Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vox Day on "The Problem of Evil".






Internet Superintelligence Vox Day had a superb post from last Easter on evil. It is an appropriate reflection for today, the anniversary of 9-11, a day when evil slipped off its veil.

Vox Day:


The problem with evil
Posted: April 25, 2011
1:00 am Eastern

© 2011

The fact of the existence of evil troubles many individuals, religious and irreligious alike. Numerous strategies have evolved for dealing with it, from denying it like the Buddhists, enduring it like the Stoics, combating it like the Christians or redefining it like the Marxists. But regardless of the method one chooses, there is observably something to which all of these people from the panoply of religious and philosophical creeds are responding.

For centuries, philosophers have wrestled with the so-called problem of evil. They have attempted to define the nature and the character of evil and to provide explanations for the persistence of its existence. Many of them have been Christians and, indeed, the problem of evil is a major stumbling block to belief in the existence of God for many individuals. It is not uncommon for those struck by tragedy to question their faith, or even to lose it, since they are unable to balance the notion of personal suffering with the existence of a God who claims to love them.

The problem with this reasoning is that it is fundamentally at odds with the very heart of Christianity. Christianity does not postulate that the world is a good place. Jesus repeatedly declared that the world hated him and it would hate those who loved him. Christianity does not claim that God is presently in control of events; when Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus rejected the offer but did not claim that it was spurious. And, indeed, Jesus twice spoke of "the prince of this world" as a being who was coming to kill him but would ultimately be driven out by Jesus' death.

Christianity does not have a problem of evil because it requires evil for the great historical event celebrated yesterday to have any meaning at all. Just as I wrote last week that the Crucifixion and Resurrection make no sense if man is not at risk of hell, they make no sense in a world that is not given over to evil. But if Christianity has no problem of evil, Christians most certainly have a problem with evil. 

One hears much these days of the need for religious tolerance. But this is a false doctrine. Christians are not called to tolerate evil or to love wickedness. We are instead commanded to fight it, to wage tireless and unceasing war against it in all of its myriad forms. We are called to resist it in our own lives, to mitigate it in others and to destroy it wherever possible.

Jesus spoke truly. The world still hates him, and it hates those who worship him. As has been the case for the last 2,000 years, Christians are being actively persecuted around the world. Christian converts are being murdered in Somalia even as Christian churches unwisely welcome Somali immigrants to America. New Christians have been murdered in Iraq and imprisoned in Afghanistan. Life-long Christians in Britain have been threatened with losing their jobs if they don't hide signs of their religion, even though Sikhs are permitted to wear turbans, Jews are permitted to wear yarmulkes, and Muslims are permitted to wear headscarves. America's time may not be soon, but it will eventually come, too.

The West is belatedly discovering the truth about the love of money being the root of all evil. The arrogant nations of the post-Christian West put their faith in their wealth, only to learn that Mammon is a false and treacherous god. The great irony is that despite the world's rejection of God and its foolish embrace of evil, those who find themselves suffering the promised consequences of their actions will end up blaming God for them. Such are the perils of free will.

But there is no cause for Christians to be discouraged despite observing that the prince of this world still rules over his kingdoms and once-great Christendom is in decline. On that first Resurrection Day, not even the 11 remaining disciples believed, only those few grief-stricken women who had entered the tomb and were astonished to find it empty. From that meager seed, a mighty church of more than 1 billion believers has grown. And yet, it hardly matters if there is but a single man or woman remaining who is willing to stand up in the face of the world's hatred and give voice to the Good News, for even if we remain silent, we are told that the rocks themselves will thunder.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

The Christian understanding is that the world is occupied territory. It is occupied by evil itself, in spiritual and personal form. We are passing through it, but we are not meant for it. We are in the world, but not of it.

Islamic terrorism is not an exception to the world. It is a manifestation-- one of many manifestations-- of the world, of a fallen world. God is soverign, but He permits freedom, even horrendous freedom. If we, who are created in His image, are to strive for good, we must be free to strive for evil. It's not a paradox. It's a necessary truth. That necessary truth showed itself with frightening clarity a decade ago.

Christ's call for us is to join Him, which means to join the fight. We must understand that we are on a battlefield, not our home.  The battle shifts. At times it is physical-- rushing up a staircase in a burning skyscraper to help innocents trapped. At times it is political-- standing up publicly for freedom and for the sanctity of human life. At times it is moral-- doing the right thing when every instinct we have is to do the wrong thing.

But we are not home yet. Our home has many rooms, and we will rest there, when we have finished the chores assigned to us in our time.

Let's remember all of the innocents who perished on that awful day, and remember with special gratitude those first responders who so courageously did His work, and finished the chores assigned to them in their time.

37 comments:

  1. >implying Satan is real
    >implying Christ is real
    >implying God is real

    I see what you did there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Mike, Great post by Vox. Excellent thoughts for the day.
    @ALL Americans: Please know that Canada stands with you on this day of remembrance and mourning of loss, and will continue to FIGHT this evil at your side. May 'God Keep our Land(s) Glorious and free' and may 'God Bless America' on this sad, but VERY important day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Dr Egnor: Fantastic. Just what I needed to read today.

    @Troll harder: Implying?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good stuff.

    "Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself."
    --The Problem of Pain

    Moreover, if evil really does exist then God exists necessarily.
    How else can you possibly define evil, without absolute good?

    Relativism, atheism's only possible morality, thus crumbles into stupidity again.

    For, if there is no absolute good, ALL 'good' is partially evil, bringing the existence of both into an undefined and meaninglessness ratio.

    As Lewis also said, "Truth and falsehood are opposed; but truth is the norm not of truth only but of falsehood also."

    This is similarly true of good/evil as well.

    We could write it, Good and evil are opposed; but good is the measure not of good only but of evil also.

    You can't have one without the other.
    God is necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As an atheist, I think that all actions have consequences, good and bad, some intended and some unintended.

    I can't think of any good consequences of the September 11 suicide attacks. The suicide terrorists apparently believed in the delusion that a mythical god approved of their actions and would reward them in an equally nonexistent future life.

    I supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It's unfortunate that the subsequent events have been so dismal, with the present Afghanistan government being not much better than the previous Taliban government, and the very real prospects that the Taliban may form part of a future Afghanistan government.

    I didn't support the Iraqi invasion, I took part in one of the Australian rallies against it, because I was certain that Saddam Hussein did not have WMDs, and that nothing good would out of the invasion. Unfortunately, my forebodings proved correct.

    Even minor, personal actions have consequences. The conspicuous consumption involved in purchasing a large gas guzzling 4-wheel vehicle may have good consequences; it provides jobs for the car manufacturers, car sales staff, service staff, petrol companies, etc, but it also has bad consequences, such as using much more energy to make and using far more fuel to drive. So, as a personal decision, I own the smallest car I need, with a 1 litre engine, and use it the minimum amount of time.

    If you have a lazy 3 million dollars, you can buy a 'green' electrically powered Rolls Royce Silver Ghost to demonstrate you environmental credentials. Absolutely crazy. The car needs to be recharged from mains power, probably generated from coal fueled power plants, which is more polluting than oil, but has the unintended advantage that it avoids using Middle East oil and reduces dependence, so that's a plus.

    The point is that everyone has to judge the consequences of all their actions, good and bad, and decide what's right on balance.

    As an atheist, I think we're all living on a finite planet with limited resources that we have to share equitably. The critical resources are food (of arable land, already 90% is being used, and the high productivity is reliant on artificial fertilizers from oil and natural gas), energy (fossil fuels are finite, and peak oil and gas have already probably happened) and water.

    I don't think that minerals are a problem. Old goods can easily be recycled to recover the minerals.

    Overpopulation is going to be a major problem. If we are lucky, in 2050 there will be 'only' 9 billion humans on Earth. With 7 billion, we can't feed adequately around 500 million at least, and 1 billion are dependent on oceanic fisheries, which are being 'successfully' managed into collapse. And many of the world's poor want to have a life similar to that of the West.

    China's One Child policy has got a lot of criticism for its bad features, the forced abortions, the selection abortions of female foetuses and even perhaps the possible female infanticide, but it has had its good consequences with perhaps 400 million fewer Chinese, who would need to be fed, putting further strain on the world's food supplies and making the number of humans starving much greater than the current number.

    The One Child policy was necessitated by Mao's delusion that China needed a huge population to be great, so he encouraged births (similar to the way that the Nazis encouraged births in 'Aryans' in Germany, to justify acquiring Lebensraum in Russia).

    There is no absolute good, so there's no absolute evil, except with the possible exception of 7/11. A minuscule good could have resulted from it, getting rid of the nasty Taliban, if the Afghanistan adventure hadn't been so botched. The Iraqi invasion was a bad mistake because it took everyone's attention from Afghanistan and lost America global goodwill.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @bachfiend:

    I agree with many of your thoughts, with exceptions:

    [Overpopulation is going to be a major problem.]

    No evidence for that. Overpopulation hype has been ongoing since Malthus, and its fair to say that not a single doomsday prediction has come anywhere near happening. Paul Ehrlich's craziness is paradigmatic. The science is crap, and in my view overpopulation alarmism is a mental illness.

    [If we are lucky, in 2050 there will be 'only' 9 billion humans on Earth. With 7 billion, we can't feed adequately around 500 million at least, and 1 billion are dependent on oceanic fisheries, which are being 'successfully' managed into collapse.]

    The standard of living has been rising steadily around the world. Famines have virtually disappeared, except when caused by political mismanagement or strife. Virtually all of the mismanagement in the past 80 years that has led to famine has been associated with communist/socialist regimes (Holodomor, Great Leap Forward, Killing Fields, Ethiopia). If you want to feed mankind, eliminate socialism, not people.

    [China's One Child policy has got a lot of criticism for its bad features, the forced abortions, the selection abortions of female foetuses and even perhaps the possible female infanticide,]

    It is the paradigm of a totalitarian atrocity.

    [but it has had its good consequences with perhaps 400 million fewer Chinese, who would need to be fed, putting further strain on the world's food supplies and making the number of humans starving much greater than the current number.]

    I disagree that having 400 million fewer Chinese people makes the world a better place. People aren't insects, and a lot of people aren't an infestation. Each of those 400 million people would have been a human being like you or I . Why do overpopulation fanatics always insist that it is too many OTHER people that is the problem?

    People are the ultimate resource.

    [The One Child policy was necessitated by Mao's delusion that China needed a huge population to be great, so he encouraged births (similar to the way that the Nazis encouraged births in 'Aryans' in Germany, to justify acquiring Lebensraum in Russia).]

    It wasn't necessary, so it wasn't 'necessitated'.

    I am amazed at the short-sightedness of overpopulation fanatics, who may have some good motives, but fail to see that totalitarian control of the most intimate aspect of human life is a much more horrendous threat to man than obtaining a food supply.

    We have steadily improved the nutritional well-being of man for the past couple of centuries, despite overpopulation hysteria that has been wrong on every point. Totalitarianism, on the other hand, is man's greatest scourge, and has murdered hundreds of millions.

    Keep things in perspective. No government has the right to regulate childbearing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. bachfiend said ...

    "As an atheist, I think that all actions have consequences, good and bad, ... There is no absolute good, so there's no absolute evil, ... "

    Can you prove there's no absolute good?
    Of course you can't, so once again, yours is a position held by blind faith alone.

    I'm amazed at your willful obstinacy in this.

    If there is no God there is no good or evil at all.
    No God means morality itself is just an illusion.

    How is it that Dawkins et al., very ordinary intellects, get this, but not you??

    You cannot have good without an objective standard by which to measure; and relativism is neither objective nor a standard!

    Yet its the only logical choice atheists have.

    I.e., you are not being logical bach, but very illogical. Worse, you quite clearly don't even see why!

    "A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers–including even his power to revolt…It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower."

    That nicely describes the human race in general and you specifically here.

    You live in glaring contradictions with yourself. All atheists must, whether they realize it or not, whether they like it or not. For, no absolute good means no good or evil at all.

    "Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place, (Portentous sight!) the owlet Atheism, sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon, drops his blue-fringed lids, and holds them close, and hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven, cries out, Where is it?"
    - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    "He must pull out his own eyes, and see no creature, before he can say, he sees no God; He must be no man, and quench his reasonable soul, before he can say to himself, there is no God."
    -John Donne

    "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'."

    ReplyDelete
  8. Michael,

    I hope you're right. But I doubt it.

    The Green Revolution depends on having abundant cheap energy.

    In Medieval times, each farmer spent about 1 Calorie (mainly his and his family's physical exertion) tp produce 2 Calories of food, not much better than subsistence farming, and not allowing much leftover to support non agrarian workers. This could be improved with more scientific farming, by crop rotation, instead of leaving a third of the fields in fallow each year to recover.

    Modern farming spends about 10 Calories of energy to produce 1 Calorie of food. Some of the energy is for the mechanical devices, the tractors and the harvesters, and the physical exertion of the farmer (about 0.02 Calories), but most goes to producing fertilizers and other chemicals used on the crops, all synthesized from oil or natural gas.

    Modern agriculture turns fossil fuels into food. Peak oil has certainly happened. Peak gas has probably already happened. The demand for oil and gas will increase as China and India industrialize, so the price of oil and natural gas must increase, which means the cost of food must also increase.

    And when oil and natural gas run out? Admittedly, coal can be used to produce fertilizers, and it might be possible to liquify it to run our shipping, but even coal is finite too, with perhaps 250 years of reserves at present levels of consumption, although as oil becomes more expensive, coal use will also increase.

    I don't think that there are too many other humans. I think that there are too many humans, including Australians, full stop. Australia has a current population of 22 million in a very large land area, but only about one third is reasonable agricultural or grazing land, although of very low fertility, so we need to use a lot of fertilizers too. Currently, Australian farming is able to feed around 30 million people from a land mass about equal to that of the American lower 48, so we feed ourselves and have a small surplus to export, which doesn't allow much reserve in case of increasing droughts due to climate change.

    I previously stated that I don't think that shortages of minerals are going to be a problem. Recycling should solve any shortages.

    My fears are those of food, energy and water, the real price of all are increasing.

    In North China, aquifers to provide water to thirsty cities, are dropping, and agricultural use has been restricted. So China is going to run into problems in feeding its own population.

    With 9 billion humans in 2050 we are going to need to increase food production by at least 30%, and that's only keeping pace with today's dire situation. We already use 90% of the arable land (we'd need to use 120%), we'd need 30% more fertilizers, we'd need to get 30% more seafood from stocks that are already seriously overfished.

    I don't feel optimistic. Why are you so blasé?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gary,

    OK, give me one example of something that is absolutely 100% good, and either I'll find something even trivial in it that's bad (I will be a sort of anti Dr Pangloss) or it will have nothing in it to prove the existence of a deity.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @bachfiend:

    I'm blase because I've heard every doomsday scenario before. Malthus asked 'why are you so blase'? All of the Cassandras in the 19th and 20th century asked why are you so blase about overpopulation? Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren asked the same, with crazy scientific 'predictions'.

    Eugenecists told us that the human race was finished unless we gave them unprecedented power. Now global warming alarmists say the human race is finished unless we give then unprecedented power. And overpopulation alarmists say the human race is finished unless we give them unprecedented power.

    I'm blase because I understand something about people who say "the world will end unless you give me unprecedented power".

    I say that, to the extent that the threat of insufficient food is real (it clearly is to some extent), we should work hard to protect and enlarge the food supply.

    I will never accept totalitarian 'solutions'.

    ReplyDelete
  11. bachfiend said...

    " OK, give me one example of something that is absolutely 100% good, and either I'll find something even trivial in it that's bad ... or it will have nothing in it to prove the existence of a deity."

    I appreciate the question, but the question itself shows me that you don't understand what good is.

    What is moral good, really? How is it defined?
    The dictionary will give around 28 different defs!

    Indeed, atheists can't logically have a viable definition of the word that isn't entirely relativist and thus meaningless in the end.

    Under atheism, where there is no moral absolute, nothing is truly good or evil at all. Dawkins et al. state this in no uncertain terms because they at least have taken their atheism to its logical conclusions.

    Something you've never really done. Something most atheists never do!

    In atheism, all being subjective, without the overarching authority of a absolute legislator, morals may change at a whim.
    The whim of whoever happens to hold power and money. As we see today.

    Until you understand and acknowledge this one point we'll get nowhere.

    Reverse your question.
    Something 100% evil with no good at all intermingled.

    How about child rape?

    100's of other things could be mentioned.

    Under atheist logic, even child rape may be called good.

    Indeed, I debated a youtuber atheist boldly proclaiming that morality is an illusion and that good and evil do not exist at all.

    When I mentioned child rape he just as boldly proclaimed that it's only wrong if the society says it is, but in reality it isn't wrong.

    He was just taking his no God and thus no absolutes position to it's logical conclusions.
    Moreover, if there be no God and thus no absolute moral law overarching all moral agents, he is right.

    The true moral law is immutable and eternal. Nothing can ever change it as long as mankind remains mankind.

    Yet, once a society eliminates God and the true moral law deemed as being from him, independent of what any one person thinks, binding upon all, you open the door to anything all being called "good".
    Including child rape, murder, incest, etc. etc.

    Since secular humanism has taken over the public school system, the judicial system and governments.

    Thus the public has been indoctrinated into relativism, so the down-slide from high moral standards just 50 years or so ago, to baseness, perversions of every kind and moral insanity has been incredibly rapid.

    CS Lewis once again, "The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others.

    Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something - some Real Morality - for them to be true about."

    See?

    ReplyDelete
  12. bachfiend

    Suppose you're a Jew in Germany, circa 1939. You've been arrested and slated for execution merely for being a Jew.

    What reason, in relativist atheism, could you give the officer holding the gun to your head, to not kill you?

    You have no reason.

    Will you say its just wrong?
    He will say, no, its in fact right and good because his society deemed it so.

    Will you say his society is wrong?
    Based on what exactly? What ultimate rule? Your own moral standards? His are merely different. You have no ultimate rule.

    Without a universal, overarching moral law, nor your standards nor his are either true, good, right or wrong at all.

    Its opinion vs opinion and nothing more.

    Thus you actually have no basis at all for getting this Nazi SS not to kill you.

    Think about that.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Gary,

    Two comments, and you haven't defined 'absolute good', when you criticized my statement that there's no absolute good, so there's no absolute evil. How about giving just one example of absolute good?

    ReplyDelete
  14. bachfiend ...

    "How about giving just one example of absolute good?"

    Sad response.

    Did you actually read & understand anything I wrote?
    Or, are you planning an escape tactic to get out of having to admit you're wrong?

    Only God, the one necessary existence, the one absolute existence, can be absolutely good.

    You still haven't even defined good. Your biggest error. Nor indeed can you without it becoming meaningless.

    There is no such thing under atheism.
    Hopefully someday you'll get this one fact.

    "And a ruler asked him, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

    And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

    You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'

    And he said, All these I have kept from my youth.

    When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

    But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich."


    God always puts his finger directly on your precise root sin, as he did with this ruler, i.e. selfishness in its most virulent form - in this mans case - love of riches above all else.

    Are you going to answer the questions I asked? Or will you skirt around them in the typical atheist evasive maneuvers?

    What would you say to the Nazi officer, in your world view?

    ReplyDelete
  15. What would you say to the Nazi officer, in your world view?

    You do realize that the Nazi regime asserted that they had objective morality on their side, don't you? How do you know they were not right?

    "Objective" morality doesn't seem so attractive once you start examining all of the groups that have claimed to have it on their side.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Gary: Suppose you're a Jew in Germany, circa 1939. You've been arrested and slated for execution merely for being a Jew.

    What reason, in relativist atheism, could you give the officer holding the gun to your head, to not kill you?


    What a silly game! No matter which perspective you reason from, the Nazi will kill you. He is following orders.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Michael,

    I think your optimistic view of the food supply is misplaced. We have managed to avoid serious food shortages through massive usage of artificial fertilizers (derived from finite reserves of fossil fuels) and water pumped from aquifers (also finite, taking thousands of years to replenish and the level dropping seriously where overexploited as in the American Midwest and Northern China for example).

    But on a finite world, eventually limits must be reached. You can't farm more than 100% of the arable land, you can't use more than 100% of the available water, you can't turn more than 100% of the oil and natural gas into fertilizers, you can't use more than 100% of the oceanic fish stocks for food.

    Perhaps technology might rescue us. Perhaps we might engineer algae to grow in photosynthetic tanks to produce abundant nutritious food which might actually even taste good ...

    Adding 2 billion to the present population is going to make the present situation even worse. We've got problems enough as it is, with degradation of farm land, depletion of aquifers, depletion of oceanic fisheries, oil and natural gas becoming more expensive as the more accessible reserves are used and we have to move to less accessible reserves.

    We have to make plans to avoid disaster.

    I think any plans should include:

    Conserving the fossil fuels we have by developing alternate energy sources such as solar and wind. Oil and natural gas are too valuable just to be burned. Even without global warming, this is important enough on its own.

    We have to address the disparity in living standards between rich and poor countries. Experience shows that as people become richer and more educated, their fertility decreases, as people decide to reduce the number of children they have. The amount of income a person needs for happiness isn't actually very high, one estimate I've read is around $15,000 pa, and increasies over this don't actually add to happiness, just allowing one to buy goods you don't need to impress people you don't actually care about.

    We need to make family planning freely available worldwide to all who want to make use of it (this doesn't necessarily include elective abortions, which effective contraception would avoid).


    Rich countries currently have no population increase (Australia is an exception, because we have a large migrant intake of supposedly scarce skilled workers, 'imported' at the insistence of Big Business who don't want to have to train workers and want to depress wages, so we're looking at a population of around 36 million by 2050, far above the carrying capacity of the land, with its frequent droughts) and poor countries have a high population increase.

    A poor country increasing its population at 2 or 3% per year has to increase its economy by the same amount just to stand still.

    Most of the population increase to 9 billion by 2050 is already locked in, because of the age distribution of the world's population. The world's population is mostly young, who haven't had any children, so if each female has just 2 children (replacement only), the population must increase before it stabilizes. And if women are encouraged to have more than 2 or prevented from taking measures to avoid having more than 2 children, then the world's population won't stabilize until after some disaster intervenes.

    Most of the world's population increase is going to occur in the poor countries, where life will become even more miserable than it already is.

    So the only solution I can see is that the rich countries are going to have to sacrifice some of our living standards to improve the living standards in the poorer countries. We can't raise their living standards without this, because we reached 100% usage of the Earth's resources back in the '80s.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Gary,

    OK, my definition of 'absolute good' would be something that makes everyone happier, without exception. Now provide me with an example of something that is an absolute good.

    Please, don't quote scripture. I'm not impressed by it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. @bachfiend:

    [I think your optimistic view of the food supply is misplaced...We have to make plans to avoid disaster.]

    I'd grant you a bit more credibility if you'd explain why every overpopulation/doomsday prediction for the past 200 years has been wrong.

    Start with Ehrlich's Population Bomb- about the disappearance of England by 2000, mass starvation in the US (40 million if I remember right) by 1980.

    It's like Bernie Madoff trying to interest me in a new investment opportunity.

    I just don't trust these scenarios, because they've all been lies for 200 years.

    ReplyDelete
  20. bachfiend

    You're not paying attention. Not at all.
    You don't even have definition for "good"!

    You want an example of an absolutely good action or thing?
    You want some sort of, "helping a blind person cross the street is absolutely good", type of answer?

    Then you're just missing the whole point!

    You cannot be good without God because good does not exist without God.
    There is no such thing as good or evil without God.

    Your idols all know this. Are you too adamantly, willfully blind to accept it?

    Once again, your high priests know this because they've used the following logic:
    If there are indeed no real foundations for ethics (no God) and ethics is just another genetic accident, an illusion of electrochemical movement in brain meat, then there is no such thing as good or evil.

    Until you get this, you'll remain lost and terribly confused -without ever knowing it- like all atheists.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @bachfiend:

    Three things consistently characterize flourishing societies:

    1) Economic freedom
    2) Political freedom
    3) Christianity

    If a society has all three, it is almost certainly flourishing. If it has none, it is almost certainly a hellhole.

    [I think any plans should include:

    Conserving the fossil fuels we have by developing alternate energy sources such as solar and wind.]

    The market will allocate energy resources much better than any self-appointed elite. Socialism sucks, if you haven't noticed. And nuclear is a great energy resource-- who was it who has stopped nuclear development at very turn (hint: lefty greens).


    [Oil and natural gas are too valuable just to be burned. Even without global warming, this is important enough on its own.]

    Let the markets do it. They're a lot smarter than you. And get out of the way of nuclear.

    [We have to address the disparity in living standards between rich and poor countries.]

    Do everything you can to help poor countries become economically free, politically free, and Christian.

    [Experience shows that as people become richer and more educated, their fertility decreases, as people decide to reduce the number of children they have.]

    Yep. Economic liberty, political liberty, Christianity.

    [The amount of income a person needs for happiness isn't actually very high, one estimate I've read is around $15,000 pa, and increasies over this don't actually add to happiness, just allowing one to buy goods you don't need to impress people you don't actually care about.]

    Socialism is the worst economic system. It has an extraordinarily high rate of association with all manner of human catastrophe, especially famine (Holodomor, Great Leap Forward, Killing Fields, etc)

    [We need to make family planning freely available worldwide to all who want to make use of it (this doesn't necessarily include elective abortions, which effective contraception would avoid).]

    Family planning is a consequence of prosperity, not its cause. People in poor countries need free markets, ballots, and bibles. Not condoms.



    [A poor country increasing its population at 2 or 3% per year has to increase its economy by the same amount just to stand still.]

    You've got cause and effect mixed up. Prosperity drives population control, not the other way around.

    [Most of the population increase to 9 billion by 2050 is already locked in, because of the age distribution of the world's population. The world's population is mostly young, who haven't had any children, so if each female has just 2 children (replacement only), the population must increase before it stabilizes. And if women are encouraged to have more than 2 or prevented from taking measures to avoid having more than 2 children, then the world's population won't stabilize until after some disaster intervenes.]

    Your ideology (atheism and population control) has been probably the most prolific killer in human history. 100 million dead by communism, hundreds of millions aborted, sterilized, infanticided, and deprived of family. Ideas, not people, are the real threat.

    [Most of the world's population increase is going to occur in the poor countries, where life will become even more miserable than it already is.]

    Cause and effect, bach. Markets, ballots, bibles. Then population will slow.

    [So the only solution I can see is that the rich countries are going to have to sacrifice some of our living standards to improve the living standards in the poorer countries.]

    Right. The world's problems will be solved by giving self-appointed elites power to micromanage life throughout the world. Let's start with sending money to Zimbabwe. Mugabe will be sooo grateful .

    [We can't raise their living standards without this, because we reached 100% usage of the Earth's resources back in the '80s.]

    We could use the elite's ideas for fertilizer.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Egnor: 1) Economic freedom
    2) Political freedom
    3) Christianity


    That third item seems pretty arbitrary. I'd replace it with freedom of religion. That would make sense. Look at Japan. I has few Christians, but it is hardly a hellhole.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @oleg:

    I have no problem with 'freedom of religion', if that makes atheists more comfortable.

    I point out that freedom of religion is primarily restricted to Christian cultures, or to cultures strongly influenced and molded by Christian culture (much of modern Japan is an outgrowth of American occupation and MacArthur's enlightened rule.)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Gary,

    I gave you my definition of 'good', it's what makes people happier. So absolute good is what makes everyone happier, without exception.

    The religious definition of 'good' is that which makes a mythical god happier, or at least the self-appointed interpreters of their version of a god happier.

    Michael,

    Right. The markets will solve the problems of future supplies of food, water and energy. The same markets that gave us the global financial crisis.

    Agreed, many of the predictions of the Club of Rome turned out to be wrong. For example, it was predicted that colour TVs wouldn't be a mass item of consumption because vivid reds were only possible with the rare earth element europium, of which there was known to be reserves sufficient for just 200,000 sets.

    The Club of Rome didn't take into account human ingenuity and the ability to find substitutes and alternate technology.

    The trouble is that there are no substitutes for food, water and energy. You can replace one food for another, meat with soy beans for example, but you can't replace food with the bible. And modern agriculture requires cheap abundant energy to make the fertilisers that allow the high productivity. Once energy is no longer cheap or abundant, then the markets will intervene, making food no longer cheap or even affordable.

    And no, I didn't confuse cause and effect. I clearly wrote that as countries become wealthier, women choose to have fewer children, so prosperity leads to reduced population growth. Bur having high population growth makes it difficult or even impossible for a poor country to increase prosperity.

    Agreed, I wouldn't want my money going to Robert Mugabe. I would prefer it to go to a well managed and well supervised NGO (I sponsor a child in Tanzania through World Vision, an atheist donating to a Christian body, go figure).

    You're confusing socialism with communism. Most people actually live in socialist communities because there are community standards that most people follow voluntarily. I envisage that community standards need to change. Conspicuous consumption needs to go. Having the newest, largest, most expensive 4-wheel drive vehicle parked in the driveway needs to be regarded as being socially undesirable rather than admired.

    Agreed. Nuclear power should be an option. Clinton/Gore axing the fast breeder reactor in 1994 was a monumental error.

    I'm not certain where you get your figure of 100 million victims of communism (and they were victims of communism, not atheism). I count 40 million from Mao's famine, 30 million from Stalin's famine, 1 million from Pol Pot, so that comes to roughly 71 million. Where do you get the other 29 million?

    ReplyDelete
  25. @bachfiend:

    [Right. The markets will solve the problems of future supplies of food, water and energy. The same markets that gave us the global financial crisis.]

    Markets aren't perfect, but they outperform centralized command economies in almost every way.

    [I'm not certain where you get your figure of 100 million victims of communism (and they were victims of communism, not atheism).]

    The Black Book of Communism, considered the definitive work on the subject, estimates 100 million. Some people estimate a bit higher.

    Communism is not atheism, it's true. But it is (aside from the French Revolution) the only political form at the nation level that atheism has taken.

    One of the things that makes me have disdain for atheists is the ubiquitous unwillingness of atheists to ask why it is that the only ruling ideology in history that was based on atheism (which Communism-- dialectical materialism-- certainly is) turned out to be so horrible. It's a certain lack of integrity and introspection that I find very unappealing.

    ReplyDelete
  26. bachfiend ...

    "I gave you my definition of 'good', it's what makes people happier."

    Really? So what makes serial killers, rapists and child molesters happy is fine by you.
    I see.

    "The religious definition of 'good' is that which makes a mythical god happier, or at least the self-appointed interpreters of their version of a god happier."

    Wrong. Totally wrong. You must stay up late nights imagining all this codswallop.

    Your religion of atheism sucks.

    I will say though, thanks for proving this statement: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'; they are corrupt, they have done abominable deeds...", true.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Gary,

    A serial killer, or a rapist, or a child molester, isn't 'people', plural. And for each of these miscreants being made happier, there's others being made unhappier, so the sum of 'happiness' is strongly negative.

    Giving a definition of 'good' is difficult. I, at least, have tried. How about you doing so too?

    Michael,

    From the global financial crisis, the one thing we've learnt is that the markets require strong regulatory control to make certain that they don't do it again.

    The only way that market forces will be able to cope with the inevitable shortage of oil and gas as the finite reserves run down and ones that remain being in less accessible locations is to rise their price.

    This will reduce their use and in the long term Increase research in and development of alternatives.

    But in the meantime, costs of transport and food will increase. It's been said that the recent Egyptian revolution was incited by the spike in wheat prices due to the poor Russian crop.

    Waiting for market forces to kick in might be risking a lot of social damage and discord.

    A previous Australian government commissioned a report looking at how Australia could build nuclear power plants without public subsidies (Australia has a lot of advantages, we've got a lot of uranium, we've got a geologically stable largely empty continent suitable for storing the nuclear wastes). The conclusion was that a $50 per tonne carbon tax would be necessary, and it was quickly shelved.

    The current government is proposing a limited $23 a tonne carbon tax, most of which is to be returned to the taxpayers, in the intention of making alternative energy sources such as wind and solar more competitive.

    It's not a case of standing aside and letting the markets develop nuclear and alternative power sources. They're expensive and won't happen in a market system until oil and gas are also expensive. They need encouragement.

    Market forces aren't perfect. The market gave the world Viagra. The market hasn't given the world a malaria vaccine.

    I still dispute the idea that the crimes of communism are the crimes of atheism in the same way that I don't regard the crimes committed by the Christian Kaiser Wilhelm II in starting WWI are the crimes of Christianity. Crimes due to politics are to be slated back to the political system that caused them.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @bach:

    [From the global financial crisis, the one thing we've learnt is that the markets require strong regulatory control to make certain that they don't do it again.]

    A substantial part of the crisis was caused by regulatory control. American federal mandates for loosening of mortgage standards was the proximate cause of the subprime mortgage crisis. Politicians and political appointees had their hands in the till. Regulators were in bed with regulatees, literally (Barney Frank was sleeping with a senior Fannie Mae official for ten years). The top administrators at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were rigging the books to get huge bonuses, all the time assuring the public that all was well.

    Regulation is a political process, and has great risks, as well as some benefits. We need a few regulations, strictly enforced, by honest people. Good luck with that.

    [The only way that market forces will be able to cope with the inevitable shortage of oil and gas as the finite reserves run down and ones that remain being in less accessible locations is to rise their price.]

    What government programs allowed us to make the transition from wood to coal to oil to nuclear? You seem to think that all of these issues just appeared. Free markets have been by far the most effective mechanisms for dealing with these issues. Do you really think that politicians and bureaucrats are the solution, rather than a major part of the problem?

    [This will reduce their use and in the long term Increase research in and development of alternatives.]

    The market will do that. It has for centuries.

    [But in the meantime, costs of transport and food will increase. It's been said that the recent Egyptian revolution was incited by the spike in wheat prices due to the poor Russian crop.]

    Lots of reasons for the Egyptian revolution. The Irag war, rise of militant Islam, etc. A significant cause of the rise in food prices has been the American ethanol subsidies, which has diverted 39% of US field corn to ethanol. Thanks, greens.

    [Waiting for market forces to kick in might be risking a lot of social damage and discord.]

    Socialism has been the driver of conflict in the 20th century. Spare me the market shit.

    (continued)

    ReplyDelete
  29. @bach:

    (continued)

    [A previous Australian government commissioned a report looking at how Australia could build nuclear power plants without public subsidies (Australia has a lot of advantages, we've got a lot of uranium, we've got a geologically stable largely empty continent suitable for storing the nuclear wastes). The conclusion was that a $50 per tonne carbon tax would be necessary, and it was quickly shelved.]

    When it makes economic sense to go nuclear, the private sector will go nuclear. Get the government, including batshit greens, off the private sector's backs.

    [The current government is proposing a limited $23 a tonne carbon tax, most of which is to be returned to the taxpayers, in the intention of making alternative energy sources such as wind and solar more competitive.]

    Wind and solar are boondoggles.

    [It's not a case of standing aside and letting the markets develop nuclear and alternative power sources. They're expensive and won't happen in a market system until oil and gas are also expensive. They need encouragement.]

    Welcome to economic reality. Get the greens/regulations off people's backs.

    [Market forces aren't perfect. The market gave the world Viagra. The market hasn't given the world a malaria vaccine.]

    The market was very effective at making DDT, which nearly eliminated malaria. Then Rachel Carson wrote a meretricious book, green assholes started screaming, DDT was banned, and malaria returned. 30 million unnecessary deaths. Thanks, greens.

    [I still dispute the idea that the crimes of communism are the crimes of atheism in the same way that I don't regard the crimes committed by the Christian Kaiser Wilhelm II in starting WWI are the crimes of Christianity. Crimes due to politics are to be slated back to the political system that caused them.]

    The connections are complex, no doubt. But you need to explain why it is that the only explicitly atheist theory of government ever to rise to state power was the most horrendous form of government in human history.

    Perhaps there were reasons totally unconnected to atheism. You haven't made the case, because atheists flee from the question. I have no respect for that.

    I will do all I can to prevent atheists from ever again achieving political power.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Michael,

    You're very good at dismissing my comments with bald unsupported statements.

    Regarding Rachen Carson and her supposed complicity in 30 million malaria deaths, due to pressure from the Greens calling for the banning of DDT.

    You're arguably wrong. 'Silent Spring' was published in 1962. DDT was banned in America for domestic use in 1972. It's been banned for agricultural use in most countries, but is still available for vector control of malaria carrying mosquitos.

    Countries such as Sri Lanka discontinued their mosquito control programs in the '60s because they were too successful. Malaria virtually disappeared. They were ceased because the population didn't like their houses being sprayed with DDT and they were expensive, not because Western 'Greenies' pressured them to do so (it took 10 years for it to be banned in America, remember).

    In the meantime unrestricted use of DDT in agriculture went on, so drifting of DDT to mosquito breeding areas led to DDT resistance in the mosquitos.

    And then when malaria made its comeback, vector control with DDT was ineffective.

    Western countries managed largely to control malaria by draining swamps and eliminating the breeding areas for the malaria carrying mosquitos. Not all species of mosquitos in an area are equal in their ability to transmit malaria, and in many cases human activities have provided the perfect environment for the dangerous mosquitos, for example by bringing irrigation channels close to homes, building dams near habitation, buying 4-wheel vehicles causing ruts in dirt roads forming puddles and breeding sites for mosquitos.

    Control of malaria is highly complex and individualized for the area. DDT is still used as vector control in 12 countries, but there are other more effective agents.

    Rachel Carson excluded vector control in a ban of DDT in 'Silent Spring'.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @bach:

    "15 September 2006 – Nearly 30 years after safety concerns led to the phasing out of indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides to control malaria, the United Nations health agency said today it will start promoting this method again to fight the global scourge that kills more than one million people every year, including around 3,000 children everyday." (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19855&Cr=malaria&Cr1)

    If DDT use was no longer necessary or effective, why did the UN reverse policy? Why did it admit that it was 'phased out for safety concerns'?

    The banning of DDT was an atrocity, and 30 million people paid for it with their lives. Greens' response: 'who gives a shit'

    ReplyDelete
  32. Michael,

    From the article, WHO stopped recommending DDT as vector control with spraying of internal walls in houses in the '80s, stated as being due to safety concerns, but that's a long time after Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' and also a long time after America banned its use too.

    Ascertaining the reasons for ceasing the recommendation for the use of DDT at the time are difficult, let alone 30 years later. Was spraying with DDT still effective then, or did DDT resistance in mosquitoes reduce its efficiency? Did WHO decide that the risks outweighed the benefits then?

    As a surgeon, you're making risk/benefit analyses all the time.

    30 years later, the situation has changed. Chloroquine resistance in malaria is a big problem in many countries, due to substandard treatment of many fevers in endemic areas presumed to be due to malaria with inadequate doses. Mosquitoes have had 30 years to lose whatever DDT resistance they had.

    Environmentalists now support the use of DDT in vector control as not having any adverse environmental effect. The risk benefit analysis has swung to positive. Times change. We get new data. Decisions made 30 years ago need to be revised. If you were in practice 30 years ago, or are in practice 30 years from now, you certainly won't be doing exactly the same procedures then as now. You would have more information to do your job better. why do you think that committees are wiser than you?

    ReplyDelete
  33. @bach:

    ["30 years later"]

    You mean 30 million lives later.

    Oops.

    Being an environmentalist means never having to say you're sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Michael,

    As I've said before, you're very good at making unsupported statements that don't address my comments.

    Why did WHO stop recommending DDT as vector control 30 years ago? Was it because the mosquitoes were resistant? Was it because the people objected to it being sprayed on their internal walls so they went and scrubbed it off, so it was ineffective for that reason?

    You and I both know that malaria is spread by mosquitoes, but it's not obvious, and it took modern western medicine centuries to discover this. A relatively less educated person in a third world country is much more likely to ascribe an attack of malaria to heavy exertion the day before than a mosquito bite the week before.

    Mosquitoes and malaria evolve (OK adapt if you prefer). They gain and lose resistance to DDT and chloroquine respectively. Times change. What works then doesn't work now. Third world countries such as Sri Lanka stopped using DDT as a vector control in the '60s because it worked too well and largely eliminated malaria, BEFORE the 'EVIL' western environmentalists managed to get DDT banned for domestic use in America. You're making the ludicrous suggestion that third world countries are more susceptible to western environmental pressure, than the more environmentally aware west.

    ReplyDelete
  35. @bach:

    bottomline: environmentalists waged war against a pesticide that had decisive results in eliminating malaria.

    30 million excess deaths.

    Luckly we didn't have any theories that the polio vaccine or the smallpox vaccine made birds' eggs too thin...

    ReplyDelete
  36. Sigh, Michael,

    Logic isn't your strong point.

    You previously insisted that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation.

    You now state that DDT is a 'pesticide that had decisive results in eliminating malaria'. No, it didn't, it only controlled it to some extent, we've still got it. Countries such as Sri Lanka discontinued their vector control programs in the '60s because they thought they had got rid of malaria. They were wrong.

    You claim that there are 30 million excess deaths due to malaria. Actually, any death due to malaria is excess because we know in detail how to control it, the main way being removing the mosquito breeding areas away from human habitations. Insecticides and antimalarials, particularly if halfhearted, invite resistance in the mosquitoes and the parasite.

    Environmentalists hated DDT. They might have had a role to play in the subsequent malarial deaths (I dispute that it was a significant one). I think that the main factor was countries' and communities' failure to control the mosquito breeding sites, the way western countries managed to eliminate malaria ( and with the added bonus of eliminating such diseases as yellow fever, for which there is no effective treatment).

    Your comment about polio and smallpox immunization is hilarious. There are plenty of people in all countries of the world currently objecting to immunization for bogus reasons, often with a religious undertone. Admittedly, that hasn't always been like that. The Boston preacher Cotton Mather was a keen proponent of variolation during a smallpox epidemic, since the 2% mortality rate from variolation was significantly better that the 30% death rate from naturally contracted smallpox.

    ReplyDelete