The need to keep a cool head is why man became a naked ape according to scientists who believe they can finally explain why humans are the only primate to lose their body fur.
Bare skin allows body heat to be lost through sweating which would have been important when early humans started to walk on two legs and began to develop larger brains than their ape-like ancestors, scientists said.
As an historian, Dawson radically revises our sense of the continuity of Western culture, but within that continuity, its vicissitudes and heroisms. For the ordinary educated consciousness, what happened in Western Europe after the collapse of the Roman order tends to be a blank page labelled "the dark ages." The period from the fifth to the tenth centuries was indeed characterized by social chaos, roving bands of pillagers, Norse invasions, but as Dawson makes clear, there were heroic continuities, an enormous effort on the part of beleaguered communities to preserve and add to the inheritance of religion, culture, and learning and to provide the basis for a revival of civilized order. [...]
T. S. Eliot, lecturing in the United States, was once asked what writer was then the most powerful intellectual influence in England. Eliot answered, Christopher Dawson. That this influence was rarefied need not be doubted, but Dawson was a prolific writer, an original thinker, a skillful polemicist, and clearly, a deeply felt presence for such a person as Eliot - of which more in a moment. But before speaking of what I would call the Dawson Revolution in our sense of the shape of Western history, I would like to revert to what I have called the aesthetics of erudition, or what might also be called the humility of learning. For example, I will adduce his Gifford Lectures, delivered at the University of Edinburgh in and 1949 and later published as his magisterial Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (1950).
The Gifford Lectureship is a very distinguished matter, and it is characteristic of Dawson that he felt he could not rise to the occasion. Yet he did so magnificently, though his manner was Dawsonish. As his daughter records, "His shy manner and quiet intonation, combined with a lack of confidence in his own powers, must have made him seem the most unassuming of Gifford Lecturers, and of course, the deepest thinkers are not invariably the best speakers."
But open the published version of these Gifford Lectures. The first thing you encounter is a frontispiece photograph entitled "Figure of Christ: From the Bewcastle Rood (c. 700)." In this book there are eight such photographs of various historical objects with immensely erudite commentaries by Dawson listed as "Notes on the Illustrations." Because the learning here is so recondite, exquisite, and, when seen in perspective, important, I will quote in full the "note" on the Bewcastle Christ. The reader of this essay may savor it as a good introduction to Dawson:
The Anglian High Crosses are among the earliest and most remarkable monuments of Western Christendom. Although they date from the first age of Northumbrian Christianity, they show an astonishing mastery of design and execution, unlike anything to be found elsewhere in Western Europe during this period. The new art owes its origin to the deliberate importation of Christian artists and Christian craftsmen from the Mediterranean world by the leaders of the Anglian church, above all St. Wilfrid and St. Benedict Bishop in the second half of the seventh century. But while the ornamentation, especially the vine scroll, shows clear signs of Mediterranean (Syrian) influence, the style is not purely imitative, but represents an original Anglian renaissance of classical Roman traditions. It is in fact a true 'Romanesque' art which anticipates the Continental development by centuries. The Bewcastle cross has a particularly close association with the great age of the Northumbrian church, because it was erected in commemoration of King Alchfrith, the friend of St. Wilfrid and the supporter of the Roman party at the Synod of Whitby (664). It stands on the site of an old Roman fort high up on the Cumbrian moors beyond the Roman Wall. The figure of Christ in Majesty resembles that on the earlier and even finer Rood at Ruthwell in Durnfriesshire. In both cases, the face is unbearded, but carries a moustache. The Bewcastle inscription is entirely runic, whereas at Ruthwell the corresponding figure has a Latin inscription - IHS XPS IUDEX AEQUITATIS. BESTI ET DRACONES COGNOVERUNT IN DESERT0 SALVATOR-EM MUNDI. It seems that both of these great crosses were set up as triumphant assertions of the Cross over the forces of outer barbarism.
There is much of Dawson here in what amounts to a "minor" passage in a major work: his sense of the past as a living and present thing, his immersion in detail, his connoisseur's judgments, his awareness of civilization as over against the "outer barbarism."
The queer thing about calling them the Dark Ages is that they were the period when the Light spread universally to Europe.
Adaptation is often confused with evolution. Adaptation is a fact and it's quite real. Evolution is a myth and does not exist in reality at all, only in fantasy. There is a fine line separating them. Adaptation is when an individual or a species collectively changes to adapt to their environment. Such changes can be subtle or very striking. The changes are physical (phenotype) and, in the case of an individual, can be brought about in a direct response to a stimulus from the environment. An example of this is a suntan, or the strong right arm of a blacksmith, to use Lamacrk's example. These are temporary adaptations of an individual and are definitely not inherited or passed on to the next generation.
The phenotype (physical characteristics) of the next generation individual are determined at birth by, and only by, the combination of genes that the individual received from his or her parents (genotype) at the time of conception. Now, in the case of a population (large number of individuals of a species), adaptation does have a genetic aspect. A population adapts to its environment by favoring those gene combinations within the species that produce individuals that are more adapted to their environment. This is like a special breed within a species. And this is a very important point: this group remains a breed within the species, not a new species.
The genotype (gene pool) of this breed is definitely skewed with a preponderance of gene combinations that produce the favored phenotype (physical characteristics) that is advantageous for surviving and thriving under these conditions. This is why St. Bernards and not Chihuahuas (both members of the species Canis - dog) are used for rescuing avalanche victims. Granted, dogs are bred "artificially" by humans to adapt them to special environments but they still remain dogs, and don't become a "new species".
This is observed naturally among different "breeds" of humans, who are all nevertheless human and not some other "species". Hence, aboriginal people who live in tropical areas generally have dark skin (high melanin for UV protection) and a higher surface area to volume ratio (tall and lanky - for easier heat dissipation). Conversely Inuits, the people of the Arctic regions, tend to have fair skin (low melanin - not much need for sun protection) but a considerably lower surface area to volume ratio (a propensity for portliness - for better heat retention).
So there certainly does seem to be a process in nature that also "breeds" species to adapt them to their environment. This is what Darwin called "natural selection". This is all still "adaptation" not "evolution".
This natural process tends to "concentrate" certain gene combinations within the species that produce individuals that are more adapted to their environment. But these concentrations of certain genotypes within the gene pool of the species are just that: concentrations. When the conditions that favor this particular concentration of genes are removed, the concentration disperses and the "special breed" eventually ceases to exist, its genes becoming gradually diluted and dispersed throughout the vast general gene pool of their species at large. So far - so good. This is all solid science.
But the next step is where Darwin's cart goes completely off its rails. Darwin then made a leap of blind faith and this is where he, and all those who followed him, went off a cliff. Darwin assumed (he didn't observe - nobody has ever observed this) that these physical changes due to natural selection add up and eventually result in the formation of an entirely new species. This idea is called "evolution." This is where it crosses over from "adaptation", which is true science and which happens all the time, to "evolution", which is not true but a fantasy based on thin air and pure speculation and never happens in reality.
We contend that buyers received false information about the true quality of assets in contractual disclosures by intermediaries during the sale of mortgages in the $2 trillion non-agency market. We construct two measures of misrepresentation of asset quality -- misreported occupancy status of borrower and misreported second liens -- by comparing the characteristics of mortgages disclosed to the investors at the time of sale with actual characteristics of these loans at that time that are available in a dataset matched by a credit bureau. About one out of every ten loans has one of these misrepresentations. These misrepresentations are not likely to be an artifact of matching error between datasets that contain actual characteristics and those that are reported to investors. At least part of this misrepresentation likely occurs within the boundaries of the financial industry (i.e., not by borrowers). The propensity of intermediaries to sell misrepresented loans increased as the housing market boomed, peaking in 2006. These misrepresentations are costly for investors, as ex post delinquencies of such loans are more than 60% higher when compared with otherwise similar loans. Lenders seem to be partly aware of this risk, charging a higher interest rate on misrepresented loans relative to otherwise similar loans, but the interest rate markup on misrepresented loans does not fully reflect their higher default risk.
German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler wants the European Union and the United States to reach a comprehensive transatlantic free trade agreement rather than settle for the limited deal some southern EU nations favor.
Roesler told Der Spiegel magazine on Sunday he and the German government want a sweeping free trade deal, while France and southern EU nations, by contrast, want to protect their agriculture industry with regulations and also keep out genetically modified U.S. foodstuffs, the magazine said.
Roesler has backing from a study by the Ifo economic institute think tank that said the advantages of the free trade zone would be larger with a comprehensive deal. [...]
The Ifo study, carried out for the Economy Ministry, found that per capita gross domestic product (GDP) would rise by 0.1 percent in the EU and 0.2 percent in the United States with the free trade deal if only customs barriers were abolished.
But more could be expected if the governments introduced common technical standards, safety standards and competition rules, Ifo said.
WHICH IS WHY THE END OF HISTORY IS NOT A GOOD THING PER SE:
Ordered Liberty under God : a review of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World by Robert P. Kraynak (Douglas C. Minson, 1/21/13, Imaginative Conservative)
The stated purpose of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy is twofold. Kraynak argues that liberalism requires Christianity to provide a sufficient foundation for human dignity--an account it is unable to generate on its own and upon which modern democracy depends. Having made his case for liberalism's theoretical dependence on Christianity, Kraynak then devotes the bulk of his book to developing an argument that Christianity in no way necessitates modern liberal democracy. In fact, he proposes that liberal democracy and Christianity are profoundly irreconcilable.
Kraynak's thesis is nothing if not bold. For most American Christians, who can perceive no tension between their religious and political devotion, it would appear that Kraynak's intellectual project is both perverse and impossible. Remarkably, however, one leaves the book impressed that Kraynak is equal to his task.
Much as Richard John Neuhaus has observed that modern atheism is a "Christian" atheism-- in the sense that the only God it bothers to deny is the monotheistic, eternal, and personal God of the Judeo-Christian tradition--Kraynak contends that modern democratic liberalism is the only form of democracy that is a candidate for serious consideration. Modern democracy, unlike ancient Greek democracy, for example, is democracy as an end unto itself, a political expression of the rights that accompany a particular conception of human nature and human dignity. This particular notion of dignity is equated with "autonomy and mastery of one's fate." As such, liberal democracy is more than merely a system of social and political order: "it is a philosophy of freedom."
Christianity's account of human dignity, by contrast, is essentially hierarchical and unsuited to the purposes of modern democracy. Kraynak's treatment of the politics of human dignity is particularly insightful, both for its lucidity and its ecumenical scope. Kraynak examines the way that the Bible, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin all reflect a hierarchy of being in their understanding of the imago dei, human reason, and human responsibility. His examination of Christianity's understanding of man as conceived within and measured by a cosmological order has important implications for law and justice and provides a stark contrast to the liberal democratic view of human dignity as absolute and undifferentiated. For Kraynak, the Christian understanding of human nature finds its political expression in Augustine's doctrine of Two Cities-- a doctrine that both accommodates a range of political systems and finds every particular regime (including our own) ultimately inadequate.
Over and against the prevailing conception of democracy, which only thinly disguises its claim to being the best regime, Kraynak offers a theory of Christian constitutionalism. Such constitutionalism is "more open to the diversity of political regimes than liberalism" and is less ambitious than its secular counterparts. Rooted in a substantial view of higher goods and higher spheres that cannot be absorbed by the state, the temporal ends of the state are more narrowly conceived than is the case with modern liberalism.
In effect, Christian constitutionalism in no way aspires to resolve or overcome what Peter Augustine Lawler has suggested is humanity's essentially "alien" nature. The citizens of the City of Man are ever and necessarily strangers in a strange land, pilgrims on a journey, temporal beings longing for eternity and transcendence. Thus is the City of Man "desacralized." Nonetheless, because it is divinely ordained, it can never be purely secularized. It is limited to temporal ends, but with an eye to eternal concerns.
Christian constitutionalism provides an alternative framework for limited government on a distinctly "illiberal" foundation. Indeed, Kraynak draws upon Reformed notions of "sphere sovereignty," Roman Catholic conceptions of subsidiarity, and Reinhold Niebuhr's Christian Realism to provide a metaphysical foundation for a pluralistic social order. But offering an alternative to the prevailing democratic orthodoxy is not Kraynak's primary concern-- it is only an element of his contention that liberal democracy cannot be harmonized with the Christian faith.
While all states and peoples are inevitably tending towards modern liberal democracy (the only way we know of that our temporal ends can be reasonably well satisfied) this End of History is ultimately only desirable to the extent that they also strive towards satisfying those eternal concerns. In the absence of the latter, the former just represents the senescent condition in which they'll die off.
Why Darwinist Materialism is Wrong : According to a semi-established consensus among the intellectual elite in the West, there is no such person as God or any other supernatural being. a review of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False By Thomas Nagel (ALVIN PLANTINGA, 11/06/12, New Republic)
Now you might think someone with Nagel's views would be sympathetic to theism, the belief that there is such a person as the God of the Abrahamic religions. Materialist naturalism, says Nagel, cannot account for the appearance of life, or the variety we find in the living world, or consciousness, or cognition, or mind -- but theism has no problem accounting for any of these. As for life, God himself is living, and in one way or another has created the biological life to be found on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere as well). As for the diversity of life: God has brought that about, whether through a guided process of evolution or in some other way. As for consciousness, again theism has no problem: according to theism the fundamental and basic reality is God, who is conscious. And what about the existence of creatures with cognition and reason, creatures who, like us, are capable of scientific investigation of our world? Well, according to theism, God has created us human beings in his image; part of being in the image of God (Aquinas thought it the most important part) is being able to know something about ourselves and our world and God himself, just as God does. Hence theism implies that the world is indeed intelligible to us, even if not quite intelligible in Nagel's glorified sense. Indeed, modern empirical science was nurtured in the womb of Christian theism, which implies that there is a certain match or fit between the world and our cognitive faculties.
Given theism, there is no surprise at all that there should be creatures like us who are capable of atomic physics, relativity theory, quantum mechanics, and the like. Materialist naturalism, on the other hand, as Nagel points out, has great difficulty accounting for the existence of such creatures. For this and other reasons, theism is vastly more welcoming to science than materialist naturalism. So theism would seem to be a natural alternative to the materialist naturalism Nagel rejects: it has virtues where the latter has vices, and we might therefore expect Nagel, at least on these grounds, to be sympathetic to theism.
Sadly enough (at least for me), Nagel rejects theism. "I confess to an ungrounded assumption of my own, in not finding it possible to regard the design alternative [i.e., theism] as a real option. I lack the sensus divinitatis that enables -- indeed, compels so many people to see in the world the expression of divine purpose." But it isn't just that Nagel is more or less neutral about theism but lacks that sensus divinitatis. In The Last Word, which appeared in 1997, he offered a candid account of his philosophical inclinations:
It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.
I am talking about something much deeper -- namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. . . . It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.
Here we have discomfort and distress at the thought that there might be such a being as God; but this discomfort seems more emotional than philosophical or rational.
So is there a strictly philosophical problem with theism, according to Nagel? As far as I can see, the main substantive objection that he offers is an appeal to that notion of unity. A successful worldview will see the world as intelligible; and intelligibility, as Nagel conceives it, involves a high degree of unity. The world is intelligible only if there are no fundamental breaks in it, only if it contains no fundamentally different kinds of things. Descartes, that great dualist, thought that the world displays two quite different sorts of things: matter and mind, neither reducible to the other. Nagel rejects this dualism: his reason is just that such dualism fails to secure the unity necessary for the world's being intelligible.
Yet is there any reason to think that the world really is intelligible in this very strong sense -- any good reason to think that there is fundamentally just one kind of thing, with everything being an example of that kind, or reducible to things that are? Here three considerations seem to be necessary. First, we need to know more about this requirement: what is it to say that fundamentally there is just one kind of thing? It is not obvious how this is to be understood. Aren't there many different sorts of things: houses, horses, hawks, and handsaws? Well, perhaps they are not fundamentally different. But what does "fundamentally" mean here? Is the idea that the world is intelligible only if there is some important property that houses, horses, hawks, and handsaws all share? What kind of property?
Second, how much plausibility is there to the claim that this sort of unity really is required for intelligibility? Clearly we cannot claim that Descartes's dualism is literally unintelligible -- after all, even if you reject it, you can understand it. (How else could you reject it?) Is it really true that the world is more intelligible, in some important sense of "intelligible," if it does not contain two or more fundamentally different kinds of things? I see little reason to think so.
And third, suppose we concede that the world is genuinely intelligible only if it displays this sort of monistic unity: why should we think that the world really does display such a unity? We might hope that the world would display such unity, but is there any reason to think the world will cooperate? Suppose intelligibility requires that kind of unity: why should we think our world is intelligible in that sense? Is it reasonable to say to a theist, "Well, if theism were true, there would be two quite different sorts of things: God on the one hand, and the creatures he has created on the other. But that cannot really be true: for if it were, the world would not display the sort of unity required for intelligibility"? Won't the theist be quite properly content to forgo that sort of intelligibility?
I come finally to Nagel's positive thesis. Materialist naturalism, he shows, is false, but what does he propose to put in its place? Here he is a little diffident. He thinks that it may take centuries to work out a satisfactory alternative to materialist naturalism (given that theism is not acceptable); he is content to propose a suggestive sketch. He does so in a spirit of modesty: "I am certain that my own attempt to explore alternatives is far too unimaginative. An understanding of the universe as basically prone to generate life and mind will probably require a much more radical departure from the familiar forms of naturalistic explanation than I am at present able to conceive."
There are two main elements to Nagel's sketch. There is panpsychism, or the idea that there is mind, or proto-mind, or something like mind, all the way down. In this view, mind never emerges in the universe: it is present from the start, in that even the most elementary particles display some kind of mindedness. The thought is not, of course, that elementary particles are able to do mathematical calculations, or that they are self-conscious; but they do enjoy some kind of mentality. In this way Nagel proposes to avoid the lack of intelligibility he finds in dualism.
But we haven't the faintest idea how a being with a mind like ours can be composed of or constructed out of smaller entities that have some kind of mindedness. How do those elementary minds get combined into a less than elementary mind?
Of course someone might wonder how much of a gain there is, from the point of view of unity, in rejecting two fundamentally different kinds of objects in favor of two fundamentally different kinds of properties. And as Nagel recognizes, there is still a problem for him about the existence of minds like ours, minds capable of understanding a fair amount about the universe. We can see (to some degree, anyway) how more complex material objects can be built out of simpler ones: ordinary physical objects are composed of molecules, which are composed of atoms, which are composed of electrons and quarks (at this point things get less than totally clear). But we haven't the faintest idea how a being with a mind like ours can be composed of or constructed out of smaller entities that have some kind of mindedness. How do those elementary minds get combined into a less than elementary mind?
The second element of Nagel's sketch is what we can call natural teleology.His idea seems to be something like this. At each stage in the development of our universe (perhaps we can think of that development as starting with the big bang), there are several different possibilities as to what will happen next. Some of these possibilities are steps on the way toward the existence of creatures with minds like ours; others are not. According to Nagel's natural teleology, there is a sort of intrinsic bias in the universe toward those possibilities that lead to minds. Or perhaps there was an intrinsic bias in the universe toward the sorts of initial conditions that would lead to the existence of minds like ours. Nagel does not elaborate or develop these suggestions. Still, he is not to be criticized for this: he is probably right in believing that it will take a lot of thought and a long time to develop these suggestions into a truly viable alternative to both materialist naturalism and theism.
It's easy enough to demonstrate the falsity of materialism generally and Darwinism specifically, but it's always amusing what comes after. Mr. Nagel can make the intellectual case for theism, but just can't take the emotional step to faith. This tells us much about him and the social milieu within which he functions but nothing about Creation.
[T]he initiatives Obama proposed are striking not for their sweep but for their limited scope. That reflects both pragmatism and realism: Not only is the age of big government really over, so is the age of government as the transformative force in American society. And that is all for the best. [...]
[W]hile healthcare is billed as an expansion of government, it is more a continuing issue of cost and delivery of something that has to be paid for by someone and at some cost.
On almost every other front, government is receding ‑ not just from the financial crisis high tide of 2008-2009 but from decades before. Each of Obama's proposals hones and potentially reduces current spending, whether on education or on infrastructure. That $50 billion for roads appears large. In mid-2012, though, Congress authorized $120 billion in highway expenses through 2014, and much of what Obama proposes could be encompassed by focusing current spending.
Even if there is new spending there, it is a pittance compared to the interstate highway bills of the 1950s or the space program of the 1960s, let alone the many programs that encompassed the War on Poverty and led to a vast expansion of federal programs in healthcare, housing and education.
Take the minimum wage, the issue that received perhaps the most attention among the president's proposals, save gun control. But increasing the minimum wage isn't a government program. It's a bill that potentially mandates higher costs for some employers. Whether you love it or hate it, it is not an expansion of government ‑ and certainly not of government spending.
All these proposals, in fact, are small-bore for the post-New Deal era. They are small-bore compared to the massive 2009 stimulus bill of almost $800 billion. They are small-bore because there is no political ill for them to be larger-bore, and because it is unclear just how much government can use the bazooka of big spending to effect significant changes in society.
In honor of Michael Jordan's 50th birthday, we reached out to a man who, possibly more than anyone, understands the sneering greatness of Jordan in his prime: Craig Ehlo, the former NBA player (14 seasons with the Rockets, Cavaliers, Hawks, and SuperSonics) who was on the wrong side of "The Shot" in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs. Ehlo is now an assistant coach for the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team. What follows is his recollection of guarding Jordan, in his words.
I was lucky enough to play in the same division as the Bulls, so not only did we see them in the regular season, but also three or four times in the playoffs. So I saw him extra. I wouldn't say I was the unfortunate one, because still, like my dad always said, you'll be the best when you play the best. I was always thrilled to be in that position.
Usually, Ron Harper would start on him, then I would come in and go to him, and Ron would go to Scottie Pippen or something like that. I always felt very lucky that Coach Wilkens had that faith in me to guard him. Michael was very competitive when he got between the lines. He was never a bad talker or too arrogant, but it was just like what Jason [Williams] said: He'd tell you. He only did that to me one time, from what I remember. It was his 69-point game, and things were going so well for him that I guess he just went for it. We were running up the court side-by-side and he told me: "Listen man, I'm hitting everything, so I'm gonna tell you what I'm gonna do this time and see if you can stop it. You know you can't stop it. You know you can't stop this. You can't guard me.
"I'm gonna catch it on the left elbow, and then I'm gonna drive to the left to the baseline, and then I'm gonna pull up and shoot my fadeaway."
And sure enough ...
Like I said, he was never mean or bad about it. But on that one play I was like, OK, well, if he's gonna tell me what he's going to do, then I'm gonna take advantage of this. And I was right there with him when he did--but sure enough he banked it off the backboard. We were heading back down court, and he gave me that kind of shrugged-shoulder look that you'd always see and he's like: "I told you. I told you." And I just said, "Don't do that again."
"Here's my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed--pretax--from the time you're born 'til the time you die. If you die, you can pass it on to your family members, and there's nobody talking about death panels. We can make contributions for people who are indigent. Instead of sending all this money to some bureaucracy, let's put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care. And very quickly they're going to learn how to be responsible."
The Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon may not be politically correct, but he's closer to correct than we've heard in years.
We could actually save our way out of this dilemma, so that if we, the American people, saved 10 percent of our income, we would over time build up the resources to pay for these obligations that are coming along.
... There are 4 million live births in the United States every year. So if we, the American people, said we're going to assure financial security for our citizens when they get to be 65, if we believe that and put it in practice, we put $23,000 in a named account for an individual on the day they were born. ... If [it] grew at 6 percent, when you got to be 65, your annuity in your name would be worth $1.18 million. So we would create real financial security. It would cost us $92 billion a year to do that. Right this year the federal budget is going to be $3.1 trillion. Could we afford, in effect, to become a mandated-saving society? Absolutely.