This essay cannot be missed and must be bookmarked. It must be on hand to give to your science pals who triumphantly proclaim that evolution, “selfish” genes, or other observations and speculations of biology “prove” the Christian/Jewish Bible is in error. I don’t think you will find a more succinct account of what orthodoxy actually says anywhere.
Now modern genetics does not falsify the Adam and Eve tale for the excellent reason that it does not address the same matter as the Adam and Eve tale. One is about the origin of species; the other is about the origin of sin. One may as well say that a painting of a meal falsifies haute cuisine.
Still, there are some interesting points about the myth of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Not least is the common late-modern usage of “myth” to mean “something false” rather than “an organizing story by which a culture explains itself to itself.” Consider, for example, the “myth of progress” that was so important during the Modern Ages. Or the equally famous “myth of Galileo” which was a sort of Genesis myth for the Modern Ages. With the fading of the Modern Ages, these myths have lost their power and have been exploded by post-modernism or by historians of science. Before we consider the Fall, let us consider the Summer. No. Wait. I mean the Summary.
Aside: it took me several minutes to realize what “IOW” meant. Then, as I tweeted earlier, for years I thought “LOL” was “lots of luck.”
I thought not. There were too many and they were too persnickety, with too many ‘rules’ mere observations about some suits they happened to have on hand. Worst, there were too many wrong answers. Here’s a better guide.
1— Wear one. If you’re not used to wearing one, you’ll be frightened to do so, particularly if your wardrobe consists of “ironic” t-shirts and ugly jeans which you think look good on you (they do not).
When you finally screw up the courage and don the wool you’ll think everybody’s looking at you. They will be, too, because you’ll be acting like you’re sneaking contraband.
So begin with a jacket. This way you can keep your teenager-gear, but you can mask it with a bit of adulthood. Start with a navy blazer, but eschew shiny buttons. You’re not ready for them yet. Then get a gray. After a few weeks of mixing the two, substitute the t-shirt for a man’s shirt, which is one with a collar and cuffs which extend to your wrist. Give that a go for a solid month and then, on a Wednesday, switch over your high school pants for genuine trousers. If you’re still weak, cotton will do. But if you’re made of sterner stuff, keep to wool, linen, or silk.
Stay with this regime for another four to six weeks, and then add a tie, also on a Wednesday. If anybody asks, tell them your mother’s here to visit. This gives you the excuse to wear a tie several days in a row. People soon won’t notice you have it.
At that point, put on the suit.
2— Some say, “Don’t dress better than your boss.” You know who says this? People who aren’t bosses. Dress better than everybody.
3— Some say, “I don’t care what other people think of how I look.” These people always tell the truth. They become the sort of neighbors who paint their house shocking orange with green trim and never mow their lawn. Or they never brush their teeth, reasoning they’ll just eat again so why bother. “If somebody has to see my fuzzy teeth, that’s his problem.”
These folks forget the main reason to dress well is to please other people, to contribute positively to civilization, to not become a walking eyesores.
4— Which suits not to wear? Don’t wear the suits featured in Details unless you are 22, boyish, and want to look like a slave to fashion, which is to say, advertising. People will assume you watch the shopping channel and drink flavored vodka. Consider, every Details model is anemic and looks to be suffering from depression. Tragically hip. If your underpinnings are no thicker than a supermarket bratwurst, you don’t want to advertise the fact by wearing skin-gripping trousers. You’ll look like the weak one in the herd.
5— Which suits to wear? Go to the most expensive men’s store you can find which is old and not devoted to “brand names”. Once there, examine the wares. You won’t be able to afford these clothes, so when whichever salesman wins the arm wrestling contest to serve you sidles over and asks if he can help, you can say, “I can’t afford any of this stuff. I’m just looking.” He will flee from you as fast as a professor of literature meeting an evangelist. When you go to places you can afford, you’ll know what best approximates top-of-the-line.
If you’re not near any stores, surf over to Paul Stewart, J. Press, Oxxford and the like. You can’t see texture well in pictures, nor can you feel the quality, but it’s better than nothing.
Do not look at Brooks Brothers: they assume all men’s bodies are in the shape of squat parallelepipeds, i.e fat robots. Do not bother with Men’s Wearhouse. Third rate. Joseph A Bank can work. Sometimes. You can be very pleasantly surprised by Macy’s and the like, particularly off season.
6— Which material? You’ll see Super 100s, Super 120s, Super Duper 150s, Super Duper Wowwee 180s, and ever finer. Terrible stuff if you want to wear the suit regularly. The higher the number, the more marketing has been pumped into the material, the easier it wrinkles, the quicker it wears. Look instead for higher weight wools (12+ ounces) which have looser weaves, especially for spring, fall, and winter. Or wear linen, seersucker, or silk (but coarse) for summer. Ask any Bedouin, heavier but looser weaved material will be cooler than any tissue-thin Super Duper Wowwee 180s, which doesn’t breath.
UpdateJohn Cook reminds us that one of our most brilliant minds, John von Neumann, was a snappy dresser. For those who don’t know, von Neumann was the computer geek. So there’s no excuse for you.
At his 1926 doctoral exam, the mathematician David Hilbert is said to have asked but one question: “Pray, who is the candidateâ€™s tailor?” He had never seen such beautiful evening clothes.
The academy is no longer satisfied with raising consciousness. Progress has been too slow, you see. Something quicker has been judged necessary lest Utopia forever recede into the distance. But what?
Since the Bokanovsky Process has not yet been perfected (let him that readeth understand), academics looked elsewhere. They have already convinced us that to kill the lives inside women is A-Okay because these lives are inside and not outside. Well, sometimes outside. As long as nobody’s looking.
Anyway, the tenured asked, “Why not use this killing more systematically, more scientifically?” Instead of just killing to free up a woman’s time for more shopping, we could kill those lives inside women who were judged suboptimal. Brilliant!
The old way was to let the lives escape into the wild and then sterilize them if they weren’t up to snuff. Too messy. Inefficient, too. Not to mention expensive. Killing, as history shows us, is the cleanest method.
Think I’m exaggerating? Read the article to see that I’m rather underplaying it.
“Quid est veritas?” Pilate asked. Famously, his interlocutor did not answer, perhaps because Pilate didn’t give Him the chance. Then Pilate may have been (understandably) addled because the Answer was standing there.
Anyway, Aristotle, under less pressure, had a go at a definition (one that Pilate almost certainly would have known). He said, “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.”
That is lovely, understandable, and complete. It—the definition—is called realism, a pleasant and accurate label. Actually, it is called Aristotelian or ‘moderate’ realism to distinguish it between the hyper and over-literal realism of his pal, Plato. That difference makes no difference to us today.
There are other ideas of truth, all of them wrong, which follow two main roads: idealism (everything exists in your head, therefore your head doesn’t exist) and nominalism (what’s in your head doesn’t exist, therefore there is nobody there to think up and fret over nominalism). But we’ll pass these by today, too.
Yesterday, we agreed it was true that ‘all men are mortal’ and that ‘2 + 3 = 5’. It is the nature of men to die and for integers to behave undeviatingly according to certain rules. These are universal truths. There also exist contingent truths, which are propositions that accord with Aristotle’s definition conditionally. Unfortunately, there is only word in English for both, which means universal and contingent truths are often confused—which leads to hurt feelings.
To explain. Universal truths are those which begin with indisputable axioms and lead inexorably and necessarily to certain truths. For example, once we accept, without proof and based on no evidence save introspection, that “For all natural numbers x and y, if x = y, then y = x” and a couple of other similar sounding axioms, it is necessarily true that ‘2 + 3 = 5’. Because we don’t know why or how the axioms can be true—we just know that they are—we don’t know why or how ‘2 + 3 = 5’ is true, except in the weak sense that we say the equation is true because the axioms and intermediate theorems are. But we cannot say why it didn’t turn out that ‘2 + 3 = 7’ (don’t even think of arguing over the symbols).
Contingent truths are those propositions which follow from premises that might themselves not be universally true. For example, if we accept “All cats speak French & Whiskers is a cat” then it follows, i.e. it is contingently true, that “Whiskers speaks French”. Yet nobody but a cat lady would run into the street and claim Whiskers’s linguistic ability were universally true. That’s because the first premise is, according to other well known premises, false. Therefore, on that evidence, the conclusion, while contingently true, is universally false. True and false simultaneously, at least speaking loosely, and therefore something to fight over.
The “Laws” of science are all contingently true. Any one or even all of these Laws may be universally true, but we don’t (possibly yet) know it. If they were universally true, then they would all be in the same epistemic boat as mathematics and logic. We would start with introspection, decide what follows from beliefs we just know are true, and then build theorem upon theorem until we reached the Law of Gravity.
That’s almost how it works, but not quite. Inside the Law of Gravity are several fudge factors, “constants” of the universe which are derived via observation, i.e. which are not deduced from first principles. And (we read) there are one or two other dicey premises which are not entirely convincing. The Law of Gravity, which nobody doubts in practice, cannot be said to be universally true (no pun; nay, not even from me), even though it contingently is.
Because the Laws of science are only, or at least, contingently true the premises which accompany them may be argued over. It is not unscientific to do so. It is prudent. When physicists argue over gravitation, it is clear to everybody that the conclusion is accepted because it is observed to hold in most places, and so discussion centers on the premises which would make the Law hold in all places.
The situation is different in climate science, for example, where the conclusion itself is in doubt (rampant global warming will kill half the population by 2009—oops, I meant 2017), and where the premises are so beloved that they are Not To Be Questioned. The (suitably modified to keep current) doom conclusion is contingently true, but that does not make it truly true, i.e. universally true. Failing to understand that distinction is what leads the weak to shout “Denier!”