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Tax State Stands Condemned

St. Thomas suggests that works of mercy are necessary but not sufficient for salvation:

(1) "Now it happens that certain persons persevere in works of mercy without having charity. Wherefore nothing profits them to the meriting of eternal life, or to exemption from eternal punishment...

"Most evident is this in the case of those who lay hands on other people's property, for after seizing on many things, they nevertheless spend something in works of mercy.

"We must therefore conclude that all whosoever die in mortal sin, neither faith nor works of mercy will free them from eternal punishment, not even after any length of time whatever." (ST, Supplement, 99, 5, reply 1)

(2) But taxation is theft.

Therefore:
(3) That statists spend some of the money looted from the taxpayers on poor relief will not save them from damnation.

Necessary Necessity

Let a be a necessary proposition like "2 + 2 = 4," true in all possible worlds.

Is it possible that God "could have made" a contingent, true in some worlds and false in others? Let's check:

Let N stand for "necessary," and P for "possible." Suppose the contrary:

(1) PNa and
(2) P~Na.

(1) implies that Na is true on some world W. From W a, by virtue of its necessity, "expands" into the rest of possible worlds. Hence it follows that Na.

(2) = PP~a = P~a = ~Na, which is false.

Then ~(2) = ~P~Na = N~~Na = NNa.

We can see that the necessity of "2 + 2 = 4" is itself necessary. Hence God could not have "created" a a contingent proposition.

Whether Jesus Felt Sexual Desire?

When I answered this question in the affirmative by posting on Facebook that "Jesus, being fully man -- and fully male -- appreciates sweet sweet pussy," I generated some outrage. I hope I am forgiven for this provocation, because Facebook invites this sort of fun. I am not without resources, however, so let us then consider the problem thoroughly.

First point: we can safely rule out the idea that Jesus, when He lived among us, was either impotent or homosexual.

Second, surely it's not the case that when He was growing up, Jesus was injecting Himself with miraculously created out of nothing puberty-blocking medications.

Third, there is a related curious question to consider: did Jesus have perfect health?

For example, my recent blood test revealed that my creatinine was 1.3, with the normal range of 0.5 - 1.3. The doc suggested that my kidneys might not be working at peak efficiency.

Suppose that Jesus in His rough and physically demanding life had the same problem. Could He, having perfect control over His own body, miraculously cure His kidneys, as He cured others of every conceivable illness?

And if He could, did He? After all, Jesus rejected the devil's temptation to "tell these stones to become bread" (Mt 4:3) when He was hungry. Perhaps He also rejected the easy way of telling His sexual organs not to function according to nature.

Fourth, there is no implication that Jesus was "walking about with perpetual erection." Surely, Jesus enjoyed the taste of food, beauty of sunset, or exercise. Sexual pleasure in the state of pure uncorrupt nature is no more disreputable than these. Hence, Christ could have felt "concupiscence" by nature, even if He had the power to set it aside by will.

St. Thomas writes, for example:

In the state of innocence [Garden of Eden] there would have been generation of offspring for the multiplication of the human race; otherwise man's sin would have been very necessary, for such a great blessing to be its result.

Generation by coition is natural to man by reason of his animal life, which he possessed even before [original] sin.

In the state of innocence, sensible delight [would] have been the greater in proportion to the greater purity of nature and the greater sensibility of the body. (ST, I, 98)

But Jesus was at least as humanly innocent as Adam and in fact much more so. Hence He had the capacity for heartily enjoying sex.

In short, my guess is that Jesus felt the attraction to women, but willed it away as not profitable for either Him or us.

A complementary issue is whether Jesus has sexual desire now. It will help to consider a more general question of whether there is sex in paradise.

First, that depends on the nature of the glorified body. St. Thomas describes it in some detail, but though his speculations are interesting, I do not find them particularly authoritative. The question remains open and unsettled at this point.

Second, there is no human reproduction in paradise, so sex loses its most crucial function. Further, marriage in this life is ideally lifelong, so would marriage in paradise between one man and one woman be everlasting? For one, this is, to be a little cynical, thoroughly terrifying; in addition, the opposite is explicitly affirmed by Jesus Himself: "At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven." (Mt 22:30) Hence, if sex is possible in the next life, then it will be somewhat promiscuous, for sensual pleasure. But here is what Peter Kreeft says about this:

If the question is whether we can "do it" (i.e., copulate) in heaven, the answer is probably the same as the answer to a six-year-old boy who asks whether he can play with his model airplanes while he makes love when he grows up.

Since we will have real bodies, it will be possible, just as it will be possible to eat -- Christ did that in his resurrection body. But we will probably never give it a thought -- not because it will seem shameful or silly or vulgar but because there will be infinitely more ecstatic pleasures at hand.

Perhaps these pleasures will include some kind of total union with other souls of which physical intercourse is now a clumsy and confused foreshadowing. (Handbook of Christian Apologetics, 277)

Third, no near-death experience I have read attributes anything sexual to Jesus / God / the Being of Light other than the masculinity of His spirit.

Thus, right now, Jesus still probably retains His sex drive by (His human) nature but again fully waves it aside by will as a sort of trivial interest.

Essentially Lovable

There are only two things that are lovable essentially.

First, man's own happiness, relatively, by man's nature. In other words, man seeks his happiness necessarily.

Second, God, absolutely, by God's nature. God is goodness itself and is lovable by anyone who sees it for what it is.

As a result, any search can terminate either in man or in God. Both the relative and absolute termini have their places in the scheme of things.

Why Rational Theology Is Important

In an earlier post I wrote that regarding existence of God, "absence of evidence is not evidence for absence."

This may be true formally but I now think is mistaken in substance. First, complete lack of evidence for "God" would make it impossible to know what the term "God" even meant.

Second, if an arbitrary idea of God were floated (and many very different ones might be), a god that left no evidence of himself in the world is not one I'd bother with heeding in my personal life. As per the previous post, I'd be an "agnostic atheist."

A distinction could be made between knowing that God exists and being able to prove definitively that God exists to another person. One may "know" via some "self-authenticating" mystic communion or private revelation, but be helpless in trying to persuade, i.e., "show," someone who was not a beneficiary of such grace. However, I think that this sort of "faith" could not work at all without a solid foundation in reason.

Agnosticism vs. Atheism

Some people draw spurious distinctions between the pair "gnosticism" / agnosticism and theism / atheism, saying that the former concerns "knowledge" while the latter, "belief."

But "belief" is not "blind faith without evidence"; it's a very normal and everyday intellectual phenomenon: an assent to a proposition. Further, knowledge is often defined in philosophy (not entirely correctly, but let's not worry about that now) as justified true belief. Knowledge and belief are not independent of each other. One cannot know P without giving mental assent to, i.e., without extending belief to, P.

I suggest rather that the gnostic / agnostic distinction regards contemplative life, wherein proofs of God's existence or non-existence are entertained for the edification of all concerned.

The theist / atheist distinction regards the active life.

Here's the key difference: when speculating, one can assume anything and see where the assumptions lead him. One need not actually believe anything, and the assumption may be false, as long as it is useful or reasonable to assume it.

When acting, one must base his plans on true beliefs, regardless of evidence for or against them. If one is building a bridge, then one is ipso facto extending assent or beliefs to a vast number of (hopefully) true propositions in math, physics, etc. It may be that the builder is using a controversial theory in his project. Despite the fact that many scientists hold this theory in contempt, all is forgiven as long as the bridge works.

Thus, if you live your life without relying on God in any way, then you are a (practical) atheist. If, in building a life for yourself (and not just a bridge), you do not depend on anything God-related, regardless of any speculative disputes about any proofs of God's existence, you're an atheist. If you resolve in your heart: things of God "have no use to me, and so I make all my plans without regard to them," then you are a confirmed atheist.

Further, the distinction between agnostic theists and agnostic atheists is uninteresting in philosophy. The discussion proceeds between

1) those who think there is a proof of God's existence;
2) those who think there is a proof of God's non-existence; and
3) those who are unsure but are capable of contributing to the debate by taking, in a purely speculative way, at one point one side, and at another the other side, as matters appear to them.

Whether the agnostic is in addition a theist or atheist is his own personal life -- as in, paying heed to God or ignoring gods -- is his own business and no one else's.

Being unconvinced by arguments either for or against God's existence makes one an agnostic. If one also lives his life without worrying about God (or gods, or unicorns), then he is demonstrating his atheism to all concerned. But that's an arbitrary lifestyle choice of one's own personal career. It has no value for the speculative question of whether God exists.

If one is an agnostic, both atheism and theism are choices in the same manner as the choice of preferred ice cream flavor. For example, one might lean toward agnostic theism simply out of overabundance of caution, as per the Pascal's wager. Only if one is a "gnostic" is he ineluctably moved toward belief by evidence either for or against God's existence. I'm not concerned here to analyze Pascal's wager, only to point out that the two distinctions fall into the two axes of the division of life into active and contemplative.

Atheism vs. Materialism

Walter Block writes about Rothbard: "I'm an atheist, but I just know he's up there somewhere, looking down on us, and rooting us on."

Well, Block's atheism does not entail materialism, and as an Austrian economist, he'll probably want to disavow materialism on independent grounds.

But then Rothbard has an immaterial "soul," which may, for all Block knows, be immortal.

And in that case there may be, say, an infinite cycle of deaths and rebirths, such that a man lives in this world, dies, lingers in some sort of otherworldly heaven for a while, and is reborn again.

So, Rothbard may already have reincarnated; or he may indeed be "up there somewhere, looking down on us, and rooting us on," even if that new life for him still lacks God.

In short, "there is no God" does not entail "there are no men," i.e., there are only clouds of atoms that seem special and different from mere matter (as in, say, heeding the laws of economics) but in fact are an "illusion," whatever that means.

Leftist Race Fanaticism Explained

Progressives define racism as prejudice + "power." Thus, Tom Woods writes, in connection with the looming official robbery of whites in South Africa:

So if as a black person you were to say, "Let's start burning down white neighborhoods," this would not be racist.

But what about in black-run countries, where virtually all-black political parties rule? Surely those black people, who obviously do hold power, can be racist?

(Doesn't a person who is burning down a neighborhood have power over his victims? Why limit power to holding political office?)

Progressives believe that black people cannot be racist even when they hold all power in African countries and proceed to loot and murder whites, because blacks, they feel, are pathetic miserable sad sons of bitches who should be pitied for their weak and woeful worthlessness.

They are just animals, or at best half-devils, half-children. It's as absurd to blame blacks for killing whites as to blame wolves for killing sheep.

Their minds are too primitive to come up with an ideology, even as dumb as racism.

White people's flaws, on the other hand, cannot be forgiven so easily, e.g., "from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded," etc.

In short, white liberals consider blacks to be like the zerg, an infestation, a natural disaster. Blacks are a plague of locusts that destroys entire towns, which is a defensible opinion. But locusts are man's natural enemies and to be exterminated at will, and lefties also tend to grasp, rightly, that blacks are human beings who cannot be exterminated and ought even to be loved. The contradiction and cognitive dissonance thereby created are the reason for the left's striking fanaticism about race.

Christ’s Free Knowledge, 2

I have considered one reason contra and one pro to the effect that God the Son was fully ad extra omniscient prior to the Incarnation.

The question is motivated by Mt 24:36, "But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

But reason, too, suggests something like that, insofar as Christ must've lived through the human experience before He could "learn" how He would decide.

One consideration inclines to the opposite conclusion: how could the entire project of creation have been started (such as perhaps billions of year ago with some Big Bang), unless it was foreknown in advance that its final 3rd stage, the Incarnation of the Son, would, too, be successful? Would God have begun to build with no assurance that He would finish?

But in reply I answer that it was sufficient for the Father to have foreknown the future events. The Son would of course put 2 and 2 together and guess what His actions were going to be in AD 30. But in a standard move, the Father's foreknowledge did not necessitate the Son's actions. The Father foreknew what Jesus would freely do, i.e., accept the grace of love for men, not what He had to do or was forced to do.

The Biblical passage then hints on an astonishing truth: not only were creation and sanctification contingent events; but so was redemption by Christ. God chose to love us, having had before Himself also the option to loathe us instead.

Dynamics of a Citizens Revolt

Given that the US military boasts enormous firepower, what use is even widespread private gun ownership against such might?

Well, guns are a deterrent to tyranny. If a man actually uses a weapon against a government functionary, then the deterrent has failed, and the result is unfortunate.

The state will practice repression and double down on it again and again, but only for a time.

Its strength lies in its design as the monopoly punisher which can overwhelm any individual or private organization within its domain.

For example, the government may wipe out a whole city, murdering all men, women, and children in it, to strike terror into the hearts of others who might contemplate a rebellion.

But its crucial weakness is its tendency to make martyrs of those who resist it justly. The state cannot afford to slaughter "its own" people with tanks and attack helicopters... too much, for fear of turning public opinion decisively against it.

If that happens, the state's own soldiers will desert, refuse to protect the chiefs, and join the opposition.

There are never any guarantees, but on occasion, individual resistance can break the state's will to rule. The soldiers will drop their weapons; the prison guards will abandon their posts; the IRS agents will no longer evoke fear in the populace and disappear.

As a result, despite its massive military, the government's options are not unlimited.

“Identifying” As Napoleon vs. Transgender

It's hard for me to understand how one can maintain a delusion of grandeur by insisting he is Napoleon. How would such a person respond to the argument that (1) "Napoleon was a historical figure who died in 1821. If you are him, you must be dead. Are you dead?"

The delusion consists not so much in imagining oneself to be Napoleon but in the auxiliary false beliefs that accompany it, such as:

"I am the emperor of France."
"I command vast armies."
"I have been planning an invasion of Russia."
"All shall bow to me and acknowledge me as their ruler."

When a biological male imagines himself a woman, does he fall prey to a similar delusion? Here's why I think the analogy is less than perfect. For while both claims can be mistaken, a transsexual need not have the extra false beliefs like:

"I can bear children."
"I have a pussy."
"My breasts can produce milk."
"I am physically attractive."

And of course, it is impossible for anyone to be Napoleon; but it is possible for a person to be a woman; so (1) cannot be deployed against a trans person.

Hence a transgender person need not be considered insane like someone who "identifies" as Napoleon.

Church As “Army”

Recall my critique of Hugh Elliot's idea that the Catholic Church may be likened to a ruler's army in its stress on mindless obedience.

I only want to add to it the C.S. Lewis' understanding:

Christianity does not think this is a war between independent powers.

It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

Enemy-occupied territory -- that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

As the song goes:

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before. ...

At the sign of triumph
Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
On to victory, etc.

Again, the metaphor extends this far and no farther. Christianity calls for self-sacrifice, not for crazy physical slaughter of innocents in your government's unjust wars unjustly conducted.

Rothbard vs. Positive Externalities

David Gordon, in his book Essential Rothbard, writes approvingly of Rothbard's dismissing the idea that positive externalities are a social problem:

A and B decide to pay for the building of a dam for their use; C benefits though he did not pay. ... This is the problem of the Free Rider. Yet it is difficult to understand what the hullabaloo is all about.

Am I to be specially taxed because I enjoy the sight of my neighbor's garden without paying for it? A's and B's purchase of a good reveals that they are willing to pay for it; if it indirectly benefits C, no one is the loser. (28)

But isn't it obvious that the "social problem" arises not when the dam benefits C but precisely when the dam is not produced in the first place, because it is non-excludable, and people like C will free ride on it? If it were possible to offer to sell the dam's services to C at the price sufficient to cover costs, then C would agree to pay.

The positive externality is then a "problem" not because it is enjoyed by C, but because it is not enjoyed by anyone including C.

I mean, even the most primitive undergraduate micro textbook will argue that goods with positive externalities are "underproduced."

No one is saying that Rothbard ought to be taxed for enjoying the neighbor's garden. The "tax" is a (bad) solution to the problem. But the problem itself remains: since, in building his garden, my neighbor fails to count my pleasure in seeing it, there are fewer gardens than there would be if such benefits were internalized. Some predictable -- even by economists -- increase in human happiness is therefore unrealized.

Gordon does not help it when he does not present the opposing view as strongly as possible. Why would he battle a straw man? This is a pity, because Rothbard's argument has merit and deserves to be developed further. Perhaps Gordon would reply that Rothbard rejected the idea of efficiency in economics as "operationally meaningless." (29-30) Therefore, such underproduction cannot be condemned as inefficient.

Now I, too, consider neoclassical efficiency to be a naive and hopeless concept. But, first, economic efficiency is not thereby rendered a meaningless notion; it is fully tractable when applied to the market process within the Austrian tradition, as I show in my SAtK, I, 10-14.

Second, even within conventional econ, we can still have a little model in which an excludable dam would yield better results than a non-excludable one.

At the same time, I think that we are uniquely "helpless" before most externalities, whether positive or negative, and should almost never involve the state in "fixing" them, as in the longer run this will do more harm than good. Externalities must simply be endured.

Externalities then are a metaphysical complaint, a sort of economic problem of evil.

But for all that, there is evil here, and a world without externalities would be happier than the present world.

In other words, externalities are of the same type of evil as:

- entropy, or
- the fact that no factory is 100% efficient and in particular that all production emits some waste, or
- that human bodies are fragile, or
- that some people are unjust, or
- scarcity of the factors of production

is an evil. It's part of the design of this universe; some of these evils can be mitigated with time via economic progress but never eliminated; nor does the state play any role in their mitigation.

For example, technological improvement might help us to internalize some externalities, analogously to how it helped us, say, to hail an Uber taxi easily.

In another example of transaction costs, Rothbard writes: "What is so terrible about transaction costs? On what basis are they considered the ultimate evil, so that their minimization must override all other considerations of choice, freedom, and justice?" Gordon comments: "If one responds that reducing these costs has some, but not overriding importance, Rothbard's question compels one to specify how much, and why, they are to count." (34) Well, they are costs, and hopefully sooner or later, solutions that increase welfare by diminishing these particular costs, too, will be found. They count no more and no less than other costs that also constrain human happiness.

Note though that if such solutions are found, they will be found by entrepreneurs not by economists. Most economists are terrible entrepreneurs, and vice versa. Economists should not aspire to drive the market. So, I agree that this "approach" to welfare economics is absurd: economists can contribute little to diminishing transaction costs.

For these reasons, I agree that externalities are not a "social" problem or physical evils; but they are still metaphysical evils, an ultimate and irreparable defect in the nature of the world.

Christ’s Free Knowledge Prior to Incarnation

God the Son's omniscience regarding His free knowledge before His incarnation may have extended only up to that point.

For in order for Christ to know that He would love us even after our worst possible crime against Him personally, He must have possessed de se, i.e., experiential, knowledge of or intimate familiarity with "what's it like" to live -- and die -- as Jesus.

It is difficult to believe that He could simply foresee in eternity His decision to accept the grace of charity for humans after His death.

On the other hand, if the Son did not foresee it, then there was a chance that creation would have been in vain. It seems less than Godlike to go through with the project if it was truly unknown whether it would succeed or fail at its final stage.

We might then turn Jesus' own parable against Him:

Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?

Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, "This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish." (Lk 14:28-30)

Could we really have ended up the pathetic creatures of a pathetic God? Surely not.

There Is Nothing “After Liberalism”

In Chapters 1 and 2 of his book After Liberalism, Paul Gottfried demonstrates that the connection between the classical liberalism of the 19th century and modern liberalism is tenuous at best. "By now that decontextualized term means what the user wishes it to signify, providing that he can browbeat others into accepting his definition." (69) Strangely, Gottfried persists in using that term without himself specifying its sense. Why not at least call older liberalism "classical" or libertarian or minarchist, while calling its modern version left-liberalism or false liberalism or simply statism?

Mises castigated this "confusion of tongues":

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement.

They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty.

They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship.

They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent.

They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office.

Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau, what an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight for! (Bureaucracy, 125)

One small objectionable thing in Gottfried's book, as of Chapter 2, is his apparent belief that a system or policy stands justified if it is approved by the masses. Thus, "the liberal democratic welfare state gained vast power because it gave to most people what they wanted. ... The redistribution of earnings and the furnishing of social services have both middle- and lower-class backing..." (68) Again, "industrialization, urbanization, and other processes engendered industrial democracies, which then developed into welfare states out of popular demand." (62-3) I see. Well, as Tom Lehrer says in the introduction to his song "So Long, Mom," "World War 3 is almost upon us, by popular demand, it seems." I guess it means that nuclear incineration and destruction of most life on earth would be at least as reasonable as socialist central planning and bureaucratic "public administration." That the Russian people worshipped Stalin explains the brutality and extent of Soviet despotism. It does not prove that Stalin was actually a god. That statists call their favorite organization "welfare" state could mean that they are deluded or lying, not that the state has any power to promote rather than retard welfare. That a murderer "identifies" as a giver of life does not make it so; it indicates only that he is insane.

Individual human beings self-destruct all the time as regards their own personal lives in which they have a unique interest up to and including committing suicide. Surely and a fortiori, Gottfried will allow that people collectively could fail to grasp the best means to their "welfare"; that they could make and have in actual fact made terrible mistakes.

What if it can be proved that the public has been mistaken in understanding their own interests? What if the "welfare" state fails to advance welfare adequately, but a libertarian society succeeds? Why otherwise even have or promote an ideology if the masses are guaranteed to be right, whatever it is that they "popularly demand"?

Evolution of American Liberalism

Stage 1. Personal vices should not be repressed by the state.

2. Other people's vices are none of your business one way or another.

3. What you think is a vice may well be a virtue for someone else.

4. So-called "vices" are in fact perfectly wonderful and wholesome for everyone.

5. What vices? How dare you! They are absolute virtues and self-evident universal moral laws binding on everyone, including you!

Personal Identity in Heaven

Can a separated soul be identical to an embodied human in earth? Davis discusses three arguments against this idea by John Perry.

1. Perry calls souls "unobservable." "So I cannot know whether other human beings have souls, or even whether I have a soul." (256) Say what? Descartes wrote, "I do not fail to say that I see the men themselves, just as I say that I see the wax; and yet what do I see from the window beyond hats and cloaks that might cover artificial machines, whose motions might be determined by springs?" (Meditations on First Philosophy, II, 13) Must we really take his query seriously? Is Perry autistic, given that this mental illness is defined by the lack of the capacity to infer that other people have souls or minds? Is he a psychopath? In my book I make the following distinction:

An autistic person does not understand people, but if he did, then he would be just toward them or love them.

(Such a person (1) may not realize that there is anything on earth to be understood:

Barnbaum quotes a mother who questions whether her autistic son will ever be able to grasp that "she is a person with thoughts and feelings, not a wind-up toy." Again, an autistic person may be "unperturbed by the loss of her father, comparing his departure to a bowl of fruit that was on the table one day and gone the next."

Alternatively, (2) an autistic may feel the presence of other human beings but be completely unable to "read" them.)

He has the habit of justice, but a bodily sickness has prevented him from acting justly.

A psychopath does understand people but is unjust to them or fails to love them. In fact, a psychopath may derive perverse pleasure from toying with people's emotions. (SAtK, I, 27)

In reading Perry's arguments, I, too, am assuming that they are written by a man rather than an "artificial machine." Whence, for a normal person, the difficulty of detecting souls?

Moreover, souls are "observed" not only by the intellect but by also the will. I know that Perry's nature is different from the nature of a table or even a cat. There are things I can do to a table, such as chop it up into pieces, which it would be "unjust" to do to him. Humans seek happiness; machines do not. Economic laws work for men not for machines. In the order of grace, we are enjoined to love our human neighbors but not robots. But love causes union and mutual indwelling of souls. Material objects cannot penetrate into each in such a sublime way, but human lovers can indwell in one another spiritually. Thus, sex, for example, is hardly masturbation by using the other person as a helpful sex tool; nor is cuddling after sex like hugging a plushie.

(The last sentence is inspired by a note in David Friedman's Price Theory: "The first [definition of 'exploitation'] is that I exploit you if I benefit by your existence and our association. In this sense, I hope to exploit my wife and she hopes to exploit me; hopefully we will both succeed." (204) How romantic.)

Bodily resemblance is mere evidence of identity. If Smith's dear friend Jones suddenly starts behaving in completely unexpected ways while looking the same, then Smith may be fully justified in wondering whether this is in fact not Jones at all but rather his evil twin.

2. Perry's next point is that "the memory criterion of personal identity... is never sufficient to establish personal identity. This is because of the obvious fact that memory is fallible."

Well, presumably, memory in the afterlife is perfect, as suggested by numerous near-death experiences and their "life reviews."

3. If God were to create another soul in heaven, S2, that is qualitatively identical to Smith's soul, will that soul, too, be Smith?

No. There would still be a difference between Smith and S2 in that Smith's memories would be true, and S2's false. S2 may therefore think he is Smith, but in so doing he would be mistaken. For example, if God in reviewing Smith's life showed him a sin he committed, then Smith would properly feel ashamed. But it would not make sense for S2 to feel ashamed. Similarly, God could judge Smith but not S2, etc.

I admit that an observer would have to witness Smith's soul traveling from earth to heaven and S2 being created by God to distinguish between them. But that is sufficient. If someone secretly placed an exact copy of Christian Philosophical Theology next to my own copy, I might not be able to tell which copy is mine. That does not mean either that no copy is mine or that both are mine or that the omniscient God could not tell, either.

Therefore, the "lack of competition" is irrelevant. It's false that God can "prevent someone's surviving death by creating a second qualitatively identical person."

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Grace

The Catholic teaching is that "there must result an inequality of grace in individuals, and for two reasons: first, because according to the generosity of God or the receptive condition of the soul an unequal amount of grace is infused; then, also, because the grace originally received can be increased by the performance of good works."

Now the "qualitative" grace is one that raises man above his nature. Belief in the articles of faith, hope for eternal life, and charity for God and neighbor are impossible in a man's mere natural state. Grace is not the same as the theological virtues, but it includes their infusion into the soul. Here it seems that all Christians have the same "amount" of grace: since any doubt destroys faith completely, one either believes or not, hopes or not, etc.

I describe quantitative grace elsewhere, calling it somewhat fancifully, the "grace of the saints."

This distinction explains why it makes no sense for God to "flood" a person with some massive amount of grace. Regarding qualitative grace, only that much grace is sufficient as to cause faith, etc. Regarding quantitative grace, giving too much at any one time is pointless, since man must actualize his newly increased potential first which takes time and effort. "The question is not a theological but a philosophical one to decide whether the increase be effected by an addition of grade to grade, as most theologians believe; or whether it be by a deeper and firmer taking of root in the soul, as many Thomists claim."

Justification is due to the first qualitative grace and occurs only once. It prepares its receiver for his future Christian life. One is justified then simply by converting to Christianity, insofar as we believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" (both original and actual). Sanctification is continuous throughout one's life, as divine quantitative grace and human cooperation with grace through works improve one's soul. In this sense, one justifies himself by proving himself anew every day.

Atonement, 2

In John 17, Jesus says: "Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you... I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began."

Jesus does not say, "Father, punish me horribly and humiliate and destroy me utterly so that the human race may escape its just retribution."

If that were how it worked, then the "Father," whoever he might actually be, would not be my God. I would judge him completely insane. I can't worship a mad being. I'd look for another God or do without one at all. Christianity would make to me no sense.

Falsity of the “Atonement” Theory

Davis has an astonishing defense of the idea that the blood of Christ is an "atonement," a sacrifice of "something spotless" or "without blemish" to make amends for human sins.

His first example to illustrate this theory is a war between nations. Why can't wars be fought with robots?

A nation at war stops fighting when its leaders and citizens realize that continuing to fight would be too costly: too much territory lost to the enemy, too much damage done to the homeland, and especially too many lives lost. And that is precisely the problem with my five-year-old's fantasy.

If a nation is only losing robots, that realization -- that continuing to fight would be too costly -- would never be reached. Conflict between nations is always horrible, and restoring peace is costly.

It is terrible to have to say it, but first people have to die.

Well, it is not only terrible to say it, it's false. Davis continues with a second example of Romeo and Juliet, where the feud between the families ends only upon many deaths. He repeats the principle that "it is always costly to rectify a terribly wrong situation," and again concludes with the opinion that "somebody has to die." (218-9)

But that's a wrong lesson to draw from these two situations. A human being receives his wake-up call and turns around from a life of crime or sin not when "somebody dies," but when he in his own life reaches rock bottom, when he because of his sins loses everything. On occasion it may be sufficient to be thoroughly terrified by a threat or punishment or by an actual punishment or by a sober realization of what monster or loser one has become. When one sees that the only way left to him is up, he may begin to turn his life around and make amends. Now God may play a crucial role in this process. I agree with Davis that the wrath of God is very real. Many people have reported feeling "convicted of sin," even feeling divine contempt for themselves. But that is grace or sanctification and a work of the Holy Spirit. It is not the entirely separate act of redemption by the Son.

We may even call this experience of inner regeneration being "born again" which does involve a kind of "death." But at the most it's a metaphorical spiritual death not a physical one.

Once this distinction is admitted, Davis' atonement theory falls apart. I have defended my own view of the causal connection between Christ's actions and our salvation in many posts below: e.g., [1], [2], [3]. Now I suggested that "the Incarnation was much more about God the Son than it was about us." But now we can add an extra point precisely about us: that the murder of Jesus was truly a new low for the human race, an ultimate crime and evil, not matched at any time either before or after. I have further pointed out that whoever you "identify" as, your kind of people killed Christ. Realizing that the lowest possible point of human depravity has already been reached and almost universally found eye-openingly horrible should remind any Christian to climb toward the light.