Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Points to Ponder:

It never ceases to amaze me how many who call themselves Christians act worse than non-Christians. I noticed this years ago on the Infidels message board where the self-described "infidels" and "freethinkers" were more charitable towards others than many who claimed the mantle of Jesus Christ. It was not all sweetness and light of course -there was an operative presupposition on the part of the "infidels" that any Christian or theist was viewed as a defacto brainless twit and you had to basically earn your stripes as someone who could utilize the natural tools adequately. But once that was done, the overall approach was good. The same is not the case with many who consider themselves "apologists" -including the higher profile ones who subsist on the public dole of Paypal donations and the like.

No, with not a few of them the modus opperandi is to spout off as a know-it-all on various issues where they are embarrassingly ignorant, act overly dogmatic in opposing proportion to how little they know on a given subject, and then find creative ways of trying to assassinate the characters of those they cannot overcome by reasoned argument. I guess the slogan for these sorts is "when you cannot beat the argument logically, engage in character assassination and then try to pass yourself off as doing 'the Lord's work'." With "Christians" like that, is there any wonder many find so-called "organized religion" to be hypocritical and want little if anything to do with it???

I do not of course endorse the last part of the above sentence but I do agree with the hypocrisy bit at least in part -and having noted this in past posting am not going to revisit it at the present time. I do not agree with the conclusion of the last sentence of the previous paragraph but I do understand it -or rather, I understand how some people can come to that conclusion based on the way those who most publicly proclaim themselves to be "defenders of the faith" or whatever so frequently act. [I. Shawn McElhinney: Offhand Notebook Reflections From Three Hours Ago Condensed Into Summary Format]

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Why Al-Qaeda Wants the Head of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani (Sandro Magister)

Ayatollah Sistani sounds like my kind of Shi-ite Muslim. May Al Qaeda fail in finding him and may Ayatollah Sistani's vision of Islam succeed in Iraq, the rest of the Middle East, and the world.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Engrave the Tombstone" Dept.
(On the Democratic Party "Leadership" and 2008)

It is too early and certainly with an year being an eternity in politics as we have noted many times before{1}, it is not advisable to make any concrete or permanent predictions. However, one has to be on the watch for trends which indicate where things may be going and certainly the political hari kiri of the Democrats has to be an enjoyable thing to see for those with a visceral hatred for that party and what it stands for as your host has for reasons I am not about to go into yet again here.{2}

To start with, impeachment of Gonzalez will be a serious wound to them for two reasons. First of all, there is no perjury charge involved here that will stick{3} second, the whole "firing of the attorneys" situation is within the purview of the executive and does not require congressional or any other consent or approval whatsoever except the president's.{4} But those are the two bases on which they are calling for Gonzalez' "impeachment." Can you say "congressional defeat in 08 for the Dems in both houses of Congress???" If they try and pull this off, the useful idiots for Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden will love it but they are about all who will.

Furthermore, it is interesting how often many critics of the Bush Administration call for "accountability" when the subject involves either a Constitutionally delegated power to the executive or a matter where by logical extension there is an executive oversight involved. But find for me the Democratic supported sites where they have actually come out against the abuse of power by the Democratically controlled Congress. The most egregious example of many which could be noted was the attempt by the Congress around midnight to steal a vote on a key issue which was caught by C-SPAN. This has been covered in a number of places favourable overall to Republicans{5} but I am as of this writing unaware of any who support the Democrats overall admitting to this or distancing themselves from it.

For that reason, while it is way too early to count anyone out of the 2008 elections, all the media attempts to carve a tombstone in time for the 2008 congressional races and the presidency race strongly point to the party other than the one the msm wants to claim is the political loser. And all of this makes me realize that the post I have had on the drafting desk since spring on a proposed third way in politics apart from the third party option needs to be finished soon. I hope before Labour Day to have it done or at least before the end of September. The problem is not one of length but the subject involved my motivation to write on it which admittedly has waxed and waned over the months. (Chalk it up to the "dog days of summer" perhaps.)


{1} To note three of the numerous places where this principle has been enunciated (in order from oldest to newest):

A year before a presidential election is an eternity in politics. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa December 9, 2003)]

I have said many times that a month is a long time in politics. A year by comparison is an eternity. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa February 4, 2004)]

I have noted in the past on various occasions that a year is an eternity in politics. Keeping that factor in mind, it suffices to note that even two months is a long time -maybe an ice age or whatever. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 14, 2006)]

{2} Though I will note a few spots from my archives where I sum up rather tersely the reason why (in order from oldest to newest):

The Democratic party is and always will be the party of slavery. The difference is that they have moved from physical slavery to economic and psychological slavery. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 6, 2002)]

I remind the readers of what I noted back on November 6, 2002 and little has substantially changed in my views of the matter between then and now. The crux of the issue then was summed up in the following terse statement:

The Democratic party is and always will be the party of slavery. The difference is that they have moved from physical slavery to economic and psychological slavery.

The economic slavery element has been done to death by many commentators including yours truly. It seems at this time appropriate to deal with the psychological slavery part of the equation and that will be part of the purpose of this weblog post.

Psychological slavery can take many forms. It would be beyond the purpose of this post to categorize and analyze them all but the root and matrix to them all is the same: a mental barrier that prevents the captive from seeing beyond the inner world in which their subjective perceptions are the only realities that they can grasp. To sum it up in an apt expression: it is solipsism plain and simple. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 24, 2004)]

You are talking to someone who has asserted often over the many years that the Democratic party is and always has been the party of slavery. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa March 4, 2006)]

{3} When a critic of the Administration such as Ruth Marcus recognizes this fact, others would be wise to take heed of it also.

{4} To start with, lets call this media hubbub over the 8 US Attorneys fired by the Bush Administration what it is: a crock of horse pucky. I remember well the Clinton Administration firing all the US Attorneys two months into the first term of President Bill Clinton and the msm's response was to say nothing. Only the conservatives on talk radio made a big stink about it but that is neither here nor there. Logically, if firing 8 is a "crisis situation" than what does that make firing 93??? And if firing 8 for supposed "political reasons" is so damned evil than what about firing all the US Attorneys as Clinton did??? Where was the msm when that heinous evil was performed by the Clinton's??? As usual, they were AWOL because Clinton was "their guy" and Bush is not.

The truth is, the whole handling of attorneys in the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) is an executive function and the executive can hire or fire whomever they want. That is true with Bush as it was with Clinton. However, I fail to see how this is anything more than a ploy by the Democrats in Congress and their partisans in the msm to sabotage the Bush Administration with another non-scandalous so-called "scandal." If anything was truly a sign of corruption or seeking to impose favouritism onto the USDOJ it would have been the unprecedented firing of all the attorneys as President Clinton did. No president in United States history ever did that before and that was a genuine example of "destabilization" not the Bush Administration's firing of a mere eight attorneys.

What this boils down to folks is yet another obvious and blatant msm double standard against the present Administration in particular and Republicans in general. What more needs to be said than that really??? [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa March 15, 2007)]

{5} To note three of the many sites that fit this criteria where the matter was reported:

Liars & Cheaters - At Any Expense (Fetching Jen)

House To Investigate Itself -Update: Replay Confirms Cheating (Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters)

House Democrats Try to Rig, then Cancel Vote in U.S. House (Mike of Flopping Aces)

The latter link actually has the video feed from C-SPAN so give it a watch if you doubt me. As far as my view on the matter, it was well summed up to a macro extent by Captain Ed so I will end this footnote with his words:

I'd also note that this shows what happens when both sides try to play games with vote casting. If both Democrats and Republicans hadn't tried to be too cute by half, this never would have happened. The vote-switching, ass-covering, and sandbagging should be roundly condemned by all.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Clearing the Ground for a Real Dialogue on the Atomic Bombings:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Technically, there is no reason to post this thread. It was written back on July 26th or so but before it was reviewed for posting, I got the idea to show in a shorter more concise way why people such as Mark Shea had disqualified themselves from being taken seriously to discuss an issue as complex as that of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I outlined a format for a possible dialogue back on July 22nd and Mark and numerous others fell so seriously short of qualifying that they almost made a prophet out of me yet again. I say almost because I did actually receive a communique a few days back from someone who has expressed interest in a dialogue on these matters and I am in the process of setting an agreeable parameter down for seeing if this can occur. But before doing that, I want to (as one reviewer of the draft about to be posted said when they saw the original form) "send in a marine brigade to take out a boy scout troop"{1} to drive home the point of why reason and logic is so indispensable and why those who take the fideistic approach to complex subjects that Mark Shea does do the very Catholicism he wants to promote a serious injustice.

But before getting to this posting, remember, it is not necessary because Mr. Shea has already been soundly confuted before we even get to the substance (or lack thereof) of his actual arguments. The reasons why are spelled out meticulously and irrefutably on this thread but I will now post the originally planned response because I want there to be not a stone left upon another one with him for the benefit of the party I mentioned earlier who is a worthy contender not only by virtue of their overall intelligence but also (and this is more important) their understanding of a proper Catholic spiritual disposition. But enough on that and onto today's lesson of why children should not try this at home. Mark's words will be in an appropriate yellow hue and the words of his positional allies as in the "ducks on the pond" posting will be in different shades of green.

I had an English friend who immensely enjoyed websites that took some manifestly absurd proposition and then threw vast intellectual resources at trying to defend it against all the assaults of common sense

This is a classic fallacy of argumentation called poisoning the well. One of the reasons I recently set out an outline of conditions for potential dialogue on the subject of the 1945 atomic bombings was because I anticipated this kind of ignorant waste of bandwidth. For Mark Shea has in uttering those words engaged in a fallacy he utilizes oftentimes when he tries to avoid giving a substantive response on a subject. In the field of reason and logic this tactic is called poisoning the well and it combines a couple of fallacies at once essentially.

Those who read my proposed dialogual outline would remember that one of the conditions was that the distinction was made between valid and invalid uses of the ad hominem -specifically noted because of problems I had back in 2005 and 2006 with David Armstrong who did not distinguish these factors correctly. Or as I wrote in the outline:

I have no problem with valid usages of the ad hominem approach -unlike many so-called "apologists" I can take a punch as well as throw one. (As this is a subject which naturally effects emotions on both sides, for that reason bits of valid ad hominem will therefore be tolerated by me as a means of letting off steam.) However, any such challenger will be expected by me to make sure they know the difference between valid and invalid uses of the ad hominem because I will not tolerate the latter at any time whatsoever. The post thread in footnote fifteen[...] explains this more than adequately and therefore any challenger will be expected by me to familiarize themselves with its contents. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 22, 2007)]

And of course the thread referred to in the paragraph above was specifically footnoted so that readers would have no excuse on this matter. To wit:

On Ad Hominem, Revisiting Argumentum Ad Vericundiam , and Considering the Core Principle That Is Behind Any Argumentation/Logical Fallacy (circa June 1, 2007)

And yes, the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem has been committed by Mark Shea from the outset as well as the fallacy of begging the question -both of which contribute to the fallacy of poisoning the well.{2} I will touch on each separately because unlike Mark Shea, I do not make assertions without substantiating them by rational argument.

Now then, the reason Mark's poisoning the well approach is so evidently fallacious (and thus easily dismissable) is because the person engaging in it (read: Mark Shea) is both disingenuous as well as unethical. I say this because he makes the attack hoping to create an unfavourable impression from the outset to bias anyone reviewing what he says against me to try and get the reviewers to reject any claims I have said a priori. The problem for him and his lackeys is, presenting unfavourable information about me (even if it was true) does not in any fashion whatsoever count as evidence against the arguments I have made on the subject of contention!!! And as there is no interaction whatsoever with my arguments, Mark's attack against me personally is in a nutshell the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem.

The second fallacy he engages in is that of begging the question whereby Mark has claimed that his position is correct by assuming that his position is correct. Note the tone of his statement:

I had an English friend who immensely enjoyed websites that took some manifestly absurd proposition and then threw vast intellectual resources at trying to defend it against all the assaults of common sense

Mark in the above statement has assumed that my proposition is "manifestly absurd" and that it was (by logical extension) opposed to common sense. The circularity of this should be obvious to anyone with a normal intact functioning brain but I did not note in the conditions I set down for dialogue on this subject the emotional component to the equation. And that is not all:

Now, here is the fantastically verbose Rerum Novarum, slaughtering trillions of electrons to make the extremely long-winded case for why that plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face teaching does not apply to us when we nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Masterpieces of sophistry. And that's just two posts. There's even more where that came from.

The only potentially viable criticism Mark makes in the above paragraph is that I write lengthy cogitations sometimes. However, to concede that is to put Mark into a quandry because he had better (on that basis) prepare to see other critics of his use that excuse to dismiss wholesale arguments propounded by two of his claimed favourites. (Pope John Paul II and G K Chesterton: both of which were a hell of a lot more verbose than I can be.) So as Mark Shea will not take that approach with them in a million years, the principle of logic and non-contradiction requires that my own work not be dismissed on similar grounds either; ergo we can ignore that criticism from Mark's keyboard.

Setting aside also the scientific absurdity of "destroying electrons" aside, I must ask if Mark Shea even tries to prove any of the above assertions -either the "manifest absurdity" of my propositions, how they are "opposed to common sense", or that my arguments are "sophistry"???{3} Of course not because that would involve trying to think and...well...I will hold my tongue on what I was about to say even though I could easily substantiate it unlike what Mark can do with his stated position above.

Here's the Catechism saying, just about as clearly as can possibly be said that "Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation."

This is the same kind of "argument" that many Protestant apologists make when they cite the Bible. For example:

Here's the Bible saying, just about as clearly as it can possibly be said that "[Joseph] knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."

Yep, so much for the Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary -the Bible has spoken on the matter after all and it is "just about as clearly as can possibly be said." But Catholic arguments against that understanding of the text all focus on important factors such as the grammar of the underlying original language, the fact that the word translated as "till" in the above phrasing does not imply anything after the point of reference it outlines, etc. In other words, the Catholic apologist points out in the various approaches noted above that there is possibly an alternative or more probably correct understanding to the passage in question which is not what the passage at face value would convey!!!

Similarly, I have focused on the subjects of history and military and statistical calculations of the situations in question but I brought to the table Catholic moral, theological, and ethical principles as lenses for viewing the subject. Among them are the moral issues surrounding life and its defense, the moral and ethical principle of double effect, and general norms of theological interpretation for properly understanding the weight of various statements from popes and councils on the specific issue in question.

The above factors were outlined in a series of posts on the subject and it is people like Mark being either intellectually unwilling and/or intellectually incapable of comprehending these issues which is the source of all the public acrimony. I am inclined to see the latter as a "both/and" situation myself based on the lack of quality thought I have observed from Mark's keyboard in recent years -apart from apologetics stuff of which he does precious little of anymore.

But enough on Mark Shea as he has shown he is both disingenuous and unethical in his approach to these matters.{4} Now let us consider what some who commented on his words had to say -their words will be in various colours of font. The first is "

Well, you know how it is with some Catholics. Since nobody came right out and said we demand assent of the will on the matter, they'll ignore anything they find inconvenient about the faith and call it "prudential judgment".

If it does not require religious submission of the mind and will, then there is no reason to suspend the mind and will on a matter. But you know how it is with some Catholics, if the pope says it, then it is true no matter what it is. If Pope Benedict XVI says that the world was shaped like a burrito than that makes it so. Fortunately, the popes themselves do not take such absurdly illogical approaches to their statements as people like Mark Shea and the other person cited above.{5}

Indeed, the very tone of the above statement shows just how warped the person in question's understanding is of what Catholicism is. Catholics are bound to certain truths of faith or close proximity to it but beyond that, there is a diversity of schools of thought theologically, philosophically, economically, geopolitically, etc. that are permissible. While it is true that there are some core principles that are required to be recognized by all; nonetheless, how those are to be applied admits of a variegation which the above person (much as Mark Shea) seems woefully ignorant of. And the variegation I speak of is something the Vatican has always to some extent recognized both in the past as well as in the present day.{6}

To give as an illustration of what I refer to in the latter statement, consider some of the words that Cardinal Dario Castillo Hoyos wrote in a letter to the schismatic SSPX bishop Bernard Fellay in responding to the latter's concerns about statements and actions of the late Pope John Paul II. When explaining the various theological differences in the documents of Vatican II and in responding to some of Bishop Fellay's concerns about statements and actions of the late Pope John Paul II in 2001, he noted the following -all emphasis is mine:

If Your Excellency seriously considers this declaration about the "never-ending faith" in the Roman Pontiff, it seems to me that it would be necessary to show a greater theological consistency in reflecting on the organic development of the magisterium of the Church in recent years. It is true that one notes differences of opinion and theological formation among the prelates of the Church; however, a simple sentence, even said by the Sovereign Pontiff, is not an act of the magisterium; we know that all statements assume different degrees of authority.

It is always possible to criticize this type of statement, as well as a style of governing. The criticism, however, demands an authentic understanding of the thinking of the other person, and should presuppose that he also possess the Catholic faith. If one raises inconsistencies, the criticism, made with humility and charity, becomes a service rendered with great respect and in a spirit of sincere collaboration.

Readers can consider just how close Mark Shea and his positional allies as a rule conform to what Cardinal Hoyos noted above. For my part, the very challenge in how I framed it implied everything he noted in the statement above about (i) how different statements have differing levels of authority, (ii) criticism of anyone demands an authentic understanding of their thinking and Catholics should in charity take as an operative presupposition that their brethren also posses the Catholic faith. Then there is some person who apparently can only be brave when they are known as "Anonymous" who noted these words:

Shawn is a cafeteria Catholic, pure and simple. And a good deal worse than a lot of his cousins on the left, who at least believe that abortion is wrong even if they aren't eager to do anything about it. Shawn's on the level of a Catholic who not only doesn't want to stop abortion legally, but actually thinks it's acceptable.

A cafeteria Catholic is someone who selectively accepts Church teachings. I do not do this and I challenge someone to prove otherwise.

By the criteria of ", Cardinal Hoyos (acting on behalf of Pope John Paul II) was acting as a "cafeteria Catholic" in his dialogue with Bishop Fellay and the SSPX. Likewise, the current pope back in 1990 was a "cafeteria Catholic" when he noted the following on matters pertaining to magisterial teachings -again all emphasis is mine:

It can happen, however, that a theologian may, according to the case, raise questions regarding the timeliness, the form, or even the contents of magisterial interventions. Here the theologian will need, first of all, to assess accurately the authoritativeness of the interventions which becomes clear from the nature of the documents, the insistence with which a teaching is repeated, and the very way in which it is expressed. [CDF: Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian (circa 1990)]

And with interventions of the prudential order:

When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. [ibid]

What a "cafeteria Catholic" Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was when he wrote those words in 1990!!! What a "cafeteria Catholic" Pope John Paul II was in making those conclusions part of his magisterium the same year. And unless Ratzinger retracted his position before he was elected, what a "cafeteria Catholic" we have as Pope now!!! Or at least that would be the case if the Vatican took as absurdly literal an approach to issues as "Anonymous" does above.{7} But that is what is so common with these sorts who accuse me overtly (as "Anonymous" did) or covertly (as people such as Mark Shea have done) of "cafeteria Catholicism" who prove to be incapable of sustaining that assertion by recourse to general norms of theological interpretation. Or at least that would be the case if there were any interventions on this matter which were by their nature and in accordance with general norms of theological interpretation magisterial and therefore requiring of assent. But there are not, end of story, game/set/match, etc. the rest from this point on is mere commentary.

By this person "Anonymous'" rationale, everything the popes say on anything is of required unquestioning assent. If any readers familiar with history find that position to appear eerily similar to the old anti-Catholic caricature of Catholics as dimwitted simpletons who cannot think for themselves but must accept every hiccup from Rome on any subject whatsoever, their intuition there would be correct. Such a view is such a monstrous falsification of what is required of Catholics that it is shameful to see Catholics actually contributing to the old caricature rather than doing what they can to stamp it out.

Then they'll proceed to call people who aren't as conservative about something else like returning to a married priesthood "Cafeteria Catholics".

The issue of clerical celibacy is a matter of ecclesiastical discipline. Obviously there is room for disagreement as to the prudence or lack thereof of an ecclesiastical discipline much as there is with interventions of the prudential order. However, one must be careful in how they go about it as unlike subjects of the prudential order, there is in the Catholic understanding on these matters a degree of assistance from the Holy Spirit on matters of ecclesiastical discipline. There is no similar promise made for the popes as military tacticians, as historians, as scientists, in the application of any principles admitting of a variety of ways of weighing the data, or with any facts whatsoever that do not fall into the realm of dogmatic facts.{8}

So to respond to your strawman, no I would not claim that if you think there should be married priests that you are a "cafeteria Catholic." But maybe if you actually read what I have written you would realize this.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki's civilian casualties could never meet the proportionality test since the military assets in those cities simply weren't valuable enough.

Who is it that determines if there was or was not "value enough" or lack thereof of the military assets in Hiroshima or any other city during a war "Anonymous"??? All we have to go on here is your statement which is unsubstantiated and is a normative one at that. And because your statement is normative{9}, that makes it worthless when the subject of discussion must be non-normative (or objective) in nature if there is to be any possibility of settling this issue rationally. And of course when you refer to a conscripted populace as "civilian", you blur another factor in the equation that needs to be accounted for if all factors are to be given due diligence in consideration. I will touch on it briefly in a footnote{10} or two{11} before moving on to finish this posting.

I do agree that Truman probably thought he was doing the right thing. He did not have the benefit of Catholic teaching.

Shawn does. Given that the document being cited by the Catechism is directly addressing the annihilation of cities which took place in WWII and given that both Paul VI and JPII condemned the bombings of H and N, I think Shawn's attempts to justify them are a particularly egregious example of nationalism triumphing over the obvious teaching of the Church.

We are back to Mark Shea again so the hue of the words are once again an appropriate yellow font. And as I have already explained the problems with Mark's theologically stunted approach to these matters in other places -indeed responding to Mark personally at that- I will refer readers in a final footnote to that thread{12} and wrap up the current one.

To summarize, what has happened here only vindicates what I noted in the summary of my outline for possible dialogue so I will end this thread by quoting my own words:

[T]here is another thing which needs to be noted in advance before I finish this thread and it is this:

--I have practically no confidence whatsoever that any Catholic will be able to meet the criteria as noted above.

My reason for setting this down as I have is to make it clear from the outset that I do not expect to see a single Catholic of the common school of what passes for "thought" on this issue to be able to stack up. However, I would love on this latter point to be disproven. The ball is therefore in the court of those who have tried without success to get me to discuss this issue since the last dispatching of a poor excuse for a supposed "dialogue" on this matter back in early 2006...

Oh and finally: do not (i) insult my intelligence, (ii) question my orthodoxy, or (iii) engage in any other cheap trick which I have seen from people who have (up to now) proven incapable of interacting on this issue as Catholics should act. Or should I say they should act if they are what they claim (both explicitly and implicitly) to be.

In summary, for those who have sought to try and get me to discuss this subject again in various overt and covert ways -or anyone else for that matter- these are my terms for discussing it and the time frame in which I am willing to discuss it. I await to see if any Catholics will actually stack up on this issue or if it will be more of the illogical, ahistorical, and theologically obtuse status quo among them. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 22, 2007)]

As the above examples from Mark Shea, "

[(*) Update: Despite numerous threads in cyberspace by Mr. Scott which both explicitly and implicitly state precisely what I said; Mr. Scott has emailed me today requesting that I airbrush the historical record and remove that part of the posting. I am not going to do that of course; however, I will note here in a footnote that Mr. Scott's opposition to my position is not a slight one and that he honestly goes so far as to say that my view on the issue in question is "[not] helpful to the spead of the Catholic faith." Readers should in reviewing what I noted above about Mr. Scott's publicly stated views -all of which could be documented if I had the time or inclination to- take into account the contents of this update to properly contextualize Mr. Scott's previous statements on this matter. -ISM 9/26/07 11:40am]


{1} Now there is a longer response to Mark Shea and two of his positional allies which when I sent a draft form to two friends to look over (it needs to be tweaked a bit but is substantially completed as of this writing), they compared my approach as taking a marine platoon up against a boy scout troop. Of course that was my idea anyway -to so thoroughly dispatch with the haughty righteousness of people such as Mark Shea that there would be no stone left unturned. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 27, 2007)]

{2} To my knowledge, the term poison the well was first used in 1864 by Dr. Newman against Dr. Kingsley in their celebrated public interaction. Or as Newman wrote in his apologia against Kingsley:

[W]hat shall I say of the upshot of all this talk of my economies and equivocations and the like? What is the precise work which it is directed to effect? I am at war with him; but there is such a thing as legitimate warfare: war has its laws; there are things which may fairly be done, and things which may not be done. I say it with shame and with stern sorrow;—he has attempted a great transgression; he has attempted (as I may call it) to poison the wells. [J. H. Newman: Excerpt from Apologia Pro Vita Sua (circa 1874)]

{3} For those who do not know the meaning of this term, here is a definition from wikipedia:

Sophism can mean two very different things: In the modern definition, a sophism is a confusing or illogical argument used for deceiving someone.

I challenge Mark Shea to demonstrate the illogic in my arguments or how I have in any fashion confused the issues involved. Put up or shut the hell up Mark!!!

{4} If he merely confined his statements to saying he disagreed with me and that my view was not a common one amongst Catholics, etc. then I would not make an assertion such as this one.

{5} I am reminded of a very trenchant statement by the late Pope John Paul II on the sort of fideistic approaches taken by people such as Mark Shea:

It is an illusion to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition. [Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (circa September 14, 1998)]

On the issue in question, I hate to say it but the Shea's of the world in their waving of any snippet of a papal or council text they can find without concern for its context or proper understanding thereof have become the very superstitious sorts that the late pontiff wrote about in the above words.

{6} The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others. [Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566.] The underlying reason for this reluctance is that, even when it engages theology, philosophy must remain faithful to its own principles and methods. Otherwise there would be no guarantee that it would remain oriented to truth and that it was moving towards truth by way of a process governed by reason. A philosophy which did not proceed in the light of reason according to its own principles and methods would serve little purpose. At the deepest level, the autonomy which philosophy enjoys is rooted in the fact that reason is by its nature oriented to truth and is equipped moreover with the means necessary to arrive at truth. A philosophy conscious of this as its “constitutive status” cannot but respect the demands and the data of revealed truth. [Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (circa September 14, 1998)]

{7} And a standard misinformed and intellectually dependent approach it is to put it mildly.

{8} Dogmatic facts also apply such as "Paul VI was a valid Supreme Pontiff" and "Vatican II was a valid ecumenical council". These are facts that are required to be protected from error because they touch directly on matters of dogma. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 7, 2002)]

And of course dogmatic facts are not even remotely involved in this issue.

{9} As opposed to non-normative. There is a reason why when the first posting on the atomic bombings was in draft form and being prepared for posting that I preceded it with a posting on the difference between normative and non-normative frames of reference when it comes to rational thought and analysis. In a nutshell, I knew that if I did not make the distinction up front before the first threads were posted on the subject that it would make any attempt to navigate these matters much harder because of all the overly emotional and sloppy "thinking" in general on this issue. (For a briefer treatment on the subject, including precise definitions of the terms themselves, see this thread from last year.)

{10} [I]t is not only arguable that more lives were saved than lost, it is an indisputable fact as anyone with a smidgen of knowledge of the war situation in Japan during WWII is well aware. Secondly, the idea that there were all of these "innocents" in Japan and that their deaths was a means to achieve the end (rather than a derivative effect of the action taken) is also misguided. All that is required is for the good effect to be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the allowing of the bad effect. And with most of the populace in Japan under conscription, there were very few who could be called "innocent" and even with those that were who died it does not get in the way of a proper understanding of the principle of double effect. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 23, 2006)]

{11} Since this posting was originally drafted, I have clarified the matter of conscription a bit in a posting which is linked to this thread from the present weblog.

{12} "Dogmatic Theology Five Cents, The Doctor Is In" -On General Norms of Theological Interpretation Revisited (circa April 27, 2007)

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