Racism by the Numbers

The trouble with racism today is mostly in the averages. Specific instances add up over a population but are not evidence in and of themselves. Back in the day I took the Chinese view living day-to-day: expect the worst and hope for the best. Take the cops. I’ve had cops let me go when technically driving recklessly and I’ve had them follow for me for driving while black. I’ve had them give me a break on a speeding ticket because I was clearly distraught over a breakup and I’ve had them disrespect me and my wife in the street just to be a$$holes with power. These instance prove little unless you can see how they fit into the larger picture. 

Conservative racism deniers hate looking at the larger picture because a) it bucks their narrative and b) they refuse to take personal responsibility for the world they live in. (Ironic coming from the personal responsibility crowd.) They focus on instances saying they prove nothing. True. Halfway. Half truths are whole lies. That’s the game you have to play in when pushing for racial justice. Which is why I point to polls and studies. Evidence of the larger picture, reproduced PATTERNS, that put these instances in context. I’m a numbers guy by nature so this keeps me confident and grounded in reality.

So I get versed on the numbers. Understand the studies. Don’t get into shouting matches with falsely equivalent counterclaims. Answer myths with facts. Meet belief with morals. Crush stupidity with evidence based knowledge.

Tim Kaine, Abortion, and Faith

With Hillary Clinton picking Tim Kaine for vice presidential candidate, abortion and how Kaine reconciles his faith with the law and enforcing it is back as a front burner issue. I think his balancing act highlights the real moral dilemmas at play and why both sides of the issue are intellectually dishonest to the degree they claim sole hold on the moral high road.

But first, I categorically dismiss the charges that Kaine is “pro-abortion.” Not only is the charge partisan and worldly, it is a lie. You don’t have to support a law to enforce it. And for an elected official or civil servant, it’s your job. Civil disobedience is for protestors, i.e. private citizens. If you can’t do your job, the honorable thing to do is resign.

Basically, Kaine’s position is similar to mine. We agree that making abortion illegal is wrong. If my reading of his support of the Hyde Amendment is correct, then he feels the government should be neutral about abortion. It neither supports it through funding nor does it act against it by criminalizing the practice. It makes neither side of the abortion debate happy (but I don’t think they deserve to be).

I feel the same way with one proviso. I can accept the premise of saving lives by banning abortion if we apply that brand of justice equally. But be warned there is no free lunch. It would require a serious degradation of personal liberty to make an abortion ban fair and just. In short, if the government can commandeer a woman’s body to save the life of her unborn child, it can do likewise to mine toward equivalent ends. For example, I have two health kidneys, I can live with one and there is no shortage of people dying of kidney failure. Extreme I know but that’s what it would take to ban abortion and actually be pro-life rather than merely pro-unborn.  That’s why I object to abortion bans. Casual and unequal justice is no justice at all. Ends do not justify means.

So like Kaine, I’m “pro-life-choice.” Yes, women should be (and are) free to choose. But it is a fiction that that choice is without moral valence no matter what rationalizations of privacy we make or claims that the decision itself is deeply personal. Of course it is a private and personal decision. It changes nothing. Abortion at bottom is ending a life, and short of saving another life, I can think of no reason that would make such an act just. Having said that just because my faith teaches that an act is immoral, it doesn’t automatically follow that it should be illegal. My Catholic faith teaches marital infidelity is a grave sin. We could make infidelity illegal for all sorts of laudable goals but I doubt  anyone agrees that it should be done.

So save the charges of being pro-abortion or the need to be “educated” into thinking one’s moral convictions are false. What’s required is wrestling with the moral dilemma as anyone of good conscience should.

Testing Out the New iOS App

Well, this I’d definitely an improvement! I always why people would want to write these using HTML coding when all I want to do is write.

This is a mistake. What I’m saying is who wants to waste time when you might have something good to say?

Quoted in the inter webs.

  • Point
  • Another point

Testing

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Apple
  

This for My Mugs

We finally have a forum where we can be US. For those that know…

Beast Mode Christian Formation

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Proud of you, son.

AAS Division For Planetary Sciences Announces 2014 Prize Winners | Division for Planetary Sciences

Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public: Br. Guy Consolmagno has a decades-long track record of communicating planetary science to the public while maintaining an active science career. In addition, he occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief. Br. Guy uses multiple media to reach his audience. He has authored or edited six books, with “Turn Left at Orion” in its fourth edition of publication. This book alone has had an enormous impact on the amateur astronomy community, engendering public support for astronomy. In addition to writing books, he is a dynamic popular speaker, giving 40 to 50 public lectures every year across both Europe and the United States, reaching thousands of people. He regularly gives interviews on BBC radio shows on planetary science topics and hosted his own BBC radio show discussing the origins of the universe (“A Brief History of the End of Everything”). These appearances address both pure science subjects and science-with-religion subjects. As a Jesuit Brother, Guy has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers.

via AAS Division For Planetary Sciences Announces 2014 Prize Winners | Division for Planetary Sciences.

Science versus Religion. Yeah, right.

Evidence is in the Eye of the Beholder

The last part is key because that is where philosophy comes in. Materialism and empiricism, for example, make important truth claims on our perceptions of the world and the world itself. So someone with a different worldview, e.g. myself who ascribes to the Jesuit worldview, will necessarily have some points of departure when perceiving the same “evidence.” A worldview is just that: a view of the world not some unmediated apprehension of the world or specifically, “evidence.”

(Version 1.1)

Been having a lively discussion (when actual discussion is able to be had) with some atheist Tweeples and I realized I made a pretty significant error: I didn’t clearly define “evidence” or rather how I see it. (This is why it is always sage advice to define terms clearly before debating with people. You can easily end up talking past each other.) I believe (know?) that when we humans apprehend reality, we ultimately perceive only a limited sliver of it in our waking conscious state. First, our sensory organs detect only so much. Next, our evolved brains organize that raw input into an intelligible perception of the world. Finally, our conscious thinking minds take those perceptions and makes decisions upon them.

The last part is key because that is where philosophy comes in. Materialism and empiricism, for example, make important truth claims on our perceptions of the world and the world itself. So someone with a different worldview, e.g. myself who adheres to the Jesuit worldview, will necessarily have some points of departure when perceiving the same “evidence.” A worldview is just that: a view of the world not some unmediated apprehension of the world or specifically, “evidence.” What’s worrisome for me is when people fail to see this distinction for whatever reason. If a person feels strongly their worldview is True, capital ‘t’, then they can even be hostile to this relativizing fact. And that’s sad because it opens one up to self-delusion and error needlessly. Truth is hard enough to find in this world.

St. Augustine 1500 1600 years ago had choice words Christians, esp. those anti-science Christians of today, who make this error.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these [scientific] topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

And just in case you atheists out there think you’re off the hook, check this out from atheist cosmologist Chris Impey.

Rebutting the third proposition [that we are all living within a simulation] is surprisingly difficult. Any simulation constructed by a far superior race wouldn’t be glitchy, as it was in the movie The Matrix. There’s no reason we’d know we’re simulated unless the creators wanted us to. Your conviction that you’re made of flesh and blood and free will is part of the simulation. Since it’s easier and cheaper to create computational life-forms than biological organisms, by the Copernican Principle there are many more simulated than real creatures. OK, this argument is more of a provocation than a serious suggestion, but it’s no more unfounded or illogical than the multiverse or hidden space-time dimensions.

Impey, Chris (2012-03-19). How It Began: A Time-Traveler’s Guide to the Universe (Kindle Locations 5601-5606). Norton. Kindle Edition.

So folks, slow down when crying “Evidence!” A little humility goes a long way to understanding.

We are by nature related to God.

Because God created us and continues to create in and through us, we are by nature related to God. In other words, we are created in the image of God, and that image is indelible. The challenge for us is to be more aware of that ever-present relationship…

Father Kevin O’Brien SJ. The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life (Kindle Locations 463-465). Kindle Edition.

The Genius of the Exercises

The genius and beauty of the Exercises is that we learn to weave our own life narrative into the life story of Jesus Christ in such a way that both become more vivid and interconnected.

The genius and beauty of the Exercises is that we learn to weave our own life narrative into the life story of Jesus Christ in such a way that both become more vivid and interconnected.

Father Kevin O’Brien SJ. The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life (Kindle Locations 84-85). Kindle Edition.

It’s About What You Ask For

 

Vending MachinesOne of the idols I no longer believe in is Vending Machine God. You know Him well. Pray hard enough. Behave righteously enough. Rebuke the sinners enough. Deposit the right amount, hit the button, and you get your candy bar. You deserve it!

It’s not that we shouldn’t ask for the things we want. It’s the things I wanted that changed as I let go of that immature image. I ask for a grace every time I pray but as I go deeper into God, I stopped asking for me and started asking for God. I don’t ask for more money. I ask to provide for my family. I don’t ask for power. I ask to be able to do God’s will. If I ask for an outcome, I qualify if it’s God’s will. I do ask for the graces of peace, wisdom, charity and love.

I ask for those a lot!