Monday, 24 December 2018

Monday quote

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

Gilbert K. Chesterton.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Monday quote

Secularists propose that religion and science need not conflict so long as religion is defined their way. Essentially they are saying, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that Caesar says he can have."

Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Monday quote

The truth is that moral values and the belief that life is meaningful are borrowed capital for the atheist, borrowed from the very thing the atheist aims to demolish—belief in God.

James S. Spiegel, The Making of an Atheist.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Monday quote

No man pretended to love his neighbour, but every one said he knew that peace and quiet behaviour was the best thing for himself, and that, he said, was quite as useful, and a great deal more reasonable.

George MacDonald. The Princess and Curdie.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Monday quote

It is frequently a sin to give offense. It is always a sin to take it.

Douglas Wilson

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Self-interest and selfishness

It could be argued that selfishness is a vice of the individual. But it is self-interest that as an individual property, selfishness is only a vice in community.

Self-interest is inherently a virtue and not a vice. It is natural and normal to care for one's well-being. To lack care for one's self is associated with a range of unsavory behaviours ranging from neglect to self-harm. It is right to care one keeps warm, and sated, and free from thirst. And one can seek these things in private as much as he can in community. A hermit looks to care for himself.

Of course a man can care too much for himself, but that is because he has weighted his desires incorrectly: he loves food more than avoiding starvation, and thus becomes fat. Though obesity is hardly in a man's self-interest. The man needs to avoid the idolatry of his passions. Self-control contributes to self-interest.

But selfishness is a vice that one can only exhibit in a community. Those are selfish who care more about themselves than others. The problem is not that he had a second piece of pie, it is that there were others who had none. He may well have 3 pieces of pie at his own table, but not at a gathering where the provision was sub-optimal.

Selfishness is intrinsically a problem of community but self-interest is irrespective of community. Therefore self-interest need not detrimental to society. Selfishness is always bad, self-interest is problematic when it is idolatrous, or when a man is also selfish. But we have seen that all men have self-interest but not all men are selfish.

In order to serve others we must reject selfishness, though that need not mean rejecting self-interest. Service to others may involve going against self-interest, this is the path of Christ who walked towards death in order to give us life. Going without so others can have; giving away our time, property, money; fasting and praying for others. That we have self-interest does not mean we always need attend to it.

But we can also serve others by helping in areas that bring us pleasure. We differ in gifts but also desires. It is no virtue to insist that gardening and visiting and baking and teaching all be performed by the very men who dislike these activities. It may be in a necessity, but we can serve others in ways that also feed our enjoyment. It is not self-interest which damages community, it is selfishness.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Monday, 12 November 2018

Monday quote

We cannot be certain of being right about the future; but we can be almost certain of being wrong about the future, if we are wrong about the past.

GK Chesterton.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

On intelligence quotient and race

I wrote this as a comment on IQ and racial differences some months ago.

I think that IQ is real in that it measures a form of intellectual prowess. We all know people who are more and less intelligent and IQ seems to correlate with that. IQ almost certainly does not measure wisdom (knowing what is good and right).

I also think that an IQ difference between races is feasible. Certain tribal groupings differ in height, weight, eye colour, hair shape, on average.

However it seems to me that IQ likely is associated with many more genes than these other features. I also suspect that IQ is influenced by education despite claims otherwise. There is also evidence of IQ changes over time within a racial group. Therefore I very much doubt that there are significant, if any, differences between races.

So my position is there could be an IQ difference but there probably isn't. IQ does not measure morality. Having a higher IQ is a benefit, probably like being tall, or running fast. Racial differences are averages and do not apply to an individual. And IQ is only one metric, so it cannot be used for a general claim of racial superiority. We are equal before God because of our imago Dei, not because of our skills. And the man who is strong or fast or smart should never boast in this, but boast in the Lord.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Monday quote

I would suggest that God gave us emotions to enjoy and to alert us to pleasures, dangers and the condition of our inner man—not for the purpose of making decisions. For decision-making, He gave us the capacity to reason in order that we might objectively identify the right thing to do on the basis of God’s Word and then discipline the heart to follow after. Under discipline, the heart follows the direction set by a redeemed mind. Left to themselves, emotions generate delusion. Will we think with our feelings or with a Holy Spirit–inspired capacity to reason?

R. Loren Sandford

Monday, 29 October 2018

Monday quote

The main lesson of Dr Baron’s book, however, is that not everyone is a born writer. This is not to say that his little volume is without value. As Doctor Johnson might have put it, he who would be a writer must read bad books in order to be able to discern the virtues of good books. Dr Baron fails to distinguish between the memories that are important to him personally and those that might interest a reader. In writing, excision is next to godliness; and so his book reads like an extended and rambling speech of thanks for the presents kindly given to him at his retirement.

Theodore Dalrymple.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Monday quote

We know we understand an opposing view only when we are able to articulate it and receive the affirmation of our opponent that we have accurately represented his position. Only then can we proceed to argue against it. It does not take a big man to push over a straw man—little men are up to this simple task. Nor is it enough to say that our brother is wrong, or silly, or that his arguments make no sense; we must be prepared to demonstrate such claims. Some argue that they do not need to demonstrate such claims. Some argue they do not need to understand opposing views. But they cannot expect to engage people who disagree with them.

Robert R. Booth, Children of the Promise.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Monday quote

That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. Any journalist, hearing of it for the first time, would recognize it as news; those who did hear it for the first time actually called it news, and good news at that; though we are likely to forget that the word Gospel ever meant anything so sensational.

Dorothy Sayers

Monday, 8 October 2018

Monday quote

You can’t pray too much any more than you can love too much.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Monday quote

When an organization has more of its decisions made by committees, that gives more influence to those who have more time available to attend committee meetings and to drag out each meeting longer. In other words, it reduces the influence of those who have work to do, and are doing it, while making those who are less productive more influential.

Thomas Sowell


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