Tag: reason

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Want to Pray Well? Study Well

This afternoon, I gave a talk to the returning teachers at Christ the King on the virtue of study. I made four basic points:  1) Reason is good, and ordered towards God, since all truth is of the Holy Spirit. 2) Therefore, studiousness is a virtue that we ought to practice. 3) This is particularly true of Catholic school teachers, given their unique calling. 4) Studiousness must be rooted in prayer, and should help us to pray better. Here's the text of the full talk:

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Are We Living in the Matrix?

If the soul doesn't exist, then the mind is just matter, a sort of sophisticated computer. If that's the case, we'd be lead to the absurd possibility (even likelihood) that the universe doesn't really exist, but is just a computer simulation. Here's why that argument is surprisingly popular right now (even being debated at the American Museum of Natural History), and three reasons where is - and all materialism - goes wrong.

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3 Surprising Lessons from Jesus’ Weirdest Parable

Hieronymus Bosch, Death and the Miser (detail) (1490)
The weirdest and most troubling of Jesus' parables is almost certainly the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16, in which Jesus presents a parable of a manager who, upon being fired, exploits his position to cut deals with his master's clients so that he can try to leverage this into a job with them. Rather than being justly furious, the master *praises him* for his ingenuity. What on earth is going on? Three things to keep in mind with this parable.

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How George Carlin Misunderstood Prayer

William Blake, Ancient of Days (1794)
The famous comedian George Carlin was a fervent atheist, and had a particular disdain for Christian prayer. He argued that it was arrogant of us to ask the God of the Universe for anything. He’s got a Divine plan, and then we come along to ask Him for special favors. But Carlin also viewed prayer as either destructive or worthless. After all, God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God of the Universe, and He has a Divine Plan. If our prayers cause Him to change that plan, Carlin reasoned, we’re making things worse. If our prayers don’t cause Him to change His plans, what’s the point?

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Do Democratic Presidencies Reduce the Abortion Rate?

A popular progressive political argument is that the only truly pro-life choice is to vote Democratic. After all, the argument goes, even if said Democrats are vocally "pro-choice," they're also pro-social net, and the presence of a social net prevents women from feeling like they "need" abortion. During Republican administrations, in contrast. social nets get slashed, pregnant women feel more desperate (and less capable of caring for the children with which they're pregnant), and abortion goes up. It's an interesting theory, but is it true?

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Are Gay Marriage Opponents “Born This Way”?

One predictive factor in opposition to gay marriage -- and even opposition to homosexuals themselves -- is genetics. Certain people are more naturally averse to homosexuals and homosexual behavior than others. This means that, if it's wrong to oppose homosexuality because certain people are "born that way," then it's even worse to oppose "homophobia," since even more people are "born that way," and the genetic link is stronger.

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4 Errors about the Burden of Proof for God

Duccio, Pilate's First Interrogation of Christ (1311)
As longtime readers know, I used to be a lawyer before entering seminary to prepare for the Catholic priesthood. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that I'm fascinated by questions about the "burden of proof" in religious questions. For example, does the burden of proof fall on the believer or the atheist? What sort of evidence is permissible to meet this burden of proof? Do "extraordinary" claims require extraordinary evidence? Should they meet an extraordinary burden of proof, above the burden required for other sorts of claims? Here are four ways that those questions are answered incorrectly.

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