Thinking Out Loud
 
 
 
That our eyesight is so limited that we cannot with our eyes alone see the bacteria and germs that surround us is surely evidence of God’s mercy toward us.
 
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Suppose I ask you what 11 x 12 equals, and you say to me, "123." I then ask you, "Do you believe that?" You think a moment, and you answer, "Yes." Even though you are wrong, I shall be inclined to believe that you believe it.

Now suppose I ask a computer what 11 x 12 equals, and it gives me “123.” Does it make sense for me to ask it, “Do you believe that?” And if I ask it, and it gives me the answer, “Yes,” does it believe it? Does it believe anything? Can any AI object believe at all?
 
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I was asked what I think of the current pontiff. I can reply only that apparently it has pleased God that for a short time in the 21st century his Church should be ruled by a fool, a fool, moreover, who cannot claim the distinction of being the first, and probably not that of being the last. Perhaps we may harbor the hope of Wagner’s Knights of the Holy Grail: “Durch Mitleid wissend, der reine Tor.”
 
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I have been reading Robert R. Reilly’s Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamic Crisis (Wilmington, Del.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2010). In the first part of the book Reilly supplies citation after citation to demonstrate that modern Muslim theology (though not Islam as such) holds that Allah is constrained by nothing, that if there is reason or consistency in his commands, it is not because he is reasonable or consistent, but merely because he wills that his commands should be reasonable and consistent. That which is right is right because he wills it; it is not the case that he wills it because it is right. If Allah tires of all this irrational-number business, he can make the relationship between a circle’s circumference and the diameter (i.e., π) a rational number. If he feels like it he can make π rational for some circles and irrational for others. And he can change when it is rational and when it is not from day to day or from minute to minute, if he so wills.

Allah, as Reilly puts it, is pure will.

If he is right, I think we can say that all the differences between Islam and Christianity may be boiled down to this one statement: Allah is pure will; the God of the New Testament is pure love.

If God is pure will, he can be completely solitary. But if he is love, he cannot be. Love, after all, requires something to love, and it requires the existence of persons who love. Hence the Christian God is three persons: the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that passes between them. (April 28, 2018)
 
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“It is a striking fact that most Americans in the eighteenth century agreed that government should intervene in economic life. They disagreed only as to the nature of the intervention and as to which groups were to benefit thereby. The history of the conflict among the various groups in American society in their demands for state aid lends richness and variety to the history of state politics during the 1780’s. Moreover it throws new light on the factors involved in the movement for a stronger central government....” (Merrill Jensen, The New Nation: A History of the United States during the Confederation — 1781–1789 [New York: Vintage Books, 1950])

This leads me to wonder whether those writers who have argued that modern commentators and jurists have misused the Commerce Clause are right. Is it possible that the current understanding is precisely what the Framers intended, even if they did not dare to say so at the time? Just how honest was “Publius”? When they gave assurances to the anti-Federalists, were they writing in good faith? (April 28, 2017)
 
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The Earth is not alive. It has living things on it.

It feels no pain. It does not reproduce itself: it is the means by which others reproduce. It does not grow: it is the means by which others grow. It monotonously circles another non-living thing in company with other non-living things, and is monotonously circled by yet another non-living thing.

I know there are others that hold a different view. But the way for people to come together to meet common goals is to allow them the freedom to do it. They will find one another. And when they disagree among themselves, let them separate and seek others who agree. This is the way of Society.

It is entirely opposite the way of the State, which requires agreement, and when it does not reach it, compels it. (June 29, 2019)
 
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Can it be that people — especially college students — no longer argue because they think that to argue is to grant legitimacy to a view they oppose? I sometimes hear of their saying that. But if arguing does grant legitimacy, then that leaves quarreling as the only way to oppose views with which one disagrees.

And modern-day quarreling has taken on the attributes of drunken disputes, full of foul name-calling, vulgarities, and obscenities. (September 20, 2019)
 
 
 
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Thinking Outloud was last updated September 20, 2019
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