a good many men who begin their trek towards truth, but who end up ideologically turning right or left into the dead-ends of time. And it truly was absolutely necessary that someone should re-awaken mankind to the meaning of their public duty. Dom Prosper Guerangér was just the man for this job.

For otherwise the liturgy, attended by men who had forgotten it’s meaning, would continue in a meaningless repetition of ritual, devoid of intent. Any intent. Which is to say, worthless, to the practitioner. Rather like the worship Caesar demanded of his ‘citizens’. Why would Caesar demand that? Conditioning, my friend. Do what you’re told, I’ll do the thinking. Caesar was the first acolyte of B.F. Skinner. Or was it the other way around? But that is not what God expects of Man. God made man to think His thoughts after Him. He wants us to think. Before we act, however. So why should The Church expect anything less of Her children?

Now here is where the most important fork in the road to Liturgical reform was met. The next monk who had to decide which way to go was Dom Lambert Beauduin. A Benedictine monk, of course. But not at first. Born in Belgium in 1873, he first became a diocesan priest whose specialty was as a ‘worker’s missionary’. He was heavily involved in the education of the working people. Which, in those times, meant political and economic education. And he was good at it. Too good. During his gifted pastoral practice, he gradually lost sight of the true purpose of education. And the true source. What is that purpose? Adoration. The source? Informed adoration. Which is to say, a people in tune (and time) with the Liturgy.

This is what Dom Guerangér understood and worked for. He understood that educating the people about the meaning of the liturgy would re-awaken in them the true understanding of life here on earth. This would make possible a true education that put all of mankind’s activity in the proper perspective. Which is to say, the eternal.

This story of revolutionary ritual is laid out very clearly in a little book by Fr. Didier Bonneterre, The Liturgical Movement. In it, Bonneterre charitably explains how Dom Beauduin went off the rails. Like most revolutionaries, he got his means and ends mixed up. He thought his mission was to educate his flock before he taught them the purpose of education.

Then he began to think that his real calling was not to educate the Catholic masses, but rather he would reach out to the pastors of his ‘separated brethren’. His Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox friends, of whom he had many. Which, in itself, is not a bad thing. I know many Samaritans whom I like and love. Dom Beauduin thought, in his many ecumenical safaris, that there could be a way to rationally approach them on the question of the re-unification of Christendom. And he believed the way to this reunification was dialogue. Which is Hegelian, of course. Not Christian. And not necessarily rational.

Dom Beauduin failed to see that example is the best teacher. Work, not talk, is what impresses people. And if he had understood this, he would have seen that true ecumenism lies in the attraction of one side towards the other, based on the fruit of their work. Not some middling compromise that sullies both sides. Beauduin, an enthusiast of the Malines Conversations, was willing to accept an Anglican Church that was ‘united to Rome but not absorbed’.

Now within the Roman Church there are twenty-three distinct separate rites of worship. Being absorbed does not mean losing your personal identity. Each rite (and its culture) is distinct, each is authentic. And twenty-two of them are ancient. This is important. Remember that, as you try and restore your memory to what you were before you were Taizéd.

This concept of absorption was the lesson John Cardinal Newman learned in his epiphany in the institutional failure of the Oxford Movement. The Eastern Orthodox laughed the Oxford Movement’s ecumenist William Palmer out of town when he went to Moscow in 1840 to peddle that Three Branch hokum.

The Orthodox knew that giving in to Anglican claims of authenticity (and, ergo, autonomy) would lead directly to the need to admit the authenticity (in any fashion) of Holy Rome. In fact, Patriarch Nikon’s musing, during his deposition in 1666 by Tsar Alexi, that he should appeal his removal directly to the Pope was what sealed his fate.

The true personal fruit of the Oxford Movement was not the mutual recognition of autonomous equals. Rather it was the conversion of Newman and Palmer and numerous other Oxford Brethren to the centricity of Holy Rome. Conversions are what advance true ecumenism. Why? Because that is the only thing that produces true unity. Forget the Left. Forget the Right. The bullseye is always in the Center. No matter what you aim for.

In Dom Beauduin’s eagerness to seek rapprochement with his separated brethren (and in his frustration with Anglican reluctance), he became even more enthralled with the Eastern-most of these separated brethren, the Orthodox. Enthralled to the point of founding ‘The Monastery of Union‘ at Amay in 1925. The monastery that included (and celebrated) all forms of ‘Christian’ belief. Even contradictory ones. This, in spite of the fact that one of the most profound results of the Amay movement was that numerous Catholic monks were converting to Orthodoxy.

Guess who Beauduin became fast friends with there? Guess who would declare, in 1958, that ‘the method of Dom Lambert Beauduin is the right one’? Would you believe, Msgr. Angelo Roncalli? The future Pope John XXIII. The pope who convened the Ecumenical council known as Vatican II. The Pope that Taizéd us. And the Center began to move. Not, as Yeats had said, that ‘the centre cannot hold’ in his seminal work The Second Coming. No, rather it was because the centre would not hold. The falcons were abandoned by the Falconer. As the gyroscopic poles began to move, the world that spun around it began to wobble. And then everything flew apart. Literally, everything.

#########################################3

Now we are getting to the end of the story. The story of how the modernist New Mass supplanted the time-immemorial Latin liturgy of Pius V in the late 1500’s. Which liturgy Pius got from Pope Gregory the Great, around 600 AD. And Gregory got it, undisturbed, from the Apostles. Guess who they got it from? No, not Caiaphas!

What was this New Mass of Vatican II? Essentially, it was identical to the pre-existing Eucharistic Liturgy of Taizé. The Mass created by the experiments of the mad liturgical scientist, Dom Beauduin. And which experiments were recorded by Brother Roger, the ecumenical Protestant saint of The World Council of Churches (WCC). He, and his buddy, Max Thurian (Reformed Church pastor). Take a minute and read this liturgy, from 1959. Now compare it to the Mass of Vatican II. It’s actually better in a lot of ways than the New Mass of 1969.

Where did Thurian and Brother Roger get this new liturgy? From Dom Beauduin, and his People’s Masses that he had been experimenting with for a dozen years in his treks across Europe between The Great Wars. All the elements of Taizé (and later, the new Mass, delivered at Vatican II) were there. Including the most important, from their combined perspective; that the People were equally as important as the Eucharist. Fools. Poor fools.

There is only one word for this bi-polar thought: revolution. The ‘reformers’ (on both sides of the ecclesial divide) said that the liturgy, which was basically unchanged from the night of The Last Supper till WWI, actually stood between the people and their faith. The Ancient Church said that the liturgy is, in fact, the people’s acting out this faith. It was the linkage of the people and their faith. After all, if the liturgy is the public duty of man, then it is simply the expression of his faith. If God is unchanging, why shouldn’t the liturgy remain unchanged? But that answer never satisfies the revolutionary. He wants change, at any and all costs. As long he isn’t the one who pays the tab. And if the only way to change things is to destroy what currently exists, guess who pays?

Let’s get back to a previous point about revolutionaries. We’ve seen Beauduin, and Brother Roger. And Msggr. Roncalli. Now let’s look closer at another of the Komrades. Specifically, Max Thurian. This is the same Max Thurian who was secretly ordained as a Catholic priest in 1987, with no abjuration of any of his anti-Roman beliefs. How was it that he and Brother Roger (a close friend of all Popes since John XXIII) could write (and more importantly, celebrate) something equal to the reigning liturgy of the Catholic Church today? How can a man claim to believe everything the Catholic Church believes, and to act upon that belief, liturgically speaking, without publicly becoming one with Rome? How can autonomy be reconciled with unity?

Now I ask you, why was Max secretly ordained? And have there been any secretly consecrated Bishops? Ugly questions. Uglier answers. Ugly, but rather simple. Counterfeiting is basically a very simple concept. Substitution always seems to work. Some (most) people will buy something based on the hood ornament, regardless of what’s under the hood.

Yes, the Taizé liturgy appears (to my un-ordained mind) to contain the essence, the Canon, of the Mass, whether it be the old or the new form of the Mass. On paper, the nuclear parity of sacramental power appears to have been achieved. Canterbury and Augsburg could now (theoretically) rival Rome. Everyone could have their own atomic weapons now. If there were any real Anglicans and Lutherans left, that is. If there weren’t enough of them to accomplish the reunification of Christendom (through compromise), was there was another way to achieve the numerical parity this new Protestant-cum-Catholic liturgy needed in order to succeed?

Well, if you couldn’t rally enough men to your own side, then perhaps you could reduce the other side’s forces? Perhaps the other side could be persuaded to engage in some unilateral disarmament? Some pleasant form of suicide, perhaps? By the way, isn’t it funny how the semantics work out? The old Latin form of the Latin Mass now has an English name, the ‘Extraordinary Form’, while the new English Mass has a Latin name ‘Novus Ordo‘. Is it any wonder the people get confused? Back to the plot. For it is a plot, you know. Why? Because there is no need for secrecy if this ecumenical ordination of Max Thurian was truly licit. You know. Legal. Sure, it’s valid, it’s effective. But was it legal? Well, what revolution is ever legal?

Here’s the heart of the plot. Let’s assume the Taizé liturgy has the crucial magical (canonical) elements that would constitute a true Mass (the form and substance of the consecration). If so, there’s only one thing missing here in order for this liturgy to actually result in the confection of the Eucharist. What would that be? A real priest, of course. One who was actually and effectively ordained into the Apostolic succession of the priesthood. There has to be apostolic succession here in order for the celebrant to be able to make the words of the liturgy bring alive the act of transubstantiation. The change of the bread and wine into the Real Presence.

Yes, this is an act of magic. True magic. An act that requires a true magician. One who has been given this power. You can’t just achieve it. Or take it. Or buy it. Ask Simon Magus. It must be given. By Who? By the One who owns it. The One who gave it to a particularly chosen group, and to be passed on by them, in an orderly way. Holy Orders. Sorry guys (and gals), The Last Supper was invitation-only. Discrimination in its best form.

That’s what all these liturgical revolutionaries (in both camps) recognized. They knew that even if the Protestant denominations had valid claims that their liturgy, on paper, was congruent with Catholic belief, there still had to be a legal driver for the car. Someone with an actual valid license. A celebret of some type. Otherwise, he’s driving without insurance.

Here’s the logic driving this whole thing. The current Catholic hierarchy wants re-unification, at seemingly any cost. The Protestant hierarchy wants the real liturgy, at almost any cost. Any cost but bending the knee to Peter. Forget the current occupant of that Chair for a minute. Focus on Peter. That’s what the other side has done. That’s what we have forgotten to do.

How do we accomplish this, Komrade? First, if we can get the Catholics to act Protestant, then maybe we can get the Protestants to act like Catholics. If the one disappears, how can the other mirror it? Unless they both disappear. Which is apparently what’s happening. And that’s how the Revolutionaries did it. They changed the old form of the Mass into the newly proclaimed Protestant form, and called it a tie game. And everybody began to leave. They all went home for a nap. A long nap. Check the figures for Mass attendance since 1969. Same for Mainline Prot churches. Every one was selling short.

The Ref that called this tie game was Fr. Annibale Bugnini, the head of the Commission for Liturgical Reform. Another friend of Dom Beauduin. And Msgr. (Pope) Roncalli. Shazzam! Annibale. Hannibal. ‘The grace of Baal‘. The everlasting enemy of Rome. Imperial or Holy, it makes no difference. Who was vetting these vocations?

After Pius XII died in 1958 and Msgr. Roncalli became Pope John XXIII, the way was clear to make the big move. That’s when Fr. (soon to be bishop) Bugnini used the Taizé liturgy as his blueprint, knowing the Protestants would accept it. Because, after all, they had already accepted it! So, monkey-see, monkey-do. Turn the altar around and make it a buffet table. Speak in the vernacular instead of the sacred. Treat priests like waiters. And treat everyone else like a priest. Maybe a priestess? Then, sneak the Canon of the Mass (complete with transubstantiation) into the Protestant form of ritual and turn it into a Catholic liturgy (but without a lot of public chatter about what’s been done). Abracadabra. Presto-change-o.

If they can somehow inject a valid (though possibly illicit) priesthood into the Protestant side, then they can say their Taizé, then liturgy produces exactly what the Catholics have. The Eucharist. In other words, Nuclear Parity. They can be just like Holy Rome. And, by the way, just like the Orthodox, too. Same dogma, same rites, same priesthood as Rome. The Three Branch Theory, fulfilled! All without having to bend the knee to Peter. Thus, we have the conditions for an eternally extended Mexican Standoff. Even better than peaceful (but still uncomfortable) co-existence. It’s Amnesty!

The Orthodox aren’t buying this scam. They shouldn’t. But they have their own separate agenda. The agenda of continued separation, that is. Their own refusal to bend the knee. While the Eastern Orthodox maintain a presence in the World Council of Churches, they are aloof to it. They sneer at it privately, because to them Moscow is the true Third Rome. And the center is moving towards Moscow, Komrade. The one pole that will not move.

Why not let these Teutonic Lutheran and Anglican idiots think they’ve swiped the Holy Grail, literally? The Orthodox are certain they are the only true possessors of it, now that the grip of Rome has loosened. Let these silly Protestants think they are the equals of Holy Rome. Too bad they don’t realize both Rome and Canterbury have both apostasized, in the Orthodox view. So, let them trade costumes, who cares? The result is the same. Forget that stupid Three Branch theory. We told Palmer that publicly in Moscow in 1840. No need to repeat ourselves, eh Komrades?

This is how they herd all of the sheep into one pen. Without any unnecessary bleating, of course. Stay calm and carry on, they tell us again, as we continue down the chute into the common killing fields. We appear to have no choice. Either we go with the currently relaxed Cat/Prot liturgy of the secularized West, or we embrace the rigid but vacuous rituals of the Orthodox East. Yet both, in the end, owe their continued existence to their refusal to bend the knee to Peter. To Peter, who appears to be abandoned by all.

Who is this ‘they’ I refer to? Does it matter? The deed is done. Whether by Kabbalah or its pale Gentile version known as Freemasonry, or both in concert, the deed is done. The sheep are scattered, the wolves are loose. It’s every sheep for himself. Baaa!

What is the faithful man to do? Where can he find support? What is the right response to this Mongol strategy of deliberatively contrived confusion followed by exhaustion and collapse? Well, in war, the correct response, as always, is to attack. That requires guts. And guts require faith. Both are in short supply today. That’s the point.

We haven’t paid attention to what Dom Guerangér tried to teach us. Because we have shifted the focus of the liturgy, our public duty, from God to Man. We have forgotten the need for contemplative adoration. Both words, together. Liturgy, with ancient understanding. That is the key to enlivening our faith. Only that will give us the guts we need. The guts to do our public duty to God. To do it the way it was intended. The way unchanged from the time of Peter till now. That, Komrade, is the best means of attack.

My friend, if you want to live, wake up. Shake off that Taizéing. Remember your past. Reverence your origin. Give your personal thanks for the conscious opportunity to die in the Faith. Then you will live again. Just keep the Faith. That’s all you have to do.

Oremus.

May 15, 2018 | 43 Comments

The Why & Frequency Of Miracles: Shapiro’s The Miracle Myth Reviewed — Part IV

Read Part I, II, III.

MOTIVE

That miracles have supernatural origins is true by definition (see below, in PROBABILITY). Miracles, like all events, must have causes, and cause has motive as part of its aspect, as we have already seen. God must have wanted to perform the miracle, else, of course, He would not have done it.

Shapiro, however, says “God’s intentions, desires, habits, and so on are simply not available to us. Whatever we assume about God’s nature is purely speculative—guesses, really.” Both statements are (at least sometimes) false. If Jesus were God, as he claimed, then his intentions, desires, and habits were known and available. Deciding whether the miracle that a man can be God is a separate question. God’s, or Jesus’s, or even the Holy Spirit’s motives are not always plain, of course, but when a man begs Jesus to be made well, and Jesus heals the man miraculously, the motivation is clear.

If Shapiro is not an empiricist, he plays one in the book. Divining God’s attributes and nature, in our limited and fractured way, is the topic of theology and metaphysics (did you see the bad joke?). It can be done, and has. (See this series.) So Shapiro is wrong because he insists on measurement even when it cannot be had. He asks, “But how do we verify assumptions about God’s characteristics and ‘personality’?” How do we verify there are an infinity of numbers? Answer: we do not and cannot verify it. But we all believe it. An empiricist cannot believe it, however, because he cannot verify it. No math for Shapiro, then, nor logic. Also, that we cannot measure God’s attributes, though we can deduce some, is not a refutation that all our deductions are wrong. Instead, empiricism is a fallacy.

Shapiro’s main conclusion is that since, he says, we cannot discern God’s motives, then we “have no justification for believing” in miracles. “[B]ecause,” he says about one instance, “verification of either assumption [about motives] is impossible—we can’t simply ask Oprah to sit down with a divine entity for an interview about it goals and methods—we’re not justified in believing either of them.” And from this supposed lack of knowledge of motive he concludes “inference to supernatural causes is never justified.” That is the gist of the entire book.

Shapiro fails to see that motive can be guessed about some miraculous claims: that motivation is part of the inference to an explanation, when it accounts for the assumed metaphysics and theology. Shapiro assumes his own, but fails to see they are his own. He also did not acknowledge that we cannot always know motives even in mundane events, such as the example which opened this review (ball on table placed by Alice, Bob, or Charlie). Alice could walk in the room and say “I did it”, but Shapiro would have to reject her claim because he did not learn why she did it. With God, we sometimes do know the motive: He tells us. And sometimes we do not. In any case, that we do not does not mean what happened did not happen (if something indeed happened).

That Shapiro has fallen into these errors is because he attempts to divorce his metaphysics, about which he is mainly wrong, from his epistemology, which he misuses.

PROBABILITY

Shapiro thinks an event’s improbability is what, in part, makes it a miracle: “the more unlikely the occurrence, the more reason to believe that something supernatural is taking place,” and “miracles should be extremely improbable.” His two criteria for miraculous are:

1. Extremely improbable: a miracle should be unlike anything we have seen before. It should be contrary to everything we know about how the world works.

2. Supernatural: a miracle can’t have a natural explanation. It must be the product of supernatural and typically divine agency.

The second criterion is not controversial. The first is incorrect. The problem is, no miracle has a probability: no event does either. Nothing has a probability, not even the roll of a die. That means improbability cannot be used to judge the veracity of a miracle, or of anything.

Probability is only defined with respect to assumed evidence. Miracles, then, are more or less probable depending on the evidence for or against them that it accepted or assumed. It is the same for any event.

It is however easy to see why Shapiro (or anybody) would say why walking on water is improbable. It is because he gathers evidence of his experience and discovers, in relation to that, such events do not often happen, or have never happened (to his knowledge), and that he cannot think of a cause. Gathered, that evidence makes the event improbable. But, at least to to the one doing the act, who knows the cause (in all its aspects), the probability is certain.

Think about a non miracle, like being struck by lightning. Nobody “has” a probability of being struck by lightning. A golfer standing on hillock in a thunderstorm is under different circumstances than an office drone seated as his desk in a skyscraper. Their circumstances differ in ways we know to be related to the causes of lightning, hence their probabilities differ. Indeed, the golfer and drone may be the same man at different times. Probability solely depends on the evidence believed or assumed. If the evidence changes, the probability changes.

Shapiro finally attempts to turn improbability into a reason not to believe miracles, by referencing the base rate fallacy. This is a real fallacy and old saw (regular readers will well recognize it), introduced in every elementary probability book when Bayes’s theorem arrives. How worried should an asymptomatic women, aged 40-60, with no family history of breast cancer, be when the mammogram comes back positive, considering the mammogram is right (say) 99.9% of the time? Not that worried, as it turns out, because conditional on the information assumed the base rate of cancer is small. A positive mammogram adds to the evidence and increases the probability of cancer only a little. The fallacy comes in supposing the probability of cancer is close to the accuracy of the test.

This is applied to claims of miracles by first assuming miracles are rare, and then assuming claims of miracles are imperfect to some degree in the same way medical tests are. Going only by the “base rate” of miracles, the probability of a miracle is small. Add to the evidence a good but possibly imperfect report, and the probability of the miracle does rise, but it still remains small overall. “The absolutely crucial point is that when we are faced with testimony about something very improbable, such as an alien abduction, we have to ask ourselves one question: What is more likely—that the event really happened, as the witness reports, or that some other explanation for the testimony is true?”

This is a fine question which, as Shapiro says, should and must be asked. Notice it relates to cause, both of the purported event but also of the motivation of the reporter. Not everybody who relates a miracle properly interpreted what they saw, and not everybody tells the full truth. It therefore makes sense to examine every claim critically. And it even makes sense, as in the case of alien abductions, to ignore the claim, given the base information that heretofore all such events critically examined have proved false, or were very likely false (given the evidence accumulated in the investigation). This is because, given all past events like this were false or probably false, we judge the probability high that the newest claim will also be false or likely false.

But this does not work for miracles, for three reasons. One, not all claims of miracles have been proven false or likely false; some have been proved true or likely true. Thus, it is worth investigating substantial new claims, and worth ignoring insubstantial ones (like faces in burnt toast; notice how decision is wrapped up in this). Two, since miracles do not have probabilities, they do not have base rates. Their probability only makes sense with respect to assumed evidence. We can assume their near impossibility, making them immune to any report à la Hume, but this becomes a circular argument (a well known criticism). Three, if we were to rule out any report of unlikely events, nobody who (say) claimed (say) to win the lottery could ever be believed (lottery probabilities specify the precise evidence with which to calculate their probabilities).

Shaprio is finally wrong again, because rarity does not define miracles. Every day in tens of thousands of churches, the miracle of transforming nature of bread in the Body of Christ occurs. Another miracle is the universe being held in existence from moment to moment. Rarity doesn’t enter into it.