Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 4.30

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. Ayala is quoted in the article as saying:

    “As floods and drought were a necessary consequence of the fabric of the physical world, predators and parasites, dysfunctions and diseases were a consequence of the evolution of life,”

    and that

    “They were not a result of a deficient or malevolent design.”

    But this seems to me absurdly ad hoc. What reason is there for supposing that natural evils are “a necessary consequence of the fabric of the physical world”? Could an omnipotent, all-knowing being really not have done any better?

    Yes, the hypothesis that God exists can be made logically consistent with what’s known in science, but that doesn’t mean that the two are compatible. Compatibility does not equal consistency. A bad hypothesis is still a bad hypothesis, even if it rests under layers of ad hoc supplemental hypotheses.

  2. Re: Rose Shapiro’s Book Review…

    Bloody hell – the Nazi’s first tried a homeopathic substitute for Zyklon-B? If it’s true (I had never heard of it), I can see why the woos don’t advertise _that_ one very much.

    Re: Francisco J. Ayala talk…

    Unfortunately, he’s pulling the old NOMA argument which really doesn’t work.
    “No no, you’re not allowed to investigate this! It’s the wrong magisteria!”

  3. The problem with Suckers is that the publishers (Random House through Harvill Secker) have no plans to make it available in the US.

    It is available through Amazon.CA and Amazon.co.uk, and is well worth it. (I would suggest ordering through Amazon.co.uk since it is slightly cheaper and will be shipped many weeks faster).

    I am just about finished with it, and its a very good book for skeptics or believers.

  4. Russell Blackford and I spent some time being underwhelmed by Ayala, back in February. As I said then, the pain and suffering involved in natural selection — a process which relies upon time and death, and lots of both — actually makes it more fitting for a god with an Old Testament personality or the eternal pyromaniac interpretation of the gospels, rather than the “I bring you Wuvv!” deity invented by the modern theologians.

  5. Matt Taibbi’s interview was interesting and enjoyable, but one part of it drove me up the figurative wall.

    When people ask me what I believe about God, I tell them the truth, which is that I have no fucking idea. Obviously there are aspects to the human experience that are beyond our comprehension. Otherwise we wouldn’t all be so miserable/ridiculous all the time. I think the best thing to shoot for is a situation in which people are simply comfortable with the fact that life is a great and endlessly confounding, often very (painfully) funny mystery. The New Atheism sometimes seems to me to reject the idea that anything is unknowable — which, to me, if it were true, would be very sad.

    There’s something about this whole area which is not conducive to clear thinking. What part of atheism, “New” or otherwise, demands that everything be knowable? None. The claim we’re really making is that science might never discover the answers to some mysteries — why the Universe has the particular set of physical laws that it does, for example — but that even if science doesn’t have any luck getting those answers, the mythologies our species developed when we knew a whole lot less won’t help either. It’s like a detective story, with an vast and indeterminate number of suspects, many of whom we haven’t even met yet: we might never know whodunit, but we’ve already found out that the butler didn’t.

    Dawkins has said this, in about as many words. Maybe he only says it in the edition of The God Delusion which I read — you know, the thoughtful, contemplative and funny one which was sold to atheists, rather than the strident and shrill compendium of brimstone which the Christianists read. Intellectually, it’s a modest position; of course, whether a person displays intellectual modesty is a separate question from whether they exhibit personal arrogance. On that charge, the evidence is subjective, and the arguments already quite tired.

    On a separate note, I must confess myself perplexed by this “aspects of the human experience” talk, which seems to conflate cosmological questions with social and psychological ones. (If it’s arrogance you want, I find the idea that the way we feel when we are lonely or conscious of our mortality has anything to do with the mass of the electron or the strength of gravity to be insufferably vain.) And what is so “beyond our comprehension” about the way people are miserable so much of the time? We’re hungry and scared and desperate for love and a good many other things, none of which beg for supernatural clarification.

    I guess I’m just another strident and shrill godless bastard. The secret ingredient in my blueberry bread recipe is the blood of Christian babies — or rather, the blood of babies-of-Christian-parents, since Atheist Pope Richard I has decreed that calling a child a Jew or a Sikh or a Christian is as absurd as calling them a Marxist or a Keynesian.

  6. The sucker book sounds wonderful. Sadly, the relatives I’d like to sent it to would never talk to me again; and as their my wife’s family in the UK I can’t go there.

    In the review I especially love the remark about people choosing aroma-therapy over a stiff gin. When did a stiff G&T stop becoming aroma therapy? Especially good with Toasted Trotskyite Toddler Treats (r) !

  7. ““a necessary consequence of the fabric of the physical world”? Could an omnipotent, all-knowing being really not have done any better?”

    The point is not that life is supposed to be easy (merely because there is a creator), but that life is filled with problems and pitfalls, and that there are consequences for ignorance all the same.

    Furthermore, it looks rather foolish whenever unbelievers cling to the idea that if there were a creator, it would be pure paradise, instead of a place where living requires you to make an effort to live.

    Why is it surprising that religious people don’t believe this? (Why would anyone expect them to?)

    “but that doesn’t mean that the two are compatible”

    With all due respect, this is wrong. There is the unknown (which can be addressed by science), and there is the unknowable (which might be addressable with other means, but most definitely NOT by science). Presuming incompatibility can arise from any two regions that cannot even overlap is asburd.

  8. “The point is not that life is supposed to be easy (merely because there is a creator), but that life is filled with problems and pitfalls, and that there are consequences for ignorance all the same.”

    If you think that I believe that the existence of God would necessarily imply that life would be easy, then I’m afraid you misunderstand me.

    It’s not the fact that life isn’t easy that conflicts with what one would expect from a being like God existing. It’s that there is *so much* evil in the world, great huge amounts of it, and also that so much of it seems to have nothing to do with anyone’s choices (natural disasters, children that suffer and die, and so forth).

    “With all due respect, this is wrong. There is the unknown (which can be addressed by science), and there is the unknowable (which might be addressable with other means, but most definitely NOT by science). Presuming incompatibility can arise from any two regions that cannot even overlap is asburd.”

    I disagree that God’s existence has no empirically testable consequences. How about all those prayer studies, for instance? Would anyone care to believe in a God that would not actually make things happen in the world on their or their loved ones’ behalf? Surely an omnipotent, omniscient, all-good being would leave some trace on the world that would need to be accounted for in our explanations of it. To me there is no science vs. non-science – it’s all just explanations that are good or bad to varying degrees.

  9. As I read the article on alternative medicines, a thought occurred to me. (Which was a surprise, because “thought” and “homeopathy” usually don’t go together.) Anyhoodle, my thought was that homeopathy could be useful – if perhaps doctors could prescribe a it to uneducated patients insisting on an antibiotic for their viral infections. Oh, if only it could ethically be done…

  10. “It’s that there is *so much* evil in the world, great huge amounts of it, and also that so much of it seems to have nothing to do with anyone’s choices (natural disasters, children that suffer and die, and so forth).”

    Categorically, none of those events qualify as evil. And are you really suggesting that there’s nothing that can be done to mitigate the events or their effects? What about what seismology has done to improve the flexibility and safety of buildings? Or the study of tectonic activity on urban planning?

    It seems to me that choices do play a huge a role in how we live in the universe, creator or no, and nothing you’ve said here addresses my original complaint. I’ll concede I misunderstood you, but I’m still waiting for some clarification.

    “I disagree that God’s existence has no empirically testable consequences. ”

    The consequences of god’s existence are of no bearing whatsoever on whether anyone can truly discern god’s existence with empirical methods–and you should all know the difference between the followers and what they profess to follow. Writerdd’s essays here alone make that distinction fairly obvious.

    What does a prayer study show? Does it really tell you anything about the existence of god? Or does it show you that prayer alone may well be worthless (assuming there is no mediative benefit–which I won’t rule out).

    “Surely an omnipotent, omniscient, all-good being would leave some trace on the world that would need to be accounted for in our explanations of it.”

    Eh? Why would you assume that? I have heard this statement before, from ID proponents insisting that there must–must, mind you–be a materialistically-based evidence for god, but I see no reason to allow that to be true in any way shape or form.

    And why should I? If god is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-omnipotent, then the universe is evidence enough for a worldly believer. If not, then the elegance of the processes that make the universe work to begin with are enough. If not, then agnosticism or atheism suffices, and god need not enter into the picture at all.

    But not talking about god doesn’t refute god’s existence.

    “To me there is no science vs. non-science – it’s all just explanations that are good or bad to varying degrees.”

    Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? If you drew a venn diagram covering the things science were good at, and the things religion were good at, you’d find no real overlap. Forcing science to validate or eliminate the existence of god is awkward and an awful use of science. And it can’t be done.

    For believers, god’s authenticity is immaterial. That’s not even what we’re up against, anyway. What we’re up against is how they choose to misuse their belief, not whether they believe to begin with.

  11. Well, it sounds like for us to really understand what each other is getting at would take more space than I’d like to use here. But I will try to clarify at least a little.

    “And are you really suggesting that there’s nothing that can be done to mitigate the events or their effects? What about what seismology has done to improve the flexibility and safety of buildings?”

    It’s funny that you should mention that particular example, as I’m a geophysicist for a living! Even if we figured out how to predict earthquakes completely (which is probably never going to happen – famous last words?), it would not undo all the times that thousands of people died in the past from earthquakes. Are we just not trying hard enough? Geophysics not even existing yet would be a problem if we look back in time not too far…

    Maybe I need to go into more mainstream physics and invent a time machine? But then if there is only one time-line I still wouldn’t be able to change anything in the past. Horrible, horrible things happened that no one could do anything about.

    People can do things to improve the world, of course, I whole-heartedly agree with you! But such a belief does not compromise my position. The world is still worse than one would expect it to be.

  12. Categorically, none of those events qualify as evil.

    …unless they were handed down by an intelligent being. Killing scores of innocent children is pretty much the definitive example of evil, isn’t it?

    Also, all-omnipotent is redundant. Omnipotent already means all-powerful.

  13. Obviously, the past can’t be changed. But the fact that it happened led to science on how to prevent mishap in the future. Can that be regarded as bad? Can natural events be regarded as evil merely because they happen to people (and not, presumably, nonavian dinosaurs)?

    “The world is still worse than one would expect it to be.”

    So you say. But how do you know? How can you know? (What other realities have you known in which no natural disasters have ever occurred? And how were they better? Were they always better? Or only better in some ways?)

  14. “…unless they were handed down by an intelligent being. Killing scores of innocent children is pretty much the definitive example of evil, isn’t it?

    I’m certain you’re familiar with the expression begging the question, yes?

    Why do the consequences of natural events need to have overt intelligence associated with them in order to be regarded as the “hand of heaven”, instead of natural events without motive?

    If you put in with those who abuse their belief in ways that make no sense (even for the sake of argument here), then every natural event has a motive which is transparent to humanity.

    But does it? Not too many religious writings mention tsunami, unless one is willing to undergo oodles of distortion and contortion in order to retroactively reinterpret scripture which may have had far more prosaic intent originally in order to justify a slew of social prejudices whenever a tsunami event wipes out a population somewhere.

    I don’t think so. And it’s obvious that any reasonable believer is not going to think so either. (Hence my reading into remedial theology.)

    “Also, all-omnipotent is redundant. Omnipotent already means all-powerful”

    I know, but it ruins the flow of that sentence, see, to omit “all-“.

  15. Should have just used all-powerful… or a slew of omni-words instead.

    I am most certainly familiar with the phrase, and this is simply not it. The conversation already assumed, for the sake of argument, the existance of a “an omnipotent, all-knowing being .” It is a direct response to someone’s argument that tragic events are an unavoidable consequence of the nature of the universe as opposed to malevolence. Since I reject the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient being, I do not credit these events to malevolence, but once such a being is introduced into the conversation, malevolence is self-evident – under the assumption of its existence, that is.

    Look, the simple fact is this – either you believe in said omnipotent being or you don’t. If you do not, then the statement doesn’t apply to you; but Christians, and most other theists, do. A being which is omnipotent, by definition, has the power to prevent natural disasters and plagues. Period. Said being choosing not to (which, if it exists, it must) is the same as directly causing them. If your omnipotence was somehow unaware of these events, it would have an out, but it is also attributed with omniscience, so that’s right out. Thus, if you believe in this being, said being MUST be evil… or, at the very least, so incompetent as to boggle the mind.

  16. “Should have just used all-powerful… or a slew of omni-words instead.”

    Will you pay me if I change it?

    “I do not credit these events to malevolence, but once such a being is introduced into the conversation, malevolence is self-evident – under the assumption of its existence, that is.”

    This is a very good reason, then, for someone who believes to not take you seriously.

    Attributing natural disaster to the hand of heaven is magical thinking–but believers don’t always do this–you are only responding to a stereotype when you yourself suggest they do.

    If we are talking about believers (the ones we want on our side), does it make sense to tar them with the same brush we can legitimately weild against those who misuse their belief?

    Especially, since, y’know, there’s no reason to do so?

    “Look, the simple fact is this – either you believe in said omnipotent being or you don’t. If you do not, then the statement doesn’t apply to you; but Christians, and most other theists, do.”

    No, you have missed the point of the thread. You posit a false dichotomy (existence is purely equivalent to malevolence), one which I can easily reject without even believing in god at all.

    This should suggest to you that there are other ways of thinking about belief that do not fall within that stereotype.

    “A being which is omnipotent, by definition, has the power to prevent natural disasters and plagues. Period. Said being choosing not to (which, if it exists, it must) is the same as directly causing them”

    Why should I believe is it necessary for a good god to disallow us to learn from the universe we live in? Or why is it necessary for a good god to shield us from all harm, thereby leaving us stunted and exposed and ignorant?

    Especially since instigation is not equivalent to a capacity to prevent–even if miracles are on the table (and they by no means are).

    If you want me to allow that things must happen with Divine Reason, then can you at least articulate why my interpretation can’t be better than yours?

    “Thus, if you believe in this being, said being MUST be evil… or, at the very least, so incompetent as to boggle the mind.”

    This statement is presumptuous on a number of grounds (confer above), but also including:

    1. You perceive the mind of god. (If I don’t allow (say) a fundamentalist preacher this, why should allow anyone (yourself included)?)

    2. You can recognise the omnipotently incompetent (setting aside the logical imposibility of omnipotence being incompetent). Well, can you? I mean, really? If it’s incompetent, is it really god? (Leads us to number 3…)

    3. You can discount all other interpretations–which, I will remind you, are not testable, not knowable–of god. Frankly, I think this is impossible, which is why science does not do this work. But hey, surprise me.

  17. I agree with Rystefn , either God is all powerful or he is not. If he is all powerful, and he allows terrible things to be part of the universe and to happen to innocent creatures, then he is evil. If he’s not all powerful, then I don’t see what makes him God.

  18. “Why should I believe is it necessary for a good god to disallow us to learn from the universe we live in? Or why is it necessary for a good god to shield us from all harm, thereby leaving us stunted and exposed and ignorant?”

    I should point out that those are not the only options. Besides, people do not just learn from bad things happening – they can be made worse (more ignorant, more evil, etc…) through them. I seriously doubt that it’s always a person’s choice whether they will grow from a tragedy or not. But also there is a ridiculously large number of cases where it isn’t obvious just what anyone was supposed to learn. In fact, it seems immoral to even suggest that some of the horrific tragedies of this world were put there for our betterment.

    You don’t think that there is even a teeny weeny bit of conflict between the existence of God and that of evil in the world? What if things were different, say, even worse than they are? Would you believe in God in any conceivable world?

  19. Will you pay me if I change it?

    Sure, to where should I send it? Ten cents per word is a pretty goo rate for a writer, right? I’ll mail you a dime, no problem.

    “I do not credit these events to malevolence, but once such a being is introduced into the conversation, malevolence is self-evident – under the assumption of its existence, that is.”

    This is a very good reason, then, for someone who believes to not take you seriously.

    Attributing natural disaster to the hand of heaven is magical thinking–but believers don’t always do this–you are only responding to a stereotype when you yourself suggest they do.

    If we are talking about believers (the ones we want on our side), does it make sense to tar them with the same brush we can legitimately weild against those who misuse their belief?

    Especially, since, y’know, there’s no reason to do so?

    I never said that all natural disasters are the direct Hand of God ™… in fact, if you care to look, I specifically addressed that they might not be, and in fact, it is the idea that they are not which we are directly addressing here. If I may quote myself: “A being which is omnipotent, by definition, has the power to prevent natural disasters and plagues. Period. Said being choosing not to (which, if it exists, it must) is the same as directly causing them.” Understand that when I say it is the same, I mean that it is morally the same, just as Superman walking past a gang-rape and doing nothing about it is the same as if he raped the person himself from a moral standpoint. If I paint a group of people with the same brush here, it’s only that I’m painting people believe in an omniscient, omnipotent being with the Belief-in-an-Omniscient-and-Omnipotent-Being brush, and I feel it is completely justified to do so, since, by definition, it applies to them.

    “Look, the simple fact is this – either you believe in said omnipotent being or you don’t. If you do not, then the statement doesn’t apply to you; but Christians, and most other theists, do.”

    No, you have missed the point of the thread. You posit a false dichotomy (existence is purely equivalent to malevolence), one which I can easily reject without even believing in god at all.

    This should suggest to you that there are other ways of thinking about belief that do not fall within that stereotype.

    Again, you incorrectly accuse me of a logical fallacy. You might want to check yourself about that. Firstly, I never said that ALL existance is equivalent to malevolence, and secondly, even if I had, that’s NOT a false dichotomy. What I DID say is that the existance of an omnipotent, omniscient being in a world with unprevented evil directly demonstrates the evil of that being.

    “A being which is omnipotent, by definition, has the power to prevent natural disasters and plagues. Period. Said being choosing not to (which, if it exists, it must) is the same as directly causing them”

    Why should I believe is it necessary for a good god to disallow us to learn from the universe we live in? Or why is it necessary for a good god to shield us from all harm, thereby leaving us stunted and exposed and ignorant?

    Why should I believe that an omnipotent and omniscient deity CANNOT teach us except through pain and misery and suffering and death? Isn’t that the opposite of omnipotent? I do believe it is.

    Especially since instigation is not equivalent to a capacity to prevent–even if miracles are on the table (and they by no means are).

    If your deity doesn’t have the capacity to prevent, it is NOT omnipotent, and therefore has no bearing on the discussion. Try again.

    If you want me to allow that things must happen with Divine Reason, then can you at least articulate why my interpretation can’t be better than yours?

    Your interpretation shifts around between omnipotence and restrictions, and is therefore self-contradictory, that is why it cannot be better then mine, which is internally consistant.

    “Thus, if you believe in this being, said being MUST be evil… or, at the very least, so incompetent as to boggle the mind.”

    This statement is presumptuous on a number of grounds (confer above)

    Well, let’s go through them, shall we?

    1. You perceive the mind of god. (If I don’t allow (say) a fundamentalist preacher this, why should allow anyone (yourself included)?)

    I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, I merely point out that in a world which includes evil, ANY omniscient, omnipotent being MUST be evil, if only by willful inaction. Depraved Indifference is, I believe, the phrase lawyers like to use.

    2. You can recognise the omnipotently incompetent (setting aside the logical imposibility of omnipotence being incompetent). Well, can you? I mean, really? If it’s incompetent, is it really god? (Leads us to number 3…)

    No, I cannot. I was merely positing a ridiculous alternative to emphasize my point. I dismiss the idea out of hand, and so, it seems, do you. That seems to me to leave only room for either an evil being, or one that does not fall into the omnipotent and omniscient categories.

    3. You can discount all other interpretations–which, I will remind you, are not testable, not knowable–of god. Frankly, I think this is impossible, which is why science does not do this work. But hey, surprise me.

    No, I do not discount other interpretations, they simply do not enter into this discussion. If you, or anyone else, chooses to believe in a deity which is NOT omniscient and omnipotent, that’s a separate discussion, which I will be more than happy to get into elsewhere.

  20. “I seriously doubt that it’s always a person’s choice whether they will grow from a tragedy or not.”

    Not by themselves, not always. We don’t exist in a vacuum. (That would kind of suck.)

    “But also there is a ridiculously large number of cases where it isn’t obvious just what anyone was supposed to learn. In fact, it seems immoral to even suggest that some of the horrific tragedies of this world were put there for our betterment.”

    Again, you’re suggesting that ascribing motive to an event which–it should seem obvious by now–doesn’t necessarily have to have one (which I amplify into “does NOT have one”). (A benign motive is still motive.)

    The events happen. They weren’t put there for…[x].

    What we choose (as an individual, or a group, or a culture, or a species) to do with the outcomes is entirely up to us. If some see a need to invoke god as a good force for affecting that change, I’ll stand up and applaud.

    If others choose to hammer on a stereotype, I’ll say what I’ve said before.

    (Not that it isn’t perfectly fine to hammer on a stereotype, but it’s theologically unsound, even from my perspective, and has nothing to do with the quickie linked above–remember?)

    “You don’t think that there is even a teeny weeny bit of conflict between the existence of God and that of evil in the world?”

    Can you give me a legitimate reason to? Do define evil, and not just say suffering is evil, but not all suffering obviously is evil, since being made uncomfortable is very often equated with suffering.

    “What if things were different, say, even worse than they are? Would you believe in God in any conceivable world?”

    You’re asking what my reaction to a condition completely outside of my experience would be.

    I can’t give you an answer to that. I’m not trying to be coy. I’m just incapable.

  21. I am wondering why I got into this argument. I don’t, or didn’t care. This is for philosphy wonks, stuff that usually puts me to sleep. Oh well.

    “I never said that all natural disasters are the direct Hand of God … in fact, if you care to look, I specifically addressed that they might not be, and in fact, it is the idea that they are not which we are directly addressing here. If I may quote myself: “A being which is omnipotent, by definition, has the power to prevent natural disasters and plagues. Period. Said being choosing not to (which, if it exists, it must) is the same as directly causing them.”

    This is where your argument doesn’t work:

    (which, if it exists, it must)

    Why? How would you/could you know this, “must”? I am asking, Rystefn, how you could know that which much of what I’ve ever read in theology has suggested is unknowable to humanity, individually or wholly. Why do you connect existence with “must”?

    You’ve judged an omnipotent entity for perceived inaction on events (any event) which has caused “suffering” as being evil, but do you know enough of god to issue a qualified judgement?

    Omniscience is a prerequisite for that sort of judgement–or something near enough to it to qualify.

    Okay, here’s a different way:

    If your deity doesn’t have the capacity to prevent, it is NOT omnipotent, and therefore has no bearing on the discussion. Try again.”

    The capacity to prevent a disaster here means to work a miracle. A miracle is clearly the “hand of heaven,” and turns a natural event into a work of god.

    But how would you know when the work has or has not been done? If the hand of heaven has intereferred with a natural process in such a way as to be materially invisible (i.e., nonmiraculous), how could you tell the difference?

    Would it make any difference to your assertion?

    “Why should I believe that an omnipotent and omniscient deity CANNOT teach us except through pain and misery and suffering and death? Isn’t that the opposite of omnipotent? I do believe it is.”

    See presumption 1. For me to accept this, I have to accept that you know the mind of god (as I’ve said before, this is unknowable). Which I’m not doing without some sort of miracle on your part.

    “Your interpretation shifts around between omnipotence and restrictions, and is therefore self-contradictory, that is why it cannot be better then mine, which is internally consistant.”

    The “restrictions” you mention are miscommunication, nothing more. I challenge the “internal consistency” of your interpretation on the grounds that it presumes you know more than you can know–or that I’m willing to allow that you know.

    An omnipotent god can obviously do what it wants*, without restriction, self-imposed or otherwise. But is it going to do what you expect it to? Merely to serve your views on what constitutes moral outrage? I don’t necessarily think so. Why would it?

    (* assuming “want” is even applicable to something unknowable…)

    “I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, I merely point out that in a world which includes evil, ANY omniscient, omnipotent being MUST be evil, if only by willful inaction. Depraved Indifference is, I believe, the phrase lawyers like to use.”

    Explain how suggesting god has a depraved indifference is not presuming to know the mind of god? How do you know?

    But to back up, why does the inclusion of evil make (or contribute to) god==evil?

    “That seems to me to leave only room for either an evil being, or one that does not fall into the omnipotent and omniscient categories.”

    No, because such a being is unknowable even if it does exist.

    “No, I do not discount other interpretations, they simply do not enter into this discussion.”

    I disagree. Here you suggest your interpretation of omnipotence==evil is inerrant, which I’ve no reason to accept.

    Sure, to where should I send it? Ten cents per word is a pretty goo rate for a writer, right? I’ll mail you a dime, no problem.

    Writers get ten cents a word. As an artist I get $300 an image. Since your word counts as an image, that’s my going rate. (Send it to my house!)

  22. A word counts as a word. If you can get someone to pay you $300 for a word, more power to you, but I won’t. You’re typing, not painting, so piss off. :P

    Other than that, your entire post was dodge after dodge after dodge. How can I KNOW that an omniscient and omnipotent being chooses not to prevent natural disasters? Simple logic. They happen. They weren’t prevented. Either such a being does not exist or it chooses not to prevent them. Period. There is no other option. Don’t try to claim false dichotomy, this is a very, very accurate dichotomy. I could go point by point down the list here and do the same the same thing with everything you said, but let’s just take it one at a time, shall we? What’s your response? What’s the third option?

    This is the entirety of your argument. You profess that I am claiming to know what I cannot know – a patently ridiculous claim. Anyone with a moderate capability to understand can easily follow. IF a being can do anything, and something happens, then that being either directly caused it to happen or indirectly chose to allow it to happen. Period. There isn’t any wiggle-room here. Nothing for some philosopher to try to twist around. It’s either one or the other. Either the being is esposnible for everything that happens, or it does not exist.

    I can’t think of a way to simplify it more. If you still can’t wrap your brain around this, I’ve got nothing, and I’ll just have to walk away shaking my head.

  23. Rystefn is correct. There are only a few options that I can see for a theist confronted with the argument from evil:

    1) The free will defense. God gave people free will and evil happens because of the choices free agents make. The value of free will outweighs any net evil caused from choices made by free agents. This response seems incapable of addressing natural evils, and it is unclear that compatibilist free will (free will consistent with determinism) is not just as good as contracausal free will (free will that is incompatible with determinism), and it is the latter that this response must advocate.

    2) What appears evil is not really evil when all things are considered. We only see it that way because of our limited perspectives. God allows bad things to happen because they are not really bad, or because they are outweighed by a greater good of some kind. Response 1) can in fact be seen as a sub-case of this response.

    I thought scotte was taking the number 2) position, but it seems like that’s not what he wants to say? In any case, I said (partly) why I think this position won’t work above.

    If there’s another way out, I’m simply not seeing it.

  24. Not good enough. How can an omnipotent and omniscient being be unable to create a world where free-will happens and there is still no evil and no suffering? By definition, it must be capable of doing this. It’s not like we have completely free will as it is. We are bound by gravity and intertia and myriad otehr restriction, restricting us from choosing evil is no more restricting than restricting us from flying about with only a thought.

    In a universe with an omniscient, omnipotent being ALL events are the direct hand of that being or the willful and concious withholding of that hand. Given the option of creating a world without pain or suffering, that being chose to create a world rife with it. If there is any definition of evil, then this is it.

  25. “A word counts as a word. If you can get someone to pay you $300 for a word, more power to you, but I won’t. You’re typing, not painting, so piss off. :P”

    Oh, dear.

    Dude, you wanted me to change my words to suit your aesthetic. So I set pricing according to my needs, not yours. So just relax, and get off the high horse a little. It was a joke, man. I don’t expect you to actually pay for anything when it comes to typing I do on my own time. (That does mean your prescriptivism will be ignored unless backed by cold, hard cash.)

    Anyway, this is becoming pretty tiresome, and I’m going to show you what “dodging” actually looks like: it looks like me recommending you use a library card and going to a library with a sizable theology collection. It can’t hurt anyway.

    I don’t see much point in continuing. You don’t convince me, you don’t seem to even see my points. And it sounds like you’re getting tetchy. A good time for me to leave to conversation.

  26. Ummm… Do you know what “:P” means? Dude, I argue because it’s fun, if it looks like I’m getting mad or upset, that’s just part of the charm. Trust me, I’m smiling while I type.

    I’ve read more than my fair share of thology, and none of it makes anything like a coherent point about this. Just more dodging and pretending that mysteries exist in the pretend gaps. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s because there isn’t one. An omniscient, omnipotent being in the universe we occupy MUST be evil by any understanding of evil I can wrap my brain around.

    This is entirely aside from the issues inherent in the idea of omnipotence itself, which is intrinsically self-contradictory.

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