Footnote 27 – C.S. Lewis: The Discarded Image

Footnote 27 – C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1964), p. 89.

Earlier I posted information about CS Lewis’ death on November 22, 1963. Normally this would have received significant press and public attention – the death of a respected scholar at both Oxford and Cambridge who became a wartime fixture in Britain for his radio discussions during the dark days of World War 2; the former atheist who became of the most significant and widely-read apologists for the truth of Christianity – was “overtaken by events” of the same day.

The significance of CS Lewis as an academician and scholar is sometimes overlooked or dismissed by those who know him only through his more popular apologetics books, or who cavalierly dismiss his views.  But his work as a scholar of medieval literature and the trans-generational and cross-cultural transmission of knowledge is significant.  His posthumously-published work,The Discarded Image (Cambridge University Press, 1964) is one of my “favorites” – describing how medieval texts assimilated the Greco-Roman corpus of “natural history” (what would, in the 19th century, be dubbed “science”) – useful to a green graduate student in the History of Science at Emory University in Atlanta, grappling with bestiaries and other strange accumulations of knowledge. .

As a young man, I once had a flash of insight that youthful hubris allowed me to imagine at the time to be one of the few truly “original” ideas I ever had (everyone should have one or two such ideas in a lifetime, no?) It was the notion that God does not really “foreknow” what happens in the future (as though He were limited to looking at the future through a keyhole, or the “wrong” end of a telescope – actually an apt description of the limited view of prophets and angels described in 1 Peter 1:10-12). Rather, since He is not time-bound, and therefore is already “at” tomorrow, or next year, He knows what decisions I make in my future since he is already “there.” In the same way that I know what choices I made for breakfast this morning (bacon and eggs, cereal, bagel? – ALWAYS go for the bacon, if available), similarly, He knows my “future-to-me” choices, without limiting them in any way. The insight seemed so profound and original at the time…..

Then I encountered Lewis’ comments below, published while I was still a high school kid only beginning to contemplate such matters.  Ah, well….there is no shame in being superseded, or pre-dated, by C.S. Lewis!

Here’s the text:

“God is eternal, not perpetual.  Strictly speaking, He never foresees; He simply sees.  Our ‘future’ is only an area, and only for us a special area, of His infinite Now.  He sees (not remembers) your yesterday’s acts because yesterday is still ‘there’ for him; He sees (not foresees) your tomorrow’s acts because He is already in tomorrow.  Just as a human spectator, by watching my present act, does not at all infringe its freedom, so I am free to act as I choose in the future because God, in that future (His present) watches me acting.”

        C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1964), p. 89.

NPR: New Study Shows Brain Benefits Of Bilingualism

NPR: New Study Shows Brain Benefits Of Bilingualism

New Study Shows Brain Benefits Of Bilingualism

The largest study so far to ask whether speaking two languages might delay the onset of dementia symptoms in bilingual patients as compared to monolingual patients has reported a robust result. Bilingual patients suffer dementia onset an average of 4.5 years later than those who speak only a single language.

While knowledge of a protective effect of bilingualism isn’t entirely new, the present study significantly advances scientists’ knowledge. Media reports emphasize the size of its cohort: 648 patients from a university hospital’s memory clinic, including 391 who were bilingual. It’s also touted as the first study to reveal that bilingual people who are illiterate derive the same benefit from speaking two languages as do people who read and write. It also claims to show that the benefit applies not only to Alzheimer’s sufferers but also people with frontotemporal and vascular dementia.

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Being bilingual opens up new worlds of global connection and understanding, and almost certainly allows some degree of flexibility in personal expression, too.

Now we know, more concretely and convincingly than before, that there’s a brain benefit to bilingualism, too.

Read more at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/11/14/244813470/new-study-shows-brain-benefits-of-bilingualism?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

TIME: Singing Changes Your Brain

TIME: Singing Changes Your Brain

Singing Changes Your Brain – Excerpts 

Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins

By  @StacyHorn — Aug. 16, 2013
When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony. So it’s not surprising that group singing is on the rise. According to Chorus America, 32.5 million adults sing in choirs, up by almost 10 million over the past six years. Many people think  of church music when you bring up group singing, but there are over 270,000 choruses across the country and they include gospel groups to show choirs like the ones depicted in Glee to strictly amateur groups …

As the popularity of group singing grows, science has been hard at work trying to explain why it has such a calming yet energizing effect on people. What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.

The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure.  Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness….

The benefits of singing regularly seem to be cumulative. In one study, singers were found to have lower levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.  A very preliminary investigation suggesting that our heart rates may sync up during group singing could also explain why singing together sometimes feels like a guided group meditation.  Study after study has found that singing relieves anxiety and contributes to quality of life. Dr. Julene K. Johnson, a researcher who has focused on older singers, recently began a five year study to examine group singing as an affordable method to improve the health and well-being of older adults.

It turns out you don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards.  According to one 2005 study, group singing “can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.”

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Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/#ixzz2cC9WrqxS

What IS “Intelligent Design,” Really?

What IS “Intelligent Design,” Really?

Straw Men Aside, What Is the Theory of Intelligent Design, Really?

Casey Luskin August 10, 2013 6:33 AM

– See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/08/what_is_the_the075281.html#sthash.VWT5PwWb.dpuf

DebatingDD.jpegFirst, let’s discuss what the theory of intelligent design is not.

Part A: What Intelligent Design Is Not

Many critics of intelligent design have promoted false, straw-man versions of ID, typically going something like this:

Intelligent design claims that life is so complex, it could not have evolved, therefore it was designed by a supernatural intelligence.

Of those many ID critics who have promoted this false definition, some know it is a falsehood: I call them “Type I” critics. Others, whom I call “Type II” critics, actually believe the false version to be true but only because they have been misled by Type I critics. Of course it’s not always easy to distinguish the two groups. In the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling, for example, Judge Jones adopted the plaintiff’s false version of intelligent design — making him, according to my paradigm, a Type II critic, even though ID had been explained to him repeatedly in the courtroom what ID really is. Since Judge Jones knew how ID proponents define their theory, but nonetheless mischaracterized it, does this make him a Type I critic instead? Who can really know?

In any case, there are two main components of this definition, both false:

1. ID is NOT merely a negative argument against evolution

The first problem with the critics’ definition is that it frames ID as merely a negative argument against evolution. In fact, ID offers a strong positive argument, based on finding in nature the type of information and complexity that, in our experience, comes from intelligence alone. I will explain this positive argument further in Part B of this article. Those who claim ID is nothing more than a negative argument against evolution are misrepresenting ID.

2. ID is NOT a theory about the designer or the supernatural

The second problem with the critics’ definition of ID is that it suggests the theory is focused on studying the designer. The claim is that it specifically invokes supernatural forces or a deity. But ID is not focused on studying the actual intelligent cause responsible for life, but rather studies natural objects to determine whether they bear an informational signature indicating an intelligent cause. All ID does is infer an intelligent cause behind the origins of life and of the cosmos. It does not seek to determine the nature or identity of that cause. As William Dembski explains:

Intelligent design is the science that studies signs of intelligence. Note that a sign is not the thing signified. … As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence, not intelligence as such.1

Similarly, Michael Behe explains that we can detect design even if we don’t know anything about the identity or nature of the designer:

The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, the design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with all the firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer.2

Behe even suggests that “[i]ntelligent design does not require a candidate for the role of the designer.”3

ID limits its claims to what can be learned from empirical data, meaning that it does not try to address questions about the identity or nature of the designer. While the empirical data allow us to study natural objects and determine whether they arose from an intelligent cause, such data simply may not allow us to determine the identity or nature of the intelligent cause.

– See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/08/what_is_the_the075281.html#sthash.VWT5PwWb.dpuf

Harvard PhD, New York Times journalist ridiculed for expressing creationist beliefs

Harvard PhD, New York Times journalist ridiculed for expressing creationist beliefs

The Guardian: Andrew Brown’s Blog

Virginia Heffernan’s creationism is wrong but makes good sense

The tech writer understands that the biblical account is a story. It’s just one that she prefers over the stories told by science

God and Adam's hands about to touch in a detail from the Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo

‘In popular culture, arguments about evolution are not clashes of facts against stories. They are the clash of two competing stories.’ Photograph: World Films Enterprises/Corbis

A US writer, Virginia Heffernan, has just outed herself as a creationist. As she is currently earning a living writing on technology for Yahoo! News, this is a brave thing to do and has been greeted with obloquy, bemusement, and patronising explanations about the difference between facts and stories. Now of course evolution is true. Evolution is a fact: it happens. It’s also a predictive theory: it explains why things happen and have happened in ways that allow us to find out more about the world. It is something that I find fascinating, but there are lots of things that fascinate me, from fly fishing to philosophy, which I don’t expect the rest of the world to take an interest in.

In that respect, evolution is different. It has come to mean an explanation for everything, including all sorts of questions which were once, and rightly, treated as philosophical or ethical. Even more, it has come to be taken up as a banner in the American culture wars. In that context it is unattractive. If you want to know why an educated American might decide evolution is untrue, spend some time at the website Why evolution is true, run by the Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne. The science there is great, but the tone of voice is something else: hectoring arrogant mansplaining with sputtering outbursts of extraordinary viciousness. If you don’t much care whether the science is true, this would convince you that there must be something wrong with it.

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Read more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2013/jul/18/virginia-heffernan-creationism-nothing-wrong

New Yorker Reviews “Darwin’s Doubt:” Mis-Reading Meyer

New Yorker Reviews “Darwin’s Doubt:” Mis-Reading Meyer

How “Sudden” Was the Cambrian Explosion? Nick Matzke Misreads Stephen Meyer and the Paleontological Literature; New Yorker Recycles Misrepresentation

Casey Luskin July 16, 2013 11:14 AM

IMG_6808Trilobite-COLOR1413a.jpg

On June 19, the day after Darwin’s Doubt was first available for purchase, Nick Matzke published a 9400-word “review” of the book in which it appears that he tried to anticipate many of Stephen Meyer’s arguments. Unfortunately, he often either guessed wrong as to what Meyer would say or — assuming he actually read the book as he claims — misread many of Meyer’s specific claims. As I showed in a previous response to Matzke, Matzke repeatedly misquoted Meyer, at one point claiming he referred to the Cambrian explosion as “instantaneous,” when Meyer nowhere makes that claim. Indeed, Matzke faulted Meyer for not recognizing that the Cambrian explosion “was not really ‘instantaneous’ nor particularly ‘sudden.'” Oddly, he also criticized Meyer for not recognizing that the Cambrian explosion “took at least 30 million years” — despite expert opinion showing it was far shorter.

Since Matzke published his review, The New Yorker reviewed Meyer’s book. Gareth Cook, the science writer who wrote the piece, relied heavily on Matzke’s critical evaluation, even though Matzke is a graduate student and not an established Cambrian expert. Cook uncritically recycled Matzke’s claim that the Cambrian explosion took “many tens of millions of years,” even saying that the main problem with Darwin’s Doubt is that Meyer failed to recognize this alleged fact.

DebatingDD.jpegSo, was Matzke right about the length of the Cambrian explosion? In fact, Matzke’s preemptive — or hastily written — review not only misrepresented Meyer’s view, it also misrepresented the length and character of the Cambrian explosion as numerous authoritative peer-reviewed scientific sources on the subject clearly show.

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– See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/07/how_sudden_was_074511.html#sthash.9Pp3MpO3.dpuf

– See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/07/how_sudden_was_074511.html#sthash.9Pp3MpO3.dpuf

Ashkelon through the Ages, Part I

More from Trent and Rebekah at Ashkelon

Trent and Rebekah

Part of the fun of archaeology is watching history rewind itself through the layers–because, how will you get to the oldest stuff if you don’t dig out the newest stuff first? At Ashkelon, we’re fairly certain of what the oldest layer is, and how its history seems to have transpired.

The earliest significant occupation appears to date from the third millennium (2000s) BC. This is often referred to as the Canaanite occupation, which manifests itself most notably in the monumental Canaanite gate–a magnificent 2-story arched gate leading into what was once Canaanite Ashkelon–and the iconic silver calf shrine. During the Canaanite occupation, the people seemed to live in relative prosperity, while maintaing a strained relationship with its neighbor Egypt, evidenced in the simpering letters from the city ruler to Pharaoh. In Genesis 21:22-34, Abraham interacts with these Canaanites when he makes a treaty between him and Abimelech.

It is a…

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