Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Nightfly: Vatican approved!

Via Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s blog, I learn that L’Osservatore Romano has published a list of “top 10 albums for a desert island.” I kid you not. Among the Vatican newspaper’s picks are Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (my teenage self would have heartily approved) and Michael Jackson’s Thriller (my teenage and current selves are outraged, though neither will confirm rumors of a soft spot for Off the Wall). More interesting still to learn that among the other choices are “discs from Donald Fagen, Fleetwood Mac and David Crosby.” Donald Fagen! See, I knew there was deep theological meaning to be mined from the Steely Dan oeuvre. Told you so.

Seriously, though, the whole thing is, of course, too preposterous for words. As Fr. Z says, L’Osservatore Romano is “increasingly weird.” To say the least. Here’s one thing it’s not, however (contrary to what many media outlets seem to think): a source of the Holy See’s “official” positions on pop music, Chia pets, or (it seems) much else. Thank goodness.

All the same, congrats to Fagen, and better luck next year Walter! Now let’s enjoy this classic video from The Nightfly.


  1. (sigh) Bach or Wagner? I know that Parsifal is only Christian by reference, but still... And if it's all going to be pop, where's Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds? Oh well, you can't go wrong with Nightfly, I guess.

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  3. Ed you should check out Clayton Littlejohn's blog Think Tonk. I think that you'll find some very interesting (maybe even disturbing) insight over there. I'm not saying that your views are wrong. To be honest, I haven't read that much over here. But the gist I'm getting is kind of strong. Clayton does a good job of breaking down things that seem mysterious/spooky/unexplainable and helps a person see how materialist can actually account for it.
    Just a heads up.

  4. You should read more here, anonymous @ 2:22pm. Ed does a stellar job of showing how things that are mysterious/spooky/unexplainable only appear so because of some nonsense of modern philosophy, and how materialist explanations very often either aren't explanations at all, or only sound plausible insofar as they quietly smuggle in some things (such as a broadly Aristotilean worldview) that are supposed to be verboten given materialism. It may be disturbing to you, but it's worth checking out Ed's writings and past post on these subjects in greater detail.

    Just giving you some useful advice.

  5. Hello Anon @ 6:13 (i'm anon at 2:22, but call me Jon).

    Materialistic explanations aren't explanations at all? Okay, but then tell me how ideas of irreducible complexity or complex, specified information give us an understanding of the world?
    I think the problem with ID advocates is that they look for a little thing here or there and think "evolution can't account for this", but in doing this you neglect the vast majority that evolution can account for.
    Your handful of examples that currently elude evolutionary understanding really are ultimately lost in the noise (as they should be).

  6. Hi Jon!

    You do realize that Feser's writings (to say nothing of Aquinas, Aristotle, etc) have nothing to do with "irreducible complexity" arguments and Intelligent Design, and in fact thomists - including Ed - are typically critical of the ID project?

    Do you really think this site is about ID? If so, well, you did say you really didn't read much on this blog, so I can't hold that against you. You were clearly serious.

  7. Come on, "Jon" is obviously our friend Hype Man playing another practical joke on us.

    Comedy gold!

  8. New study shows higher intelligence associated with theism and conservatism.

  9. Atheists largely well-behaved, not prone to obnoxious lunacy or hilarious self-aggrandizing, as shown at world's largest atheist forum.

  10. New study reveals Christians less racist:

    And smarter:

  11. There's something hilarious about the anonymous atheist quoting a study about how religious in-groups tend to be hostile to those outside of their group, to justify their hostility towards those outside of their group. ;)

  12. I'm not ashamed of being hostile to racists. What a strange thing to say.

  13. Atheists chose atheism because they are rational, and not at all because they have daddy issues, psychologist argues.

  14. "he argues that psychoanalysis is actually a better explanation for denial of God, concluding that the absence of a good father is at the core of militant atheism."

    Psychoanalysis is pure pseudo-science. I guess you are unaware that Freud just made all that stuff up.

    Posting a link to a pseudo-scientific book does not support your case.

  15. Handwaving away data you dislike, I see. But trusting scientists determining who is and isn't racist, and so on? That's fair game.

    Typical atheist magical-thinking. lol ;)

  16. Assuming anyone on here was being serious, how are any of these studies at all relevant to anything whatsoever? All of the authors assume a strictly Naturalistic point of view to begin with and then purport to "discover" that religious people are bigots or stupid etc. What a surprise! If a person wants to engage in a philosophical debate about Naturalism/Theism/Materialism/Ethics/etc. that's one thing, but obviously most of these authors don't seem particularly interested in listening to anything Ed or any other A-T would have to say. Okay, fine, be that way, but it hardly seems less "dogmatic" and "intolerant" to me.

    Oh, and by the way, IQ tests are complete garbage anyways, and represent nothing more than subtle reification. And even if they were completely accurate, it wouldn't matter; philosophers are supposed to weigh arguments and reasons based on their own merits without paying attention to who states them. A paranoid schizophrenic in a little rubber room could craft an excellent argument while Richard Dawkins can't seem to understand basic principles of logic. Snooty articles by Naturalists congratulating themselves for being so much smarter and more open minded than their stupid opponents are self-aggrandizing trash, nothing more.

    But I'm just a stupid, dogmatic, bigoted Christian, so what would I know.

  17. "Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid,"

    "Evolutionarily designed," huh Kanazawa? How teleological of you. Interesting...

  18. "All of the authors assume a strictly Naturalistic point of view to begin with and then purport to "discover" that religious people are bigots or stupid etc."

    That is a tired trope. Doing science does not require a naturalistic worldview. A theist could administer IQ tests to atheists and theists just as well as a naturalist. Unfortunately for the theist, the results will be uncongenial.

  19. Psychoanalysis is pure pseudo-science

    There are some aspects in psychoanalisis that have been vindicated by contemporary neuroscience. See this paper:

    Regarding the possible causes of atheism from a Christian perspective, Christian philosopher James Spiegel has just published the book "The Making of an atheist: how immorality leads to unbelief"

    This book is as far better than Vitz's.

    Read an interview with Spiegel in the blog of the Evangelical Philosophical Society:

    Even though I agree that it's plausible that there are spiritual and psychological causes of extreme forms of materialistic atheism (and of any radical or extreme ideology in general), I'd prefer that debates on atheism stick to the philosophical aspects.

    In any case, atheists and theists interested in psychology of belief and Christian philosophy will fing interesting Spiegel's book. It will cause a lot of debate in the atheist vs. religion literature.

    On psychology of belief and his implications for philosophy, I'd suggest the article "Arguments beyond Reason" by (atheist) philosopher Jeff Meyerhoff:

    He argues that, given that each philosophical worldview rest ultimately on assumptions, regress or circularity, we don't actually choose our philosophy of life based on "reasons", but on essentially psychological and emotional motives.

    If Meyerhoff's thesis is right, choosing atheism over religion would depend in a deep level on emotional causes... but choosing religion over atheism too. And this regardless of whether atheism or theism is true or not.

    Note that this is not a philosophical argument for or against atheism or theism, but a psychological one (with philosophical implications, of course)

    Paradoxically, Meyerhoff's thesis is largely compatible with Spiegel's thesis... the difference is that Meyerhoff's view applies to theism too and, in general, to any worldview or philosophical position.

  20. Thanks for the link to the Spiegel interview. His argument would be more persuasive if being a non-Christian were correlated with being immoral. But reams of empirical data demonstrate otherwise. Oh well!

    "choosing atheism over religion would depend in a deep level on emotional causes... but choosing religion over atheism too. And this regardless of whether atheism or theism is true or not."

    I think there is kernel of truth in there. Although I object to the "choosing" of religion or atheism concept. For me, as a child the findings of science were just obviously more coherent with my day to day mundane experiences of how the universe works. This ultimately led to my naturalism.

    Meanwhile, the stories spun by religious people just did not cohere with my experience. As a child the stories in the bible were obviously more similar to fairy tales or science fiction.

    So there was nothing to "choose". I just found myself as a naturalist. None of the beliefs of supernaturalists, be they angels, demons, ghosts, gods, fairies, chi, or karma, cohered with my mundane day to day experience of the universe.

    That is no argument for naturalism. Just an explanation of my story. I did not choose atheism.

  21. "That is a tired trope. Doing science does not require a naturalistic worldview. A theist could administer IQ tests to atheists and theists just as well as a naturalist. Unfortunately for the theist, the results will be uncongenial."

    Your counterexample is irrelevant. The philosophical worldviews underlying the practice of science will especially affect its interpretation if not necessarily its practice, which was my point.

    And as for your own example, most Theists, because of our philosophical worldview, would not see any need to compare IQ scores of Theists and Atheists in an attempt to settle such a complicated question by arrogantly claiming one side is just smart and one side is just stupid. It's mainly a condescending Atheist such as yourself who would have reason to do such a thing.