Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What Problem of Evil?

I can’t get anywhere near cut grass without sneezing. Perhaps because of that, I’ve developed an overly fine sense of smell when it comes to newly mown lawns. Their odor is strong and repulsive to me; it literally punches me in the nose. The scent of recently chopped blades is an entity to me: I experience it in the present, I can recall it from the past, and I can conjure it up in my brain as a dire prediction for the future. Often, it assails my nostrils when I merely look at a grassy field, when the smell isn’t even there. But it’s very real to me, a constant threat.

My wife, who is normally far more sensitive to aromas, both good and bad, than I am, gets little or no nasal stimulus from cut grass. When she actually does smell it, she finds it, at most, mildly pleasant.

I’ve tried arguing about that smell. I can call it repulsive, nauseating over and over, but she doesn’t get it. She can tell me that I’m imagining things again and again, but I know that my nostrils don’t lie. It’s just not normal for her not to share my difficulty with that blatant stink. Why can’t she acknowledge the truth? It's a terrible smell and it exists in and of itself.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to this corner of the Atheosphere, in which we’ve been spinning our wheels for about a week at SI’s blog over the Problem of Evil, specifically Epicurus’s series of questions:

Is god willing to prevent Evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh Evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him “God”?
It’s a very cute riddle, and loads of fun to trot out when having a discussion with theists who believe in an omnipotent, omnibenevolent being. Question: Why does god wear evil? Answer: To keep his pants up.

In such arguments, atheists often label suffering as a subset of Evil, apparently to make the solution even more difficult. We call on theists to answer for natural disasters and illnesses as well as the wicked doings of fellow humans. How do they account for Hitler, Hurricane Katrina, malaria, the Bush administration, Earth-threatening comets, and the squirrels who keep eating the birdseed? Evil exists; hence, there's no god.

Of course, given the rhetorical nature of Epicurus’s epigram, there is no answer. Religionists are stumped. “God works in mysterious ways,” they’ll say. They try to weasel out of the difficulty by claiming that there can be no Evil, that everything is, ultimately, for the best in their deity’s plan, that Evil is actually Good, its opposite. Or they may posit that Evil is necessary to test humans’ faith, to give us lowly critters an opportunity to use our free will for the greater glory of their insecure, egomaniacal king of kings. Or, perhaps, Jesus is wrestling with Evil even as we speak, but he hasn’t beaten it yet.

The thing is: atheists don’t actually believe in a Platonic Form known as Evil. There are evil people, yes, but there’s no embodiment of that quality. Evil is not an entity in and of itself. In a world lacking a divine plan, suffering is morally neutral. Tsunamis, tornadoes, tuberculosis, drought, dry rot, and the dove who casually shits on your car — these things can’t be plotted on a morality graph; they’re neither good nor evil. They just are.

For an atheist to assume the premise that Evil does exist — even when he or she finds it a convenient tool for one-upping an ignorant Christian — is nonsense. There’s no such thing as capital E Evil. There’s no Problem of Evil because capital E Evil doesn’t exist, any more than capital G God exists.

In actuality, the smell of mown grass is neither revolting nor mildly pleasant; it just is. Because of my psycho-somatic reaction to that smell, it’s disgusting to me: Evil. I have a problem with it. For my wife, who accepts it as part of the natural world, the fragrance is there, but it doesn’t need to be weighed on a scale of morality.

I’m the one with the sickness, the one with the unreasonable reaction, the one obsessed. I’m the one who dreads that scent, who can call it into existence in my own mind whenever I want to make myself feel ill. I’m the one who insists that the smell is caused by the actions of my neighbors — or my own wife! The propagation of that noxious smell may or may not be part of their plan, but when they mow their yards, they spread the Evil.

My wife, wisely, doesn’t accept that premise. She refuses to argue whether the odor is either good or bad. She just tells me to shut up and blow my nose.

97 comments:

Kathy said...

In contrast to how cut grass affects you. I actually love it. As a matter of fact I can not get enough of it. Maybe this is why I love the season of Spring - when most gardeners are out mowing the lawn

Joe Otten said...

Do you refuse to make any moral judgments whatever?

It doesn't need to be a platonic form, and it doesn't need a capital letter for the problem of evil to have full force.

Next you'll be telling me that the grass is not green, there is no such thing as Green, the grass just is.

breakerslion said...

Argumentum ad absurdium: See above. The grass is not green. The wavelengths of light ignored by chlorophyll appear green to eyes that see in that spectrum. In the moonlight, grass is grey-black.

Some of those theists who have struggled with questions of morality have concluded that there is no moral judgment to be derived from the actions of a lion. Then they turn right around and anthropomorphize and collectivize and paranoiacally bestow intent upon tragic and immoral acts.

Religion is a head trip, and joe otten's extrapolation is both common, and proof of that belief.

nullifidian said...

I think the argument is not to disprove the existence of a god per se, but to make the case that, if there were a god, it's omni* attributes are not compatible with the way that the world actually is.

The argument is based on the premiss that a god of some kind exists, and it's useful when arguing with theists as they already make this assumption.

It's basically a logical construct to show that, if one is faced with the premisses that a god exists, it's all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful and that good/evil exist in some godly (objective) form, the argument is unsound and that at least one of the premisses is false.

iambilly said...

Beautifully written (as always). I found myself nodding repeatedly while reading your post. I'm going to have to read through it a couple two t'ree more times to have an actual coherent and useful response.

grumpylion said...

Crabgrass is evil. The Problem of Crabgrass has been debated for centuries, and still we have crabgrass.

Perhaps if we devoted all that intellectual energy out there to actually dealing with actual crabgrass, we might get somewhere.

In the meantime, I'm opting for ice cream, perhaps Scotch flavored.

The Exterminator said...

Kathy:
In contrast to how cut grass affects you. I actually love it.
So when I conduct a poll on whether or not my readers like grass, I'll put you down as a strong "yes."

Joe:
Do you refuse to make any moral judgments whatever?
No.

You've implied something that's not there, due to a gross misreading on your part -- and then, of course, you put words in my mouth. I'm not saying that an atheist finds no evil people or things in this world. Why don't you read the post again, a little more carefully, and see if you can understand it; if not, perhaps you can find someone to explain it to you.

And, yes, the grass appears green to me. But there's no Platonic Form of Green. Green is not a thing. It's an attribute, like evil -- and stupid.

breakers:
I like your characterization: Religion is a head trip. Belief in the supernatural is the ultimate psychedelic experience.

nully:
Hey, good to see you again. I hope you've gotten your blogging mojo back to its full strength.

I'm always uncomfortable in any argument that includes as its primary premise a god exists. Of course, a philosophical argument is not made up of one premise only; there are dozens of other premises that come into play. If I construct an argument proving that the premise "a god exists" is not consistent with all or any of those other premises, the theist will gladly or reluctantly change those other premises. But he or she will never, under any circumstances, change the premise that states a god exists.

Knowing that the religionist absolutely refuses to drop that premise, why should I grant it? Just to have the right to play in the Christian's rarely mown yard?

(((Billy))):
Thanks for the compliment ... I think. When you said, I found myself nodding repeatedly while reading your post, did you mean that you were agreeing? Or falling asleep?

grumpy:
Crabgrass is evil.
Well, if we grant the premises that (1) there's a god, and that (2) god created everyting, he must have had some reason for making that stuff. I think the existence of crabgrass must be some kind of loyalty test. If I were you, I'd start a church immediately and ask your congregation to tithe. Then you could use the money to hire a full-time Christian gardener to combat the evil crabgrass. That would please god immensely.

Sarge said...

Over Memorial Day I was at Ligonier participation in an event at Idlewilde. We were camping there and the nights were very cold. low forties.

Early one morning another person and I were walking to the latrine and we noticed a very large blacksnake down in the creekbed on a large rock trying to warm itself.

A chipmunk ran almost over the top of the snake and the snake made a lunge for the 'munk. I was still cold, moved way too slow and missed.

Was this a good thing or bad thing?

My companion thought it was "good". Mean old snake, cute chipmunk, that sort of thing. She didn't care that they were mighty short of salad bars in snakedome, and that rodents and such were the main diet.

The tide goes out: certain things are stranded and die, it comes back in, brings things to eat what's been buried under the sand and other things to prey on both.

It isn't good, it isn't bad, it simply is.

PhillyChief said...

First, I see no trouble with indulging them with their Evil because even with that, they still fail Epicurus' test. It's like saying you're willing to play someone in their house, with their ball, and their rules, and even spot them a bunch of points and still beat them.

Second, we can say evil exists. We can define it as pain, or more generally as suffering, but it doesn't matter. Now normally when in a debate it's necessary for all parties to agree on the definitions for the terms used in the debate but for the "Problem of Evil" debate, imo, it's one of those rare exceptions. We can disagree with the theist over the definition of evil, but that doesn't obstruct the debate.


"Do you refuse to make any moral judgments whatever?"
I'd say if the ignorance you've put on display in your comment is willful, then I'd call that evil. Also, I'd call making others suffer it is evil, too. Does that answer your question?


I'd say Disney is evil for making those annoying characters Chip and Dale which made my first reaction to Sarge's story be that the chipmunk was evil. Poor thing ain't evil, it just is, but Disney, they're bastards.

nullifidian said...

Hi TE, thanks! :-)

Having to argue with a premiss that seems obviously false makes the whole argument feel wrong, but think of it this way: using this argument, even if the premiss "a god exists" is the last one that they'll let go of, it should give them something to mull over that their god isn't the omni* entity that they've been told that it is.

While this obviously doesn't change their basic assumption, it *may* make inroads into their blind acceptance of claimed properties. Of course, this isn't an either/or argument, but for the effort that we have to put in to argue it (very little when compared to the shit that they have to make up and justify to even come close to making the argument sound) and the fact that we're in effect playing on away turf, we still have the upper hand.

I reckon any way to make them think twice about their basic assumptions (and this argument is especially good against the omni* ones) is a good thing. Once they can accept that their god isn't the be-all-end-all they've been told over and over, it may make convincing them of the mythic nature of the other assumed qualities easier.

No guarantees, certainly, but any lessening of superstition is better, no?

iambilly said...

I mean that I was nodding in agreement. Not nodding in agreement like a bobble-head doll, but nodding in agreement nonetheless.

You make a cogent argument for the non-existence of evil as a thing, and for the existence of evil as an attribute. And I'm still thinking about it.

The Exterminator said...

Sarge:
Your story is a great illustration of just what I mean. I hope you had money on the chipmunk.

Philly:
[W]e can say evil exists. We can define it as pain, or more generally as suffering, but it doesn't matter.
I think it does matter. We atheists are never talking about an entity; we're talking about a collective. That is, certain things -- those that are painful, those that cause suffering, etc. -- can be lumped together generically as "evil." However, for Christians, Evil is an indivisible something, a thing-in-itself.

You and I know from experience that even when terms seem to be "defined" to mutual satisfaction in a debate with Christians, there's still often a disconnect about the "real" meaning of the term, or its connotation, or the extent to which it encompasses other terms.

Since the Epicurus argument is, itself, about the believers' "definition" of god, trying to define another term -- Evil -- often leads to an infinite regress of ever-changing and ever-growing sets of premises.

However, you're right about Joe Otten and you're right about Disney. I'll give you a pass on defining either one of them.

nully:
I reckon any way to make them think twice about their basic assumptions (and this argument is especially good against the omni* ones) is a good thing.
Can you point to even one theist who was made to think twice -- really think -- about his or her god through an atheist's quoting of Epicurus?

I'm dubious, but I'll gladly welcome any verifiable example.

The Exterminator said...

(((Billy))):
Your last comment gave me an idea for a line of Christian bobble-head dolls.

No matter how weighty your argument is, and how strongly you hit them with it, and how many times you try -- they won't move their heads whatsoever. But if you blow even the smallest amount of religious smoke up their asses, they'll nod for hours.

PhillyChief said...

Well I have no trouble spotting them all their premises since they still fail.

John Evo said...

While evil is real (for now), there is no need to invoke gods to explain it. We can explain it rationally, so why bring up god(s) or anything supernatural?

One thing we can say for sure, with knowledge, is that random events are not evil. For example - Hurricane Katrina. By this reasoning, we may find, at some point, that there really is not even a lower case evil.

If I tell you that a man drives a truck into a crowd in Tokyo, jumps out and starts stabbing people, and leaves dozens killed or injured, it is almost automatic to label that as 'evil'. But if we find an abnormality due to disease in his brain, perhaps located near the amygdala, do we start to see it as more tragic than 'evil'? If we do, and if we can determine that, in fact, his disorder led directly to his behavior, we may have very little choice but to give up on the term "evil" or "Evil" altogether.

God is dead - and that is neither evil nor tragedy.

iambilly said...

We tend to have a rather anthocentric idea of evil. As Sarge said, a snake eating (or failing to eat) a cute fuzzy little thing is judged, by many humans, from our mammal-centric viewpoint. One of the lessons I learned while a child is the neutrality of nature. At Grand Canyon Elementary School, the NPS set up a partnership whereby a Park Ranger gave a program, each month, to our class. One of his emphasises (emphasi? emphasae?) was that a bird eating an insect, a snake eating a Uintah groundsquirrel, a coyote eating a jackrabbit, was all part of the web of life. There was no good guy in nature, and no bad guy.

I am quite good at seeing neutrality in nature. Where it breaks down for me is the existence of evil when it comes to humanity. There are, no question, creations of humanity which are evil: the Inquisition in Spain and Southern France, Fascism, racism, you name it. So can a person be described as evil if they are a creator or willing participant in the behaviour? Would you agree, Ex, that what I have just described is in line with evil as a description but not as a free-standing idea? If so, I think I agree with you.

The Christian Bobble Head Dolls sounds like fun. Of course, for some (Hagee?), to get a proper response, you might need more than a breath of religion.

PhillyChief said...

Well Satan naturally poisoned his brain Evo, so of course it's an example of Evil. He may have been Evil, or engaged in Evil, or at lest condoned Evil, and over time that diseased his brain, leading to the Evil act.

But then, since it's Tokyo, most everyone is non-religious, or at least non-christian, so the act might be the christian god's way of punishing them for not accepting him and his kid, in which case the Evil then is Good, for any act by an all-good god must be good.

It is quite a head trip.


There are, no question, creations of humanity which are evil: the Inquisition in Spain and Southern France, Fascism, racism, you name it.
We call them evil but are they inherently so? Fascism lead to a world war whose result made the United States the greatest world power for some time, further aided by a strong industrial base unrivaled due to Europe's devastation. Seems in the big picture it was good for the US at least. Israel came to be because of that war, too. Both Fascism and the Inquisition stand today as cautionary examples, so you can say they serve the greater good now and let's not forget that without the Inquisition, we wouldn't have this awesome productions.

The point being that you can argue things being evil or good, which I think kills the case for something being inherently Evil.

"The Inquisition, what a show. The Inquisition, here we go. We know you're wishing, that we'd go awaaaaaaaay..."

The Exterminator said...

Evo, (((Billy))), Philly:
Of course, individual people can be evil, in the same way that they can be cheerful, or obese, or itchy. Even institutions -- like the Bush Administration -- can be described as "evil." As SI pointed out on his own post, "evil" is a perfectly good adjective. (Which, by the way, doesn't necessarily make "good" a perfectly evil adjective.)

"Evil" is also, in English, a collective noun that can be broken down into its parts. For example the evil of the Nazis comprised thousands of actions that we could describe, individually, with the adjective "evil." Notice that in cases like these, the word "evil" is always preceded by an article. Similarly, we can talk about "the problem of the obese," "the problem of the itchy," and even "the problem of the cheerful." (Too much Lexapro?) In each of those phrases, the adjective is used as a collective noun for humans who share a quality described by the adjective.

What I'm claiming in this post, though, is that there is no singularity (as Plato might say) known as "Evil."

That's the Evil that Christians love to talk about, and which atheists don't believe in.

the chaplain said...

Evil is in the eye of the beholder.

Joe Otten said...

WTF!

Why am I getting abuse for defending the problem of evil as a slam dunk argument against the existence of God?

Why are atheist bloggers and commenters indulging the mealy mouthed equivocation that theists use to avoid facing the problem of evil?

Will I wake up and find this was all a dream?

The Exterminator said...

chappy:
Evil is in the eye of the beholder.
In my case, maybe Evil is in the nose of the besmeller.

Joe:
Why am I getting abuse for defending the problem of evil as a slam dunk argument against the existence of God?
One big reason you're getting abuse is that this post wasn't really about the efficacy of Epicurus's argument. You'd know that if you had read what I'd written with even a modicum of understanding.

Why are atheist bloggers and commenters indulging the mealy mouthed equivocation that theists use to avoid facing the problem of evil?
Where did that happen in either the post or the comments?

And, by the way, Epicurus's argument is most decidedly not a "slam dunk." Oh, yeah, all of us here may think it is. But when was the last time it actually convinced a theist?

Joe Otten said...

Yeah I always abuse people too, who I feel go off topic or miss my point. Feels great.

The Exterminator said...

Joe:
I'm sorry if you got offended, but really ... why would any atheist, addressing other atheists here in the Atheosphere, bother to write a post championing the Epicurean argument? I would think it's a given in our greater community, and a no-brainer; of course, we all think it's a brilliant little masterpiece of deflation. What atheist wouldn't?

Now, your original question asking Do you refuse to make any moral judgments whatever? That's insulting, particularly when there's nothing in the post that should have led you to ask such a thing. The question is a typical Christian tactic; theists frequently raise it as a red herring when there's absolutely no support for it whatsoever in the essay under discussion.

So it was that specific question that pushed me -- and some others here -- into attack mode. We've heard that same piece of nonsense hundreds, thousands of times. Hey, you probably have, too.

Sarge said...

I probably should have continued the narative.

Next day my young friend made the mistake of leaving her "ditty box" open on her also open bed roll. Her opinion of the "goodness" of the chipmunks changed a bit when she saw that a couple had got into her tent and raided her "ditty box". They'd eaten her goodies, ate three tallow candles, scattered scraps and dropppings all through her bedding, and she...well, she didn't say it but from what she did say I got the impression she'd wish snakes a hearty "bon appetite'".

I do, by the way, believe there is evil.

Rhology said...

Maybe you could do a post on "My definition of evil", since the Christian solution is simple: Without God, there is no evil, nor good. There just is.
I'd like to know how you know what's evil and what's good.
If "suffering" is evil:
1) What makes suffering evil?
2) How do you know?
3) Does someone else get to define evil a different way?
4) Why or why not?

PhillyChief said...

Rhology:

Personally, I'm a moral relativist; however, there is a great deal of moral opinions I hold which many, many others hold in common. It's this commonality of opinion that gives the illusion of objective, absolute morality.

The christian solution to morality is simple, as in you'd have to be simple, or at least lazy, to accept something as inane as 'without my god, there is no evil, nor good' as a solution. Accepting the will of a being simply because failure to do so would bring harsh punishment is not a moral code, it's cowardice and an endorsement of 'might makes right'.

Rhology said...

Any moral system that is in conjunction with an atheistic worldview is also might-makes-right. But the atheist has no way to know what is good OR bad. So...

Christian POV: Good might IS right.
Atheist POV: Might makes right.

It's close but no cigar.

And I wrote on this topic - you've oversimplified the Christian view on this.

PhillyChief said...

If you want to call forming a consensus opinion on both a moral code and a means of implementing it an example of 'might makes right', go ahead. You'd be way off of course, but use your own definitions if you like. That's generally how you get out of a jam anyway, at least on this blog.

In the US we see consensus opinion establishing morality every day. It's the bedrock of our nation. It's said the Constitution is a living document, and I find that to be reflective of an ever evolving consensus opinion on morality, for what are laws if not moral judgments? We've evolved to overcome prior opinions on such issues as slavery and the rights of women and blacks and we'll continue to evolve to recognize the rights of gays and other minorities.

This is in stark contrast to some ridiculous adherence to the opinions of some ancient goat herders made even more ridiculous by both believing they are actually the opinions of your god and by cleverly rationalizing how you can pick and choose which opinions to accept and which ones to ignore.

Rhology said...

Consensus, eh? Interesting...

Let me propose sthg...

Situation: You are traveling in a foreign land and go to an out-of-the-way picturesque temple. There you meet a native, there to offer religious piety. He finishes lighting his candle and then greets you, speaking serviceable English. He introduces himself as Tkalim.
He offers to tell you a little about his religion. You, being the courteous gentleman/lady you are, invite him to proceed. He tells you that he and his whole society worship 5 gods of the fish, air, earth, fire, and tree. He then tells you that part of his worship devotion is to go with all the men of his society to steal girls between the ages of 3-8 years from their families in the nearby large city, take them into the jungle, and rape them.
Once raped, the tribesmen leave the girls in the jungle as an offering to the tree god. He says he knows of no girl that has ever returned to the city to her family.
Once he finishes his story with calm voice and clear eyes, he falls silent.
I have something to say to him about this practice. Assuming you were 100% sure you were not in any danger, what would YOU say? How would you try to explain that what he is doing is wrong? *Is* what he is doing wrong? On what basis? How do you know?

Rhology said...

Oh, and could you identify the commands that I pick and choose to ignore and tell me how I ignore them?

Don't talk to me about Old Testament Law unless you're sure you understand the Law, the purpose of the Law, and its applicability to today. My guess is you haven't the slightest clue. So I'll be interested to see you back that up.

PhillyChief said...

Yes, that's a very cute story Rhology, and a great example of how a religious belief can make seemingly good people do terrible things and also illustrate how difficult it would be to try and convince such people that their moral ideals are flawed. No doubt both of us would struggle to convince them of accepting our respective morals instead of their own when they're beliefs are predicated on superstition.

As for how you rationalize which parts to accept and which parts to dismiss from your bible or even what those parts are, I frankly don't care. As I said earlier, the entire idea is flawed, so the minutia of the system is irrelevant.

PhillyChief said...

Damn homonyms, I meant "their".

Rhology said...

Nice sidestep.
How do you know that this is a "terrible thing"?

And I didn't ask you to convince Tkalim. What would you say to him about this?

PhillyChief said...

Precisely what you'd say, that it was a terrible thing, and you wouldn't have to ask me to try to convince him of that, nor should you need to be asked. Even your morals should find his intended actions to be terrible, prompting you to try and talk him out of them.

I decide they're terrible, as I decide many things. Many agree with me, many don't, just as many accept christianity, or your specific version of it Rho, and many do not. We each try to put forth our decisions as greater than all others, either to convince others to accept our decisions or for some other ulterior motive.

Rhology said...

I decide they're terrible, as I decide many things

Isn't that pretty similar to how you decide whether chocolate ice cream is delicious or not-delicious?
If not, in what way is it different?

PhillyChief said...

No, it's more like deciding whether to have a well balanced diet or eat nothing but ice cream. It's not arbitrary, it's informed decision making.

Rhology said...

What informs the decision? Whence do you derive the data that "rape = bad"?
Suffering?
Whence do you derive the data that "suffering = bad"?
Empathy with fellow humans?
Whence do you derive the data that "empathy = good"?

PhillyChief said...

It's great you bring up empathy because I find it to be a valuable trait, and one christianity dismisses as a result of their perversion of The Golden Rule which I go into in greater depth here. If for no other reason, empathy is valuable for understanding other humans. A lack of understanding is unproductive and detrimental. No one is an island.

I don't have all day to explain every reason for every point of my moral decisions Rho. I've indulged your questions and challenges here at length so far. Suffice to say moral decisions are arrived at the way ALL decisions should be arrived at, by using a careful examination of evidence and experience to inform your decision. The greatest beauty of that, which is something lacking in a rigid adherence to ancient superstitious beliefs, is those decisions can change in light of new evidence.

Rhology said...

You're well on your way to double digits in the Questions Avoided category.
What "evidence", new or otherwise, could inform a decision about whether it is morally wrong to rape a child?

The Exterminator said...

Rhology:
Humans seem to be evolutionarily hardwired to accept some form of the negative Golden Rule: Don't do to anyone else what you wouldn't want anyone to do to you.

That's a good place to start in building a moral system; it might even give you an entire moral system.

Unfortunately, under that code, what Tkalim is doing would be wrong if -- and only if -- Tkalim would not want himself to be raped and left for dead in the jungle. But since survival is also evolutionarily hardwired into the brains of every living thing, it's a pretty good bet that he'd find the notion pretty distasteful.

The problem with erecting a moral system based on the bible is that there are so many conflicting sets of morals. The god of the Old Testament is a hateful, reprehensible shit, who condones ethnic cleansing, murder, rape, and theft. He asks for arbitrary obedience and toys with his creations: see Abraham & Isaac and Job. Those are not morals that I would follow under any circumstances -- and I'm betting you wouldn't follow them, either.

Jesus is a slightly more likable guy than Yahweh, one with whom you might like to watch Nascar and share a beer and nachos. But he still needs to see a shrink about his major anger problem. Also, he accepts many of the suppositions of his pa.

A person whom you or I would recognize as moral, be he religious or atheist, would pretty much have a standard set of bottom-line fundamentals -- fundamentals that conflict with the actions and teachings of the deity depicted in the bible. Go read Philly's post on the Golden Rule and then you might want to see my own take.

You might notice that Philly and I disagree about certain issues of morality. But I'm confident that we're pretty much in accord on the fundamentals of what is and isn't moral. I have a feeling that -- aside from some of your silly bible-specific rules -- you'd agree with us, too. (I'm assuming that you're not for slaughtering non-combatants, slavery, or the sale of women in your tribe.)

So, rather than continue with this deflection of my argument in the post, why don't you return to it and answer: Is Evil an entity?

PhillyChief said...

Ok, my turn to ask questions:
1) Please list these questions you claim I've avoided
2) Please explain how, if your god commanded you to rape a child, you would respond and why
3) Please explain how, if your god commanded you to kill your child, you would respond and why
4) Please explain how, if your god commanded you to kill another human being, you would respond and why
5) Please explain how your morality is superior to other's morality
6) Please explain how you would respond to Tkalim and why
7) Please explain how you justify the christian variant to the Golden Rule

As for your question about raping a child, I can't imagine any new information that would change my opinion of it, and that's a completely disingenuous way of trying to find fault in informed decision making vs rigid adherence to old goat herder opinions.

John Evo said...

Rhology -

Manifestly true - Many people are never going to see morality and laws in the way you do (that is, belief in a supernatural creator who has given us these moralities and laws).

Therefore - we are left with two possibilities.

1. All non-Christians can simply accept the morality and laws of your creator (and, presumably, the way you have interpreted these laws. Unless you are willing to have Pastor Jeremiah Wright or Reverend Hagee or Pope Benedict do the interpretations. If not, then we are stuck with convincing them to accept yours).

2. We can all accept the use of reason as a way of arriving at morals and laws.

Question 1. Do you have a third possibility that I've missed?

Question 2. Do you lean toward either of the above?

The Exterminator said...

OK, Rhology, disregard what I said about returning to the main point of the post. I think Philly's and Evo's questions are good ones, and I'd like to read your responses. In any case, they may well get us back to where we started. Do also, please, answer my question: Is Evil an entity?

So, as I see it, you should strive to respond to Philly's questions 1-7, Evo's questions 1 and 2, and my lone question. For purposes of clarity could you label your answers: Ph1, Ph2, Ph3, Ph4, Ph5, Ph6, Ph7, Ev1, Ev2, and Ex1? Of course, you may re-ask your own questions, or introduce new ones. Please label them for us, too, though (e.g., Rh1, Rh2, and so on).

Thanks.

cl said...

I think Philly's questions are good as well, and I would like to raise the question of just what one means when they posit, "if your god commanded you to" commit act X. For example, in your scenario, Philly, is a manifesting being of obvious power standing next to me commanding me to commit act X? Or is something more subjective attempting to persuade me to commit act X, like a voice in my head, a Dorito that looks like Jesus or a roughly legible message in my bowl of Alpha Bits or Spaghetti-O's?

Ex - when you ask if evil is an entity, I know what I think you mean - but what exactly do you mean? Are you asking if evil is a property? Tangible? Objective? And if I understand you correctly, you are arguing that good and evil are inherently subjective.

The Exterminator said...

CL:
If I understand you correctly, you are arguing that good and evil are inherently subjective.
Nope, you don't understand me correctly. I made no such argument. I might -- in a different post. But here, I merely argued that Evil was not an entity, not a thing-in-itself.

I can't conceive why you would want to come to my blog and engage in oh-so-casual philosophical discussion after our previous interchanges. You're welcome, however, to do so.

But if you do ... here are the rules for this "debate" -- and for any other you may participate in at No More Hornets. They don't apply to anyone else at the moment; they're special troll rules, just for you. If you don't like them, you can go elsewhere.

Rule 1: You're to stay on topic. That means you can begin by answering any question raised by the actual post itself.
Rule 2: You must provide an answer, even if it's "I can't answer that question."
Rule 2(a): If you can't answer because you don't understand a question, just say so. Don't interpret what you think the question means, don't try to paraphrase it, don't ask a further question to clarify it. Just say, "I don't understand that question." I'll rephrase the question to clarify it for you.
Rule 2(b): If you can't answer because you don't have an answer, just say so. I'll narrow the question until you can give at least a "yes" or a "no."
Rule 3: Having answered, you may then feel free to expand the conversation by asking one -- that's one -- question yourself. It must be directly related to the question that came before it and spring naturally from it.
Rule 4: I, in turn will answer your question, and then pose another of my own.

So, OK, Here's the question raised by the post:
Do you agree or disagree with my claim that Evil is not an entity, a thing in and of itself?
Feel free to explain to your answer.

bullet said...

Can grumpy's church also take care of my neighbor's Poison Ivy? That's truly evil.

The Exterminator said...

bullet:
I don't know what the tenets of grumpy's church are. He may have a special affinity for poison ivy, hence his grumpiness.

Why don't you tithe and find out? If he doesn't do anything for you, you won't be the first person whose tithes have failed to result in a positive benefit.

By the way grumpy, I expect a commission on any tithes you collect.

As to the evil of poison ivy, I can't say. It depends on your attitude toward scratchin' like a hound, which seems to be a pretty good thing for a hound to do, but not quite so desirable for humans. I do believe in poison ivy, though, and I have it on good authority that it's gonna make you itch and that you're gonna need an ocean of Calamine lotion.

The Exterminator said...

CL:
Just to make myself clear, since I just noticed that I typed an extraneous "to" in the last line of my comment to you, and I know what a stickler you are for precision:

It should have read: Feel free to explain your answer.

I hope this correction unmuddies things sufficiently for you so that we can begin our mutual exploration of whether or not Evil is an entity.

PhillyChief said...

Well I'd say if you feel there's a distinction between reading your god's orders in your bible, hearing his orders in your head or seeing him standing next to you giving orders as far as how you'd respond to those orders then by all means explain what your response would be in each case and why.

Here, I'll even give my answers to get the ball rolling:
Words from bible - I don't care
Words from head/Dorito - Won't follow - will see psychiatrist
Words from god standing beside me barking orders - I'll ask for reasons why and if I hear "'cause I say so" then I'll tell him to piss off, or maybe try some of that smooth talking exhibited by Abraham in that story about god wanting to destroy Sodom and Gemorah, "surely a good god like you wouldn't...". Of course where that smooth talking was when he was ordered to kill his son, I don't know. Maybe his son was a little shit?

Rhology said...

Hi all,

Boy, I'm glad that not all these comments were for me! I'd never have gotten to all of them lol.

OK, Ext, I'll drop this comment at your request except for your final question. Thanks for making your questions more precise.
Let me see, though...yeah, I have some questions based on this comment. I'll answer the ones posed to me and return with my own later.

TE1) Is Evil an entity?
I might be a bit light on the philosophical book-larnin' to know exactly what you mean by "entity", so if I whiff on the meaning thereof, please correct me and I'll give it another shot.
Evil, according to the Bible, is not a being. Good isn't either, strictly speaking. Good is that which agrees with the nature and character of God. Evil (aka sin) is the breaking of God's law, God's character, God's purity and holiness.
Evil is a nature of action and thought, rather than a being in itself. Evil has no will, no intelligence, no personhood, no personality, no mind.

PC1) questions I've avoided
What makes suffering evil? How do you know? Why or why not (does someone else get to define evil a different way)?
How would you try to explain that what Tkalim is doing is wrong?
On what basis (is what Tkalim is doing wrong)? How do you know?

Could you identify the commands that I pick and choose to ignore and tell me how I ignore them?
(Unless "I frankly don't care" is to be considered as a useful answer anyone should respect.)
What informs the decision? Whence do you derive the data that "rape = bad"?
Suffering?
Whence do you derive the data that "suffering = bad"?

Whenever you want to get to those, that'd be great. Looks like there ARE 10, so you arrived at double digits (congratulations on the dubious distinction). I'll give you a hint - they warrant more than one-sentence dismissals, which is all we've seen from you so far. One wonders whether your "all attack-dog mode, all the time" style has blinded you to the necessity of thinking thru your own position. Who knows - some crazed theist fundy might come along and ask you to explain yourself some day.


PC2) Please explain how, if your god commanded you to rape a child, you would respond and why

I deny the premise - God has never nor would ever command anyone to rape anyone else.
If I *thought* He had done so, I'd be wrong. My own thoughts and impressions are to be submitted to what God has objectively revealed about Himself.


PC3) Please explain how, if your god commanded you to kill your child, you would respond and why

Note - this is not the same question nor answer as #2. Nevertheless, if I *thought* He had done so, I'd be wrong. My own thoughts and impressions are to be submitted to what God has objectively revealed about Himself.
You might reply: Did not God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
Answer: Yes, He did. However, this one event was for a specific typ-ical purpose. Isaac was the type of Christ, the sacrifice the type of Christ's atoning death on the Cross.
Also, the amount of revelation available to Abraham at the time is far sparser than that which is available to me today. Christ is the fulfillment of all those types and shadows of the Old Testament and the way and God we are to worship has a very full definition.
Abraham himself, according to Hebrews 11, had faith that God would simply raise Isaac from the dead if the sacrifice were to go all the way thru. Which it didn't.

Whether that makes sense to you or seems acceptable, I couldn't care less. You're asking ME questions about MY worldview, not about yours. If you don't understand, do more Bible and theology study. If you think it's evidence that Christianity is false, maybe you could do a post on how you, as an atheist, know your cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing thoughts that correspond to reality.

PC4) Please explain how, if your god commanded you to kill another human being, you would respond and why

If I *thought* He had done so, I'd be wrong. My own thoughts and impressions are to be submitted to what God has objectively revealed about Himself. God has commanded me not to murder.


PC5) Please explain how your morality is superior to other's morality

Depends on who the other is.
But in general, it's superior b/c it reflects the morality of God, Who is the Ultimate Ground of Morality.


PC6) Please explain how you would respond to Tkalim and why

I would share with Tkalim that the gods he worships are false gods. That he has been deceived by the devil and his own sinful desires and that the true God is waiting to forgive him and love him and adopt him as His own child, and He has proved Himself to be a forgiving and loving God by sending His only Son to die for Tkalim's sin and to make it possible to be God's friend.
If Tkalim were to accept this free offer of grace, it would almost certainly not be necessary to convince him of the evil of his actions, but if it were, we'd see what God, in the Bible, has to say about rape and murder.


PC7) Please explain how you justify the christian variant to the Golden Rule

I deny the premise - the true Golden Rule is the one expressed by God Himself. The chronological development has no significance.


JEvo1) if not, then we are stuck with convincing them to accept yours).

I'll assume that's a question mark at the end.
All three of those men are heretics and have over and over again displayed a very poor grasp of biblical exegetical principles. Why would I care what they say?
It's the same as for ANY OTHER DOCUMENT - that reading which is supported by the text and context is the correct one.
This might help.



JEvo2) We can all accept the use of reason as a way of arriving at morals and laws.
Question 1. Do you have a third possibility that I've missed?


Yes, the 3rd option is, as I described in the post I linked to above, to bow humbly before the God Who is the very definition of what good is and submit to it.






Now, here are my questions:
Rh1) PC, you said in response to this question: What "evidence", new or otherwise, could inform a decision about whether it is morally wrong to rape a child?
With this: I can't imagine any new information that would change my opinion of it

Question: What information, then, DID shape your opinion of it?

Rh2) And why should it shape anyone else's?

Rh3) If your answer is predicated on an "if" question such as "well, *if* you want to live in normal, modern, healthy society...", please inform us IF we should indeed want to choose the same side of the "if" that you do. And why.

Rh4) Is it wrong for everyone, everywhere, at all times, under any circumstance, for any reason, to rape a child?

Rh5) If not, please describe some circumstance in which it would be acceptable, and why.

Rh6) If so, please explain how you know that. And how you know THAT. When you explain the "how you know", just imagine me asking how you know again and answer THAT. Please do that 4 times.

Peace,
Rhology

PhillyChief said...

Well somebody's been busy. Alright, I'll try to answer or go into greater detail to address those questions you feel I didn't address Rho.

PC2 Inadequate answer. You can't answer that he wouldn't command that of you tomorrow, unless you're claiming you know the mind of god. Do you know the mind of god, Rho? Do you know what he will do tomorrow?
PC3 Once again, the same inadequate answer but with the added bonus of irrelevant material. Groovy
PC4 Once again inadequate, but thankfully without the bonus crap.
PC6 is PC5 in action, and quite telling, but you answered, so good for you.
PC7 Grossly ignoring the question to the point of not even exhibiting any comprehension of what the question entails. Way to finish off with a bang.

Now one would have to wonder why ANYONE would take the time to answer questions from someone who not only wouldn't return the favor, but would justify not doing so by saying, "Whether that makes sense to you or seems acceptable, I couldn't care less." However, I'll be a sport even if he won't if for no other reason to show how one should conduct themselves. No doubt this will be as effective on Rho as any of my words on his/her fictitious fellow superstitious character Tkalim would be, but I'll do it anyway. Honestly, some just seemed so obvious that the questions appeared rhetorical like asking why breathing is good. Also, most are redundant, no doubt to inflate that "double digit" tally plus many were already answered to various degrees.

What makes suffering evil? How do you know? Why or why not (does someone else get to define evil a different way)? Whence do you derive the data that "suffering = bad"?
Who wants to endure suffering? It's not very nice. I don't like it. Others don't like it (well some do, to a point, which is why they have "safe" words to make it stop). The degree of evil I think is in the degree of needlessness. For instance, pain from hand on hot iron is not that needless. Pain from falling into a ravine while hiking and slowly dying for four days is pretty needless suffering. Now without the idea of a 3-omni god, we can quibble over how evil suffering may be or if it is evil at all. With one, then it's unquestionably evil for such a being could and should create a better way.

How would you try to explain that what Tkalim is doing is wrong? On what basis (is what Tkalim is doing wrong)? How do you know? What informs the decision? Whence do you derive the data that "rape = bad"?
As I said earlier, it would be incredibly difficult to overcome his superstitious beliefs. I mean, look at you and yours Rho. I'd probably have no choice but to include what your opening sentence to him would be, but I would try and avoid that as much as possible since that's foolish. That would make him become defensive and even less responsive to what I might have to say then he already would be and the fact that you don't realize that is indicative of the point I made which you dismissed which is your religion, via it's perversion of the Golden Rule, makes you incapable of empathy. There's an old saying, I believe attributed to Socrates, which states:
A fool tries to convince me with his words, a wise man convinces me with my own."
With that in mind, I would try to help him realize the rights of the girls, understand their pov, and generally try to instill an empathetic view of the situation for causing harm on another is wrong. It might be possible to accomplish that without attacking his god belief, but probably not. Rape is an act of causing harm upon another against their will. I know it's harm because women say it is, and there's plenty of evidence to show what both the physical and psychological harm is and it's severity, which makes it inexcusable under any circumstance.

Could you identify the commands that I pick and choose to ignore and tell me how I ignore them?
As I said, I don't care what your rationales are and believe me they are rationales. You can come up with clever ways to get around the Leviticus stuff, but what about allegedly Jesus' instructions to sell your belongings and give them to the poor and have no concern for tomorrow? No, no, that's ok, you don't have to answer. Once again, mindless minutia compared to the grander issue of their even being a god in the first place. Without tackling that one, what's the point of moving forward with this nonsense?

Your new questions are also very redundant...

RH1 - What information, then, DID shape your opinion of [child rape]?
Same as rape in general essentially, with the added bonus of a child not being mentally capable to grant consent, so any sexual act with a child would be rape.

RH2 - And why should it shape anyone else's?
Because empathy and mutual respect are keys for humans coexisting together, and I find worthy regardless. This was understood by our ancestors long ago, and seen in the original Golden Rule. It is this that informs my decision as it should everyone's.

RH3
You can reduce it to an if. Certainly in the interest of successful human coexistence we should not harm others, but true empathy and mutual respect would lead one to these conclusions.

RH4 - Is it wrong for everyone, everywhere, at all times, under any circumstance, for any reason, to rape a child?
Yes (which kills RH5)

RH6 - If so, please explain how you know that. And how you know THAT. When you explain the "how you know", just imagine me asking how you know again and answer THAT. Please do that 4 times.
Harmful - against will and child incapable of granting consent. Physical and psychological trauma attest to harm. Victim, due to trauma, more inclined to inflicting similar harm on others in future. Condoning of behavior fosters behavior.

cl said...

Philly, the reason I ask is significant, I think. Bible verses, Doritos that take on the appearance of Jesus and prophetic bowls of Alpha Bits all fall into the category of subjectivity, IMO. An actual manifestation of God, while always arguable as hallucinatory or whatever, is a much more objective scenario in which the chance of misinterpretation is greatly reduced.

Ex, thank you for your concern. Your omission of the word 'to' did not muddy things to any degree previously unachieved in our discussions. However, I would really like to continue our mutual exploration of evil as an entity.

Rhology, if I can add my unasked-for 2 cents - I only read one of your responses, PC2. I don't think it's fair. You can't claim to know what God has or has not done. If God can ask a father to sacrifice his son, why can't God ask a man to rape a woman? I think you should just respond to the question as Philly asked it, instead of attempt to dodge it on a questionable appeal to knowledge.

Pre-empting your flip, well...if it was an empirically detectable being of obvious power commanding me to do it, I would likely put forth feeble attempts to persuade the being otherwise, perhaps playing a game of let's quote scripture. But, when it got down to do or die, man, that's a tough question. I'd have to say that I would in fact violate the poor lass, and hope for some sense of empathy based off the reasonable premise that she saw the being too.

The whole question just raises the Euthypro riddle all over again.

PhillyChief said...

It always comes back to Euthypro cl. ;)

Thanks for answering the questions directly and being a sport. I'd have to spare the lass myself though.

cl said...

Now Philly, I just saw part of your comment to Rhology and I see something unclear. Although I think I understand where you're coming from, I don't think a moral relativist can ethically state the following: "It is this that informs my decision as it should everyone's." Why should what informs your decision inform anyone else's? Are we presupposing successful human interaction as a common priority? Who are you to say what should inform another's opinion? Isn't that what the Christians do to receive their condemnation? On what grounds should successful human interaction be elevated above the joys and benefits of bedlam and robbery? Is morality simply a case of majority rule? And is moral relativism true for everybody?

I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm seriously trying to jive with your definition of moral relativism in light of the cited excerpt.

PhillyChief said...

Believing I'm correct about how people should be, then I see no reason why I can't state people should be as I believe they ought to be. Imposing my belief is objectionable, but arguing for the superiority of my belief over others in hopes of winning them over to my beliefs isn't.

On what grounds should successful human interaction be elevated above the joys and benefits of bedlam and robbery?
As I wrote to Rhology, I see Golden Rule and human empathy and mutual respect as valuable.

Is morality simply a case of majority rule?
Yes and no. Take the US for instance. If morality were strictly a majority vote we might still have slavery.

And is moral relativism true for everybody?
Everyone is free to have their own opinions.

cl said...

@ Philly,

You wrote, "I'd have to spare the lass myself though."

I guess it comes down to whether or not there is a threat of punishment or death or whatever if you say no. A similar question could be, "If some guy holds a gun to your head and says he'll shoot unless you commit atrocious act X, what will you do?"

Personally, I'd weigh the possible outcomes. In the case with the girl, for example, well she sees this threatening being too, right? That changes everything about the act. Does it remove a portion of my responsibility?

Also, feel free to disagree and I guess it's pure ego, but I'd like to think the benefits to a world without me are less than the benefits to a world with me in which I committed an arguable atrocious act under arguable circumstances.

In all honesty, I feel like some sort of mole or weirdo for saying I might have to violate the lass.

BUT - to your recent comment where you begin with an assumption: "Believing I'm correct about how people should be.." My question is, on what grounds do you believe that you're correct? The original Golden Rule?? It does all go back to Euthypro.

PhillyChief said...

Yikes, well I feel like I went through all that answering Rhology explaining both how to come to a conclusion and how to decide it's merit. You can start with the Golden Rule and work outward. I think I wrote some speculations on how the Golden Rule could have come to be here which is what I linked to earlier.

Your hope for the girl seeing you so commanded is a hope that you'll be given permission to carry out the order, which makes it less of a rape. Ok, two options to make it easier or harder:
1. The girl has no idea you're commanded
2. Failure to comply means death for one of your loved ones.

Morality ain't easy, which is part of the appeal to accepting a bunch of stuff in a book over having to work this out for yourself. It's intellectual laziness and dishonesty, but you make that pill easier to swallow by telling yourself that stuff is your god's will. I understand. I used to have to put peanut butter on pills to get my dog to swallow them, only she needed the pill. Humans don't. Imo cl, you seem today to be working things out for yourself.

The Exterminator said...

Rhology:
I’m going to respond to your answer to me with a question of my own. And then I’m going to make a short comment about what is, and what isn’t, a legitimate logical argument. I can’t speak about what is and what isn’t a legitimate faith argument, but you’re just wasting everyone’s time here if your debating points require faith to accept them. I remind you that atheists are faith-free. So, while no one at No More Hornets disputes that you, yourself have faith, an argument based on your faith falls well outside the range of legitimate argumentation at this blog.

Response: I think you’re trying to impose a meaning on “entity” that I didn’t put there. What I’m asking is: Is Evil a thing in and of itself? I’m not asking if it’s a specific being; clearly it isn’t. Obviously, then, it has no will, intelligence, personhood, personality, or mind. I’m just asking if “Evil” with a capital E is a thing apart from the individual persons, actions, and natural phenomena you might describe as evil. In other words:

Question Ex2: Do you, Rhology, describe a person, an action, or a natural phenomenon as evil because it springs from a something higher and apart, a something known as "Evil"? If not, on what criteria do you base your use of the word "evil"?

Comment: Using the bible to prove itself is known as circular reasoning. You’re probably already familiar with that concept. So don’t engage in that silliness here; it’s a waste of everyone’s time, including yours. Similarly, saying that a fact is because your god says it’s so and then basing that say-so on the bible is also circular reasoning. FYI: In logical argumentation, circular reasoning results in a fallacy. The argument fails.

John Evo said...

Rhology said:

JEvo2) We can all accept the use of reason as a way of arriving at morals and laws.
Question 1. Do you have a third possibility that I've missed?

Yes, the 3rd option is, as I described in the post I linked to above, to bow humbly before the God Who is the very definition of what good is and submit to it.


No. That is not a 3rd option that I missed. That is option 1. 1. All non-Christians can simply accept the morality and laws of your creator

Now we are at a complete impasse. I will never do so. You and I would like to coexist peacefully in this world. But we can only do so by dropping the "bow humbly before the God Who is the very definition of what good is and submit to it."

You would rather continue attempting to enforce that idea, at the expense peace. De Facto, your notion of a creator who gives laws is a notion leading to evil.

The Exterminator said...

To all:

This is a minor linguistic point, but if we're going to use language to debate with one another, let's make sure we're using the words that we actually mean.

The word that means "to be in harmony with; to accord with, to correspond to" is jibe.

The word jive is slang for "to kid, to jest, to exaggerate, to deceive, to bullshit, to fuck with."

Thus, when cl says: I'm seriously trying to jive with your definition of moral relativism in light of the cited excerpt, I'm not sure whether he's merely using the incorrect word -- or whether he's saying exactly what he means.

breakerslion said...

"Yeah I always abuse people too, who I feel go off topic or miss my point. Feels great."

Argumentum ad mollitiae et occisum.

Must be very fulfilling, to be a Christian and be persecuted in this way.

I think you all might be missing some perspectives on the child rape thing.

1. This is not a sexual act, it is an act of violence, domination, and anger.

When contemplating what constitutes evil, one might first ask, "what purpose does it serve?"

This is the act of a mentally deranged beta monkey, alpha-monkey wanna-be. One could then conjecture as to the circumstances that created such a monster, but this could lead to an infinite regression of causality. This in turn, might encourage the Christians to drive a truckload of "first cause" talking points into the argument. Let's not, shall we?

2. It is an act of coercion, an invasion of personal space, an inequitable transaction, and it causes emotional damage.

All of the above is provable without invoking some smart-ass god to tell you so.

If you have any doubt that the act is morally wrong, commit it in front of the child's mother. Provided that she is not also mentally ill, broken, or restrained, she will righteously beat your brains out. Even were the act morally defensible, it must surely be immoral to create such a murderous rage in another by one's actions.

The simple truth is, man created morality based upon psycho-social realities and theories of equity based on fairness and empathy. Man then created a bogey-man God to impress those rules on the simple-minded, and as a lever to coerce people into breaking those rules when convenient.

Rhology said...

Hey all,

Just in case you care, I don't think I have much time this Fri-Sun to blog. I might but I doubt it. I'll try to be back later.

Thanks for your patience.

John Evo said...

No, no, Please... take all the time you need. We'll understand if you can't make it back at all. At least I will.

PhillyChief said...

"If you have any doubt that the act is morally wrong, commit it in front of the child's mother. Provided that she is not also mentally ill, broken, or restrained, she will righteously beat your brains out."

I don't think that's an adequate test. There are a lot of mothers sadly who would have that reaction if you were to commit an act like explaining to their kid evolution, or that the Earth is older than 6,000 years old and early man did not live like the Flintstones. Then again, maybe that would be indicative that she's mentally ill. Hmmm

The Exterminator said...

breakers:
I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to translate argumentum ad mollitiae et occisum. Now that the Roman Empire has finally disbanded, I've forgotten most of my Latin. I think you're trying to say that Paul Molitor once got in an argument for not taking his Oxycontin, but I'm not sure.

Rhology:
Just in case you care, I don't think I have much time this Fri-Sun to blog. I might but I doubt it. I'll try to be back later.
I thought that if a person was on a mission to convert the world for Jesus, he didn't get to take long weekends.

Oh, well. What do I know? I'm not religious.

Evo:
You're hereby appointed official greeter at No More Hornets. Don't forget to stamp Rhology's hand, so he can come back in for free.

Philly:
You're right that it's not an adequate test. I've known mothers who'd beat your brains out for telling their kids to stop kicking the back of your seat at the movies. Well, you know what they always say: Subsisto crocus procul meus parvulus si vos operor non volo mihi ut vulnero vos pessime! (Stop yelling at my child if you do not want me to hurt you badly!)

Rhology said...

Ext,

I have a confession to make. I snuck in. The long weekend is not for resting, it's for sobbing in the corner of the men's room.

Oh, and I don't come here to convert the world for Jesus. I'm here to display the depth of your argumentation and the problems with your position. Going purty good if'n you ask me...

John Evo said...

Ex said: You're hereby appointed official greeter at No More Hornets. Don't forget to stamp Rhology's hand, so he can come back in for free.

Oh, I'll be happy to stomp him.

Philly said: I don't think that's an adequate test. There are a lot of mothers sadly who would have that reaction if you were to commit an act like explaining to their kid evolution, or that the Earth is older than 6,000 years old

I think his point is valid, he should have just left the mother out. That's too obvious, with the power of kin altruism.

But kin altruism led, most assuredly, to reciprocal altruism - which is where we got our morals (just in case Rhology ever comes back).

So is Breakerslion had made his point as being in front of several members of community in which the child lived (even if the attacker were also from that community) the violent result would be exactly the same, have nothing to do with god, or protective mommies.

cl said...

@ Philly,

This comment is just a response to your's posted June 12 @ 4:00pm.

You wrote,

"Morality ain't easy, which is part of the appeal to accepting a bunch of stuff in a book over having to work this out for yourself. It's intellectual laziness and dishonesty, but you make that pill easier to swallow by telling yourself that stuff is your god's will. I understand. I used to have to put peanut butter on pills to get my dog to swallow them, only she needed the pill. Humans don't. Imo cl, you seem today to be working things out for yourself."

I object here mainly to the word "today" because I've always been working things out. Me work tings, tings no work me.

Further pondering, I might also caution you against the potential fallacy of prejudgment. If I were to again play Narcissus and assume your ascription of blind faith or even any faith was also directed towards me, I might object again. If my assumption is incorrect then none of the following applies, but if you recall, I've never once asserted a definitive theological position in any of these exchanges. You guys are more than *welcomed to label me a Christian because I think Chaplain's or Epicurus' logic is flawed on this occasion or that, but it's an error that will only confuse things for you. And what's a Christian, anyhow, as Russell was fond of asking? I've said in threads before that challenging a position typically advanced by atheists is not tantamount to promoting theism, or Christianity, or anything. I hold to this and add that jumping to unwarranted definitive conclusions will only muddy the debate.

*welcomed - d or no d as used in that phrase?

Now, to answer the questions in the context of your new rules which actually make the dilemma much easier - Violation! Plain and simple. The life of a loved one (and possibly anyone) is worth far more to me than another human's temporary misfortune. But I can think of other conditions under which my answer might change again.

cl said...

Ex, you're cracking me up today. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd translate that into Latin for added effect.

BTW thanks for the correction. I did in fact intend to use "jibe." And I saw part of your latest response to Rhology, which shed some light on this evil as an entity thing. So, if you have anything for me, I'm game, and if you or anyone can address my earlier quandary over which quality of our omni-4 God in question is violated by allowing other sentient beings to make choices regarding the problem of evil, I'm down for that, too.

The Exterminator said...

Rhology:
Going purty good if'n you ask me...
Well, you picked the appropriate ignorant Southern accent to make that claim. Please say hi to Opie for me, and ask Aunt Bee if there's any sweet p'tater pie left.

Evo:
Oh, I almost forgot. As part of your new duties, you'll have to wear this Friendly Owl costume. Although the expression may look like a scowl, it's actually a cheerful, inviting smile. Come out and play, mousies.

I don't think Breakers was actually talking about kin altruism, but it is an interesting point. However, I'm not convinced that all acts causing violent feelings in kin are necessarily evil. I've known some relatives who could get pretty fucking confrontational if you ate the last Mallomar.

cl:
Me work tings, tings no work me.
I've got a question, cl, that isn't relevant at all to this debate. It's just kind of a personal curiosity thing.

What is it with you Christians and accents, today? I don't even know what that's supposed to sound like. Does it come from a Tarzan movie?

PhillyChief said...

Rhology reminds me of the former Iraqi INformation Minister.

CL, we all know all too well you've "never once asserted a definitive theological position", although you've argued for a god, I believe one of the 4-omni variety, elsewhere. Why you hold on to the peanut butter when you're rejecting the pill I don't know.

You are quick to say the inclusion of a loved one negates the test, but is that an absolute? I don't see it as being necessarily true. Maybe for you, maybe for most, but not necessarily for everyone. What if the person you're commanded to harm is somehow of great importance to society, thereby potentially harming countless others?

The point is, even with a dusty book of morals from some ancient goat herders, when faced with situations like this, there's rarely clear answers. Whether you work out a response by weighing the situation against your personal beliefs or against the goat herder's, that very process of analyzing and deciding, imo, is evidence for the subjectivity of morals. Two atheists won't necessarily agree on the answer to a moral dilemma, but neither might two christians, for their interpretations of their dusty book might not jibe.

cl said...

@ Ex,

Actually I was listening to Sizzla. But if you must view all my comments through the polarized lens of theism vs. atheism, I would add that Sizzla would be more accurately considered Rastafari than Christian. I do like playing these fun, snarky little games though.


@ Philly,

Hmmm...and why would I argue against God with atheists? Aren't they likely to agree with me?

You write, "You are quick to say the inclusion of a loved one negates the test, but is that an absolute? I don't see it as being necessarily true." Not that you're claiming such, but I never implied that it was an absolute. It was my personal answer to your question, but anyone is of course free to embellish freely.

Even if the person in question was or would be of great importance to society, what is your logical or rational basis for prematurely assuming that my act of harm against her will translate similarly to others? I sense the slippery slope fallacy.

@ Whoever,

Which quality of the omni-4 God in question is violated by allowing other sentient beings to make choices regarding the problem of evil? Why?

PhillyChief said...

I misread your comment, CL. Yes, death trumps harm, imo, but still it might not for someone else. What I was thinking of but didn't flesh out was a scenario where it would be harm vs harm. Sorry, my head's not fully in it today.

Which quality of the omni-4 God in question is violated by allowing other sentient beings to make choices regarding the problem of evil? Why?

Omnibenevolence mostly. Then there's omniscience for not knowing a better way. It gets worse if you equate suffering as evil.

cl said...

@ Philly,


No worries. I appreciate your answer but stand frustrated by its lack of logical explanation.

How does allowing other sentient beings to make choices regarding the problem of evil violate omnibenevolence?

Are you arguing that sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration contradicts an omnibenevolent God?

If so, why?

If not, under what conditions would sentient beings experiencing evil contradict omnibenevolence?

Let's resolve this first then proceed to omniscience, if you don't mind.

cl said...

Ex,


Earlier in the thread you made the following blanket statement: "However, for Christians, Evil is an indivisible something, a thing-in-itself."

Now, how does an admitted atheist gain the privilege to speak for all Christians? I don't have a Bible in front of me, but can you give any scriptural basis for your claim or possibly shed light on where you found it? For example, is your assertion true for all Christians? Or only Protestants? What about Catholics or Mormons?

John Evo said...

CL - Christers do believe evil is an entity. I don't read Ex saying "all".

PhillyChief said...

I think it's me who needs the long weekend.

I think there needs to be a clarification made. There's the "Problem of Evil" (hereafter known as PoE because it's easier to type) and a problem of evil. A problem of evil could be something you and I could have:
Our new boss is evil
- Oh, that's a problem

PoE refers to a logical problem that has been stumping people who want to assert there's a 3-omni god for a looooong time.

"Are you arguing that sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration contradicts an omnibenevolent God?"

It contradicts a 3-omni god. It could still be omnibenevolent but perhaps lack the power to eliminate evil or can't figure out how to eliminate evil. Likewise, it could have the power and the know how but be a bit of a dick and allow it to exist.

The freewill argument is a common stab at solving PoE, but woefully insufficient. It's another way of redefining evil, which is the basis of many attempts to solve the problem. Essentially, it tries to argue things like it's the price we pay for having free will, or that free will is how we learn, by suffering mistakes, and so forth.

The more honest attempts have been ones where concessions are made to the 3-omni model. Plantinga for instance argues for a less than ominpotent god. There's nothing wrong with being a really REALLY strong god, I guess. Perfection is such a hard thing you know. I mean look at my earlier slip ups today. ;)

cl said...

@ John Evo,


Fair enough. I've left a few comments on some other blogs where the thread might know a little more about exegesis than around here, but really, I don't think anyone is justified in saying "Christians believe evil is an entity." Which Christians? Because I've heard many argue that evil is not an entity.

So to anyone, is there a biblical basis for the claim that evil is an entity?

cl said...

@ Philly,

I'm almost certain you'll think I'm jiving you, but IMO you didn't answer the question and I need clarity. And let's not digress to Plantinga or free will arguments, but stay in context.

You began your reply with a rather cryptic, "It could still be omnibenevolent.." So, have you conceded that sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration does not contradict an omnibenevolent God, but might contradict omniscience or omnipotence? Yes or no?

I'm confused because the following sentence reads, "Likewise, it could have the power and the know how but be a bit of a dick and allow it to exist." Then we're back to a breach of omnibenevolence again, but you seemingly just conceded that sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration does not contradict an omnibenevolent God.

So which is it??

PhillyChief said...

I don't see how much plainer I can make it. You have 4 things:
1. God is omnibenevolent
2. God is omniscient
3. God is omnipotent
4. Evil

3 things could logically coexist, but not all 4. Pick your 3, any 3.

cl said...

@ Philly,


Apparently you prefer eschewing me over giving a real explanation. Let me know if you want to answer the questions. I'm not trolling or jiving you, maybe you do need a long weekend, but take a closer look and try to answer:

Have you conceded that sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration does not contradict an omnibenevolent God, but might contradict omniscience or omnipotence? Yes or no?

Please give a response that addresses the question, or just tell me to piss off if you're over it, but don't display the poor scholarship typically ascribed to our adversaries.

PhillyChief said...

Here, I'll use your exact wording:
•sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration does not contradict an omnibenevolent God, but might contradict omniscience or omnipotence
•sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration does not contradict an omniscient God, but might contradict omnibenevolence or omnipotence
•sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or duration does not contradict an omnipotence God, but might contradict omniscience or omnibenevolence

See? You can have 3 of the 4. Each of those have 3 of the 4. Now go on, tell me again you're confused or I'm not answering your question. Go on.

breakerslion said...

Apologies for the deletion. Bad cut-and-paste experience. Here is the comment.

I feel like I'm interrupting a conversation, but "asked, so answered".

Argumentum ad mollitae et occisum:

Argument to sensibilities and torment (persecution).

Taking offense is often a ploy to put one's adversary at a disadvantage. I'm a little touchy when it comes to things that can be interpreted as an attempt to dominate.

I enjoyed reading the discussion of the "mamma bear protecting her cub" scenario. I think this is a visceral reaction, and is more or less hard-wired on a primitive level. If so, it illustrates on what basic a level that act of molestation is recognized as a threat worthy of a violent reaction that disregards personal risk.

I don't think that negates the argument of morality. If God does not exist, the building blocks of morality are to be found within human nature. God is then just a kluge answer like, "because I said so."

Even if this is not a moral judgment, my subsequent argument was to label the act immoral for triggering such behavior in the mother when such a consequence is predictable.

The act of inciting violence through eating the last Malomar or teaching evolution theory has seldom if ever resulted in murder. At least, it doesn't when interacting with a person who could not be said to be otherwise insane.

Moral relativism is a slippery slope. One can conjure up a hypothetical society in which ritual buggery of youngsters is morally accepted as a statement of the Divine Right of the King to bugger. Ritual blood sacrifice, and throwing virgins into volcanoes have been socially accepted. This does not make it any more right in that kingdom than in my town. It is notable that such behavior is usually predicated on superstitious belief. That statement can, and has been extended to include such things as the Jingoism and racism of such cults of power as Nazi Germany. All you really need to do is lump pseudo-science right in with superstition.

The only real problems I have with the rule book are the assertion that a higher power said it, and not mankind, and all of the "escape clauses" that quibble over the rules when it becomes convenient to raise an army or some such. You may argue that it became necessary to act in an immoral fashion, but don't try to tell me that a miracle happened, and suddenly the rules don't apply, and the act was therefore moral.

The PoE is not a problem until you try to perfect the godhead in the ways discussed at length by phillycheif. Satan is the personification of evil, and not to qualify this alleged immortal and super-powered mythical being a god in this mythological dichotomy is also a quibble.

BTW, in this discussion of the alleged 3-omni or 4-omni god, don't you want to include "Omnivorous"? If he is all-powerful, he can eat anything!

cl said...

Philly,

I see what you're arguing - you're saying that no matter how you rearrange the shells, you always come up one short.

Can you not see the inconsistency, though? You allow for contradictory Boolean instances to exist. Sentient beings experiencing evil either contradicts omnibenevolence or not, right?

Or, are you saying sentient beings experiencing evil contradicts omnibenevolence only if omniscience and omnipotence are also assumed?

Really, we're just going around in circles. Mine was a "yes or no" question. Does the fact of sentient beings experiencing evil in any degree or any duration contradict omnibenevolence? Yes or no?

If you feel the question is unfairly framed as Boolean, why?

We have to find a point we agree on and build from that, or else we'll never understand our differences.

PhillyChief said...

"Sentient beings experiencing evil either contradicts omnibenevolence or not, right?

Or, are you saying sentient beings experiencing evil contradicts omnibenevolence only if omniscience and omnipotence are also assumed?"


Latter.

Rhology said...

Hey all, many thanks for your patience.

PC2 - You can't answer that he wouldn't command that of you tomorrow, unless you're claiming you know the mind of god. Do you know the mind of god, Rho? Do you know what he will do tomorrow?

Yes, I know the mind of God to a sufficient degree to be able to say that with full confidence.
Why? B/c He has revealed His mind in great detail in the Bible. He is not like that.
In fact, this is one of the nice things about TGOTB - the problem of induction is solved thru Him. He controls the universe and works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:10) and works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The universe will persist more or less as it is until the end, and then God will remake it.
By contrast, you have no idea whether the laws of physics will reverse themselves 1 minute from now. You think they probably won't, but that's all you can know.


PC3 Once again, the same inadequate answer
PC4, inadequate


W/o a substantive critique from you, it is impossible to provide any elucidation. Let the reader judge who is interacting substantively with the other.

PC7 Grossly ignoring the question to the point of not even exhibiting any comprehension of what the question entails.

How is denying the premise an example of that? What is your argument?
When you ask a bad question, I suppose you want a solid gold answer? Isn't that special pleading?

one would have to wonder why ANYONE would take the time to answer questions from someone who not only wouldn't return the favor

Given how much you've written in response to my answers so far (which ain't much), it's amazing you don't see your double standard.

Who wants to endure suffering? It's not very nice. I don't like it. Others don't like it

So what? Who said that doing what other people like and not doing what others don't like is THE basis for morality?
Not God, certainly. You? The Exterminator? Dick Dawk? Bertrand Russell?

The degree of evil I think is in the degree of needlessness.
Pain from falling into a ravine while hiking and slowly dying for four days is pretty needless suffering.
it's unquestionably evil for such a being could and should create a better way.

Naked assertions. Where's the argument?
Is this seriously the best you've got to offer here? A bunch of "I say so" statements?
It's becoming clearer - you don't like the idea of TGOTB at least partly b/c His vast claims to authority conflict with your desire for self-determination, your desire to proclaim "Thus saith PhillyChief - thus and such is moral, thus and such is not-moral."


I would try to help (Tkalim) realize the rights of the girls

1) But his worldview does not grant them any rights. So where's the "convincing him with his own words" here?
2) How does an atheistic worldview like yours grant inalienable universal rights to anyone? They don't come from God; whence could they come? Society? Tkalim's society grants them none. The individual? Is not Tkalim himself an individual? Some universal principle or law? Whence comes said law, and what is your evidence for that (since you're so fond of demanding evidence for everythg)?

try to instill an empathetic view of the situation for causing harm on another is wrong

How do you know that empathy is a basis for morality? What is your evidence?

I know it's harm because women say it is

How do you know that empathy for what women think is a basis for morality? What is your evidence?

there's plenty of evidence to show what both the physical and psychological harm is and it's severity

How do you know that avoiding harm is a basis for morality? What is your evidence?

RH2 - And why should it shape anyone else's?
Because empathy and mutual respect are keys for humans coexisting together


What is your argument that anyone should want to coexist together with other humans?

RH4 - Is it wrong for everyone, everywhere, at all times, under any circumstance, for any reason, to rape a child?
Yes - Harmful - against will and child incapable of granting consent. Physical and psychological trauma attest to harm. Victim, due to trauma, more inclined to inflicting similar harm on others in future. Condoning of behavior fosters behavior.


You've successfully begged almost all of the questions here.
You may have misunderstood the purpose of a discussion like this. Nobody wants to see two regular guys like us just throw "I say so" statements back and forth. I would imagine they're interested in ARGUMENTS. So far, you're acting like you've been coronated some kind of Grand Poobah of Morality, with the authority to impose your ideas on everyone else. We're asking for your ID.


Rhology said: Could you identify the commands that I pick and choose to ignore and tell me how I ignore them?
PC "answered": As I said, I don't care what your rationales are and believe me they are rationales.


In other words, you just made the naked assertion, perhaps hoping no one would notice, and can't back it up. Duly noted.

what about allegedly Jesus' instructions to sell your belongings and give them to the poor and have no concern for tomorrow?

What is your argument? Please present an exegesis of that passage that is consistent with the context and we'll talk.

No, no, that's ok, you don't have to answer.

You seem to be talking to yourself - you haven't offered much of anythg in terms of "answers" yet.

Best of luck in actually answering some questions rather than begging them in your next comment, PC.

Peace,
Rhology

Rhology said...

The Ext,

I remind you that atheists are faith-free.

Sure you are.
PC above seems to have an awful lot of faith in his ability to make pronouncements from on high about what is moral and what isn't, for one thing.

Is Evil a thing in and of itself?

Sorry if I didn't get to your question directly. I'll try again.
No, I would not say it is.

Q Ex2

No, I call it evil b/c it goes against that which is good. So in a sense it "springs", not from, but in opposition to, that which is good.
So, actions and thoughts which go against that which God has commanded, that which is in accord with His nature and character, are evil.
Those who participate in such activities and thoughts are evil as well. Evil people, evil fallen angels, etc.
Finally, I myself and all Christians are evil. However, we have been forgiven of being evil by Jesus Christ, so now I am no longer evil b/c of His goodness that has been given to me.


Using the bible to prove itself is known as circular reasoning

Yes, I know. But where have I done so? You're asking me questions about my worldview. What do you want me to do? Use some Buddhist philosopher or statements from Dick Dawk to answer questions about what *I* believe?
I might as well insist you answer my questions in the words of Osama bin Laden only.

saying that a fact is because your god says it’s so and then basing that say-so on the bible is also circular reasoning.

Your epistemology is self-defeating, so we can't go there.
My investigations have satisfied me that all these other rival worldviews have bankrupt epistemologies...except for the biblical one. Pardon me for appealing to a worldview that has an epistemology that actually makes sense!


John Evo said:
Now we are at a complete impasse. I will never do so. You and I would like to coexist peacefully in this world. But we can only do so by dropping the "bow humbly before the God Who is the very definition of what good is and submit to it."

1) The problem of induction states that you can't say that. You have no idea whether you will ever do so or not. You know what your current spiritual state is, fine, but you can't know what it WILL be in a minute or a year.
Lots of fundy atheists like you have become believers in Jesus over the years, some more distinguished than you.
2) I do want to coexist peacefully in this world and have good reason to desire such.
I can't say the same for you. I know you want to NOW, but I can't know that you won't change your mind tomorrow. Worse, you won't have a compelling rational reason to think you OUGHT TO coexist peacefully, as we've seen.


Peace,
Rhology

PhillyChief said...

I have no interest in playing games with you, Rhology. I've answered your questions and you've failed and continue to fail to answer mine adequately which is not just my opinion if you read through the comments. Furthermore, why would anyone in their right mind continue on with someone when they're response to a question is:
"Whether that makes sense to you or seems acceptable, I couldn't care less."

Wonderful strategy, btw.
1. Challenge/question
2. Refuse to answer other's questions at all or answer unsatisfactorily
3. Declare resultant frustration from others as triumph of your position
4. Scurry back to your hole declaring victory

----------------------------

I would though like to address some of the things which are "telling" in Rhology's comments:

• He knows the mind of god because he knows the correct way to interpret the bible
• Feels the only way to defend his beliefs is to repetitively cite his beliefs then chastises others for not giving enough evidence for their own
• Fails to see anything wrong with needless suffering
• Fails to see empathy as a necessary basis for morality

Rhology said...

I've answered your questions and you've failed and continue to fail to answer mine adequately

One wonders if you're not reading a different thread.
I'm more than happy to leave this where it is, but of course others are welcome to interact with what I've said.

John Morales said...

Hi guys, just popped over from Rhology's blog (it's the trackback link for The same answer below).

Who:
He's a pre-suppositionalist Reformed Baptist apologist, and in my opinion weak on logic but strong in rhetoric. Oh yeah, he's every bit as harsh on non-Christians as on atheists, because, apparently, only those sharing his beliefs are Christians (i.e. he explicitly excludes Roman Catholics and Protestants from being Christian!).

What:
It has been my experience that his modus operandi is to drag any discussion on any topic towards his presuppositions, whenupon any connection to whatever the original topic was disappears beyond some event horizon.

Anyway, and much more cheerily and on-topic: Good post, I agree wholeheartedly with your theme and sentiments (though I might quibble some minutiae), and, interestingly, the subject has been debated ad-nauseam in Rhology's own blog over the (nearly) a year since I've been visiting his site.

Great blog, BTW. Cheers.

Rhology said...

Hi all,

John Morales has recently taken to following me around. It's a bit frightening, actually.
Anyway, just one thing:
he explicitly excludes Roman Catholics and Protestants from being Christian!).

I've corrected John on this within the last two days and still he persists.
If he can't be trusted to take a correction on sthg so simple as this, I don't know why one would think he's very trustworthy on any other matter, especially one where his worldview actually has a stake in the proceedings.
Roman***ISM*** is not Christian, though I have explicitly told John that some Romanis*T*s could be Christians.
And some flavors of ProtestantISM are not Christian, some are. Some ProtestaNTS are Christian, some aren't.
Not that I expect the NMH team to care about this; I'm just trying to clear it up.

Peace,
Rhology

PhillyChief said...

Well Mr. Morales, I would suggest trying to find a more rewarding and sane hobby than falling Rhology around and frequenting his blog, but that's me. Are you doing some study, or some kind of Media Matters service, watching him so others don't have to?

"[W]eak on logic but strong in rhetoric", huh? Gee, ya think? LOL

The Exterminator said...

John M.:
I haven't seen you here in a long time. Thanks for the compliment.

As to Rhology: Since it's hard for me to imagine a sane adult actually believing the nonsense that he chants over and over and over, I've concluded that he's either (1) nuts, (2) a pre-teen, or (3) a trained parrot.

Since you're following him around, I've figured out that you're probably (1) his nurse, (2) his babysitter, or (3) his trainer. So, FYI: It doesn't bother me if you let him play in my yard -- although sometimes it does get tiresome when the rest of us are having a serious conversation and he starts jumping up and down yelling "Look at me! Look at me!"

Most of us have learned to just let him have fun and not pay any attention.

Rhology said...

Ext,
Did you ever consider answering my arguments, or were you just going to mock today?

John Morales said...

PhillyChief, you're quite right.
Must've been a case of SIWOTI :)

Exterminator, it's hard for me to believe too.

PS To make it clear: I "followed him here" by clicking on the link R posted on his post about this thread. Nothing sinister.

Anyway, I'm taking Exterminator's advice and will henceforth ignore the poor fellow.

cl said...

Ex,

I admire your commitment to the Problem of Evil. I would never have thought to transplant SI's thread to my own blog.

Mcgregor187 said...

I feel much prejudice towards christians. Much misunderstanding of what the bible really means. It is to be interpreted for yourself, no one else. i have found alot of truth in it. Your views are not near my own on this "riddle" because you lack understanding of why we are here. I dont go to church but i believe in what jesus taught and what God must do. I have many athiest friends and they are all great people. I hope you will reconize your second chance on the day of judgement. You will be in my prayers...amen my brothers