Writing at National Review about football, David French makes the following statement in responding to The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates:
This materialist view, that counts what happens to our bodies as the most important of life’s considerations drives much of the modern discourse about parenting. We can’t agree about morals any longer, so we move to the lowest common denominator — the protection of our physical selves. The body isn’t a temple, it’s god himself. And we live to serve it.
As a Christian, my view is completely different. My body is not me, but the temporary vessel my soul inhabits. And while I should obviously care for my body, the care and feeding of my soul — the building of my character — is by far the most important consideration.
But as others quickly noted, this is not an accurate representation of orthodox Christianity. It is a far better example of post-Enlightenment Cartesian dualism, which far too many Christians have mistakenly and uncritically absorbed. Coates’ “atheist” view is, in fact, more accurately Christian than French’s formulation.
It is neither sound Christianity nor sound philosophy to hold that the body is merely a receptable for the soul, which is the “real person”. No: the soul is the form of the body. Without the soul, of course, the body would not be what it is. It would not be living; it would not be human; it would not be yours. But the soul without the body is equally meaningless. The soul cannot be the form of nothing. The soul is one part or one aspect of the body: not a material part, to be sure, or an expendable part, but neither is it the real and only core of being to be considered apart from the body. We are not, as C. S. Lewis mistakenly said, a soul with a body. We are human persons, which cannot be absent either souls or bodies.
None of which necessarily dooms French’s argument: there is still a hierarchy. A diseased limb may be sacrificed for the sake of the greater good of the person, for example. So too are the scars and bruises of living a good life to be accepted as necessary, when ordered properly, to be preferred over the attempt to preserve the body from all accidents by the choice of never really living at all.
Nuns in space (sort of.)
Russian activity in Ukraine may have an effect on the American spaceflight program, warns veteran space writer Jim Oberg. According to a report from Russian News agency ITAR-TASS, survival training for crews aboard Russia’s Soyuz capsules may be transferred back to Russian naval base at Sevastopol in disputed Crimea.
NASA currently has no capability to launch manned crews into space, and relies on the Russian Soyuz capsule to ferry crews to and from the International Space Station. Those crews must undergo extensive training on the Russian equipment, including preparations for emergency water landings. Such water training has been performed near Moscow in recent years, but was previously performed near the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. A return to Crimea may require foreign astronauts to travel on Russian visas and under Russian oversight, complicating diplomatic matters for the United States and other spacefaring countries as they respond to Russia’s move into Crimea. At NBC News, Oberg writes, “Shifting the survival training to Russian-occupied Crimea will require foreign cosmonauts to accept travel there without Ukrainian visas, an explicit acquiescence to the new diplomatic status of the province. Refusal to attend survival training is equivalent to failing the training, which by existing training regulations is an automatic disqualification for flight certification. No Crimea trip, no space trip.”
NASA plan to return to its own program of manned spaceflight with the launch of its Orion capsule, currently under construction. The agency is also sponsoring the development of manned capsules with private companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and Boeing. SpaceX’s first manned launch to the space station is expected to take place in late 2015 at the earliest. At least until then, American access to the space station will hinge on the ability to fly with Russia on the Soyuz.
But fear not: NASA has, just this week, announced the selection of Boeing and SpaceX to return the United States to manned spaceflight. Read here.
I’ll admit it: I let my small children read creationist science textbooks. Proof is below:
“Any branch of knowledge, cultivated by itself, not only does not suffice for itself, but presents dangers that all men of sense have recognized. Mathematics by themselves warp the judgment, accustoming it to a rigor that no other science admits of, still less real life. Physics, chemistry, obsess you by their complexity and give no breadth to the mind. Physiology leads to materialism; astronomy to vague speculation; geology turns you into a nosing hound; literature makes you hollow; philosophy inflates you; theology hands you over to false sublimity and magisterial pride. You must pass from one spirit to the other so as to correct one by the other; you must cross your crops in order not to ruin the soil.”
A. G. Sertillanges, O.P., The Intellectual Life