There is always a context into which I write, and today the context is not that of Aquinas and Calvin. It is instead an official rejection of science, or logic: if something A cannot be B, then saying it is will not change it. The current political fashion is decolonization, and it is incoherent.
Reading the old theologians is like looking at doggie pictures. It concentrates the mind somewhere else, to my benefit.
The definition of “Māori knowledge” is at the centre of a public spat involving prominent New Zealand researchers and academics.
In a joint letter published in weekly magazine The Listener, seven senior University of Auckland academics said that while Indigenous knowledge was important, “it falls far short of what we can define as science”.
They were responding to moves to further embed Māori knowledge in the study of science in the school curriculum, giving it “parity” with other bodies of knowledge. But colleagues, including the university’s vice-chancellor, have rejected their stance.
The letter has sparked a furore on social media, with academics calling for a strong response from the university.
Joanna Kidman, a professor of sociology at Victoria University of Wellington, told Research Professional News that the letter showed little understanding of Māori knowledge systems. “It is disturbing that western science has been pitted against Indigenous knowledge in this way. It’s unproductive and doesn’t advance scientific debate,” she said.
“In many universities and research labs nowadays, credentialled scientists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are working in partnership with Indigenous communities to solve some of the big problems of our times. In the end, Māori don’t need western science to endorse or authenticate our centuries-old knowledge systems.”
In a statement, Auckland vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater said the letter had “caused considerable hurt and dismay among our staff, students and alumni”.
“While the academics are free to express their views, I want to make it clear that they do not represent the views of the University of Auckland,” she wrote. “The university has deep respect for mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) as a distinctive and valuable knowledge system. We believe that mātauranga Māori and western empirical science are not at odds and do not need to compete. They are complementary and have much to learn from each other.”
Needless to say, one of the authors of that letter has resigned, after a twitter campaign.
The same argument has been used today by the Labour party to ban any attempt to counsel a man into sexual purity.
This is a quick update to share some breaking news: today, we introduced a Bill to ban conversion therapy in New Zealand.
Conversion practices are outdated and have no place in a modern, inclusive Aotearoa. No one should have to suffer because of the misguided idea that their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is broken and in need of fixing – which is why we’re taking action.
We’re delivering on our election promise to ban harmful conversion therapy. The Bill we’re laying before Parliament will make it illegal to perform conversion practices on young people and people with impaired decision-making capacity, and will make it an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone, regardless of age, where practices have caused serious harm.
We know this is something Kiwis care deeply about, and we’re proud to be taking action. Will you show your support for banning conversion therapy by sharing this graphic with friends and whanau?
What I can confidently say is that this is not from the spirit of God. It is from the spirit of debasement, destruction and following that path will lead to grief.
Instead, we should listen to the Holy Spirit, which is where the good Don Aquinas starts this week.
1 One must now answer the arguments previously given, those in which the conclusion seemed to be that the Holy Spirit is a creature, and not God.
2 In this matter our first consideration must be that the name “spirit” seems to be taken from the respiration of animals, in which with some change air is taken in and expelled. And so the name “spirit” is extended to every impulse and movement of every single airy body; thus, the wind is called a “spirit” in the words of the Psalmist: “Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfill His word” (Ps. 148:8).
Thus, also, the fine vapor diffused through the members for their movements is called “spirit.” Again, because air is invisible, the name “spirit” was carried further to all invisible and motive powers and substances. And on this account the sensible soul, the rational soul, the angels, and God are called “spirits”, and properly God proceeding by way of love, because love implies a kind of moving force.
Accordingly, one understands the saying of Amos, “creating a spirit,” as referring to the wind; so our translation more expressly says, and this is also harmonious with what goes before: “forming mountains.” But what Zechariah says about God “creating” or “forming the spirit of man in him” one understands of the human soul. Hence, the conclusion cannot be that the Holy Spirit is a creature.
3 In the same way, of course, one cannot from our Lord’s saying about the Holy Spirit, “He shall not speak of Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak,” conclude that the Holy Spirit is a creature. For it was shown that the Holy Spirit is God. Hence, He must have His essence from another, just as we said about the Son of God above. And thus, since in God the knowledge and the power and the operation of God are His essence, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit all the knowledge and power and operation are from another.
But the Son’s is from the Father only; that of the Holy Spirit is from the Father and from the Son. Therefore, since one of the operations of the Holy Spirit is His speaking in saintly men, as was shown, it is on this score said that “He shall not speak of Himself,” since He does not operate of Himself. “To bear,” of course, in His case is to receive knowledge, as He does essence, from the Father and the Son; and this because we receive knowledge by bearing, for it is customary in Scripture to deal with things divine in the fashion of things human.
Nor need one be disturbed by His saying: “He shall hear,” speaking of future time, so to say. For the Holy Spirit receives eternally, and the verbs of any tense can be applied to the eternal, because eternity embraces the whole of time.
4 Following the same points, it is also clear that the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son does Hot justify concluding that He is a creature. For it was said above that in this the Son of God is said to have been sent: that He appeared to men in visible flesh.
Thus, He was in a new kind of fashion in the world, a fashion in which previously He had not been; namely, visibly; and for all that He had always been in it invisibly as God. The Son’s doing so, of course, was His from the Father, and so in this He is said to have been sent by the Father. Thus, of course, the Holy Spirit visibly appeared: “as a dove” (Mat. 3:1.6) above Christ at His baptism, or “in tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3) above the Apostles. And, granted He did not become a dove or a fire as the Son became man, He nevertheless did appear in certain signs of His own in visible appearances Of this kind; thus, He also in a new kind of fashion—namely, visibly—was in the world. And this presence was His from the Father and the Son; wherefore, He, too, is called sent by the Father and the Son. Yet this indicates not His being the lesser, but His proceeding.
Our Genevan lawyer looks at the classical writers and notes two things: virtue was rare, and to remain virtuous took considerable effort, including an acknowledgement of errors and an avoidance of addiction to pleasure.
3 Sometimes, indeed, convinced by their own experience, they do not deny how difficult it is for man to establish the supremacy of reason in himself, inasmuch as he is at one time enticed by the allurements of pleasure; at another, deluded by a false semblance of good; and, at another, impelled by unruly passions, and pulled away (to use Plato’s expression) as by ropes or sinews (Plato, De Legibus, lib. 1). For this reason, Cicero says, that the sparks given forth by nature are immediately extinguished by false opinions and depraved manners (Cicero, Tusc, Quæst. lib. 3). They confess that when once diseases of this description have seized upon the mind, their course is too impetuous to be easily checked, and they hesitate not to compare them to fiery steeds, which, having thrown off the charioteer, scamper away without restraint. At the same time, they set it down as beyond dispute, that virtue and vice are in our own power. For (say they), If it is in our choice to do this thing or that, it must also be in our choice not to do it: Again, If it is in our choice not to act, it must also be in our choice to act: But both in doing and abstaining we seem to act from free choice; and, therefore, if we do good when we please, we can also refrain from doing it; if we commit evil, we can also shun the commission of it (Aristot. Ethic. lib. 3 c. 5). Nay, some have gone the length of boasting (Seneca, passim), that it is the gift of the gods that we live, but our own that we live well and purely. Hence Cicero says, in the person of Cotta, that as every one acquires virtue for himself, no wise man ever thanked the gods for it. "We are praised," says he, "for virtue, and glory in virtue, but this could not be, if virtue were the gift of God, and not from ourselves," (Cicero, De Nat. Deorum). A little after, he adds, "The opinion of all mankind is, that fortune must be sought from God, wisdom from ourselves." Thus, in short, all philosophers maintain, that human reason is sufficient for right government; that the will, which is inferior to it, may indeed be solicited to evil by sense, but having a free choice, there is nothing to prevent it from following reason as its guide in all things.
We are not able to save ourselves. We are broken. Encouraging each other believe the fashionable lies, or to be more debased and broken, is unwise
Kea said to me that we have had in the last month a series of floods and fires and windstorms. The prophets said such was the act of God to warn us, so we will repent.
Same then, Same now.
Know this: it is a very dangerous thing to grieve the spirit of God.
And our nations do it routinely.