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G.K. Chesterton Refuted Hilary Rosen a Century Ago

Author G.K. Chesterton August 12, 1904

Author G.K. Chesterton August 12, 1904 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“To put the matter shortly, a woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment . . .is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes, and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1912), pp. 163-65.

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The Stumbling Block of the Resurrection

Women at the grave/ Жены мироносицы. Первая че...

Women at the grave/ Жены мироносицы. Первая четверть ХVIII в. Основа. Три доски (хвойная древесина). Две врезные сквозные шпонки. Темпера. Икона из Преображенской церкви Спасо-Кижского погоста (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back when I held more of an agnostic position towards the “God question”, I used to view Easter as a harmless folly. If people wanted to believe that Jesus was somehow alive and in their hearts, I figured “why not let the kids can have their fun?” After all, various religions had their holidays celebrating odd stories that no one really took very seriously. None of these claims had any more basis then the other, or so was my assumption. But as I began to study Christianity I began to realize that Christians took this claim very seriously. In fact, St. Paul laid it all out on the line when he said “if Christ be not raised, our preaching is in vain and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15:14)

It is this resurrection claim that is a massive stumbling block for a number of worldviews. For starters, if it is true that a divine miracle took place on that first Easter Sunday morning, then it follows that naturalism is false. That’s rather obvious. But I think what the resurrection means is that Jesus is not just one great teacher among many gurus, swamis, religious teachers or prophets. To put it plainly, the resurrection is a stumbling block for religious pluralism.

From its very origins the Christian claim has been quite strong. “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you (the Sanhedrin) crucified, whom God raised from the dead…is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12) This message wasn’t popular or politically correct back then, nor is it now. As William Paley put it many years ago, “For it ought to be considered that this was not setting or magnifying the character and worship of some new for a place in the Pantheon whose pretensions be discussed or asserted without questioning the reality of any others it was pronouncing all other gods to be and all other worship vain.” This upsetting of the apple cart is what caused many Christians to become lion food.

Believers are often charged for being arrogant for believing that Christianity is true, but do we call someone arrogant for believing the history of Napoleon, Babe Ruth or any other larger-than-life figure? If the evidence is there, then of course not. The historical facts are of Christianity are available for anyone to investigate: Jesus publicly proclaimed the kingdom of God and  was believed to have worked miracles. He publicly was crucified for being charged by the Sanhedrin as a threat to Caesar. It was public knowledge that his tomb was found empty. He publicly appeared to his followers, and these followers claimed to the public that they had seen him alive again; that they heard him speak, touched him, ate and drank with him for forty days. Furthermore, they willingly suffered and some died for this belief for the world to see. For the early believers it was not a matter of just feeling Jesus in their heart but what they believed they had experienced with the senses.

(If you are interested in a thorough presentation of the historical data, and how it is interpreted by various scholars, watch this) :

(Or if you want to get the pros and cons from a believer and a skeptic, you can watch this debate between Dr. Gary Habermas and the late Dr. Antony Flew):

Other religions claim to have had private encounters with angels, or had personal experiences of enlightenment, or had subjective ideas about God. The public historical evidence is between Christianity and other religions is pretty wide. I think this is what surprised me the most in researching Christianity. What the Christian faith claims to offer isn’t trivial. Therefore, I think it is our responsibility to give it its day in court in a thorough and honest manner. As the 19th century theologian John Relly Beard said:

The worst state, short of vice, in which a mind can be, is one of unconcern respecting questions of the highest possible import;—questions which relate to God, duty, and eternity. These questions may have their foundation in error; but this no one can know for himself, who has refused to enquire: they may also rest on the most satisfactory basis, and lead on to the most salutary results; but whether they involve good or ill, the man must be wrong in regard to them, who either receive[s] them without evidence, or rejects them without due examination. Mental honesty is the great quality which all who have the light of reason should, before all things, labor to preserve; and, for myself, I see no essential difference between the hypocrite who, to serve a purpose, affects to believe that of which he is not convinced, and the sceptic who, under the impulse of his prejudices, refuses to enquire, or enquires only so far as he may find agreeable. Both are false; the one to his light, the other to his opportunities. The one professes what he does not believe, the other believes what he does not know;—I say what he does not know, for whoever declares that religion is false without due and faithful enquiry, makes a positive assertion while he seems only to deny, and entertains a conviction for which he has no sufficient warrant.

In doing your due diligence, you might be surprised at what you find.

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Does Jon Jay Have a Deal With the Luck Dragons?

Jon Jay

Jon Jay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jon Jay remains something of a mystery to fans of the Cardinals.  The mystery is this: Is he a very lucky hitter, or a good one? Over 835 plate appearances Jay has a BABIP of .342. For the uninitiated, BABIP stands for batting average on balls in play. Typically around 29-31% of the balls a hitter puts in play will fall for a hit. A player’s BABIP can fluctuate for a number of reasons that are beyond his control. They could be facing really great or really horrific defenses, experiencing an enormous amount of luck with ducksnorts and dribblers falling for hits for a while, or other randomness. Because of this, a player’s batting average can be greatly affected by their BABIP. If a player has a very high BABIP, they’re likely due to regress to the mean. If they have a very low BABIP, they’re usually a good bounce-back candidate. Moreover, BABIP is vitally a fluky stat, with very little year to year correlation. So there is no guarantee that a player who has a .350 BABIP one season will have one the next season. But the task of predicting a hitter’s BABIP is not just limited to throwing darts or reading tea leaves. There has been work done in seeing what stats do correlate with players with high BABIPs. For example, someone like Jon Jay has a better chance of reaching base on a nubber to second base than Yadier Molina. And a player who has a higher line-drive rate will obviously get more hits than a player who puts the ball in play but repeatedly hits cans of corn to the outfield.  With certain knowledge we can read a player’s expected BABIP (xBABIP) and get a better idea of their true talent.

As it turns out, there’s a handy-dandy interwebs tool out there that helps calculate xBABIP. So what does this mean for Jon Jay? Well, his xBABIP for his career is .333, just 9 points shy of his actual BABIP. Furthermore, we see from his time in the minors that Jay has always hit for a very high BABIP. His line drive rate is 21.4%. While Jay has had his ups and downs at various points, what we do know about how he puts the ball in play at this point is reliable enough to go on with some degree of certainty. So there’s decent reason to think Jay is a sort of BABIP freak and is capable of staying around a .300 batting average. Now if he could just eek out a few more walks… 

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The Roster is Set

Eduardo Sánchez pitching in 2011 at Miller Par...

Bumped for Scott Linebrink. Yes, that Scott Linebrink.

Per Jenifer Langosch, the opening day roster is set:

Starting pitchers (5): Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook

Relievers (7): Jason Motte (closer), Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, J.C. Romero, Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, Scott Linebrink

Catchers (2): Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz

Infielders (6): Lance Berkman, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Rafael Furcal, David Freese, Matt Carpenter

Outfielders (5): Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Erik Komatsu, Shane Robinson

Once upon a time, I used to get a little animated when a certain player gets seemingly snubbed from making the 25 man roster. Bryan Anderson would be one such snub this year after the tremendous spring he had, and his status of being a former top prospect. But when you look at the big picture, the difference between who is the back-up catcher is pretty negligible. Molina will probably catch 135-140 games this year, and if he gets hurt then Anderson is there. The difference between Cruz and Anderson probably just isn’t that great all things considered, so I see no reason for anyone to start FireMikeMatheny.com. (You can’t anyway, it’s already been registered! Why?)

The one decision that I’m a little frustrated with his Scott Linebrink over Eduardo Sánchez. Granted, Sánchez is a phone call away. He does have some rough edges still, but judging by his general filthiness and his projections, he’s the far superior arm. As someone who has spent a bit of time in the past watching the White Sox no thanks to MLB.com’s archaic blackout restrictions, Linebrink was the last pitcher I wanted to see come in a close and late situation. OK, so maybe he was a close second to Tony Pena.  Linebrink suffered 15 “meltdowns” that particular season, and it is not as if his stuff has improved since then. Out of 205 pitchers between the 2009-2011 season who have pitched a minimum of 80 innings, Linebrink has 6 more meltdowns than he has shutdowns, tied for 4th worst in baseball and putting him in some dubious company. (For more on what shutdowns and meltdowns are, go here.)

Name SD-MD
Blaine Boyer -11
Brian Tallet -9
Alex Burnett -7
Cristhian Martinez -6
Tim Byrdak -6
Scott Linebrink -6
Chad Gaudin -5
Luis Ayala -5
Jason Berken -5

I’d rather take my chances with Sánchez, hopefully he figures things out in short order. In the meantime, here’s wishing Linebrink is used as sparingly as possible.

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Lawrence Krauss has Plenty of Nothing

Krauss at the American Atheists Convention in ...

Lawrence Krauss is a brilliant theoretical physicist, but at times a terrible logician, and philosopher of science David Albert shows us why in his review of Krauss’ new book “A Universe From Nothing”, which appears in the NY Times. In the book Krauss, an outspoken critic of belief in God, argues that the origin of the universe can be explain by quantum physics; there is no reason to appeal to a transcendent cause or explanation. Albert delivers a bit of a spanking. I’m not sure, but as far as I can tell Albert is not a Christian or a theist. Here are some of the highlights, but the whole review is well worth your time.

“He complains that “some philosophers and many theologians define and redefine ‘nothing’ as not being any of the versions of nothing that scientists currently describe,” and that “now, I am told by religious critics that I cannot refer to empty space as ‘nothing,’ but rather as a ‘quantum vacuum,’ to distinguish it from the philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized ‘nothing,’ ” and he does a good deal of railing about “the intellectual bankruptcy of much of theology and some of modern philosophy.” But all there is to say about this, as far as I can see, is that Krauss is dead wrong and his religious and philosophical critics are absolutely right. Who cares what we would or would not have made a peep about a hundred years ago? We were wrong a hundred years ago. We know more now. And if what we formerly took for nothing turns out, on closer examination, to have the makings of protons and neutrons and tables and chairs and planets and solar systems and galaxies and universes in it, then it wasn’t nothing, and it couldn’t have been nothing, in the first place. And the history of science — if we understand it correctly — gives us no hint of how it might be possible to imagine otherwise.”

And then there is this gem:

Krauss seems to be thinking that these vacuum states amount to the relativistic-­quantum-field-theoretical version of there not being any physical stuff at all. And he has an argument — or thinks he does — that the laws of relativistic quantum field theories entail that vacuum states are unstable. And that, in a nutshell, is the account he proposes of why there should be something rather than nothing.

But that’s just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states — no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems — are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff. The true relativistic-quantum-field-­theoretical equivalent to there not being any physical stuff at all isn’t this or that particular arrangement of the fields — what it is (obviously, and ineluctably, and on the contrary) is the simple absence of the fields! The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don’t is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don’t. And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings — if you look at them aright — amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing.

I believe it was Aristotle who said “nothing is what rocks dream about”, and I take by that he didn’t mean that rocks dream about virtual particles and quantum fields. I’m just not sure there can ever be any purely scientific explanation of the origin of the universe. Science can’t explain anything except in terms of the law of nature, and if the universe began to exist, there was a time that there were no laws of nature, there was no-thing. Krauss is no fan of philosophy or metaphysics, but metaphysical and religious explanations are what we are left with, regardless of how distasteful he might find it.

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Carpenter’s Nerves

Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chris Carpenter must hate election years, because during the last three of them he has some sort of nerve issue that slows him down. The news of his injury is less than shocking, yet it’s still a bummer. Carpenter is 36, threw a zillion innings last year and has a bit of an injury history, putting it mildly. It has to be Roy Oswalt time, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. The Angels, who seem to have it in for us this off-season, now look to be the front-runner for Roy Oswalt’s services. And that means Lance Lynn looks to be the man. I remember back in my Future Redbirds heyday that when drafted in the supplemental round, fans were less than enthused by a player who smacked of “safeness”. His didn’t own a dominant offering nor was he the kind that could sell jeans. Lynn lived up to his billing until last year, when his fastball velocity ticked up a few notches and he ended the season impressive in relief. Perhaps he has some solid upside after all.

Assuming the worst and saying Carpenter is lost for the season, we can do a little back of the napkin quantifying of what his loss means in terms of wins. Most projections call for Carpenter to throw 200 innings and post a 3.40 FIP, good for about 4 WAR. Lynn, however, was slated for some late-inning relief. It’s hard to get a good projection for Lynn because most have him in a mixed role, so let’s just say that at best he’d pitch as well as Motte, albeit in something of a lower leverage role, making him good for 1.2 WAR. In order to replicate that as a starter, he’d have to throw a 4.40 FIP around 200 innings. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine Lynn posting a 4.10 FIP over 200 innings, surpassing whatever value he could have offered in relief. Whatever value Lynn has as a starter over a reliever does become a bit of a wash however, when you consider the bullpen “chaining“. What that basically means is that a lesser pitcher will have to fill Lynn’s role of late inning, high leverage relief, and a pitcher who would normally get lower leverage innings will be thrust into more important innings, and so on. I could get into more at the risk of being really boring, but we’re talking about a few runs in this case, so I’ll spare the gory details.

What it all boils down to is that losing Carpenter is losing two wins, which is definitely costly in what is projected to be a tight race between the Cards, Brewers and Reds, who have their own problems with the recent loss of Ryan Madson. The reported ambivalence towards Roy Oswalt means the Cardinals must be banking on Carpenter being back for a meaningful part of the season, but unfortunately history seems to tell us that such optimism rarely seems to pay off.  Yes, they could be fine. After all, they managed without Wainwright last year, but when someone like Oswalt is sitting around looking for a job and you have the means and potential payoff of signing him, I would have to think you pull the trigger if possible.  It’s no knock on Lynn, who is a key piece of the present and future, it’s just that he’s no Carpenter or Oswalt. Few are.