Monday, April 14, 2008

Some Wee Complaints About The "Compassion Forum"

I hope this isn't too cranky, but...

First, this just sounded so ooey-gooey fuzzy-wuzzy PC touchy-feely that I wasn't even going to watch it. A "compassion forum"? Seriously?

Second, I did watch it, and I thought it was rather a waste of time.

Third, it wasn't about compassion, it was about religion. For obvious reasons, this sort of thing really irritates me. E.g. somebody says he's going to talk about "values," and he's really talking about religion, thus basically presupposing that all questions of value are religious questions. Which is not only false but also damn insulting to atheists. Not that we count of course. (Though props to Obama for explicitly acknowledging that we're part of America. At least he's no Romney.)

Fourth, it was actually pretty painful. Although I thought HRC turned in the best performance (and I use the term intentionally) of the two, it was really painful to watch her sit there and semi-robotically hop through all the verbal hoops that would get hard-core Christians to like her. Faith: check. Grace: check. Wuv the baby Jesus: check. Feel God's love: check. Shudder. What a spectacle.

Fifth, it turns out that Hillary doesn't know how to solve the problem of evil. Gosh. Did they really ask her that? What answer were they expecting? Well, Biff, though all philosophers and theologians who went before me have failed to solve this probably unsolvable problem, I have actually worked out a subtle proof that evil is compatible with divine moral perfection on a certain re-interpretation of deontic logic that emulates S4.1...

Painful, painful, painful. I mean, I guess one might think that it'd be good if we could get candidates to sit down and talk about philosophical issues. I dunno. Maybe. Maybe not. But I wasn't too impressed by this thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an aside, I am curious about your view of the problem of evil. While your comment made me laugh out loud (Well, Biff...), I couldn't help but to take notice of your brief description of the problem of evil as "probably unsolvable." While I myself am an atheist (of the negative evidential variety), I've never took the problem of evil too seriously. I mean, there's just too many ways out of it e.g. arguments from theodicy, God respects free will, etc.

Unless you meant to say that the metaphysical nature of this problem makes it unlikely that we will ever have a clear answer to it.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, A...

Meh. That was a half hour ago. As on many philosophical issues, my position changes every five minutes or so...

Actually, I think you can argue that Leibniz already gave us an answer to the so-called logical problem of evil: that is, showed how the proposition that God exists doesn't generate an outright contradiction with the proposition that there is evil in the world. Maybe.

But I'm one of those people who thinks that the so-called evidential problem of evil is more interesting and important (though I change my mind on that sometimes, too.) The problem for the theist is that the existence of evil makes it *less likely* that God exists. (Not necessarily improbable (i.e., not necessarily Pr(God exists) < 0.5)--but less likely than if there were no evil in the world.) That is, the existence of evil is evidence of some (non-zero) strength against the proposition that God exists. I just don't see any way around this that is even vaguely plausible for the Judeo-Christian theist. Van Inwagen has an argument people talk about a lot now, but it seems like a patent failure to me (and others).

Come to think of it, the logical problem of evil IS more interesting and important, isn't it?

I guess in the end, I'm just saying that, if I had to bet my life on it, then, given the history of the problem thus far, I'd bet that the PoE cannot be solved.

But I dunno, really.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

"This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."---Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean

Problem solved.

4:34 PM  

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