Assessing the Phillies Trading Chips

The Phillies are talking about trading some of their players.

Before we do this, let’s recall some of the Phillies great trades of great players:

1) 1918 – traded Grover Cleveland Alexander for several boxes of cashews and cash to the Cubs.  He went on to win 300 games and go to the Hall of Fame.  And win a World Series.  the Phillies finished last 10 straight years.

some old history stuff

some old history stuff

2)  1930s – traded Chuck Klein Dolph Camilli and Lefty O’Doul for Cash and some Cracker Jack.  Camilli became the MVP and led the Dodgers to the 1941 NL Pennants, Klein and O’Doul continued to hit for other clubs.  The Phillies started to finish last every year.

4) 1950s – release Curt Simmons “because he could not pitch anymore.” – Curt Simmons came back to torture them in 1964 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals when the Phillies collapsed down the stretch.  The Phillies could have used a third starter other than Bunning and Short–like Curt Simmons.

Sen & Mrs. John & Teresa Heinz prior to his untimely death in 1991

i think John Heinz was US Senatory back in the 1930s and 1940s

5) 1960s – traded Dick Allen for Curt Flood and three so so players – Curt Flood sued baseball and moved to some island in the Mediterranean rather than play in Philly, saying “he wasn’t a slave” and “Philly was racist”.  Tim McCarver reported.  Dick Allen went on to become MVP of the American League in 1972, and nearly led the Chisox to the AL West Divisional Title.  The Phillies fell to last place–behind the Montreal Expos, an expansion team.  Tim McCarver was traded for a used chevy and later re-signed with the Phils as a free agent.

6) 1980s – traded Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa and Gary Matthews to the Cubs for dog poop.  The Cubs won the division twice, Ryne Sandberg became the greatest 2d baseman since Rogers Hornsby, and it would take until 1993 for the Phils to win a division again.

OJ Simpson was a very popular football player and actor during the 1970s and 1980s.

OJ Simpson was a very popular football player and actor during the 1970s and 1980s.

7) 1990s – The Phils traded Curt Schilling to Arizona for some table cloths and Vincente Padilla, a mexican-american actor impersonating a starting pitcher.  Arizona immediately won the World Series. Later, Curt Schilling did the bloody sock thing with the Red Sox.   The Phils also traded Scott Rolen to the Cards for Placido Polanco, who the Phils then traded to the Tigers for some used napkins.  The Cardinals went on to win several pennants and two World Series, with Rolen as their 3d baseman.  The Phils won one world series and lost another–with Pedro Feliz at 3d base.  Basically, most of the 2000s was a highlight reel of Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen going to the World Series while the Phillies didn’t.  And yes, those two are probably going to get into the HOF too.

so there’s your Phillies trading history in a nutshell.

Let’s take a statistical look at the actual value of their players.

1) Cliff Lee – Cliff Lee has a JAWs rating in the top 100 of all pitchers lifetime.  He has achieved Pitcher WAR levels above 7.0 in several of his Phillies seasons, and has been the single best pitcher aside from Roy Halladay on the Phils’ staff the past few seasons.  He works quickly and can hit and field his position.  He and Cole Hamels were together worth more than 11 WAR last year collectively–which means, since the team won 70 games or so last year, that without Lee and Hamels, the team would have won around 59 games without them in 2013, and trading Lee and Hamels means the Phils will probably drop to around that level.  He is easily the most valuable piece the Phils have to trade.  He is is great shape, should pitch well for at least 3-5 years, and should fit well as a #1 on a contender.  Lee’s ERA+ this year is 117 and his career ERA+ is 119.  He is a great pitcher, 20% better than league at all times.   Lee has had three years in the past where he was 160 plus ERA or 60% better than league, which is to say virtually unhittable, including 2011.

The Phillies Win the Series 2008

The Phillies Win the Series 2008

2) Cole Hamels – Cole Hamels has a JAWS rating in the top 120 of all pitchers lifetime.  He’s five years younger than Lee, so he should get higher than Lee eventually.  His established WAR levels are around 5.0 but he’s been higher in some seasons.  He pitches 200 innings a year, and he’s a quality starter in the postseason.  He’s been a #1 in the past, as well as a #2 and a #3, and he’s shown he can pitch under pressure.  With the established WAR levels he has, he is a quality starter.  A very valuable trading chip.  Hamels is 131+ ERA this year, and his career ERA+ is 123, very similar to Lee, but slightly better.  He’s been a bit more inconsistent than Lee, but in his good years Hamels puts up 130 plus ERA marks, in his off years he’s around league average, so he’s actually usually 30% better than league.

Chuck Bednarik flattens Frank Gifford

Chuck Bednarik flattens Frank Gifford

 

3)  Chase Utley – Chase Utley is now #13 on the JAWS list alltime of 2d basemen, and has passed Roberto Alomar.  He was the starting All-Star 2d baseman at age 35, and is currently the top offensive Phillie in WAR.  With the renaissance he is having this season, he shows that he will continue to be an excellent hitter for some time to come.  If he were traded to the Yankees or another AL club, Utley could be used somewhat like Jeter–resting some days by DHing–and could last until age 40–and most certainly will go into the Hall of Fame.  He is a 10/5 player and has to waive those rights to be traded.  Utley is a leader, and a clubhouse force.  He’s exactly what the Yankees need as Jeter is on the brink of retirement.

ON MY MARK, UNLEASH HELL!  WAIT A MINUTE, THAT' RUSSELL CROWE'S LINE FROM GLADIATOR...TONITE MEN, WE DINE IN HELL!!!! WE ARE SPARTANS!!!

ON MY MARK, UNLEASH HELL! WAIT A MINUTE, THAT’ RUSSELL CROWE’S LINE FROM GLADIATOR…TONITE MEN, WE DINE IN HELL!!!! WE ARE SPARTANS!!!

 

4) Jonathan Papelbon – having a terrific season, nearly 2.4 WAR as a closer with 60 games to go.  despite the big contract, he has an established WAR of 1.0 plus per season, and despite his contract of $10 million a year, he is a known quantity closer.  Papelbon’s ERA+ this year is 317.   Valuable to a contender needing a closer, and the Phils are ready to move Giles or Diekman into the closer role for less money.  Moreover, Papelbon wants a trade.  The most valuable and most likely to be traded.

HOOSIERS - THE GREATEST SPORTS FILM EVER MADE - ABOUT INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - BUTLERS' KIDS PLAY HOOPS THE WAY COACH'S KIDS PLAY HOOPS IN HOOSIERS!

HOOSIERS – THE GREATEST SPORTS FILM EVER MADE – ABOUT INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL – BUTLERS’ KIDS PLAY HOOPS THE WAY COACH’S KIDS PLAY HOOPS IN HOOSIERS!

 

5)  Jimmy Rollins – right behind Utley in offensive WAR this year, having a great season.  His defensive range has diminished, but he can still hit and run effectively, and among available shortstops, he is 2.5 WAR with 60 games to go.  He currently is 34th on the JAWS list of Shortstops, and can move up still.  Shortstops above and below him on the list are in the Hall of Fame, and he has done things sufficient to get to the Hall.  An interesting fact is that Rollins plays 92% of the games each year, and has an established hit level of 150 hits a year, and is only 738 hits away from 3000.  At his established hit level, he will reach 3,000 hits in just under five more seasons from now, at around age 40.  The odds that he will continue to be productive and hit and field as a shortstop are fairly great; and he could also move over to second base and continue to hit and field and play until age 45 conceivably.  He has home run power, alley power and is excellent from the left side.  He would be a marquee addition to a contending ballclub.  Rollins is a 10/5 player and would have to waive his no trade clause in order to be traded.  The Yankees would be wise to trade for Rollins and Utley as a package to replace the retiring Jeter and whatever 2d baseman they have.  Rolllins would hit 20 homers a year in the new Yankee Stadium, and Utley and Rollins would give tremendous leadership to the existing Yankees along with speed and veteran leadership.

PLACIDO POLANCO - only Phillies to win Gold Gloves at two different positions - second base and third base.  Defense has been a problem for the current Phillies.

PLACIDO POLANCO – only Phillies to win Gold Gloves at two different positions – second base and third base. Defense has been a problem for the current Phillies.

6) Marlon Byrd – currently has WAR of 2.2 with 60 games to go.  Ranks fairly high career wise on the all time CF list, in the top 120 JAWS list.  has an established WAR of nearly 2.0 over 13 seasons.  He can field, he can hit, and he can hit for power.  He had a 4.0 WAR last year and is on pace for a 3.67 WAR this year at age 36.  Normally a team should not trade for a guy this age, but Marlon Byrd is having his best years every right now, and he is a proven veteran.  Watching him day in day out, he seems like a proven professional ballplayer.  He seems very different than the rookie I say play here in the early part of the 2000s.  Marlon Byrd gets good cuts on every at bat, always has a plan when he’s up, and seems to drive the ball, whether its into the alley or over the wall.  He has a fairly inexpensive contract.  An excellent trade piece for a team looking for a corner OF bat.  Very likely to be traded, and will do an excellent job for any team that gets him.  Helped the Pirates last year on their way to the playoffs.

 

Big Ed Delahanty - Left Fielder who once hit four homers in a game and hit .400 in consecutive seasons for the 1890s Phillies.  In the Hall of Fame.

Big Ed Delahanty – Left Fielder who once hit four homers in a game and hit .400 in consecutive seasons for the 1890s Phillies. In the Hall of Fame.

7)  AJ Burnett – even though the stats and peripherals don’t look impressive, Burnett has accumulated 1.0 WAR as a pitcher thus far, and that is with 60 games to go, so he’s on pace for about 1.4 WAR for the year.  Not great, but not shabby.  AJ Burnett has a lot of post season experience, and was helpful for the Pirates last year.  He’s had some good outings this year, and for the right club with run support, he can go 5-7 innings.  Significantly, he’s thrown by far the most innings of any Phillies starter, has 113 Ks in 136 IP, and even though the walks are high (as they are with him), he has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.361.  His numbers are a bit off, but his established WAR level in 16 seasons is 1.75–he’s had a couple seasons where he went 4.0 plus, but basically this is what he is, an innings eater who strikes out a lot of guys, but can also be a bit wild.  He’s led the league in strikeouts, but also led the league in walks twice and wild pitches three times and batters hit by pitch once–he’s a classic hard thrower who has trouble locating.  but his career ERA+ is 104+ and he can go out and give you a gem one game, and then blow up the next, as he did in 2009 with the Yankees in the World Series v the Phils, where he blew the Phils away in one Series game, but got torched in the other.  He had a 4.4 WAR season for the Yanks that year, btw.  AJ Burnett should be a great trade piece for the Phils to move.  He’s a big game pitcher, a fastball pitcher who can throw hard and long, and a guy with World Series and playoff experience.  He is the very definition of wily veteran.

 

NATE THE GREAT THURMOND TANGLING IT UP WITH WILT THE STILT CHAMBERLAIN - THOSE AREN'T AIR JORDANS THEY'RE WEARING

NATE THE GREAT THURMOND TANGLING IT UP WITH WILT THE STILT CHAMBERLAIN – THOSE AREN’T AIR JORDANS THEY’RE WEARING

Conclusion

This is about it for players of real value.  The Phils essentially have three wily veteran pitchers – Lee, Hamels and Burnett–all of whom could make a huge difference in the pennant races.  They have an established keystone combo in Rollins and Utley, which they should move as a unit, probably to the Yankees.  And they have a power hitting slugging corner OF in Byrd, who can make a difference to a contender looking for a RH power bat.

The rest of the team is valueless.  People may say Ryan Howard, but in fact, he has no value at all.  At best, the Phils should move him to an AL club, but the better play would be for the Phils to lobby for a change in the rules so the NL gets a DH, so they can keep Howard and use him as a DH themselves, since they will pay his contract in any event.

Howard as a DH would be useful.  Moving the entire NL to a DH would be useful, and the Phils have the votes.  The cubs want a DH, as do several other NL clubs, and only a majority, e.g. 8 clubs, are needed.  The Dodgers now have too many OFs, so they will vote for a DH.  So Cubs, Phils, Dodgers.  Then you have Brewers–they have lots of potential DH’s.  They will go DH.  They were in the AL before anyway.  That’s four.  The Mets get no offense, so they will vote DH.  that’s five.  The Marlins don’t care one way or the others, so that’s six.  The Giants will want to play their MVP catcher Buster Posey at DH, so that’s seven.  Cincinnati will definitely want to play Joey Votto at DH, so that’s eight.  St Louis will want to play Allen Craig at DH, so thats nine.  Colorado will want nine hitters period, so that’s ten.  Arizona and the Padres can’t care so that’s 12.  why Washington would object is beyond me, so that’s 13.  that leaves the Pirates and the Braves, who might object, but who might not.

a big argument for going over to the DH is the fact that there is currently interleague play all the time, and the fact that all teams have a 25 man roster and need a lot of relievers.  a DH means less pinch hitters, and thus you can keep 12-13 pitchers on your 25 man roster, and keep only 12 position players–you only need to sub out if a player is hurt, tired or you need to pinch hit in a specific situation.  What you want in a DH lineup is nine regulars who can go every day, maybe with a platoon a one or two positions.  You don’t pinch-hit, except maybe for poor hitting SS.  So you can carry a lot of pitchers, and bring in relievers early.

Once you do this, you keep Ryan Howard around as a career DH, and just bring up Franco as your 1B, or 2B if you move Utley, and put Galvis at SS, and Ruf on 1B or Mayberry on 1B.  Grady Sizemore can play RF, and Brown and Revere CF and LF.  and you wait for all those new prospects to develop.

 

Perry Mason & Della Street

I rest my case: let’s go get dinner, Della!

Last night we witnessed the triumph of existentialism, or should I say, Instantiation, in modern baseball, because the alleged two run home run hit by Alex Rodriguez NEVER ACTUALLY OCCURRED.

To understand this, first we must review the Home Run Rule in modern baseball, which was first defined in 1885, and was subsequently amended in 1892, 1914, 1920, 1926, 1931, 1950 and 1955.

The key concept of the home run rule is most plainly expressed in the 1892 rule which has not been changed very much since 1892:

A FAIR BATTED BALL THAT GOES OVER THE FENCE SHALL ENTITLE THE BATTER TO A HOME RUN…

The key concepts here are that

1) the ball has to be fair; and
2) the ball has to go “over the fence.”

The 1892 rule adds that “A distinctive line is to be marked on the fence showing the required point.” Meaning, if the ball goes over the fence above the line, it goes “over the fence.”

However, and this is the key point, the ball still has to go OVER the fence, not just ABOVE the line.

Last nite’s alleged home run by Alex Rodriquez, as a careful examination of the Rules of Baseball in this blog will demonstrate, was not a home run, but a Ground Rule Double.

It was a Ground Rule Double, because the ball never went OVER the Fence, as require plainly by the Rules of Baseball, but merely hit an object, which was in the field of play, above the line, but still in the field of play.

As to whether the ball would have, could have, or should have gone over the fence, but for the object, which was a TV camera, that is an interesting philosophical debate (which is the same as conceiving of unicorns, trolls, a planet without war and the tooth fairy), but the result is still the same: the home run remains an abstraction, something INSTANTIATED and given EXISTENCE only in the collective minds of the umpires.

You see the replay plainly on Fox TV. At no time did the ball go OVER the Fence. Moreover, the camera was jutting a good five to ten feet into the field. Even if the camera wasn’t there, the downward arc of the ball meant that the ball might have gone over the fence, or it might have continued its downward slope and hit the fence at a point BELOW the line of the fence.

Now, as a careful examination of the rules will show, similar disputes such as balls getting caught in the wiring of the ivy fences at Wrigley have always been rules as ground rule doubles. At no time have such balls ever been rules home runs, not in World Series and never on instant replay, because there has never been instant replay in the World Series or at any time in baseball.

I’m certainly pleased to see that baseball, not content with attempting to stop the Phillies from winning the World Series last year by calling a rain delay halt for the first time in World Series History when Cole Hamels was pitching a brilliant game in game five, this year, for the first time in World Series history called a fake home rum and foiled Cole Hamels again from winning.

Up to the point of the fake homer call, Hamels was pitching a no-hitter. It was obvious that Hamels was furious with the call. And rightly so. The call was utter and total BS, and proves that Bud Selig and Organized Baseball are determined to see that the Yankees win the World Series at all costs. The Umpiring crew rules so quickly that they must have been told by Selig how to rule. They didn’t have time to deliberate.

This is reminiscent of 1950, when the Yankees used their connections with the US Government to have Curt Simmons, a blazing lefthander with Sandy Koufax stuff, a twenty game winner, on the Phillies, get his draft notice in mid-September 1950, two weeks before the World Series was coming up with the Yanks. At the time, the Phils had Robin Roberts, now in the Hall of Fame, and Curt Simmons, a blazing lefthander, on their staff. The two pitchers had combined for more than fifty wins. The two pitchers could each have won two games in the series and blown out the Yanks, much like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson won the 2001 Series for Arizona back a few years. But with Curt Simmons in the Army, the Phillies barely won the Pennant, and were eradicated by the Yanks in four games.

The Yankees always need to cheat to win.

Ok, so here are the Home Run Rules:

1885 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence at a distance less than 210 feet from home base shall entitle the batsmen to two bases. A distinctive line shall be marked on the fence at this point.

My comment: At this point, a ball “over the fence” is not a homer at all, it’s a ground rule double. Weird.

1892 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence shall entitle the batter to a home run; except that should it go over the fence at a distance less than 235 feeet from home base, the batter is entitled to only two bases. A distinctive line is to be marked on the fence showing the required point.

My comment: This is essentially the modern rule. The ball has to go “over” the “fence” to be a home run. And it has to go “over” the “distinctive line” of the “fence”. Not above, but over.

I think we all understand the difference between going near, above and around a line painted on a fence, and going over a fence. It’s the difference between a hurdler stumbling on the hurdle, and a hurdler clearing the hurdle entirely.

Rodriquez’ ball last nite, in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, is not a home run under the Home Run Rule. It did not go “over the fence” or over the “distinctive line”, because in three dimensional space, it hit the camera before it crossed the plane of the line, and was knocked back into the field. Therefore, it never went over the line, never went over the wall, and never went over the fence.

Consequently, it was not a home run under the 1892 rule.

Are there any changes in the rules SINCE 1892 that could make it a home run? The answer is no, but let’s go through them all and see.

Note that this is not a “judgment call” by the umpires. The ball has to go “over the fence” and be a “fair ball” to be a home run. End of story. An umpire or group of umpires cannot make a ball that might have been or should have been a home run except that it hit something, into a home run by philosophical instantiation, or abstractive analysis.

In short, there are no unicorns, trolls or other imaginary beings just because we think there are; and there are no imaginary home runs. C.f. Occam’s razor—we don’t create a multiplicity of abstract universal beings just because we name them, think of them or create them in our minds. If we create now a class of abstract home runs, home runs that might have been, should have been and so forth, we now introduce into baseball a series of abstract balls, strikes, stolen bases, catches, hits and so forth and soon there will be entire parallel universes of baseball realities creeping into games, abstract realities which have nothing to do with what’s going on down at the field level, or, more pertinently, in the empirical world or in the rulebook. Everything will come down to what the umpires say and we’ll have a courtroom, not a ballgame.

1914 – Should an errant thrown ball remain in the meshes of a wire screen protecting the spectators, the runner or runners shall be entitled to two bases. The umpire in awarding such bases shall be governed by the position of the runner or runners at the time the throw is made.

My comment – this is the first indication that hitting a camera should be a ground rule double. Here the rule says if an errant thrown ball gets caught in wire screen mesh, the runner gets two bases and two bases only. It doesn’t matter if the ball is over the fence in fair ground, it’s still only two bases.

1920 – Home Run/Game-Ending – If a batsman, in the last half of the final inning of any game, hits a home run over the fence or into a stand, all runners on the bases at the time, as well as the batsman, shall be entitled to score, and in such event all bases must be touched in order, and the final score of the game shall be the total number of runs made.

My comment – this is the famous “walk off homer” rule change. Prior to 1920, if someone hit a walk off homer with one, two or three men on that won the game, the only runs that counted were the ones that won the game, e.g. if the score were 9-8 the road team, and you hit a grand slam, you got two runs, the score ended 10-9 home team, and you were credited with either a single or a double, usually a single. Not a grand slam. But under the walk-off rule, the score ended 12-9, the batter got credit for a homer, a grand slam and 4 RBI.

Note again that the rule says “over the fence” and “into the stand”. Rodriquez’ alleged homer last night meets neither of these key tests.

1926 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence or into a stand shall entitle the batsman to a home run, unless it should pass out of the ground or into a stand at a distance less than 250 feet from the home base, in which case the batsman shall be entitled to two bases only. In either event the batsman must touch the bases in regular order. The point at which a fence or stand is less than 250 feet from the home base shall be plainly indicated by a white or black sign or mark for the umpire’s guidance.

My comment – again, the rule says “over the fence” or “into a stand” in order for a ball to be a home run. This changes the 1892 rule by making the minimum fence distance 250 feet for a home run instead of 235 feet in order not to have “cheap” home runs, although even 250 feet would be a pretty short distance. Of course, Yankee Stadium had a 297 foot right field porch for years for their left handed sluggers, another example of the Yankees “cheating”, and then they would have an all-lefthanded staff to keep the other team from stacking up lefties against them, c.f. Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Andy Pettite, Ron Guidry and so forth. This unfair advantage has been wiped out with the new Yankee Stadium, although allegedly there remains a slightly easier job of hitting to right field.

1931 – Batter/Awarded Bases – A fair hit ball that bounds into a stand or over a fence shall be a two-base hit. Note: There is no reference to distance in this rule and any fair hit ball bounding over the fence or into the stand is a two-base hit.

My comment: This is the modern ground-rule double rule. It hasn’t changed at all. Most importantly, READ what it says. “A FAIR HIT BALL THAT BOUNDS INTO A STAND OR OVER A FENCE SHALL BE A TWO-BASE HIT.” That means that if the ball bounces off a camera and then over the fence, it’s a two base hit. If the ball bounces off a fan and over the fence, it’s a two base hit. If it bounces off the top of the Astrodome, and back into the field of play, as happened to Mike Schmidt in 1974, it’s a two base hit; but if it went off the top of the Astrodome and then over the fence, it would be a ground rule double according to the rule.

According to the plain language of the ground rule double rule of 1931, the ball A Rod hit last nite in game 3 of the World Series was a double. Not subject to review, not subject to judgment call. A ground rule double. It went off a camera and bounded over the fence and then back into the field. It was in play. It’s a ground rule double in that case.

In 1950 the rulebook was entirely recodified and rewritten, refined and clarified:

1950: Batter/Awarded Bases: Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability of being put out, advance to home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes over the field fence in flight and he touch [sic] all bases legally; of if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have cleared the field fence in flight, is deflected by the act of a defensive player in throwing his glove, cap or any article of his apparel, the runner shall be awarded a home run.

My comment – to be a home run, the ball must go over the fence “in flight”. The only case where an umpire may exercise judgment and rule on whether a ball “would have cleared the field fence in flight” is solely and exclusively the case of when the ball is “deflected by the act of a defensive player in throwing his glove, cap or any article of his apparel”. This is the one and only situation where an umpire may exercise abstract judgment and award a hypothetical or abstract home run under the rules of baseball; where a fielder attempts to block the ball by throwing his glove, cap or article of his clothing at the ball.

This was not the case with A Rod’s home run last night. Jayson Werth did not throw his cap, his glove or any article of his clothing at the ball last night. Consequently, the ball would have had to clear the fence “in flight” to be a home run. Since the ball never cleared the fence “in flight”, it was not a home run under the 1950 rule, as amended.

More 1950 changes:

The batter becomes a baserunner when a fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands or passes through or under a fence or through or under shrubbery or vines on the field, in which case the batter and the baserunners shall be entitled to advance two bases.

The batter becomes a baserunner when any fair ball which, either before or striking the ground, passes through or under a fence or through or under a scoreboard or through or any opening in the fence or scoreboard or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the baserunners shall be entitled to two bases.
The batter becomes a baserunner when any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands or over or under a fence on fair or foul ground, in which case the batter and all baserunners shall be entitled to advance two bases.

The batter becomes a baserunner when any fair fly ball is defelected by the fielder into the stands or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run.

My comment – the first three rules make clear that deflections by the fielder and interference with the ball by objects on the field, such as vines, fences and shrubbery, are always ground rule doubles. The only case where a ball is NOT a ground rule double is when there is a deflection by the fielder, and for this to be a home run, there are four requirements;
1) a fair fly ball in fair territory;
2) deflected by a fielder;
3) into the stands; or
4) over the fence.

Note that even if argued analogically to last nites hit by A Rod, the 1950 rule does him no good. First, the camera deflected the ball back into the field. Second, the deflection was by a camera, not by a fielder. Third, the deflection was not “into the stands.” Fourth, the deflection was not “over the fence.”

Consequently, it’s really, really, really crystal clear that what we have is a ground rule double, under the remaining provisions of the 1950 and 1932 ground rule double rules. A Rod and the Yankees were only entitled to a ground rule double last nite in game 3 of the World Series.

1955 Rule Change

The 1955 rule change is very, very minor, it just provides that if a hitter hits a homer and has an accident while running the bases and time is called, he can have a runner come in and pinch run for him and run out the homer run and score it. It has no effect whatsoever on the discussion at hand.

Ok, through 1995, that’s all the rule changes I have from the source J. Thorn, P. Palmer, M. Gershman, D. Pietruskza, Total Baseball V: The Official Encyclopaedia of Major League Baseball (Viking NY 1997), c.f. D. Bingham & T. Heitz, “Rules and Scoring,” at pp. 2376-2432.

Now let’s hit the Net.

The rules as they exist through 1955 continue to exist and are codified in Official Rules of Baseball at Rule 6.09, exactly as they were enacted in 1950, see for yourself:

6.09 The batter becomes a runner when—
(a) He hits a fair ball;
(b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out;
Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
(c) A fair ball, after having passed a fielder other than the pitcher, or after having been touched by a fielder, including the pitcher, shall touch an umpire or runner on fair territory;
(d) A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run when he shall have touched all bases legally. A fair fly ball that passes out of the playing field at a point less than 250 feet from home base shall entitle the batter to advance to second base only;
(e) A fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands, or passes through, over or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(f) Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases;
(g) Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(h) Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run. However, should such a fair fly be deflected at a point less than 250 feet from home plate, the batter shall be entitled to two bases only.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/06_the_batter.pdf

the deflection by the fielder rule is also exactly the same as adopted in 1950 and has not been changed, and is codified in Rule 7.05(a);

7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/07_the_runner.pdf

See? It’s exactly the same. The only way an upire can judge if the fair ball would have left the stadium and gone out of the playing field in flight, is if it was deflected by the act of a fielder under Rule 7.05(a).

The umpire can’t make a judgment call under any other of the rules of baseball.

All the rules of baseball, incidentally, are on line and available for you all to read for yourselves at;

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/foreword.jsp

see also these websites:

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rulemenu.shtml

http://www.rulesofbaseball.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_rules

There IS however, a rule which pertains to interference by media, and that is rule 3.15, which I hereby quote now:

3.15 No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/03_game_preliminaries.pdf

NOTE WHAT RULE 3.15 SAYS ABOUT INTERFERENCE WITH A BALL BY NEWSPHOTOGRAPHERS WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE ON THE FIELD OF PLAY: In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play.

Since A-Rod’s ball was UNINTENTIONALLY INTERFERED WITH BY A PRESS CAMERA, RULE 3.15 COMES INTO PLAY EXPRESSLY AND THE BALL IS IN PLAY. It’s not a case of fan interference where the umpires are allowed to make a judgment call to nullify the fan interference and create a home run abstractly.

To the contrary, the rule is clear and express- “the ball is in play” says the rule. Since the ball did not go over the fence or into the stands or over the fence in flight, but back to the field, and since Werth relayed it back, the Yankees runners were stuck at 2d and 3d.

There was no interference, and if there were a ground rule here, it was at best a ground rule double. See discussion above, supra.

NOTE THAT THIS IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SITUATION THAN IF A FAN HAD INTERFERED WITH THE BALL.

The Umps and all of major league baseball got the rules wrong last night.

The ball was alive and in play last night and/or was a ground rule double, under the ground rule double rules and also under official Rule 3.15.

The Umps had no interference discretion under rules 3.15 or 3.16 because NO FAN touched the ball—instead, an authorized member of the press touched the ball.

The camera was an authorized photographer.

Consequently, the ball was in play.

Note the difference if a spectator had touched the ball:

3.16 When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.
APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

Rule 3.16 Comment: There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpire’s judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.
No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.
Example: Runner on third base, one out and a batter hits a fly ball deep to the outfield (fair or foul). Spectator clearly interferes with the outfielder attempting to catch the fly ball. Umpire calls the batter out for spectator interference. Ball is dead at the time of the call. Umpire decides that because of the distance the ball was hit, the runner on third base would have scored after the catch if the fielder had caught the ball which was interfered with, therefore, the runner is permitted to score. This might not be the case if such fly ball was interfered with a short distance from home plate.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/03_game_preliminaries.pdf

The ground rules for ground rule doubles are exactly the same as the 1950 and 1932 rules discussed above, and are codified at the official rules of baseball 7.05;

7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;
(b) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a fair ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril;
(c) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a fair ball. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril.
(d) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play;
(e) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a thrown ball. The ball is in play;
Rule 7.05(b) through 7.05(e) Comment: In applying (b-c-d-e) the umpire must rule that the thrown glove or detached cap or mask has touched the ball. There is no penalty if the ball is not touched.
Under (c-e) this penalty shall not be invoked against a fielder whose glove is carried off his hand by the force of a batted or thrown ball, or when his glove flies off his hand as he makes an obvious effort to make a legitimate catch.

(f) Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines;
(g) Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made;
APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter-runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made.
Rule 7.05(g) Comment: In certain circumstances it is impossible to award a runner two bases. Example: Runner on first. Batter hits fly to short right. Runner holds up between first and second and batter comes around first and pulls up behind him. Ball falls safely. Outfielder, in throwing to first, throws ball into stand.
APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base.
The term “when the wild throw was made” means when the throw actually left the player’s hand and not when the thrown ball hit the ground, passes a receiving fielder or goes out of play into the stands.
The position of the batter-runner at the time the wild throw left the thrower’s hand is the key in deciding the award of bases. If the batter-runner has not reached first base, the award is two bases at the time the pitch was made for all runners. The decision as to whether the batter-runner has reached first base before the throw is a judgment call.
If an unusual play arises where a first throw by an infielder goes into stands or dugout but the batter did not become a runner (such as catcher throwing ball into stands in attempt to get runner from third trying to score on passed ball or wild pitch) award of two bases shall be from the position of the runners at the time of the throw. (For the purpose of Rule 7.05 (g) a catcher is considered an infielder.)
PLAY. Runner on first base, batter hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to second base too late to get runner at second, and second baseman throws toward first base after batter has crossed first base. Ruling—Runner at second scores. (On this play, only if batter-runner is past first base when throw is made is he awarded third base.)
(h) One base, if a ball, pitched to the batter, or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher’s plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or a bench, or over or through a field fence or backstop. The ball is dead;

APPROVED RULING: When a wild pitch or passed ball goes through or by the catcher, or deflects off the catcher, and goes directly into the dugout, stands, above the break, or any area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be one base. One base shall also be awarded if the pitcher while in contact with the rubber, throws to a base, and the throw goes directly into the stands or into any area where the ball is dead.
If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw.
(i) One base, if the batter becomes a runner on Ball Four or Strike Three, when the pitch passes the catcher and lodges in the umpire’s mask or paraphernalia.
If the batter becomes a runner on a wild pitch which entitles the runners to advance one base, the batter-runner shall be entitled to first base only.

Rule 7.05(i) Comment: The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases. For example: batter hits a ground ball which an infielder throws into the stands but the batter-runner missed first base. He may be called out on appeal for missing first base after the ball is put in play even though he was “awarded” second base.
If a runner is forced to return to a base after a catch, he must retouch his original base even though, because of some ground rule or other rule, he is awarded additional bases. He may retouch while the ball is dead and the award is then made from his original base.
(j) One base, if a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/07_the_runner.pdf

as you can plainly see, nothing has changed in the ground rules at all.

Consequently, A-Rod’s hit was either a ground rule double under rule 7.05, or it was a ball in play since it hit a media camera which was authorized to be in the field of play under rule 3.15. What it was not was a home run under either rule 6.09(d) or rule 7.05(a) or any other rule of baseball.

I’ve looked exhaustively and so have my sabrmetric friends, and there isn’t a rule in the book supporting what happened last night.

What happened also violates the laws of logic and violates the laws of physics. It violates the laws of logic, because the home run was created by an act of particular instantiation—abstract thought created a thing from a concept—what we in philosophy call a “unicorn”—which would make my old professor of logic at Harvard turn over twice—and violates Occam’s razor—that you don’t create needless entities through nominalism.

Instead, empiricism and realism dictate that a home run is a home run when we SEE and WITNESS that the ball goes over the fence—not that we imagine or suppose that it MIGHT have gone over the fence.

The problem with the umpires’ supposition last night is that it is what we call in philosophy a “modal” proposition, an “if….then” statement, that is conditional.

“If the camera were not there, then the ball would have flown over the fence.”

This can readily be recognized as a categorical statement of conditional form—namely, if there were no camera “x”, the trajectory of flight of the ball would have been different in form “y”.

The problem, as anyone knows, is that without an actual observation of same, there are a plethora of possible universes of possible “y’s”.

All we know is that the ball may or might have gone over the wall—or it may or might have bounced below the line and back onto the field. All we have is a possibility that it might have gone over the wall.

All conditionals are like this.

Moreover, accepting conditionals as true introduces a host of problems.

The medieval philosophers didn’t like conditionals, and neither should we.

It’s true that rule 9.03c states that

Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/09_the_umpire.pdf

however, in this case, the A-Rod double IS covered specifically by the baseball rules. There is no room for discretion or authority to rule.

Here’s what actually occurred before game 3 of the World Series according to the umpiring crew:

Indeed, umpire crew chief Gerry Davis said that his crew explored every inch of Citizens Bank Park prior to Game 3, spending time reviewing areas unique to the park. The right-field camera was one of the aspects they discussed.
“We tour the field during the series whenever we go to a new ballpark, and discuss specific ground rules and potential trouble areas just like that,” Davis said. “Because we cannot control what the cameraman does with the camera, one of the specific ground rules is when the ball hits the camera, [it’s a] home run.”
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20091031&content_id=7586236&vkey=news_mlb

So, the umpiring crew themselves MADE UP THEIR OWN GROUND RULE that the camera, if it was hit, would be a home run.

That would be fine, except that it’s in direct violation of Baseball Rule 3.15, as cited above, supra, that a media photographic camera, if a ball strikes it, the ball is in play and NOT a home run.

The Umpires don’t have discretion to make a ground rule about that.

The statement made by Umpire Davis is totally and completely WRONG. The rules cover the situation of when a ball strikes a camera held by a camera man.

Let’s see the rule again:

3.15 No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/03_game_preliminaries.pdf

Ok, then, cameramen, news photographers who unintentionally interfere with the ball, and the interference is unintentionall, the “ball is alive and in play.”

It’s not up to Davis and his crew to make up a ground rule there. It’s up to Davis and his crew to follow Rule 3.15. Rule 3.15 trumps Article 9 and the umpire discretion rules.

Now let’s discuss the instant replay rule.

Here’s the story on the instant replay rule adopted in September of 2008:

5. Instant replay
Main article: Instant replay
In November 2007, the general managers of Major League Baseball voted in favor of implementing instant replay reviews on boundary home run calls. [19] The proposal limited the use of instant replay to determining whether a boundary home run call is:
• A fair (home run) or foul ball
• A live ball (ball hit fence and rebounded onto the field), ground rule double (ball hit fence before leaving the field), or home run (ball hit some object beyond the fence while in flight)
• Spectator interference or home run (spectator touched ball after it broke the plane of the fence).
On August 28, 2008, instant replay review became available in MLB for reviewing calls in accordance with the above proposal. It was first utilized on September 3, 2008 in a game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. [20] Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees hit what appeared to be a home run, but the ball hit a catwalk behind the foul pole. It was at first called a home run, until Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon argued the call, and the umpires decided to review the play. After 2 minutes and 15 seconds, the umpires came back and ruled it a home run.
About two weeks later, on September 19, also at Tropicana Field, a boundary call was overturned for the first time. In this case, Carlos Peña of the Rays was given a ground rule double in a game against the Minnesota Twins after an umpire believed a fan reached into the field of play to catch a fly ball in right field. The umpires reviewed the play, determined the fan did not reach over the fence, and reversed the call, awarding Peña a home run.
Aside from the two aforementioned reviews at Tampa Bay, replay was used four more times in the 2008 MLB regular season: twice at Houston, once at Seattle, and once at San Francisco. The San Francisco incident is perhaps the most unusual. Bengie Molina, the Giants’ Catcher, hit what was first called a double. Molina then was replaced in the game by a pinch-runner before the umpires re-evaluated the call and ruled it a home run. In this instance though, Molina was not allowed to return to the game to complete the run, as he had already been replaced. Molina was credited with the home run, and two RBIs, but not for the run scored which went to the pinch-runner instead.
On October 31, 2009, in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Alex Rodriguez hit a long fly ball that appeared to hit a camera protruding over the wall and into the field of play in deep left field. The ball ricocheted off the camera and re-entered the field, initially ruled a double. However, after the umpires consulted with each other after watching the instant replay, the hit was ruled a home run, marking the first time an instant replay home run was hit in a playoff game. [21]
Source:

http://wapedia.mobi/en/Home_run?t=3.

Citing to

• ESPN – GMs vote 25-5 to use replay to aid home run decisions – MLB
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20080903&content_id=3412731&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20091031&content_id=7586236&vkey=news_mlb

Now, let’s parse all this.

What instant replay boils down to is this.

A lawyer sits in Bud Selig’s offices in NYC and HE reviews the play and decides how it should be called.

The head of the umpiring crew calls NYC and asks the lawyer how the play should be ruled.

Then they decide.

Uh, what’s wrong with this picture if the NEW YORK YANKEES are one of the teams in the playoffs?

Let’s see, a NEW YORK LAWYER making the call? Against a PHILLY team?

Oh right, that would be really fair, impartial and just.

Incidentally, let’s review the rule again:

The proposal limited the use of instant replay to determining whether a boundary home run call is:
• A fair (home run) or foul ball
• A live ball (ball hit fence and rebounded onto the field), ground rule double (ball hit fence before leaving the field), or home run (ball hit some object beyond the fence while in flight)
• Spectator interference or home run (spectator touched ball after it broke the plane of the fence).
Id, supra.

Note that the ball has to hit an object BEYOND the fence while in flight.

Not in front of the fence, but BEYOND the fence.

This is completely consistent with Rules 6.09 and 7.05(a) which define a home run as one hit “over the fence in flight”.

The camera, in this case, was jutting out over the fence by a good five to ten feet.

So it was not beyond the fence, but on the field of play.

Second, because it was on the field of play, it was therefore a photographic interference under Rule 3.15, and should have been considered an unintentional interference, and a live ball in play under Rule 3.15.

Third, if not a live ball in play, then the ground rule double rule of 7.05 (b) et seq. comes into play.

What’s wrong with this picture?

THERE WAS NEVER ANY JURISDICTION FOR HOME RUN REVIEW UNDER THE HOME RUN INSTANT REPLAY RULE BECAUSE THE BALL HIT BY A ROD NEVER WENT OVER THE FENCE IN FLIGHT OR BEYOND THE FENCE.

Let’s review the criteria for instant replay;

1) is it fair or foul? Well, it was a fair ball. No need for instant replay.
2) Is it a live ball that hit the fence and bounced back to the field? No. No need for instant replay.

Was it a live ball that hit some object beyond the fence while in flight?

No. It never went beyond the fence. So no instant replay was required.

Well, it hit the camera==part of which was behind the fence, but the part of the camera the ball hit was NOT beyond the fence.

This is not a semantic issue, but a real rules issue, because if you start saying that balls that don’t go over the fence in flight are home runs, just because the umpires make up ground rules before the game to make them eligible for instant review, doesn’t make it so.

I think the key here is to parse the fact that the umpiring crew made a mistake before the game establishing false ground rules, by making a camera that jutted INTO the field, a candidate for HOME RUN instant replay.

That wasn’t their call to make.

Under the instant replay rule, the camera has to be entirely beyond the fence for them to make that decision, end of story.

Remember, the rule is to decide the boundary issue of when a ball has hit an object BEYOND the fence–not an object within the ballfield.

The Umps exceeded their rulemaking authority. Also, see #3, below, because there’s actually a different rule that applies to cameras that are in the field of play and not beyond the field of play, in which case the ball is either a ground rule double or in play. In either case the result is the same; arod at 2d, texeira at 3d.

3) There was not spectator interference, but rather, photographer interference under rule 3.15, which made it a live ball under the rules, and on the field of play.

Consequently, there was no jurisdiction for an instant reply. Rather, the umpires AGGREGATED and SEIZED inappropriately the jurisdiction for home run instant replay because they forgot their own rule book and the rules of baseball.

They got the call all wrong.

It’s an insult to our collective intelligence and our common sense to say that a ball that fell short of the wall, and never went over the wall, is a “fair ball” that “went over the fence in flight” or that after instant replay, was shown to have struct an object “beyond the fence” in flight. None of these things occured on arod’s hit.

And messed up a 25 year old kids’ no hitter in the processs.

Did they purposefully do it?

Did the NY Offices of baseball reverse the call to obstruct the Phillies from repeating?

I don’t know—go ask the Atlanta Braves. No one in Bud Selig’s office was happy when they went up 2-0 on the Yankees in 1996 either.

The Commissioner’s office basically wants LA or NY to win the series because that’s good for TV ratings.

They like to ignore Philly and Atlanta even though we’re much more rabid about baseball than New Yorkers, most of whom are too poor to afford to go to a game, whereas in Philly or Atlanta, it’s mostly the middle class who attend.

And if we have to cheat and violate the rules to make the Yankees winners, what the hay?

Just remember Curt Simmons’ draft notice, and Bud Selig’s ridiculous rain delay call in last year’s Game Five in Philly.

Definitely be sure there’s bias against the Phillies in NYC.

And of course, let’s not forget they used a single New York Lawyer as the judging panel for instant replay of a World Series play involving….

The New York Yankees.

Like that’s really fair.

This is the Second World Series in a row where Bud Selig has personally messed around with our ace, Cole Hamels, in a World Series game.

First was Game Five in World Series 2008, in which Cole Hamels was shutting the door down on Tampa Bay. Selig allowed the game to proceed in the rain, then let Tampa Bay score a cheap run in rain soaked conditions against Hamels, a cheap run in conditions not fit to play in, and then Selig announced the game would be suspended—a first in Series history—which infuriated not only the Phillies, but Hamels, who had pitched well enough to win. Last year the story line was supposed to be tampa bay to win, cindarella, last place to world champions. New york didn’t want philly winning.

Conspiracy theorists, you are right if you think Selig hates Hamels.

And now this year, Selig sends Davis and an experienced umpiring crew out, and they set up illegal ground rules, and use the first chance they get, to award a two run instant replay home run—an existential, instantiated home run—an abstraction if you will, because nothing ever left the park or ever went over the fence in flight—for the sole purpose of screwing up Cole Hamels’ game in game 3, the pivotal game of the 2009 world series.

I need not point out how furious Hamels must have been with all this BS; for the second year in a row, he’s been messed with, not by the opposing lineup, but by lawyers and umpires and the commissioners’ office. They just won’t let him do his job.

I understand why he might have hung a few curves the next inning to Swisher and Damon.

What I don’t understand is why the Phillies don’t aggressively move

1) for Bud Selig’s immediate ouster as Commissioner of Baseball; and
2) an immediate amendment of the baseball instant replay rule requiring that the review of plays always be done in a neutral city by an impartial panel of three arbitrators, not lawyers, with one chosen by each team and the third chosen by the other two.
3) And the umpiring crew and ground rules be reviewed two weeks in advance of the World Series by the front office of each team, and by the teams attorneys, to be sure there are no conflicts with the Rules of Baseball.

Even my 80 year old mother in law, who just had eye surgery, who watched the game last night, and used to be a Brooklyn Dodger fan from Brooklyn, saw the play last night and she knew that the A-Rod hit wasn’t a home run.

“it didn’t go out of the park” she said. “how could it be a home run?”

Exactly. To be a home run, under rule 7.05(a), and in the common sense of every fan, a home run must go over the fence in flight.

And to be a home run for instant replay purposes, it has to go over the fence in flight and THEN hit some object.

Not hit some object which inteferes with the ball from going over the fence in flight. That’s a ground rule double or a ball live in play, as we have seen from our discussion, at length, of the rules.

The difference last night was two runs.

But the difference, from our perspective, is the lawlessness of the Bud Selig regime.

A regime which bars Pete Rose from the Hall of Fame, but tolerates steroid use by the likes of A-Rod and David Ortiz, and turns a blind eye to the income inequalities between teams like the Yankees and the Twins that keep baseball from truly being competitive.

A regime which makes arbitrary and capricious decisions each and every year about rain delays, rain suspensions, instant replay home runs in the World Series, and which plays games of law and fate which affect a man’s life and career in the case of Cole Hamels, who is a truly great pitcher along the lines of a Steve Carlton.

In fact, if you study Hamels stats, you will see that his 2009 is to his 2008, as Carlton’s 1973 was to Carlton’s Cy Young 1972.

I expect Cole Hamels to have a very bright future.

And he will not take much more of this abuse from Bud Selig and his cronies.

And neither should we philly fans.

And New York Yankee fans, you are cheating to win.

And to think I actually shed tears for you guys on 9/11.

And by the way, your NY Giants got rolled by the Eagles. At least the NFL runs a fair league. Thank you Pete Rozelle Paul Tagliabue and your successors.

Guess those memories of Joe Namath are starting to fade, eh?

–art kyriazis, philly
home of the world champion phillies, 2008 world champions
2008, 2009 National League pennant champs

Prof. Richard Dawkins was it again in yet another publication, arguing for the indefensible proposition, Atheism. As History has demonstrated, perhaps more than any other “ism”, including Communism, Nationalism Nihilism, Anarchism, Fascism and Nazism, Atheism is very likely the worst “ism” of them all, because Atheism lies at the heart of all of the other “isms”. And, making this ever worse is the fact that Prof. Dawkins is a respected Biology Professor, that he writes to undergraduates and graduate students, and that he should really know better.

Prof. Dawkins’ argument this time was framed and cloaked in scientific syllogism and enthymeme, to wit, that the scientific laws of physics and evolution (1) explain everything, and there (2) leave no room, according to Dawkins, for the actions of God, ergo, (3) God does not exist. A broad and sweeping argument, to be sure, but does it stand up under any sort of critical analysis?

We’ll examine the deeper logical argument of whether this is a proof of God’s non-existence in a moment, but first let’s examine whether this is a proof at all of anything.

I. ARE THERE SCIENTIFIC LAWS?

Initially, are there “laws” of physics or “laws” of evolution? Here, Dawkins has problems right off the bat. Modern scientific epistemology is sort of torn between two schools—the Thomas Kuhn school of paradigms and the Karl Popper-Carnap school of incremental advance of science. Dawkins seems to be resurrecting the Popper-Carnap school of epistemology—and yet right now, the Kuhnian school is ascendant.

What Kuhn basically says is that all scientific laws amount to is a reigning paradigm, and that science is a social process among scientists—meaning that scientific laws are not laws at all, but simply the best available paradigms which meet the approval of the current scientific community. This of course is a terrible oversimplication of Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) and subsequent editions, but let’s assume for the moment that you’ve read Kuhn, or been forced to read Kuhn. If you’re familiar with Kuhn, you would not make a statement such as was made by Dawkins about “scientific laws” proving that “God does not” and “cannot exist” because in Kuhn’s model of scientific induction and epistemology, men make scientific laws, and not particularly accurately all the time.

But let’s assume for a moment you’re a Popper-Carnap style epistemologist of science, and you believe in the intrinsic accuracy of the scientific laws. Even then, Popper and Carnap et al., accept Hume’s causality arguments and attacks on scientific “laws”, to wit, scientific law cannot explain “causation” but only a sort of probability tending towards a value between 0 and 1; or as Popper would put it, if I drop a ball five thousand times, it will fall to earth each time, tending to prove the “law” of gravity, but I still can’t be one hundred per cent certain that it will fall to earth the five thousand and first time, because of the causal arguments of Hume. All I have done is prove an increasingly likely probability of that causal association such that I might term it a scientific “law,” but what is termed a scientific “law” is really a correlation coefficient with a high degree of associative character, a high degree of probability, according to epistemologists like Popper and/or Carnap.

Likewise, if I have risen from bead a thousand times and seen the sun rise, that is tending to a probability of one that the sun is at the center of the solar system, but does not guarantee that I will rise to see the sun on the thousand and first day, because there is still not a causal relation, only an associative one. This is readily conceded by even the most formal of scientific epistemologists like Popper and/or Carnap.

Consequently, Dawkin’s notion of scientific “laws” fails because of the underlying failure of scientific epistemology. And yet Dawkins breezes over both the Kuhnian problem of paradigms and the Humeian problem of causation in violently asserting the overarching and complete validity of scientific laws, in spite of the fact that nearly all philosophers and historians of science and all scientists themselves are nearly unanimous in believing that there are no such things as immutable “laws” of science.

The fact is, just as there was no reality in the Matrix, there is nothing valid or solid about scientific laws. Scientific “laws,” including the vaunted “laws” of physics and “laws” of evolution asserted by Dawkins, are subject to constant and considerable subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) revision by scientists, and subject to paradigm change every 25-30 years or so as Kuhn describes. The late Stephen Jay Gould advocated a theory of not-so-incremental not-so-Darwinian evolution, which would have represented a major paradigm shift in the so-called “laws” of evolution, and increasingly, many empirical findings dispute the original theories and paradigms advanced by Darwin, who was, after all, just a good 19th century naturalist, albeit a brilliant one.

In many respects it is Galton, the statististician and cousin of Darwin, who has proven to be the better scientist in certain respects, of our time, since it was he who coined the phrase “regression,” a phrase without which social science itself would hardly exist today. Nor should we forget Mendel, whose observations were the foundations of modern genetics. It is not Darwin only who was the founder of modern molecular biology; there were many founders, and while Darwin might have been necessary, he was not sufficient.

Moreover, all scientific laws are subject to incremental change in light of empirical data, and all scientific laws are not really laws at all in light of the causal issues raised by the Humeian critique.

So are there laws of physics and of evolution which leave “no room for God?” Of course there aren’t. Just to take one example, the Darwinian paradigm of evolution was that evolution was gradualist. Darwin rejected sudden changes, and also rejected Lamarckianism. But both of these paradigms are and have been in the process of being assailed and replaced in the face of modern scientific evidence and new theory making by new groups of scientists. First, sudden catastrophic evolutionary change has gained a great deal of currency, c.f. Stephen Jay Gould, supra. The theory of sudden events such as asteroids plunging to earth and causing mass extinctions, and the notion that there have been five mass extinctions in earth’s evolutionary history, has gained real traction among scientists. And even more recently, changes in somatic dna and living animals have been re-evaluated in light of better understanding of molecular biology, prompting a re-evaluation of the paradigm on Lamarckian evolution.

As for the “laws” of physics, string theory is still controversial, no one has yet attained fusion in any controlled conditions dozens and dozens of years after it was predicted to be able to be done, scientists don’t know if the earth is warming or cooling, and if it is warming, whether humans or climate change cycles are to blame, there is still controversy over what the fundamental particles are, civilian use of nuclear power has run up against a stone wall in the united states (putting most physicists out of work), and nuclear proliferation has become a worldwide problem, perhaps proving that physics is yet to be the messenger of Armageddon and the doom of the planet through worldwide thermonuclear war.

So basically, the claims asserted by Dawkins about the laws of physics and the laws of evolution are wrong, wrong as to scope, wrong as to paradigm, and wrong even as to the claim that there are laws qua laws.

II. SCIENTIFIC LAWS AREN’T LAWS, AND EVEN IF THEY ARE, THEY DON’T EXPLAIN EVERYTHING

Secondly, do Dawkins assertions about the laws of physics and the laws of nature, e.g. that they “explain everything” and “leave no room for God”, carry any weight?

The obvious answer is, in light of this line of reasoning, a clear no. First, it’s obvious that the laws of physics and the laws of nature, in their current states, don’t explain “everything,” or anything close to “everything.” What they currently do is what all scientific laws do—they explain what’s obvious and well-settled, which is about the 20% of science you find in undergraduate textbooks—and the more advanced stuff is continuously debated among grad students, professors and advanced institute people at science conferences on a constant basis, over the internet, in academic journals, etc. as the scientific process is an ongoing continuous process.

A scientist who is arrogant and believes he already knows all the answers is no scientist at all. Such a man could not be a scientist, because a true scientist never believes the scientific laws are settled, never believes that all the scientific questions are answered, or that all the scientific issues have been explained.

Were that all true, as Prof. Dawkins erroneously suggests, then there would be no need to continue to experiment or for NIH or any other world or international scientific group to continue with biology or physics experiements. If we already know everything, why bother with seeking new knowledge?

The answer, the obvious answer is, we DON’T know everything, and we need to know a great deal more. We actually know very little. What little we do know we know pretty well, maybe with a probability of .80 or so, maybe .90, but as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the Pauli exclusion principle, molecular orbital bonding theory, the Church-Turing thesis and Godel’s theorem famously remind us, there are also things we can’t know within the framework of science and that we have to take on scientific faith.

Just to take an example from freshman chemistry—the notion of an electron cloud, electron shell, electron atomic orbital or electron molecular orbital. A “smear” of electron energy. The notion of electron “tunneling”. We really don’t know where the electron is, we can only guess where it is. Quantum mechanics, wave version and matrix version. Elegant mathematics, but still, electron electron, where is the electron?

For all that we know, we don’t know where the electron is, or where the electrons are, except that we know what region they’re in within a 99% region of probability. Or so approximately. That’s a far cry from a scientific “law” of physics. If Dirac and Heisenberg and Born and all their famous brethren were here, right now, none of them would claim that quantum mechanics or even quantum electrodynamics were scientific “laws” of a certainty sufficient to exclude the existence of God.

To the contrary, these theories were advanced modestly and no grand claims were made for them, as anyone reading the original papers (they’re available in historical reprints and online) would know. The authors were humble and careful in their work. This applies to almost all of the so-called “new physics” of the 20th century, going back to the original great three papers of Einstein of 1905.

III. NONE OF DAWKINS ARGUMENTS ARE A PROOF THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST – LOGICAL FALLACIES IN DAWKINS ARGUMENT

So to return to the initial question of this essay, is Prof. Dawkins argument a proof of the non-existence of God?

The answer is clearly no, because Dawkins is committing the logical fallacies of either Denying the Antecedent and/or Denying the Consequent. His arguments consist of an he implied syllogism and an enthymeme as follows;

(1) The scientific laws explain everything in physics & evolution.
(2) Since everything in physics and evolution is explained by sciene, God explains nothing in physics and evolution
(3) Since God explains nothing in physics & evolution, God does not exist.

It should be relatively clear, once we reduce Prof. Dawkins’ argument to atomistic syllogism/enthymeme, that it is clearly flawed, and commits logical fallacy, but let’s examine the logical fallacies further.

Imagine if the argument was stated this way:

(1) Physics & Evolution are remarkable.
(2) Physics & Evolution are unexplainable.
(3) If there is a God, God can explain the unexplainable.
(4) God can explain Physics and Evolution.
(5) Therefore there is a God.

I believe this accurately fills in the blanks of the “straw man” enthymeme that Dawkins is attempting to set up.

Now let’s take some converses and contrapositives. Let’s say Physics and Evolution ARE explainable, as Dawkins claims.

Dawkins argument there is as follows;

(1) Physics & Evolution are remarkable
(2) Physics & Evolution are fully explainable by the Laws of Physics and the Laws of Evolution.
(3) If there is a God, God can explain the unexplainable.
(4) God cannot explain Physics and Evolution.
(5) God cannot explain one or more instances of the unexplainable.
(6) Therefore there is no God.

We should immediately recognize the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent/denying the consequent here. The converse/contrapositive of changing physics and evolution to negations and God explaining same to not explaining same does not negate god’s ability to explain the unexplainable, or God’s UNIVERSAL existence.

There are several flaws in the logic here.

First is the instantiative assertoric error committed by Dawkins. To the extent that he states that “God exists” or “God Does not Exist,” he concedes, at least in some schools of thought, the existence of God qua God, via the assertoric and instantiative schools of philosophic thought. These basically assert if I state “a unicorn is blue” that unicorns must exist, somewhere in some potential universe, because I have conceived of unicorns in my mind and named them, e.g. given them a class appellation and attributes.

While there is controversy as to assertoric and non-assertoric logics, the fact remains that Dawkins was not careful to set forth whether his argument was one or the other, consequently, the old medieval Aristotelian argument that God exists because he named God, conceived of God and gave God attributes in his argument, means that he cannot turn around and then argue that God does not exist, because by stating or implying God’s existence, he concedes the fact of God’s existence by instantiative and assertoric principles.

In making this argument, it is important to distinguish between the statements “God is God,” “God exists” and “God has attributes.” Note the first is ontological, the second ontological-metaphysical, and the third is lexical and goes to class definitions. But in all three cases, Dawkins falls into logical error, because by merely naming God, he implies that God is God, God exists, and that God has attributes. Dawkins falls into the trap of assertoric discourse, because somewhere, in some religion, in some world, in some universe, there is a God, because he has conceived of one and named him, and given him attributes, and attempted to negate him universally, which cannot be done by definition. Moreover, God may even control physics and biology in those other worlds or universes or existences, since Dawkins’ arguments don’t address those worlds, universes or possible existences.

Second, Dawkins’s conclusion of a universal negation of God’s existence, is proceeding illogically and fallaciously, from an antecedent of God’s inability to explain some unexplainable particular events, when all that is claimed for God is God’s particular ability to explain some unexplainable particular events. The fact that God cannot explain a subset of “some unexplainable particular events” such as the laws of physics and the laws of evolution, in this world, in this universe, in Dawkin’s religion, does not result in the negation of the proposition that God can still explain some other unexplainable particular events in any or all religions in any or all worlds, etc. One cannot refute and effect negation of a “some x is y” statement by a “some x is not z” statement.

This would be clearer using first order predicate logic and the universal and particular quantifiers—I’ll get to that in a second—but let’s stick to Aristotelian logic for the moment.

Let’s see why dawkins is wrong:

(1) Physics & Evolution are remarkable
(2) Physics & Evolution are fully explainable by the Laws of Physics and the Laws of Evolution.
(3) If there is a God, God can explain the unexplainable.
(4) God can explain the unexplainable for some things in any and all possible religions in any and all possible worlds in any and all possible universes and in any and all possible realities.
(5) God transcends and is outside the explanation of, the laws of Physics, Evolution and Science.
(6) God cannot explain Physics and Evolution in this world in this universe and in this reality.
(7) God can explain the unexplainable for some things in any and all possible religions in any and all possible worlds in any and all possible universes and in any and all possible realities, except for and other than, Physics and Evolution in this world and in this reality and in Dawkins’ religion.
(8) Dawkins claims there is therefore not a God.
(9) However, Logic says there still is a God, since there are still events etc. that God still can explain other than physics and evolution in this world, etc.
(10) Dawkins argument does not invalidate the universal particular “God can explain the unexplainable” etc.set forth in argument (4) because it does not negate it for all instances of substitution value for “God can explain the unexplainable, etc.” set forth in argument (4) and thus commits the dual fallacies of denying the antecedent/denying the consequent as well as committing a logical fallacy of erroneous invalidation of a universal particular in first order predicate logic.

Notice what’s changed here, and feel free to draw your own Venn Diagram.

Argument 3 states that God can explain some unexplainables for all possible things for all possible religions for all possible worlds in all possible universes and in all possible realities.

Whereas Arguments 6 and 7 are particular existential instantiators—they quantify only as to God’s ability to explain physics and evolution. Negating them only negates some of the class of unexplainables which God can explain. It’s a subset of what God explains, not all of what God explains. Consequently, negation of them is not invalidity of God, God’s existence, God is God, or God’s attributes.

Here it is held that God can still explain some other unexplainable for all possible things, in all possible religions, in all possible worlds, in all possible universes, in all possible realities. Dawkins’ negation argument is fatally flawed, because in order to invalidate a particular universal, you have to show it’s false for ALL substitution instances of the particular universal. Dawkins fails to do this, and consequently his argument is a fatal instance of logical fallacy of denying the antecedent/denying the consequent, one of the oldest and best known logical fallacies.

Third, and note this, carefully, the thrust of this essay, is that Dawkins has actually failed to prove propositions (2), (6) and (7). So really, he’s failed to prove his premises as well, and if the premises fail, the syllogism also fails because if the premises are false, so are the conclusions.

So to summarize;

1) God exists on instantiative, assertoric grounds;
2) God exists because Dawkins fails to prove God’s existential invalidity and commits logical fallacies of denying the antecedent/denying the consequent; and
3) God exists because Dawkins fails to prove the truth of the premises of his argument and therefore the conclusions fail.

IV. FURTHER LOGICAL FALLACIES IN DAWKINS ARGUMENT

Of course, it would be a miracle if atheists like Dawkins were to make a logical argument in favor of their conclusions. People like Dawkins like to get to the conclusion first, and then make strained and illogical arguments full of logical and illogical fallacies in order to get to their ridiculous conclusions. That’s why their arguments seem so silly and so contrived.

In addition to all the foregoing, Dawkins commits the fallacy of the appeal to authority—he claims that because science—physics and biology in this case, and in particular the laws of physics and biology—are so accurate and their scientists so wonderfully supreme—that we should give up going to church and instead worship physicists and biologists.

Of course, this argument, when put in this form, is utterly ridiculous. Let’s atomize it;

1) Currently, you worship God.
2) God has great authority.
3) The Laws of Physics and the Laws of Evolution have Great Authority, as do the Physicists and Biologists.
4) The Physicists and Biologists are always right, and God is Always Wrong, when it comes to Physics and Biology.
5) Physicists and Biologists are Therefore Great Men.
6) Therefore, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you should Stop Worshipping God, and God’s Laws, and instead Worship Physicists and Biologists, and the Laws of Physics and Biology Instead.

Now when atomized in this fashion, you can see what a silly, foolish, ridiculous appeal to authority Dawkins’ argument really is.

In fact, it’s really no different than Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or Caesar Augustus Octavian claiming that they were not merely men, but Gods walking the earth, and therefore men should worship them, because they were great, and they were always right about everything they did, because they had conquered the known world.

It’s precisely the same syllogism/enthymeme. Dawkins’ argument for worshipping science over God is the same argument that oriental kings have used for centuries for their divinity. It’s called the “appeal to authority.”

It goes something like this: “I’m in charge, I’m always right, therefore, worship me.” Notably, the early Christians rejected this argument wholesale and never, ever bowed down to either oriental or Roman monarchs, until the Roman Emperor became a Christian himself, and prostrated himself before God and Jesus every Sunday with the conversion of St. Constantine and his victory with the cross—“in this sign I shall conquer” (“nika”).

I seriously doubt that any clear thinking individual, including a scientist, wants to stop going to religious services and start bowing down to another scientist in lieu of God.

Maybe Dawkins wanted to be an oriental king in a former life.

VI. BELIEF IN GOD IS A MATTER OF FAITH, NOT LOGIC

Perhaps a couple of more points are in order.

First, faith in God is not a matter of rational or logical argument. Kantians and neo-Kantians, and many moral philosophers, have been influenced to a large degree by Protestantism, and especially the brand of Pietism which Kant himself espoused, all of which emphasize a close personal relationship between God and Man, unmediated by the Church or the clergy. This has led to the mistaken modern view that morality and even religion must be justified, somehow, by logical, rational or reasonable grounds.

This inference, which is highly Kantian (or neo-Kantian), only makes sense if you aren’t Catholic or Eastern Roman Orthodox; however, one billion people are Catholic and another 500 million are Eastern Orthodox, and all of those Christians believe in God because the Church tells them to, and salvation is through the Church and its sacraments, not through God or any personal relationship to God. God doesn’t talk to people in the Catholic or Orthodox churches, unless you happen to have been a saint or a prophet. And reasoning about God’s existence is entirely and totally unnecessary if you are Catholic or Orthodox, because God of course exists—why else would there be St. Sophia, the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453, or the Pope, or the Patriarch, or Constantinople, or the Crusades, or the Catholic Church, or the Seven Sacraments, or Communion, or Transubstantiation?

Likewise, if you are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, etc., you don’t need to think too much about whether there is a God either—it’s pretty much implicit with the territory. It’s a peculiarity of Protestant thought that we sit around thinking whether there is a God or not. Frankly, I have better things to do in Church on a Sunday morning than to think about whether God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit exist or not. Like remembering where I parked my car, or when the next church festival is.

Especially apt is that every year we have religious holidays, like Yom Kippur, Christmas, Easter, the Jewish New Year, Passover, that everyone respects with dignity and honor.

Those who are atheists shower disrespect and dishonor on those who would worship freely.

The founders of the USA put freedom of worship in the first amendment. They were silent as to freedom not to believe in god, and they never intended for atheism or lack of religion to be protected by the constitution, notwithstanding any court decisions of any kind to the contrary. theories of hla hart and decisions of church and state to the contrary, faith is a big element of socializing our youth to right and wrong, and i join those who call for a return of prayer to schools, and those who want faith-based programs for our troubled youth. crime rates are very high and a little prayer and a little church or services have been shown to be the only thing that can help troubled youth, as Prof. DiIulio has shown many times over.

Point being, belief is a matter of faith, God a big mystery, and really none of it has much to do with science at all. On top of which, the vast majority of people believe in God and go to church, and the vast majority of scientists, including famous scientists like Einstein, Newton, Pascal, to name but a few, believed in God and attended services. Even Galileo in the end was more worried about his mortal soul than his scientific theories, and ended up recanting before the church. It’s a modern conceit to see him as some kind of champion against the church. Galileo was a perfectly good catholic.

VII. ATHEISM WAS THE WORST ‘ISM’ OF ALL TIME

Finally, atheism has the most destructive of social movements in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. First advocated by the French proletariat during the French Revolution, it resulted initially in the French Terror and the killing of innocent tens of thousands and endless rivers of blood by means of the guillotine in the 1790s by the Directory, as famously described by Sir Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. The French Aristocracy was either killed or sent into hiding, and tens of thousands of intellectuals were needlessly and thoughtlessly butchered. Churches and clergy were shuttered and church properties seized.

But worse was yet to come under Napoleon. Even though one has to admire Napoleon as a military figure, Napoleon’s policies regarding the churches set in motion a series of consequences which were to have long-lasting and far-reaching effects. First were the hundreds of thousands if not millions who died in the Napoleonic Wars, the first true “World Wars” if you will. Second, Napoleon effectively dis-established the French Catholic Church and clergy; destroyed the Spanish Inquisition and seized the best lands of the Spanish Catholic Church, rendering that church impotent; hurt the Catholic Church badly all over Europe; and incited Nationalism of a secular character all over Europe, particularly in Italy, Germany and the Balkans.

Napoleon destroyed the settled character of the Catholic Church in Spain, France, Italy and many smaller countries, and left those countries in permanent political and social turmoil as a consequent result, turmoil that has persisted to the present day. France has been through five or six governmental and constitutional changes since the Revolution and lost her colonies and three different wars including the two world wars; Spain has been through a civil war and many political instabilities; Italy despite the Risorgimento remains a politically fractured country, albeit an economically sound one; and many smaller catholic countries remain marginal in the European sphere.

The orbit of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Balkan States have been particularly unstable, leading to World War One due to Bosnian nationalism, and fractures between orthodox and catholic partisans in Croatia/Serbia and Ukraine/Russia during World War II which the Nazis exploited, along with fractures between catholics and jews with the Nazis exploited during World War II in Poland and other lands.

Atheism and nationalism were at the root of these difficulties; had the pre-1800 regime stayed in place, unaffected by the atheistic, nationalistic whirlwind of Napoleon, it is doubtful that a Bismarck or a Hitler, a Lenin or a Stalin, could ever have risen up from the ashes. Atheism was the spawning ground of dictators and communism, and of modern world war and of modern genocides.

In some places, nationalism was a good thing, such as the Lower Balkans, where Greece and Serbia and Bulgaria liberated themselves from the Ottoman Turk, but in Germany, secular atheistic nationalism eventually resulted in German military imperialism and the rise of the German military state, and, eventually, Adolf Hitler, who was himself quite the atheist at heart.

Atheism and disestablishment of religion weakened the German and Austrian churches and paved the way for the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the onset of World War I, and the Russian Revolution. The so-called secular states of Turkey and Iran, which for many years engaged in brutal internal repressions of their own peoples as well as ethnic progroms, were also based in part on the atheism and nationalism of the Napoleonic era and Russian Communistic era.

As we now know, the Iranian secular regime was swept under by a religious theocratic muslim regime in 1979, which has influenced many other Middle Eastern regimes in the same direction since then, and the Turkish regime is under heavy internal pressure to do the same, become expressly religious, muslim and theocratic again. But these are false theocracies manned by leaders trained for centuries in secular, atheistic violence and bloodshed, and not true religious leaders at all.

Soviet Communism was based on atheism, and hundreds of millions died under this regime, as documented by Solzhenitzyn in his Gulag Archipelago works. In 1937 & 1938 alone 500,000 priests were killed for the crime of being Russian orthodox priests.

More modernly, Chinse Communist atheism has resulted in the destruction of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhist shrines in the takeover and occupation of a sovereign nation since 1958, and the destruction of a religious nation and its thousand year old religious shrines, and the exodus of its highly respected religious leader, the Dalai Lama. The atheist Communist Chinese show no respect whatsoever for religion. They destroy religious relics in their own state as well, have destroyed the thousands’ year old cult of Confucianism in their own country, and do not tolerate the many catholics, Nestorians and other Christians and protestants attempting to worship God in their midst. Tens if not hundreds of millions have died in China, Tibet and other occupied regions over the issue of religion.

In short, Atheism has been responsible for the deaths of nearly a billion people on this planet since it was first officially sanctioned by the French Revolution in early 1789. It is a hideous doctrine and once in place, one responsible for moral indifference to the point of recklessness to human death and suffering.

VIII RELIGION AND FAITH EXPLAIN TO US WHAT IS RIGHT FROM WHAT IS WRONG MORE CLEARLY THAN LAWS ETHICS OR MORAL PHILOSOPHIES; ATHEISM RESULTS IN THE LOSS OF MORALITY AND AMORAL AND IMMORAL CONDUCT ON A VAST SCALE

One may wonder, why is Atheism responsible for the loss of morality, amorality and immoral conduct on such a vast scale as this? The reasons are fairly simple.

The moral philosopher or neo-Kantian may think it an easy matter to prove why the Holcaust or why a genocide or why the killing of an entire Church and its clergy is morally wrong and indefensible. Perhaps a lawyer may say it is a violation of international law. All of these words are nice words—but they are mere words.

And aren’t there always debates about this? Don’t the French deny killing anyone? And don’t the Turks deny an Armenian Holocaust? And the Germans admit a Holocaust, but never seem to do enough? And the Russians never seem to admit all their wrongs? And the Chinese say they’ve done nothing wrong in Tibet?

Morality and seeing right from wrong, it seems to me, cannot be a matter for moral philosophy, ethics boards or international legal commissions.

What is needed, in the end, are religious views to determine right from wrong. We know in our hearts what is right from wrong because we have a religious sense of things. No one is going to sit and read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and achieve some transcendental state of pure moral reasoning in the internet age; but it’s easy enough to go to mass or services and hear a sermon and let a priest or deacon explain with a story from the bible why this or that thing is wrong.

It would be my contention that without religion, without the Church and the Bible as frames of reference, we would not know, and I mean really know, that the Holocaust, Genocide, Extermination of entire churches and peoples and religions, are wrong and crimes against God and not merely crimes against humanity or laws.

The German people as a people made Nazism and state-sponsored atheism their religion for more than a dozen years, and consequently, amorality, immorality, and finally mass killing and genocide, seemed acceptable to them, first by degrees and eventually on a grand scale.

But this was not unprecedented. The same thing had happened before—in Revolutionary France—in Communist Russia—in Secular Turkey—anywhere that traditional religion was swept aside, a wave of butchery, savagery and killing swept the land, and the people forgot their first and foremost rule, thou shalt not kill.

The atheist has no moral compass. The atheist doesn’t believe in the ten commandments. The atheist kills one or many and feels the same about both. That is the bottom line. Atheism results inevitably in moral chaos and an utter loss of morality, leading to evil on a grand scale. All of the great killing sprees of modern history have been effected by godless states—atheistic states if you will.

Atheism is the worst ism of them all, because atheism is at the heart of communism, Nazism, socialism, fascism, all the other isms.

Religion tells us in Black and White, without shading, that these killings, these acts, these things are wrong.

Only the Atheist is capable of moral relativism in these matters.

Only the Atheist makes sophistical refutation of claims that he is a mass murderer.

IX. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE AND WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT ALL THIS?

Compare these claims of moral relativism and legal defenses of state-sanctioned mass murder in atheistic states to what the Bible says;

Deuteronomy 53

1. And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and observe to do them.
2. Jehovah our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
3. Jehovah made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
4. Jehovah spake with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,
5. (I stood between Jehovah and you at that time, to show you the word of Jehovah: for ye were afraid because of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
6. I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
7. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
8. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
9. thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I, Jehovah, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me;
10. and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
11. Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain: for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
12. Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee.
13. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work;
14. but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Jehovah thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou.
15. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
16. Honor thy father and thy mother, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee; that thy days may be long, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee.
17. Thou shalt not kill.
18. Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
19. Neither shalt thou steal.
20. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor.
21. Neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s wife; neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor’s house, his field, or his man-servant, or his maid-servant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor’s.
22. These words Jehovah spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tables of stone, and gave them unto me.
23. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
24. and ye said, Behold, Jehovah our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth speak with man, and he liveth.
25. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of Jehovah our God any more, then we shall die.
26. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
27. Go thou near, and hear all that Jehovah our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that Jehovah our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
28. And Jehovah heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and Jehovah said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
29. Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
30. Go say to them, Return ye to your tents.
31. But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
32. Ye shall observe to do therefore as Jehovah your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
33. Ye shall walk in all the way which Jehovah your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

Note that the existence of God is proven beyond all doubt by the express words of Deuteronomy. This passage was dramatized several times in movies, most notably with Charlton Heston playing Moses in the 1950s Cecil B DeMille version of the Ten Commandments.

I’m inclined on faith to believe in it, and certainly more likely to believe in Deuteronomy and the Ten Commandments, and the word of the Lord God and Moses, than in anything Richard Dawkins writes down or brings down from his burning bush or his mountaintop.

Compare this to what Isaiah says in the Bible:

ISAIAH 2:4. And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Compare this to Matthew 5:21-22:

Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22. but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment;

Compare this to what St. Paul says in the Bible:

Romans 6

1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2. God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?
3. Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4. We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
5. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;
6. knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;
7. for he that hath died is justified from sin.
8. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;
9. knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him.
10. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
12. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof:
13. neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace.
15. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid.
16. Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteouness?
17. But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered;
18. and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.
19. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification.
20. For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness.
21. What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22. But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life.
23. For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

–art kyriazis philly
home of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies
Monday 9/28/09

George Russell, one of the Jazz Legends, died last week in New York City, a death that went all but unnoticed except in the New York Times, which had a fitting obit to the jazz legend.

Russell’s album “The Jazz Workshop” from 1956 is a legendary work, and for years commanded very high collectors’ prices in mint first edition, usually more than a hundred dollars. It was an amazing work.

Russell, as the NYT obit noted, invented modal dissonant jazz—dense harmonic dissonant chord changes which he described in his “bible of modal jazz”, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation, published in 1953 and again in 1959. (thanks to the New York times 7/30/09 for this).

The effect on the jazz world was dramatic. Miles Davis and John Coletrane immediately picked up on modal jazz, starting with the album “Milestones” in 1958 (they were still in the same band) and then Davis struck gold with his all time classic “Kind of Blue” a year later in 1959 (the fifty year legacy edition was recently released by Columbia in a two cd edition).

From here to the wild modal jazz explorations of miles and coletrane of the 50s and 60s, and to the free jazz of ornette coleman, and the fusion jazz of the 60s and 70s, was but a short step. Dissonance and freedom from tonality was all the rage for the next 25 years.

The movement raged on into rock and blues. Ray Manzarek explained “Light My Fire” as a “modal chromatic inversion” of Coletrane’s “My Favorite Things”; the Grateful Dead and other groups began to improvise and jam along modal jazz lines each and every night, as did more blues-based groups like Eric Clapton and Cream. By the 1970s, modal jazz and jazz-rock fused into jazz-fusion and groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra led by John McLaughlin produced stupendous works like “The Inner Mounting Flame,” while more mainstream artists like Al DiMeola, Jean Luc-Ponty and Weather Report experimented with jazz fusion and modality throughout the decade.

Perhaps my favorite modal work was 1967’s “Nefertiti”, by the legendary Miles Davis lineup which included Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter & Tony Williams. Sublime and spectacular.

George Russell was completely forgotten by then, but he was the father of it all. No one remembered that Russell was the composer of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Cubano Bop” and “Cubano Be Cubano Bop” in the late 1940s, or that Russell continued to teach and play in the new york area for years, or that Russell received a McArthur Fellowship in 1988.

George Russell was one of my favorite jazz figures precisely because he was obscure but influential and brilliant. He never sought out the spotlight, fame, money, fast cars or the attention of pop stardom. He was, to the end, a musician’s musician. He will be missed.

–art kyriazis, Philadelphia, PA
the birthplace of dizzy gillespie & john coletrane

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THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY COUNTRY
by Oscar Winer Jane Fonda & Cindy Sheehan .
Illustrated by Michael Moore
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MY CHRISTIAN ACCOMPLISHMENTS &
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by the Revs Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton
_______________________________________

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BILL
by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
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Sequel:
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT HILLARY
By former President Bill Clinton
___________________________________

MY LITTLE BOOK OF PERSONAL HYGIENE
by Osama Bin Laden
___________________________________

THINGS I CANNOT AFFORD
by Microsoft Chair Emeritus Bill Gates
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THINGS I WOULD NOT DO FOR MONEY
by NBA Rebound Champion Dennis Rodman
_________________________________

THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE
by Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore & Sen. John Kerry
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AMELIA EARHART’S GUIDE TO THE PACIFIC
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A COLLECTION of
MOTIVATIONAL SPEECHES: REASONS TO LOVE LIFE.
by Suicide Doctor Jack Kevorkian
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TO ALL THE MEN I HAVE LOVED BEFORE
by Ellen de Generes & Rosie O’Donnell
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GUIDE TO DATING ETIQUETTE
by former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson
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THE AMISH PHONE DIRECTORY
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MY PLAN TO FIND THE REAL KILLERS
by Former Heisman Winner O.J. Simpson
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HOW TO DRINK & DRIVE OVER BRIDGES
by Senator Ted Kennedy
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MY BOOK OF MORALS
by former President Bill Clinton
with introduction by The Rev. Jesse Jackson
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By House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi

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–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the non-steroid using world champion philadelphia phillies

I wanted to wish a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover to all.

There’s an old joke, that goes something like this. A liberal is arguing with a conservative about the death penalty. Finally, exasperated, the conservative says to the liberal, “of course I’m in favor of the death penalty–without the death penalty, there’d be no Easter and no Easter Bunny!”

While this is an awful joke, it does remain true that in the two major capital punishment trials that we know about in history, Socrates and Jesus, as best we know, both were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. I won’t even get to the OJ trial, although as we all know, the glove didn’t fit and they had to acquit.

Obviously Socrates and Jesus could have used Johnny Cochran as their lawyer.

Socrates on dying, was reputed to have said something like, I die, you live, god knows who is going to the better place. Those of us who are religious of course believe that death brings us closer to a better place indeed, but Socrates provides a flash of insight that this short life is not the only one, that there is a spiritual and inner life that transcends death. Religion ministers to the soul, or at least to our conception of the soul, and consequently it is a vital part of our lives.

The Passover story about Moses leading the chosen people out of bondage and out of Egypt is a great story, as well as being an integral part of the old testament. “Exodus” is actually ancient greek for “Exothos” or “Exit” or “Leaving”. It’s the title of the book from the Ancient Greek Septuagint. The entire point of Exodus is the story of the Chosen People Leaving, “Exothos”, from Egypt and their bondage. God frees them from slavery and bondage through Moses and a series of miracles, each one greater than the last, which are celebrated each and every Passover.

It is such an important story because it gives hope to every oppressed peoples that God will redeem every one in bondage, free them and lead them to their own Promised Land. When Martin Luther King spoke of reaching the Promised Land, it was the Passover Story he was referring to. He didn’t need to explain that to his listeners, many of whom were careful Bible readers. The African-Americans of this country understood about bondage, redemption, and being led out of bondage and to the Promised Land.

On this Passover, we should think about these matters in considering President Obama, a man who has the potential to unite many different elements of society, and perhaps finally lead a people to the Promised Land. All oppressed peoples the world over hearken to the story of Exodus.

I’ve always had a strong faith in God and I don’t doubt God’s existence. Recently there’s been a spate of books and articles by respected scholars advocating atheism and the non-existence of God. I find this to be an awful waste of scholarly time, and especially of taxpayer and endowment money. Isn’t there something important these guys should be doing on our nickel?

Richard Dawkins, who once wrote a book called “The Selfish Gene,” is one of these. He used to teach at Harvard, now teaches in England, and appears to enjoy bashing God and religion in his books. Dawkins used to be a capable biologist. In his old age, he’s turned into a menacing crank who hates old ladies who go to church and pray to the saints and God for the memories of their dead husbands.

How mean can you possible get?

You might call him “The Selfish Dean” because he really seems only to care about himself. Is this what tenure breeds? Idiotic books about atheism? Pushed on us by editors and publishing houses?

Belief in God is a personal matter, but it also means a commitment to others, and to doing things for others, without considering the personal benefit to yourself. Sitting around the table at Easter, at Seder, at any family gathering, we give thanks to our creator and Lord for family, for health, for happiness. I can’t imagine a life without God or without prayer, a life without church or without friends from church or the church community.

I’ve looked at Dawkins’ books on atheism. They are poorly written, poorly argued, and basically are rants.

It’s not a careful argument.

A careful argument, for example, would be Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles, or Martin Luther’s 95 Theses against the Catholic Church, or John Calvin’s immense work of theology criticizing the Roman Catholic Church and setting forth the tenets of Calvinism.

Those are careful and thoughtful books, which make their cases carefully, point by point.

Dawkins’ books by contrast are awful and poorly researched and poorly written. It’s embarassing to see a professor publish such awful work. Especially when he was able while younger to write such a good book on biology as “The Selfish Gene.” It’s readily apparent Dawkins’ writing and intellectual skills have sharply declined with age.

But assuming that Dawkins (and any of these other atheists) has/have any rational or reasonable points to make, I’d like to refute them with Pascal’s Wager, for one. I think Dawkins is already refuted by the Transcendental a priori arguments of Kant for God’s existence, but Blaise Pascal made a classic probability argument which is, in fact, irrefutable on mathematical and utility grounds, for God’s existence.

Pascal said you should believe in God, because if you did, even if there was only a 1 in a million chance of his existence, the benefits would be eternal salvation, whereas if you denied Him, the possible harm would be eternal damnation.

Consequently, it’s a lot like the nuclear calculus–the benefits are so great, that even if there’s only a slight chance of God existing, it’s worth going all in on God. If you win, you get eternal salvation forever. (the nukes argument goes like, if there’s a one in a million chance of starting World War III, the harm is so great, you have to avoid it, because it’s nuclear winter and the death of mankind, so the policy can’t be adopted).

If you lose the wager, you burn in hell forever. I kind of envision Dawkins burning in a really hot part of hell, by the way. The part where they keep Bernie Madoff, child molesters, child molesting catholic priests and every single convicted defendant whose story was the real basis for the plot line of a LAW AND ORDER:SVU episode. Those stories are really pretty awful. This is a digression, but it’s hard to believe that’s Jayne Mansfield’s daughter in that show, by the way. Mariska Hargitay, emmy winning actress, now approximately in her mid-40s, and still very beautiful, is the daughter of Mickey Hargitay (a former Mr. Universe) and Jayne Mansfield, the 1950s starlet/sex bomb. I think you’d have to say that Mariska Hargitay has really had a solid acting career.

As for all of those who doubt God’s existence or lack faith in God, I give you an extended discusion of Pascal’s Wager from the Stanford Encylopaedia of Philosophy.

Pascal’s Wager
By Alan Hajek, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“Pascal’s Wager” is the name given to an argument due to Blaise Pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in God. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single paragraph of his Pensées, Pascal apparently presents at least three such arguments, each of which might be called a ‘wager’ — it is only the final of these that is traditionally referred to as “Pascal’s Wager”. We find in it the extraordinary confluence of several strands in intellectual thought: the justification of theism; probability theory and decision theory, used here for almost the first time in history; pragmatism; voluntarism (the thesis that belief is a matter of the will); and the use of the concept of infinity.

We will begin with some brief stage-setting: some historical background, some of the basics of decision theory, and some of the exegetical problems that the Pensées pose. Then we will follow the text to extract three main arguments. The bulk of the literature addresses the third of these arguments, as will the bulk of our discussion here. Some of the more technical and scholarly aspects of our discussion will be relegated to lengthy footnotes, to which there are links for the interested reader. All quotations are from §233 of Pensées (1910, Trotter translation), the ‘thought’ whose heading is “Infinite—nothing”.
• 1. Background
• 2. The Argument from Superdominance
• 3. The Argument from Expectation
• 4. The Argument from Generalized Expectations: “Pascal’s Wager”
• 5. Objections to Pascal’s Wager
• Bibliography
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries

1. Background
It is important to contrast Pascal’s argument with various putative ‘proofs’ of the existence of God that had come before it. Anselm’s ontological argument, Aquinas’ ‘five ways’, Descartes’ ontological and cosmological arguments, and so on, purport to give a priori demonstrations that God exists. Pascal is apparently unimpressed by such attempted justifications of theism: “Endeavour … to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God…” Indeed, he concedes that “we do not know if He is …”. Pascal’s project, then, is radically different: he seeks to provide prudential reasons for believing in God. To put it crudely, we should wager that God exists because it is the best bet. Ryan 1994 finds precursors to this line of reasoning in the writings of Plato, Arnobius, Lactantius, and others; we might add Ghazali to his list — see Palacios 1920. But what is distinctive is Pascal’s explicitly decision theoretic formulation of the reasoning. In fact, Hacking 1975 describes the Wager as “the first well-understood contribution to decision theory” (viii). Thus, we should pause briefly to review some of the basics of that theory.

In any decision problem, the way the world is, and what an agent does, together determine an outcome for the agent. We may assign utilities to such outcomes, numbers that represent the degree to which the agent values them. It is typical to present these numbers in a decision matrix, with the columns corresponding to the various relevant states of the world, and the rows corresponding to the various possible actions that the agent can perform.

In decisions under uncertainty, nothing more is given — in particular, the agent does not assign subjective probabilities to the states of the world. Still, sometimes rationality dictates a unique decision nonetheless. Consider, for example, a case that will be particularly relevant here. Suppose that you have two possible actions, A1 and A2, and the worst outcome associated with A1 is at least as good as the best outcome associated with A2; suppose also that in at least one state of the world, A1’s outcome is strictly better than A2’s. Let us say in that case that A1 superdominates A2. Then rationality surely requires you to perform A1.

In decisions under risk, the agent assigns subjective probabilities to the various states of the world. Assume that the states of the world are independent of what the agent does. A figure of merit called the expected utility, or the expectation of a given action can be calculated by a simple formula: for each state, multiply the utility that the action produces in that state by the state’s probability; then, add these numbers. According to decision theory, rationality requires you to perform the action of maximum expected utility (if there is one).

Example. Suppose that the utility of money is linear in number of dollars: you value money at exactly its face value. Suppose that you have the option of paying a dollar to play a game in which there is an equal chance of returning nothing, and returning three dollars. The expectation of the game itself is

0*(1/2) + 3*(1/2) = 1.5,

so the expectation of paying a dollar for certain, then playing, is

-1 + 1.5 = 0.5.

This exceeds the expectation of not playing (namely 0), so you should play. On the other hand, if the game gave an equal chance of returning nothing, and returning two dollars, then its expectation would be:

0*(1/2) + 2*(1/2) = 1.

Then consistent with decision theory, you could either pay the dollar to play, or refuse to

play, for either way your overall expectation would be 0.

Considerations such as these will play a crucial role in Pascal’s arguments. It should be admitted that there are certain exegetical problems in presenting these arguments. Pascal never finished the Pensées, but rather left them in the form of notes of various sizes pinned together. Hacking 1972 describes the “Infinite—nothing” as consisting of “two pieces of paper covered on both sides by handwriting going in all directions, full of erasures, corrections, insertions, and afterthoughts” (24).[1] This may explain why certain passages are notoriously difficult to interpret, as we will see. Furthermore, our formulation of the arguments in the parlance of modern Bayesian decision theory might appear somewhat anachronistic. For example, Pascal did not distinguish between what we would now call objective and subjective probability, although it is clear that it is the latter that is relevant to his arguments. To some extent, “Pascal’s Wager” now has a life of its own, and our presentation of it here is perfectly standard. Still, we will closely follow Pascal’s text, supporting our reading of his arguments as much as possible.

There is the further problem of dividing the Infinite-nothing into separate arguments. We will locate three arguments that each conclude that rationality requires you to wager for God, although they interleave in the text.[2] Finally, there is some disagreement over just what “wagering for God” involves — is it believing in God, or merely trying to? We will conclude with a discussion of what Pascal meant by this.

2. The Argument from Superdominance
Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must “wager” one way or the other. Reason cannot settle which way we should incline, but a consideration of the relevant outcomes supposedly can. Here is the first key passage:

“God is, or He is not.”

But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up… Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, you knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose… But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is… If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

There are exegetical problems already here, partly because Pascal appears to contradict himself. He speaks of “the true” as something that you can “lose”, and “error” as something “to shun”. Yet he goes on to claim that if you lose the wager that God is, then “you lose nothing”. Surely in that case you “lose the true”, which is just to say that you have made an error. Pascal believes, of course, that the existence of God is “the true” — but that is not something that he can appeal to in this argument. Moreover, it is not because “you must of necessity choose” that “your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other”. Rather, by Pascal’s own account, it is because “[r]eason can decide nothing here”. (If it could, then it might well be shocked — namely, if you chose in a way contrary to it.)

Following McClennen 1994, Pascal’s argument seems to be best captured as presenting the following decision matrix:
God exists God does not exist
Wager for God Gain all Status quo
Wager against God Misery Status quo

Wagering for God superdominates wagering against God: the worst outcome associated with wagering for God (status quo) is at least as good as the best outcome associated with wagering against God (status quo); and if God exists, the result of wagering for God is strictly better that the result of wagering against God.

(The fact that the result is much better does not matter yet.) Pascal draws the conclusion at this point that rationality requires you to wager for God.

Without any assumption about your probability assignment to God’s existence, the argument is invalid. Rationality does not require you to wager for God if you assign probability 0 to God existing. And Pascal does not explicitly rule this possibility out until a later passage, when he assumes that you assign positive probability to God’s existence; yet this argument is presented as if it is self-contained. His claim that “[r]eason can decide nothing here” may suggest that Pascal regards this as a decision under uncertainty, which is to assume that you do not assign probability at all to God’s existence. If that is a further premise, then the argument is valid; but that premise contradicts his subsequent assumption that you assign positive probability. See McClennen for a reading of this argument as a decision under uncertainty.

Pascal appears to be aware of a further objection to this argument, for he immediately imagines an opponent replying:

“That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much.”

The thought seems to be that if I wager for God, and God does not exist, then I really do lose something. In fact, Pascal himself speaks of staking something when one wagers for God, which presumably one loses if God does not exist. (We have already mentioned ‘the true’ as one such thing; Pascal also seems to regard one’s worldly life as another.) In other words, the matrix is mistaken in presenting the two outcomes under ‘God does not exist’ as if they were the same, and we do not have a case of superdominance after all.
Pascal addresses this at once in his second argument, which we will discuss only briefly, as it can be thought of as just a prelude to the main argument.

3. The Argument From Expectation
He continues:

Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness.

His hypothetically speaking of “two lives” and “three lives” may strike one as odd. It is helpful to bear in mind Pascal’s interest in gambling (which after all provided the initial motivation for his study of probability) and to take the gambling model quite seriously here. Recall our calculation of the expectations of the two dollar and three dollar gambles. Pascal apparently assumes now that utility is linear in number of lives, that wagering for God costs “one life”, and then reasons analogously to the way we did! This is, as it were, a warm-up. Since wagering for God is rationally required even in the hypothetical case in which one of the prizes is three lives, then all the more it is rationally required in the actual case, in which one of the prizes is eternal life (salvation).

So Pascal has now made two striking assumptions:

(1) The probability of God’s existence is 1/2.

(2) Wagering for God brings infinite reward if God exists.

Morris 1994 is sympathetic to (1), while Hacking 1972 finds it “a monstrous premiss”. It apparently derives from the classical interpretation of probability, according to which all possibilities are given equal weight. Of course, unless more is said, the interpretation yields implausible, and even contradictory results. (You have a one-in-a-million chance of winning the lottery; but either you win the lottery or you don’t, so each of these possibilities has probability 1/2?!) Pascal’s best argument for (1) is presumably that “[r]eason can decide nothing here”. (In the lottery ticket case, reason can decide something.) But it is not clear that complete ignorance should be modeled as sharp indifference. In any case, it is clear that there are people in Pascal’s audience who do not assign probability 1/2 to God’s existence. This argument, then, does not speak to them.
However, Pascal realizes that the value of 1/2 actually plays no real role in the argument, thanks to (2). This brings us to the third, and by far the most important, of his arguments.

4. The Argument From Generalized Expectations: “Pascal’s Wager”
We continue the quotation.

But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. It is all divided; wherever the infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all…

Again this passage is difficult to understand completely. Pascal’s talk of winning two, or three, lives is at best misleading. By his own decision theoretic lights, you would not act stupidly “by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you”—in fact, you should not stake more than an infinitesimal amount in that case (an amount that is bigger than 0, but smaller than every positive real number). The point, rather, is that the prospective prize is “an infinity of an infinitely happy life”.

In short, if God exists, then wagering for God results in infinite utility.

What about the utilities for the other possible outcomes? There is some dispute over the utility of “misery”. Hacking interprets this as “damnation”, and Pascal does later speak of “hell” as the outcome in this case. Martin 1983 among others assigns this a value of negative infinity. Sobel 1996, on the other hand, is one author who takes this value to be finite. There is some textual support for this reading: “The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast … than mercy towards the elect”.

As for the utilities of the outcomes associated with God’s non-existence, Pascal tells us that “what you stake is finite”. This suggests that whatever these values are, they are finite.
Pascal’s guiding insight is that the argument from expectation goes through equally well whatever your probability for God’s existence is, provided that it is non-zero and finite (non-infinitesimal) — “a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss”.[3]

With Pascal’s assumptions about utilities and probabilities in place, he is now in a position to calculate the relevant expectations. He explains how the calculations should proceed:
… the uncertainty of the gain is proportioned to the certainty of the stake according to the proportion of the chances of gain and loss… [4]

Let us now gather together all of these points into a single argument. We can think of Pascal’s Wager as having three premises: the first concerns the decision matrix of rewards, the second concerns the probability that you should give to God’s existence, and the third is a maxim about rational decision-making. Specifically:
1. Either God exists or God does not exist, and you can either wager for God or wager against God. The utilities of the relevant possible outcomes are as follows, where f1, f2, and f3 are numbers whose values are not specified beyond the requirement that they be finite:

God exists God does not exist
Wager for God ∞ f1
Wager against God f2 f3

2. Rationality requires the probability that you assign to God existing to be positive, and not infinitesimal.

3. Rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility (when there is one).

4. Conclusion 1. Rationality requires you to wager for God.

5. Conclusion 2. You should wager for God.

We have a decision under risk, with probabilities assigned to the relevant ways the world could be, and utilities assigned to the relevant outcomes. The conclusion seems straightforwardly to follow from the usual calculations of expected utility (where p is your positive, non-infinitesimal probability for God’s existence):

E(wager for God) = ∞*p + f1*(1 − p) = ∞

That is, your expected utility of belief in God is infinite — as Pascal puts it, “our proposition is of infinite force”. On the other hand, your expected utility of wagering against God is

E(wager against God) = f2*p + f3*(1 − p)

This is finite.[5] By premise 3, rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility.

Therefore, rationality requires you to wager for God.

We now survey some of the main objections to the argument.

5. Objections to Pascal’s Wager
Premise 1: The Decision Matrix
Here the objections are manifold. Most of them can be stated quickly, but we will give special attention to what has generally been regarded as the most important of them, ‘the many Gods objection’ (see also the link to footnote 7).

1. Different matrices for different people.
The argument assumes that the same decision matrix applies to everybody. However, perhaps the relevant rewards are different for different people. Perhaps, for example, there is a predestined infinite reward for the Chosen, whatever they do, and finite utility for the rest, as Mackie 1982 suggests. Or maybe the prospect of salvation appeals more to some people than to others, as Swinburne 1969 has noted.
Even granting that a single 2 x 2 matrix applies to everybody, one might dispute the values that enter into it. This brings us to the next two objections.

2. The utility of salvation could not be infinite.
One might argue that the very notion of infinite utility is suspect — see for example Jeffrey 1983 and McClennen 1994.[6] Hence, the objection continues, whatever the utility of salvation might be, it must be finite. Strict finitists, who are chary of the notion of infinity in general, will agree — see Dummett 1978 and Wright 1987. Or perhaps the notion of infinite utility makes sense, but an infinite reward could only be finitely appreciated by a human being.

3. There should be more than one infinity in the matrix.
There are also critics of the Wager who, far from objecting to infinite utilities, want to see more of them in the matrix. For example, it might be thought that a forgiving God would bestow infinite utility upon wagerers-for and wagerers-against alike — Rescher 1985 is one author who entertains this possibility. Or it might be thought that, on the contrary, wagering against an existent God results in negative infinite utility. (As we have noted, some authors read Pascal himself as saying as much.) Either way, f2 is not really finite at all, but ∞ or -∞ as the case may be. And perhaps f1 and f3 could be ∞ or -∞. Suppose, for instance, that God does not exist, but that we are reincarnated ad infinitum, and that the total utility we receive is an infinite sum that does not converge.

4. The matrix should have more rows.
Perhaps there is more than one way to wager for God, and the rewards that God bestows vary accordingly. For instance, God might not reward infinitely those who strive to believe in Him only for the very mercenary reasons that Pascal gives, as James 1956 has observed. One could also imagine distinguishing belief based on faith from belief based on evidential reasons, and posit different rewards in each case.

6. The matrix should have more columns: the many Gods objection.
If Pascal is really right that reason can decide nothing here, then it would seem that various other theistic hypotheses are also live options. Pascal presumably had in mind the Catholic conception of God — let us suppose that this is the God who either ‘exists’ or ‘does not exist’. By excluded middle, this is a partition. The objection, then, is that the partition is not sufficiently fine-grained, and the ‘(Catholic) God does not exist’ column really subdivides into various other theistic hypotheses. The objection could equally run that Pascal’s argument ‘proves too much’: by parallel reasoning we can ‘show’ that rationality requires believing in various incompatible theistic hypotheses. As Diderot 1875-77 puts the point: “An Imam could reason just as well this way”.[7]

Since then, the point has been represented and refined in various ways. Mackie 1982 writes, “the church within which alone salvation is to be found is not necessarily the Church of Rome, but perhaps that of the Anabaptists or the Mormons or the Muslim Sunnis or the worshippers of Kali or of Odin” (203). Cargile 1966 shows just how easy it is to multiply theistic hypotheses: for each real number x, consider the God who prefers contemplating x more than any other activity. It seems, then, that such ‘alternative gods’ are a dime a dozen — or aleph one, for that matter.

Premise 2: The Probability Assigned to God’s Existence
There are four sorts of problem for this premise. The first two are straightforward; the second two are more technical, and can be found by following the link to footnote 8.
1. Undefined probability for God’s existence. Premise 1 presupposes that you should have a probability for God’s existence in the first place. However, perhaps you could rationally fail to assign it a probability — your probability that God exists could remain undefined. We cannot enter here into the thorny issues concerning the attribution of probabilities to agents. But there is some support for this response even in Pascal’s own text, again at the pivotal claim that “[r]eason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up…” The thought could be that any probability assignment is inconsistent with a state of “epistemic nullity” (in Morris’ 1986 phrase): to assign a probability at all — even 1/2 — to God’s existence is to feign having evidence that one in fact totally lacks. For unlike a coin that we know to be fair, this metaphorical ‘coin’ is ‘infinitely far’ from us, hence apparently completely unknown to us. Perhaps, then, rationality actually requires us to refrain from assigning a probability to God’s existence (in which case at least the Argument from Superdominance would be valid). Or perhaps rationality does not require it, but at least permits it. Either way, the Wager would not even get off the ground.

2. Zero probability for God’s existence. Strict atheists may insist on the rationality of a probability assignment of 0, as Oppy 1990 among others points out. For example, they may contend that reason alone can settle that God does not exist, perhaps by arguing that the very notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent being is contradictory. Or a Bayesian might hold that rationality places no constraint on probabilistic judgments beyond coherence (or conformity to the probability calculus). Then as long as the strict atheist assigns probability 1 to God’s non-existence alongside his or her assignment of 0 to God’s existence, no norm of rationality has been violated.
Furthermore, an assignment of p = 0 would clearly block the route to Pascal’s conclusion. For then the expectation calculations become:

E(wager for God) = ∞*0 + f1*(1 − 0) = f1

E(wager against God) = f2*0 + f3*(1 − 0) = f3

And nothing in the argument implies that f1 > f3. (Indeed, this inequality is questionable, as even Pascal seems to allow.) In short, Pascal’s wager has no pull on strict atheists.[8]

Premise 3: Rationality Requires Maximizing Expected Etility
Finally, one could question Pascal’s decision theoretic assumption that rationality requires one to perform the act of maximum expected utility (when there is one). Now perhaps this is an analytic truth, in which case we could grant it to Pascal without further discussion — perhaps it is constitutive of rationality to maximize expectation, as some might say. But this premise has met serious objections. The Allais 1953 and Ellsberg 1961 paradoxes, for example, are said to show that maximizing expectation can lead one to perform intuitively sub-optimal actions. So too the St. Petersburg paradox, in which it is supposedly absurd that one should be prepared to pay any finite amount to play a game with infinite expectation. (That paradox is particularly apposite here.)[9]

Finally, one might distinguish between practical rationality and theoretical rationality. One could then concede that practical rationality requires you to maximize expected utility, while insisting that theoretical rationality might require something else of you — say, proportioning belief to the amount of evidence available. This objection is especially relevant, since Pascal admits that perhaps you “must renounce reason” in order to follow his advice. But when these two sides of rationality pull in opposite directions, as they apparently can here, it is not obvious that practical rationality should take precedence. (For a discussion of pragmatic, as opposed to theoretical, reasons for belief, see Foley 1994.)

Is the Argument Valid?

A number of authors who have been otherwise critical of the Wager have explicitly conceded that the Wager is valid — e.g. Mackie 1982, Rescher 1985, Mougin and Sober 1994, and most emphatically, Hacking 1972. That is, these authors agree with Pascal that wagering for God really is rationally mandated by Pascal’s decision matrix in tandem with positive probability for God’s existence, and the decision theoretic account of rational action.

However, Duff 1986 and Hájek 2001 argue that the argument is in fact invalid. Their point is that there are strategies besides wagering for God that also have infinite expectation — namely, mixed strategies, whereby you do not wager for or against God outright, but rather choose which of these actions to perform on the basis of the outcome of some chance device. Consider the mixed strategy: “Toss a fair coin: heads, you wager for God; tails, you wager against God”. By Pascal’s lights, with probability 1/2 your expectation will be infinite, and with probability 1/2 it will be finite. The expectation of the entire strategy is:

1/2*∞ + 1/2[f2*p + f3*(1 − p)] = ∞

That is, the ‘coin toss’ strategy has the same expectation as outright wagering for God. But the probability 1/2 was incidental to the result. Any mixed strategy that gives positive and finite probability to wagering for God will likewise have infinite expectation: “wager for God iff a fair die lands 6”, “wager for God iff your lottery ticket wins”, “wager for God iff a meteor quantum tunnels its way through the side of your house”, and so on.

The problem is still worse than this, though, for there is a sense in which anything that you do might be regarded as a mixed strategy between wagering for God, and wagering against God, with suitable probability weights given to each. Suppose that you choose to ignore the Wager, and to go and have a hamburger instead. Still, you may well assign positive and finite probability to your winding up wagering for God nonetheless; and this probability multiplied by infinity again gives infinity. So ignoring the Wager and having a hamburger has the same expectation as outright wagering for God. Even worse, suppose that you focus all your energy into avoiding belief in God. Still, you may well assign positive and finite probability to your efforts failing, with the result that you wager for God nonetheless. In that case again, your expectation is infinite again. So even if rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility when there is one, here there isn’t one. Rather, there is a many-way tie for first place, as it were.[10]

Moral Objections to Wagering for God

Let us grant Pascal’s conclusion for the sake of the argument: rationality requires you to wager for God. It still does not obviously follow that you should wager for God. All that we have granted is that one norm — the norm of rationality — prescribes wagering for God. For all that has been said, some other norm might prescribe wagering against God. And unless we can show that the rationality norm trumps the others, we have not settled what we should actually do.

There are several arguments to the effect that morality requires you to wager against God. Pascal himself appears to be aware of one such argument. He admits that if you do not believe in God, his recommended course of action will “deaden your acuteness.” One way of putting the argument is that wagering for God may require you to corrupt yourself, thus violating a Kantian duty to yourself. Clifford 1986 argues that an individual’s believing something on insufficient evidence harms society by promoting credulity. Penelhum 1971 contends that the putative divine plan is itself immoral, condemning as it does honest non-believers to loss of eternal happiness, when such unbelief is in no way culpable; and that to adopt the relevant belief is to be complicit to this immoral plan. See Quinn 1994 for replies to these arguments. For example, against Penelhum he argues that as long as God treats non-believers justly, there is nothing immoral about him bestowing special favor on believers, more perhaps than they deserve. (Note, however, that Pascal leaves open in the Wager whether the payoff for non-believers is just, even though as far as his argument goes, it may be extremely poor.)

Finally, Voltaire protests that there is something unseemly about the whole Wager. He suggests that Pascal’s calculations, and his appeal to self-interest, are unworthy of the gravity of the subject of theistic belief. This does not so much support wagering against God, as dismissing all talk of ‘wagerings’ altogether.

What Does It Mean to “Wager for God”?

Let us now grant Pascal that, all things considered (rationality and morality included), you should wager for God. What exactly does this involve?

A number of authors read Pascal as arguing that you should believe in God — see e.g. Quinn 1994, and Jordan 1994a. But perhaps one cannot simply believe in God at will; and rationality cannot require the impossible. Pascal is well aware of this objection: “[I] am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?”, says his imaginary interlocutor. However, he contends that one can take steps to cultivate such belief:

You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc…

But to show you that this leads you there, it is this which will lessen the passions, which are your stumbling-blocks.

We find two main pieces of advice to the non-believer here: act like a believer, and suppress those passions that are obstacles to becoming a believer. And these are actions that one can perform at will.
Believing in God is presumably one way to wager for God. This passage suggests that even the non-believer can wager for God, by striving to become a believer. Critics may question the psychology of belief formation that Pascal presupposes, pointing out that one could strive to believe (perhaps by following exactly Pascal’s prescription), yet fail. To this, a follower of Pascal might reply that the act of genuine striving already displays a pureness of heart that God would fully reward; or even that genuine striving in this case is itself a form of believing.

Pascal’s Wager vies with Anselm’s Ontological Argument for being the most famous argument in the philosophy of religion. As we have seen, it is also a great deal more besides.

Bibliography

• Allais, Maurice. 1953. “Le Comportment de l’Homme Rationnel Devant la Risque: Critique des Postulats et Axiomes de l’École Américaine”, Econometrica 21: 503-546.
• Broome, John. 1995. “The Two-Envelope Paradox”, Analysis 55: 1, 6-11.
• Brown, Geoffrey. 1984. “A Defence of Pascal’s Wager”, Religious Studies 20: 465-79.
• Cain, James. 1995. “Infinite Utility”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 73, No. 3, 401-404.
• Cargile, James. 1966. “Pascal’s Wager”, Philosophy, 35: 250-7.
• Castell, Paul and Diderik Batens. 1994. “The Two-Envelope Paradox: the Infinite Case”, Analysis 54: 46-49.
• Chalmers, David. 1997. “The Two-Envelope Paradox: A Complete Analysis?”, manuscript, http://ling.ucsc.edu/~chalmers/papers/envelope.html (and envelope.ps)
• Clifford, William K. 1986. “The Ethics of Belief”, The Ethics of Belief Debate, ed. Gerald D. McCarthy, Scholars Press.
• Conway, John. 1976. On Numbers and Games, Academic Press.
• Cutland, Nigel, ed. 1988. Nonstandard Analysis and its Applications, London Mathematical Society, Student Texts 10.
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• Duff, Antony. 1986. “Pascal’s Wager and Infinite Utilities”, Analysis 46: 107-9. n
• Dummett, Michael. 1978. “Wang’s Paradox”, in Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press.
• Ellsberg, D.. 1961. “Risk, Ambiguity and the Savage Axioms”, Quarterly Journal of Economics 25: 643-669.
• Feller, William. 1971. An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications, Vol. II, 2nd edition, Wiley.
• Flew, Anthony. 1960. “Is Pascal’s Wager the Only Safe Bet?”, The Rationalist Annual, 76: 21-25.
• Foley, Richard. 1994. “Pragmatic Reasons for Belief”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Hacking, Ian. 1972. “The Logic of Pascal’s Wager”, American Philosophical Quarterly 9/2, 186-92. Reprinted in Jordan 1994b.
• Hacking, Ian. 1975. The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge University Press.
• Hájek, Alan. 1997a. “Review of Gambling on God” (Jordan 1994b), Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 1, March 1997, 119-122.
• Hájek, Alan. 1997b. “The Illogic of Pascal’s Wager”, Proceedings of the 10th Logica International Symposium, Liblice, ed. T. Childers et al, 239-249.
• Hájek, Alan. 2000. “Objecting Vaguely to Pascal’s Wager”, Philosophical Studies, vol. 82.
• Hájek, Alan. 2001. “Waging War on Pascal’s Wager: Infinite Decision Theory and Belief in God”, manuscript.
• Jackson, Frank, Peter Menzies and Graham Oppy. 1994. “The Two Envelope ‘Paradox’”, Analysis 54: 46-49.
• James, William. 1956. “The Will to Believe”, in The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, Dover Publications.
• Jeffrey, Richard C.. 1983. The Logic of Decision, 2nd edition, University of Chicago Press.
• Jordan, Jeff. 1994a. “The Many Gods Objection”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Jordan, Jeff, ed.. 1994b. Gambling on God: Essays on Pascal’s Wager, Rowman & Littlefield.
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• Lindstrom, Tom. 1988. “Invitation to Non-Standard Analysis”, in Cutland 1988.
• Mackie, J. L.. 1982. The Miracle of Theism, Oxford.
• Martin, Michael. 1983. “Pascal’s Wager as an Argument for Not Believing in God”, Religious Studies 19: 57-64.
• Martin, Michael. 1990. Atheism: a Philosophical Justification, Temple University Press.
• McClennen, Edward. 1994. “Finite Decision Theory”, in Jordan 1994b.
• Morris, T. V. 1986. “Pascalian Wagering”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16, 437-54.
• Morris, Thomas V. 1994. “Wagering and the Evidence”, in Jordan 1994b.
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• Vallentyne, Peter and Shelly Kagan. 1997. “Infinite Value and Finitely Additive Value Theory”, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XCIV, 1: 5-27
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Copyright © 1998, 2001
Alan Hájek
ahajek@hss.caltech.edu

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

See also, Stephen R. Welch’s page on Pascal’s Wager
old

Two men are having lunch at Adriano’s, an expensive Bel-Air restaurant. While they are eating, Frank Sinatra and his entourage enter the restaurant and are seated at a large table in the corner. Seeing this, one man says to the other, “I’ll bet you fifty bucks that I know Frank Sinatra.” (He doesn’t.) His friend, thinking the bet would be easy money, smugly agrees. The man gets up and walks across the restaurant to Sinatra’s table. He puts one hand on Sinatra’s shoulder and offers the other for a warm shaking. “Frank!” he exclaims. “How you doing? Good to see you again.”

Sinatra rises, shakes the man’s hand heartily, and asks how he is doing. He and the man spend a few more moments in cheerful conversation before the man comes back to his table to collect his winnings from the awestruck friend.

This is a true story, and the diner’s skillful manipulation of Frank Sinatra is a classic example of the value of shmoozing. Shmoozing is the most important skill there is for a Hollywood nobody (and let’s face it — that’s what we are, those of us who fantasize about seeing our name on the credits or our faces on the screen).

In Hollywood, a résumé or a degree mean nothing. Some argue that skills and talent mean nothing. Deals do not get made because X has an MFA in screenwriting and got an A+ on her thesis, or because Y starred in I Hate Hamlet at the Winesburg Playhouse and his performance was lauded by the local papers.

Deals get made because Z is a friend of Michael Eisner. It was through his friendship with Robert De Niro that Joe Pesci secured his first film role, in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) attended college with Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer, and was asked by Singer to write the script.

It was Quiz Show screenwriter Paul Attanasio’s friendship with director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Sleepers and the Attanasio-scripted Disclosure) that got him into the industry.

But what about the rest of us? Those who have high Industry ambitions but lack high Industry friends? Are we without hope?

Perhaps not. Perhaps there are ways to make Industry friends and influence Industry people — the skill which the man in Adriano’s had perfected. You have to strike up a conversation, make a solid impression, be straightforward. And above all, you have to talk to your subject (the shmoozee) in a way that will put the two of you on friendly terms. The key lies in the shmoozing.

Last summer, I had the good fortune to come across tickets to the MTV Movie Awards. Kevin Spacey, fresh from his Oscar for The Usual Suspects, was there and won the MTV award Best Villain for Seven. Let’s say you are in attendance, and after the ceremony you have a chance to talk to him. Spacey, now that he is rather famous, is serious player in Hollywood and can do wonders for your career, if he wants to. So what do you say to him? How do you act?

Don’t panic. Just remember these items:

— Hollywood does not make bad movies. Despite what the box office grosses were, despite what the critics said, despite even what you think of a particular film, you must always sing its praises. You never know what film your shmoozee might have been involved with. As far as you’re concerned, Spacey’s film The Ref is, in some ways (though you needn’t be specific about what those are), on the same level as Citizen Kane.

— Your shmoozee has no last name. When congratulating Kevin Spacey on his award and his performance, never say, “Congratulations, Mr. Spacey. Very well deserved.” There is no greater heresy. You always say, “Congratulations, Kevin. Very well deserved.” (Note: It doesn’t matter whether or not Kevin actually deserves his award. As far as you’re concerned, he deserves the award he got, as well as the ones he didn’t.)

— If you are fortunate enough to actually be employed by a firm with some involvement in the industry, then, as the shmoozer, your last name is extended to include your company’s name. Having worked for Premiere magazine for a time, I had the luxury of introducing myself to Kevin Spacey in the following way: “Kevin. Good to meet you. Alex Lewinpremieremagazine.” (You may wish to rehearse this in front of a mirror, as it can be quite a mouthful, particularly if you work for Bresler, Kelly, Kipperman or Donner/Shuler-Donner.) This informed Kevin that I was almost somebody — and therefore worth talking to — without my having to say so.

— Never underestimate the importance of the word “over,” as in, “I’ve been over at Premiere for two months now.” It may sound trivial, but it helps to convince Kevin that, despite the geographical largesse of Los Angeles, every company remotely involved with Hollywood is located on the same happy block, and you’re all the best of neighbors.

— If you are acquainted with person A, who is nobody, and person A is acquainted with person B, who is somebody, you are, by default, a good friend of person B. A woman I worked with at Premiere, for example, told me one day that she knew screenwriter Paul Attanasio. An admirer of his work, I eagerly asked if there was any way she might introduce the two of us. At this point, she buckled, and explained that she, in fact, did not know Paul Attanasio — she knew his brother.

“Who’s his brother?” I asked. “Anybody?”

“No, he’s nobody. But I did meet Paul once.”

A more skillful shmoozer would not have admitted so quickly that her connection to Paul was a shmoozer’s connection and not a real one. For example, when I was chatting with Kevin Spacey and the topic of Seven director David Fincher came up, I was free to say, “David did a great job with the mood of that film.” I don’t know David Fincher, but I have a friend who does. I could conceivably get in touch with Fincher if I absolutely had to, and that is what’s important. (It also helps, in talking with your shmoozee about a particular film, to refer to some vague aspect like “mood” or “tone” — terms which make you sound intellectual, but really don’t mean anything.)

I met Kevin Spacey because my good friend, Wall Street Journal film critic John Lippman, had tickets to the MTV Movie Awards and wasn’t using them. (Lippman’s actually a friend of a friend and I’ve never met him, but that’s not important.) At the party afterwards, Kevin stood at a crowded blackjack table, waiting for a space to open up. I saw my opportunity, took a deep breath, and went in for the kill.
“Kevin [offering my hand]. Alex Lewinpremieremagazine. Good to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you,” said Kevin, shaking my hand.

“Congratulations on the award. Very well deserved.”

“Thank you.”

“I enjoyed Seven a lot. Great film. Did you have a good time working on it?” (For the record, I find Seven a rather depressing and self-indulgent film, but Kevin didn’t need to know that.)

“Well,” Kevin told me, “I didn’t have a lot of screen time, so they didn’t need me around much for shooting.
Not as much as Brad or Morgan, anyway. So that was easy to fit into my schedule.”

And just like that we were having a conversation. Not the type of conversation that a gushy and excited fan typically has with his film idol, but a real conversation. Of course, one has to ask, “what is real?” if everything that came out of my mouth was based on strategy and a level of honesty that was tenuous at best. It’s all part of Hollywood. If you want to make it — if you want friends in high places — you’ve got to fit in. Just ask Kevin; he’ll tell you the same thing. Oh, and when you talk to him, be sure to mention that you’re a friend of mine.

[this was a GREAT article by Alex Lewin posted to the net a few years back. Paul Attanasio is actually a harvard classmate of mine, and we actually have the same name, I’m Athanasios Kyriazis, he’s Paul Attanasio, we’re named for the same saint, St. Athanasius….however, I’ve never been nominated for an emmy or an academy award. Disclosure was a rocking good movie, to name only one of Paul’s great screenplays, he’s a prolific, brilliant writer/producer. –art kyriazis, philly/south jersey, home of the world champion phillies]

Most of you probably know this already, but one of the main theorists of semiotics and deconstruction, the French theorist Baudrillard, and his famous 1985 (published in the 1990s in english) work SIMULACRA AND SIMULATION is a key reference point for both the movie and the shooting script of both the film THE MATRIX, and many of the underlying ideas of THE MATRIX.

I’ll just reprint what the wikipedia has to say, but just note that many of Baudrillard’s ideas are not too different from Susan Sontag’s ideas–Sontag thinks that the proliferation of images and signs in modern culture obscure reality, while Baudrillard feels that they obliterate it. THE MATRIX of course presents a science fiction allegory in which reality is a computer generated fiction present only in our minds, which is somewhat different than what Baudrillard is saying, leading to paths of noumenalism and idealism and radical Rorty-ism, but it is worth noting that in the very first scene of the MATRIX, when Neo is holding a book that is hollowed out, and pulling out some disks to give to the folks knocking on his door in the middle of the night, that book is in fact, a copy of Baudrillard’s SIMULACRA AND SIMULATION. One small step for neo, one giant step for semiotics.

I note here specifically that I am anti-marxist and anti-communist, and pro-capitalist, and dissassociate myself from those aspects of the deconstructionist critique which are plainly recycled and rehashed marxism. The failures of that system and that philosophy are too numerous to mention here, except to say that the Gulag Archipelago documented hundreds of millions of deaths in the Soviet system, including 500,000 priests who died in 1937-39 for the crime of being priests. Nonetheless, this is an interesting way of looking at the world, so here goes.

so here’s the wiki entry;

Simulacra and Simulation
Cover of English translation
Author Jean Baudrillard
Original title Simulacres et Simulation
Translator Sheila Glaser
Country France
Language French
Subject(s) Philosophy
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher
Galilée (Editions) (French) & University of Michigan Press (English)
Publication date 2 April 1985
Published in
English February, 1996
Media type print (paperback)
Pages 164 pp
ISBN
ISBN 2718602104 (French) & ISBN 0472065211 (English)

Simulacra and Simulation (Simulacres et Simulation in French) is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard that discusses the interaction between reality, symbols and society.

Contents

• 1 Overview
• 2 Criticism
• 3 The Matrix
• 4 Footnotes

[edit] Overview
“ The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.[1]

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present day. Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the perceived reality; Baudrillard believed that society has become so reliant on simulacra that it has lost contact with the real world on which the simulacra are based.

Simulacra and Simulation identifies three types of simulacra and identifies each with a historical period:

1. First order, associated with the pre-modern period, where the image is clearly an artificial placemarker for the real item.

2. Second order, associated with the industrial Revolution, where distinctions between image and reality breaks down due to the proliferation of mass-produced copies. The items’ ability to imitate reality threaten to replace the original version.

3. Third order, associated with the postmodern age, where the simulacrum precedes the original and the distinction between reality and representation break down. There is only the simulacrum.[2]
Baudrillard theorizes the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomenon:

1. Contemporary media including television, film, print and the Internet, which are responsible for blurring the line between goods that are needed and goods for which a need is created by commercial images.

2. Exchange value, in which the value of goods is based on money rather than usefulness.

3. Multinational capitalism, which separates produced goods from the plants, minerals and other original materials and the process used to create them.

4. Urbanization, which separates humans from the natural world.

5. Language and ideology, in which language is used to obscure rather than reveal reality when used by dominant, politically powerful groups.

A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from On Exactitude in Science by Jorge Luis Borges. In it, a great Empire created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire crumbled, all that was left was the map. In Baudrillard’s rendition, it is the map that people live in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse.

The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgement to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance. [3]

Thus, Baudrillard further distinguishes three orders of simulacra associated with three historical periods: first order simulacra belong to the pre-modern era in which images were clearly copies or representations of some original; second order simulacra arise with the industrial revolution, photography and mass reproduction technologies in the nineteenth century – the image obscures (dissimulates) and threatens to displace the real; third order simulacra are part of our postmodern era; the image is said to completely precede and determine the real, such that it is no longer possible to peel away layers of representation to arrive at some original.

It is important to note that when Baudrillard refers to the “precession of simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulations, he is referring to the way simulacra have come to precede the real in the sense mentioned above, rather than to any succession of historical phases of the image. Referring to “On Exactitude in Science”, a fable written by Borges, he argued that just as for contemporary society the simulated copy had superseded the original object, so, too, the map had come to precede the geographic territory (c.f. Map–territory relation), e.g. the first Gulf War (see below): the image of war preceded real war.

Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. [4]

[edit] Criticism

With such reasoning, he characterised the present age — following Ludwig Feuerbach and Guy Debord — as one of “hyperreality” where the real object has been effaced or superseded, by the signs of its existence.

Such an assertion — the one for which he is most criticised — is typical of his “fatal strategy” of attempting to push his theories of society beyond themselves. Rather than saying, that our hysteria surrounding pedophilia is such that we no longer really understand what childhood is anymore, Baudrillard argued that “the Child no longer exists”.[5]

Similarly, rather than arguing — as did Susan Sontag in her book On Photography — that the notion of reality has been complicated by the profusion of images of it, Baudrillard asserted: “the real no longer exists”. In so saying, he characterised his philosophical challenge as no longer being the Heidiggerian/Leibnizian question of: “Why is there something, rather than nothing?”, but, instead: “Why is there nothing, rather than something?”[6]

[edit] The Matrix
The Matrix makes many connections to Simulacra and Simulation. In an early scene, the original French Simulacres et Simulation is the book in which Neo hides his illicit software. In the film, the chapter ‘On Nihilism’ is in the middle, rather than the end of the book.

Morpheus also refers to the real world outside of the Matrix as the “desert of the real”, which was directly referenced in the Slavoj Žižek work, Welcome to the Desert of the Real. In the original script, Morpheus referenced Baudrillard’s book specifically.

Keanu Reeves was asked by the directors to read the book, as well as Out of Control and Evolution Psychology, before being cast as Neo.[7]

In an interview, Baudrillard claimed that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work.[8]

[edit] Footnotes
1. ^ Poster, Mark; Baudrillard, Jean (1988). Selected writings. Cambridge, UK: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-0586-9.
2. ^ Hegarty, Paul (2004). Jean Baudrillard: live theory. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-6283-9.
3. ^ Ibid.
4. ^ Ibid.
5. ^ In the essay “The Dark Continent of Childhood” in the essay collection Screened Out, 2002.
6. ^ In The Perfect Crime.
7. ^ Oreck J (director). (2001). The Matrix Revisited [DVD]. Warner Home Video.
8. ^ “Le Nouvel Observateur with Baudrillard”. Le Nouvel Observateur. 2004-10-15.

http://www.empyree.org/divers/Matrix-Baudrillard_english.html. Retrieved on 2007-12-07.

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation”

Categories: Postmodernism | Publications about hyperreality | Philosophy books | Metaphysics literature

–art kyriazis, philly south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

Looked outside my window
Fog came up today
That grey outside is round my head
Looks like it’s there to stay
Looks like it’s there to stay
Looks like it’s there to stay

Can’t you see I love you
I want you more and more
I see you here most every day
But I don’t know where you are
But I don’t know where you are now
But I don’t know where you are

(break)

Time goes on and I get older
What am I going to do
My mirror’d face keeps getting colder
My eyes still look for you
My eyes still look for you
My eyes still look for you

(break)

Sun came out this morning
Highway showed my way
Tracks in the sand pulled me into the sea
Washed my cares away
Washed my cares away
Washed my cares away

You know I want to touch you
My vacuum gives me pain
Your smile releases all my life
Like flowers under rain
Like flowers under rain
We start to live again

This is from a list I sent in to the local paper back in 2004 that I found on my computer. It’s interesting.

Books Read (all Non-Fiction) (NF)

Bernstein, Leonard. Findings. 1982. Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. The Maestro writes.

Boylan, Jennifer Finney. She=s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. With an Afterword by Richard Russo. 2003. Broadway Books, New York, NY. A virtual must-read if you haven=t read it yet.

Bryant, Howard. Shutout: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston. Introduction by Roger Kahn. 2002. Beacon Press, Boston, MA. The dark underbelly of the Red Sox is racism; a must-read.

Mazower, Mark. Inside Hitler=s Greece: The Experience of Occupation 1941-44. 1993. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. (Especially Chapters 19 & 20, AThe SS & the Terror System@ & AGreek Jewry & the Final Solution@, valuable for their accounts of the fate of the 250,000 plus Sephardic Jewish Greeks of Thessaloniki, a six hundred year old community virtually wiped out by the Nazis, and the heroism of the Greeks, unparalleled elsewhere in Europe, to save them from the Germans; this material is difficult to find in other sources.).

Peyser, Joan. Bernstein, a Biography. 1987. Beechtree Books, New York, NY. Great read.

Books Planning to Read This Summer (all Non-Fiction) (NF)

Hadju, David. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina & Richard Farina. 2001. North Point Press, a Division of Farrar Straus & Giroux, New York, NY. Lots of Dylan books, but only this one also attempts a bio on Dick & Mimi Farina.

James, Bill & Baseball Info Solutions. The Bill James Handbook 2004; The Complete up-to-date statistics on every major league player through last season. 2003, ACTA Publications, Chicago, IL. The Ultimate Baseball stat book by the best baseball stat company in the game. Excel-lent!

Lewis, Michael. Moneyball. 2003. W.W. Norton & Co., New York, NY. The author of Liar=s Poker does baseball. How the As win spending 20% as much as the Yankees; there is a secret.

Ryding, Erik S. & Rebecca Pechefsky. Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere. 2001. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. Mahler=s apprentice conductor, Walter is the link between Mahler, Mitropoulos, Bernstein and the modern generation of conductors. He is essential to understand.

Schmidt, Eric von & Jim Rooney. Baby Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years; Second Edition with a New Preface. 1993. (1st ed. 1978). University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA. Burn “A Mighty Wind”; this is the real thing.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies