« Where Was God? | Main | Links Mentioned on the Show »

July 22, 2012

Comments

Stuff happens. Sometimes people get in the way.

This simple explanation fits all our experience from Katrina to Columbine.

Furthermore, it points us toward a rational response: Find the causes and work toward reducing or eliminating them.

RonH

Personally I think the best response is to keep our mouths shut and simply show empathy and compassion.

No one knows with certainty how god is involved here. But we know what it means to love. So let's do that.

Let's love them:

The Aurora PD has issued a phone number to call if anyone can make donations for these families: 303-861-1160 which is COVA at:


http://www.coloradocrimevictims.org/

This may be another option (have not verified) at:


http://www.crowdrise.com/helpaurora

Here is a video reminder for us on what it means for us to love these families:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXDatIXO2kg&feature=related

Our prayers and our thoughts and our deeds go out to all of you there in Aurora.

The fact is we do not have all the answers. Saying we simply do not know is much better than speculation, or mixing up our opinion with what the Bible actually says.

I would remind us to go back and read The Tower of Siloam, what Jesus had to say about bad things happening and death.

IMO saying things like God was with them suffering along side, is as lame as people that say God was with the holocaust victims in the gas chambers. Put yourself in the victims shoes before you get on your soapbox.

I have to concur with the commenters here. I’m perplexed and saddened by STR regarding both this post and their previous one. Let me just reiterate what so many have already said: This is not the time to interrupt a shocked and grieving country with distinctions regarding the logical and evidential problem of evil. Malebarnce (or whatever his name was) said it best—can’t we at least wait until people have buried their family members before reassuring them about the theological and metaphysical underpinnings of the events?).


A few facts to keep in mind: The people at STR neither know what God was doing or why he was doing it during this awful event. Further, their conjectures on the matter are at this point ill-timed and lacking a basic modicum of sensitivity. There will be other days for discussions of ‘tactics’ and how to win the souls of those who can’t seem to see any light amidst the overwhelming darkness in this world. But for now, let’s just respectfully close our apologetic mouths and mourn with these people for the loss of their loved ones.

STR thank you for reminding us to mourn with those who mourn and to “season our words with salt” in that regard. And, also, thank you for asking us to take this road towards comfort and somewhat away from the road of pure intellect by reminding us that “people often are asking for comfort rather than an intellectual answer” in such painful times. Also, thank you for asking us to remember that “it is important to distinguish between the intellectual problem and the existential problem”.

Also, thank you for reminding us, as we mourn with those who mourn, to keep quite if all we mean to do is “argue” with this: “If you attempt to answer the existential problem merely with philosophical abstractions or Christian clichés, you may as well keep your mouth shut.”

You ask us to keep our mouth shut if all we mean to do is offer silly clichés? Well, that seems to have been missed by your antagonists who show up, not to mourn with those who mourn, but to attack our various attempts at a Christian highway.

Unfortunately, many commentators only want to argue with these attempts at a Christian approach to mourn with those who mourn. I’m saddened by those who project their own interior antagonism against other “groups” onto our own Christian attempt to offer mourning with mourning and to be careful to avoid ‘Christian clichés.

A certain President quoted the Book of Revelations, 21:4, as he too tried to mourn with those who mourn and offer, as you say, “comfort rather than the pure intellectual” words of choice. Perhaps those who project such ill will against our attempt at a Christian offering of mourning can also contact a certain President and offer him the same ill will, as this was offered last night while he was standing amidst the aftermath: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Guys I am saddened this morning to wake up and see yet another useless attack against some of us who are attempting to mourn with those who mourn, rather than, just perhaps, a post that is in some way constructive for the victims?

Brett and Melinda thank you for your reminder to us to season our words with salt, to offer comfort rather than the purely logical argument, and to speak towards the existential problem and pain rather than offer Christian clichés. You even went so far as to say we should keep our “mouth shut” rather than offer silly Christian clichés. There is, on some level somewhere, in some times, in some circumstances, a Pastoral duty (perhaps) of STR to direct Christians into a proper mode of expression lest they come onto this site and error. Your direction to mourn with those who mourn is much appreciated by those of us in the Christian community who, like you, are attempting to obey Christ’s teaching: Mourn with those who mourn.


If anyone wants to take the advice of this OP and avoid Christian clichés, and offer real help, and speak towards the existential with perhaps a quote of Revelations 21:4 in the midst of pain as others have done while standing shoulder to shoulder with those in Aurora, and to mourn with those who mourn, and actually put real help into the hands of those who mourn, please see the links above as the Aurora P.D. has put that phone number out there for such DEEDS. As the video link above reminds us: [Love = Deeds]


When Christopher Hitchens wrote about his cancer diagnosis it was, for STR, just another jumping off point to repeat a tired apologetic.

Guys,

The phone number to help these people is: 303-861-1160.

For the video mentioned above this is probably a better way for me to enter it rather than my simple copy/paste of the address bar:

Love is Deeds as here here.

Can anyone take seriously the idea that anyone who is really hurting because of Aurora is even looking for comfort here?

On the astronomically remote possibility that someone is reading these posts in order to get comfort for a loss suffered in Aurora, or remembered because of Aurora, I would suggest that they turn off their computer right now and go get comfort from those who can actually provide it: God, their family, their church, their friends.

Taking the body and blood of Christ, hugging your kids, making love to your wife or husband, getting on your knees next to your fellow Christians, even getting drunk with your friends...any of those are more effective anodynes to emotional suffering than having a discussion about evil. And if the pain comes from the fact that you've lost a child or a spouse or a friend, all the more reason to hold on tighter to those that you still have. And you always have God.

With that said, posts and comments on a blog like STR are not for emotional comfort.

None of this is to say that people cannot take comfort from the almost exclusively philosophical discussions that they find here. Human psychology is complex, and just as the emotions often cloud our reason, our reason can sometimes calm our emotions.

But rational discussion is what it is and not something else. So, in the final analysis, the words entered in good faith on this blog exist to rationally discuss theological, philosophical, conceptual problems...including the problem of evil. It is not in bad taste to carry on such discussions in a forum such as STR. It is not ever in bad taste. Not thirty seconds or thirty years after a tragedy like the one in Aurora. And, truthfully, it is the height of phoniness to even worry about it.

In the time it took Holmes to kill 12 people in Aurora, 13 children died of hunger. Shall we all wait for the hurt to go away for those 13 mothers before we try to understand where God was when those children were suffering that agonizing end?

On that same day, 88 people were killed on American highways. 54 people died of snakebites worldwide (30 of them in India alone). I guess we better not discuss that. At least, not until those scores of families have had a chance to grieve. Better season our words with salt. Better be sensitive and not play our theological mind games with their pain. Right?

And nearly 1600 people die every day from cancer in the United States alone. Does sensitivity to the grieving require that we have to wait for a mourning period to pass before we can talk about cancer death as an evil that has to be reconciled to the Goodness of God?

If applied consistently, the call for 'sensitivity' and 'restraint' in discussing the problem of evil while the sufferers of evil are still mourning is a call never to discuss evil at all. Because there will be no end to misery and wickedness until this whole sin-broken world is remade from the foundation up.

So I reject such calls utterly and absolutely.

In doing so, I'm not suggesting that it's OK to have a graveside philosophical debate while someone's child is being lowered into the ground. But the STR blog is not the graveside, and those taking the trouble to read here are looking primarily for a salve for their reason...not their heart. If they manage to get a salve for their heart at the same time...good for them, but I think anyone reading here should (and probably does) consider that, at best, a nice side-effect.

In summary: It's as unfitting to insist on restraint from rational discourse here as it is to insist upon the freedom of such discourse while speaking to a grieving parent, spouse or friend.

On a somewhat different vein, the sub-text of these calls for sensitivity is that there really is no answer to the problem of evil. I'm not saying that every person calling for sensitivity 'right now' thinks there is no answer. But I am saying that anyone calling for sensitivity 'right now' is, perhaps unwittingly, playing into this argument: "It's all very well sitting here discussing suffering as we lounge in our air-conditioned offices, but that means nothing to someone who really knows suffering."

The 'argument' trades on an equivocation on the word "really", and in so equivocating, it conflates the existential and philosophical problem of evil.

It is obvious to the point of truism that one can't be argued out of a subjective experience. So if 'really' knowing suffering amounts to the subjective experience of suffering, then no, there's no rational answer to it. But at least two questions immediately arise.

  1. Why on earth would one ever expect such an answer?
  2. Who could be so foolish as to even imagine that someone is trying to provide such an answer?
But if really knowing suffering is knowing the fact of its existence, then the fat, comfortable pseudo-intellectual lolling about in his air-conditioned office really knows suffering quite as well as the anguished parent who has lost a child. And there might very well be a rational answer to that.

Wisdom lover wrote:
"On a somewhat different vein, the sub-text of these calls for sensitivity is that there really is no answer to the problem of evil."

You hit the nail on the head.

It's like..."We don't have the answer to suffering/evil and neither do you, so shut up so we can all just suffer in silence".

This response makes perfect sense coming from the atheist/agnostic commentators. It's the Christians who are saying this that drive me nuts.

RonH wrote:

"Stuff happens. Sometimes people get in the way."

I admire your integrity Ron. This is exactly what atheism says.

RonH wrote:
"This simple explanation fits all our experience from Katrina to Columbine."

"Stuff happens" is descriptive, but explains nothing. Unless "our" means you and your atheist neighbor.

"Furthermore, it points us toward a rational response: Find the causes and work toward reducing or eliminating them."

Forgive me for stating the obvious Ron...A human being was the cause of this tragedy. That much is plain and simple. The human being that did this is already in custody and may face the death penalty. Reducing and eliminating other human beings because of this one person's crime is not a rational response Ron. I understand you mean to say there is something that caused this human being to do this, such that there is a possible solution. But then what you are saying is that human beings are designed to function in a certain way and this guy is not operating according to that design.

Forgive me for applying a little engineer's logic, but when something goes wrong and doesn't function as designed it's usually a good idea to consult the Designer on the solution. As it turns out the Designer has a fix in place for the problem of evil in human beings. Bible calls it being "born again". In other words it's time for a new model. You can call it human beings 2.0 if you like.

WL,

You said:


"But the STR blog is not the graveside, and those taking the trouble to read here are looking primarily for a salve for their reason...not their heart.... It's as unfitting to insist on restraint from rational discourse here as it is to insist upon the freedom of such discourse while speaking to a grieving parent, spouse or friend.."

I think this speaks well towards Melinda/Brett's discussion of the difference between the Existential and the Intellectual, and of the fact that one is not the other, nor does the employment of one by default discount the other as there are circumstances and situations where one is proper etiquette while the other is not, and so on in reverse, or, simply, as the title of the OP clearly eludes to, give the right sorts of answers for the right sorts of questions in the right sorts of settings. The sheer mass and frequency of evil in this world would preclude the existence of ANY Blog "setting" as proper etiquette if some had their way.

What bothers me is those attacking the motive of us even trying to talk about these things in a forum such as this. We are trying to mourn with those who mourn, and, we've taken the time to research how to reach out directly with our own hands and have offered that information. The Challenge from Piper's brief clip is there for all who want to reach out beyond this mere, isolated forum of What-If's and use the phone number provided. The comments in Melinda's OP cautioned us about being too quick to run into error, to be sensitive, and to appreciate the nuances, and, the phone number given by the Police Dept. in that city as the contact to call in order to offer actual DEEDS is provided, and also a call to actually get up and help them was provided in a video link. And, Blogs are one setting, and are what they are, and are not something else, and the etiquette follows the setting, and we have been mindful here of both etiquette and of setting and of real people with real needs. To insist that all Blogs shut down every day and never discuss any evil that ever happens means the sheer mass and frequency of evil would preclude the very existence of Blogs which ever want to discuss any evil at all. Well, I think that sort of request is misplaced for the obvious reasons you articulated well.

Yet, I suspect all of that (and all of that is unmistakingly there) will not be enough for critics.


You said:

".....'right now' is, perhaps unwittingly, playing into this argument: "It's all very well sitting here discussing suffering as we lounge in our air-conditioned offices, but that means nothing to someone who really knows suffering.... The 'argument' trades on an equivocation on the word "really", and in so equivocating, it conflates the existential and philosophical problem of evil."

This subtle misuse of that notion of "really" (by others, not by you) is all too real and misleads us into thinking Real Things are Not-Real, such as the Love or the Suffering of Consciousness, or perhaps Consciousness itself.

As in:

"But there is a sort of attack on the emotions which can still be tried. It turns on making him feel, when first he sees human remains plastered on a wall, that this is "what the world is [REALLY] like" and that all his religion has been a fantasy. You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the word "[REAL]." They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, "All that [REALLY] happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building"; here "[REAL]" means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had.

On the other hand, they will also say, "It's all very well discussing that high dive as you sit here in an armchair, but wait till you get up there and see what it's [REALLY] like": here "[REAL]" is being used in the opposite sense to mean, not the physical facts (which they know already while discussing the matter in armchairs), but the emotional effect those acts will have on a human consciousness.

Either application of the word could be defended; but our business is to keep the two going at once so that the emotional value of the word "[REAL]" can be placed now on one side of the account, now on the other, as it happens to suit us (devils). The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them (humans) is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are "[REAL]" while the spiritual elements are "subjective"; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main [REALITY], and to ignore them is to be an escapist.

Thus in birth the blood and pain are "[REAL]," the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view; in death, the terror and ugliness reveal what death "[REALLY] means." The hatefulness of a hated person is "[REAL]" - in hatred you see men as they are, you are disillusioned; but the loveliness of a loved person is merely a subjective haze concealing a "REAL" core of sexual appetite or economic association. Wars and poverty are "[REALLY]" horrible; peace and plenty are mere phys­ical facts about which men happen to have certain sentiments. The creatures are always accusing one another of wanting "to eat the cake and have it"; but they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake and not eating it. Your patient, properly handled, will have no difficulty in regarding his emotion at the sight of human entrails as a revelation of [REALITY] and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment." (C.S. Lewis)

scbrownlhrm-

It was exactly that quote from the Screwtape Letters I was trying to distill in my remark. In an early draft I had included a nod to Lewis. I obviously (and inadvertently) edited it out. Thanks for bringing up the longer quote so that I can now correct that.

I work for a Medical Examiner in my area. That's about all I'm going to say about that.

Ron. You are correct in saying stuff happens. However, I don’t know if you’re using that in crazy language like some Christians try to say everything happens for a God ordained reason. Both are insults. It sounds like a mental write off. Just give the body a case number and write off who they were and if they had a life.

History has shown us horrible things yet people clung to their faith. They weren't stupid or blind either. It's best to keep our mouths shut and bear the pain with them. it's better to say "I don't have an answer" than to say "It was their time to go".

Does Consciousness exist? With what Semantics comprising what Language does it make the All-Context Is-Statement claiming to see at and to the End of Ad Infinitum, yet not knowing infinitely, that there are no such things as round squares, anywhere, in any context, ever, always? Logic & Love speak in Consciousness, with the Non- Arbitrary Is-Statements of the End of Ad Infinitum in the All-Context though they do not know infinitely. What is "Real"? Could round squares be "real" in some context somewhere? Is Consciousness Real? Logic? Love?

I understand you mean to say there is something that caused this human being to do this, such that there is a possible solution. But then what you are saying is that human beings are designed to function in a certain way and this guy is not operating according to that design.

John,

No, that something caused him to do this does not imply that he is designed. Something might have caused him to give all his possessions to the poor. That would not imply that were designed either.

JohnH,

Don't worry! I'm not "using that in crazy language like some Christians try to say everything happens for a God ordained reason."

RonH

scbrownlhrm,

new name?

It's a Non-Arbitrary name RonH =)

RonH

"No, that something caused him to do this does not imply that he is designed. Something might have caused him to give all his possessions to the poor. That would not imply that were designed either."

Reducing it back to what you said before that stuff just happens it would seem that you are blaming the cause...whatever that is...that caused him to do this. So, the cause is the initiator of the action. Thus you seem to be saying that the person is not the initiator of it. Am I misreading your view here? If he did not initiate it, then he is the victim of whatever the cause was that caused him to do this. The blame falls squarely on the cause, not the person. So, why don't we just incarcerate the cause and let the person go free? Isn't that kind of action naturally follow from your reasoning, or is there something critical that I have missed here?


God is always in control.

squallybimbadine

Is Consciousness Real? Logic? Love? "

If these things are not real, why would you want to ask the questions you've asked?

Hi Louis,

So, why don't we... let the person go free? Isn't that kind of action naturally follow from your reasoning, or is there something critical that I have missed here?

1) The person may do it again.
2) Other persons, seeing us let him go free, may do likewise.

My question for you: If he was not caused to do it, why did he do it?

RonH

Louis,

I think you meant me / scbrownlhrm etc...unless you had a prior thread with 'squally...' elsewhere.....


That was only a continuation of the prior thought-line dealing with the word "Real" and how many mis-apply it end up building illogical arguements built upon a Subtext beneath their feet which houses within it Nonsense of a faint possiblity of Round Squares in "Some Context". We cannot help anyone who wishes to cling to that faint possiblity. We can only leave them to believe in a Context in which Round Squares just may exist. Consciousness is an odd thing, and speaks with an odd, Non-Arbitrary body of Semantics.

As for "IF GOD, WHY EVIL?" this brief clip doesn't address the whole road, but it gets it started in a way I find helpful.

See link here.


Louis, (or RonH),


When I said above that the link does not address "the whole road" I mean just that. It addresses what is but a [Part] of what is going on, and in no way comprises the [Whole] of what is going on. We see, and therefore know to and at the End of Ad Infinitum in or by Consciousness' Logic and Love, yet we do not know infinitely. In Consciousness we find that which touches the Everywhere and Always, and therefore speaks the Immutable and Non-Arbitrary Is-Statement that there are no round squares anywhere in any context, ever, always, for Logic touches the All-Context at the End of Ad Infinitum; and, in the same way Love touches the Everywhere and Always and makes Non-Arbitrary Is-Statements of the I in All-Contexts and of the You in All-Contexts and of the I-You or "We" in All-Contexts as it sees to and at Personhood's triune I/You/We at the End of Ad Infinitum.

RonH

"Hi Louis,

So, why don't we... let the person go free? Isn't that kind of action naturally follow from your reasoning, or is there something critical that I have missed here?

1) The person may do it again."

Isn't that like saying that we shouldn't let someone walk because someone may push him and cause him to fall again? How does it make sense then to strap him down to a chair to prevent that? Isn't it unfair imprisonment/restriction in both cases? Why isn't it exactly like punishing the victim in both scenarios?


"2) Other persons, seeing us let him go free, may do likewise."

So, then would it not be appropriate to punish the individual further for the actions of any copycats since it seems you are suggesting that he causes copycatting in others? But you cannot do that since he did not actually initiate the action to start with. There was an external cause that impelled him to do it. How can you hold someone in jail/prison for what someone else might do and for an action that they did not initiate but some external factor initiated it and thus caused them to act in a way you and I don't happen to like?(its all about shifting responsibility to what is responsible)


"My question for you: If he was not caused to do it, why did he do it?"


What? On my view? Of course I don't know why. But I think my view on the "how" of the actual initiation of the action is quite different from yours. The initiation of any given action of any individual follows exactly the same pattern in each of us and I have engaged in millions of such initiations without a single degree of deviation from that and have observed the same in others, thus I have good reason to believe it to be a shared experience.


scbrownlhrm

What do you mean by that?

Louis,

You 'strap him down' because you want to prevent him from doing it again.

When you do 'strap him down' others see that.

So we have covered prevention and deterrence.

Rehabilitation is also a real thing in the world - a reason to imprison.

I'm not defending determinism here; I'm pointing out that, even on determinism, we still have reason to imprison or even execute.

When I ask you why he did it, I'm not asking for particulars. I'm just asking you: Was there was a reason or not?

So was there? If so, what can you tell me about it?

RonH


RonH

"You 'strap him down' because you want to prevent him from doing it again."

When one is a victim of an external action that he did not initiate, he did not 'do' anything other than receive that action and his body responded in the only way possible. On that view, you may as well toss everyone in jail to prevent them from being effected in the same way and preventing them from doing what he did.


"When you do 'strap him down' others see that.

So we have covered prevention and deterrence."

Deterrence assumes that a choice can be made by the individual not to engage in an activity. This ushers in the notion that a choice can also be made by the individual to engage in that activity. This presents an entirely different model and trades on one that I have in mind where the will of the individual is engaged in the making of the decision. Thus the responsibility for that choice rests with the one making the decision and appropriate reward/punishment is applicable for the willful decision that is made. This makes far more sense than to think that some external cause is responsible for the action.


"Rehabilitation is also a real thing in the world - a reason to imprison."

Again, this trades on my view that control of actions is purely that of the free will of the individual and while external factors may influence that will, the ultimate responsibility of the choices made by the individual are in fact that individual's and the consequences, being good or bad for that individual, rest squarely on the individual. Here is a model where there is no shifting of blame away from the culprit who is morally and legally responsible for his actions and, I think, appropriately so in every sense.

"I'm not defending determinism here; I'm pointing out that, even on determinism, we still have reason to imprison or even execute."

This is the assertion that you make, but what is that reason that you offer? If the actions of the individual are determined by external factors, how do you shift the responsibility away from those factors to the individual in order to hold him responsible? Further, is it a just act to actually do so or is it compounding the problem of justice?


"When I ask you why he did it, I'm not asking for particulars. I'm just asking you: Was there was a reason or not?"

You are not going to like my answer. Maybe there was maybe there was not. In order to answer the question, you would have to get inside the mind of the perp. Based on his planning this thing over time, as evidence indicates, it is highly likely that there was a reason. we might even discover what that is, in time.

"So was there? If so, what can you tell me about it?""

I lack the direct and immediate access to the contents of his mind to answer your question. I think you are asking too much. What I know, I have already told you.

RonH has made a fairly common move regarding mechanism and freedom. And it's a good move as long as you keep your eyes squarely fixed on wrongdoers. It's less good when you start looking at the actions of those who punish wrongdoing.

On this view, you might think of all people as robots working in a factory. The factory is a robot factory. The robots that are built there are robots for the very factory in which they are being built. The new robots will replace worn-out or broken robots, or they will expand the operations of the factory. So the whole factory is a self-perpetuating mechanistic system that utterly precludes the notion of freedom...the actions of the robots are all programmed in.

But what if the robots have a limited capacity to alter their own programming?

Let's allow that. Indeed, the analogy works best if we imagine that the robots are all programmed with a learning AI so that they adjust their own programming based on what nearby robots do and what happens as a result.

Even so, that behavior is itself controlled by programs. So that the means by which the robots learn is itself programmed in.

If one of the robots in our imagined factory gets some bad programming and starts running amok in the factory and smashing other robots, it would only make sense that it should be taken out of operation and kept apart from all the other robots. It might even have to be destroyed, if it can't be fixed.

And given that the robots are programmed with that learning AI, there's even more reason to sequester or destroy the bad robot.

In our factory, this robot sequestration and destruction is carried out by still other maintenance robots, built in the factory, who have their own programming to perform just that function.

So even in this most mechanistic of mechanistic models, imprisonment for purposes of incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation makes sense, and execution even makes sense.

This is right as far as it goes.

But what does not seem to make sense, is the idea that the bad robot somehow deserved his imprisonment or execution as a punishment. The 'victims' of the bad robot (the other robots in the factory) are not taking vengeance on the bad robot. They are not seeking justice or recompense for the injuries done them by the bad robot. It further makes no sense for the 'victims' of the bad robot to resent it, or to feel grateful to the maintenance robots for stopping its robotic rampage. Finally, the idea the victim robots forgiving a bad robot, doesn't seem to fit either.

Now, someone might argue that these additional factors: vengeance, resentment, forgiveness and so on, are just more complex programming that enables properly functioning robots to do their jobs well. There's no need to suppose some eerie notion of free will to get that. It's enough to say that had the robots been programmed differently, they would have acted differently. That's all the freedom they need to do everything they do, even avenge and forgive.

But it is simply a fact that the bad robot does not deserve a punishment. It is simply a fact that there is nothing to resent in the bad robot, and, by the same token, nothing to forgive. The mechanist move here does not change that. It just notes that a certain kind of illusory programming might prove useful in the properly functioning robots.

When we punish wrongdoers, we don't just do it because it incapacitates, deters and rehabilitates.

We do because it avenges.

We do it because it visits justice on the wrongdoer.

If mechanism is true, that's just a useful illusion. Or, perhaps, it's not even all that useful and will eventually be evolved out.

RonH wrote:

"....something caused him to do this does not imply that he is designed. Something might have caused him to give all his possessions to the poor. That would not imply that were designed either."

Ron, I don't follow you here. You are saying that your previous statement doesn't assume human beings were designed, because they could also be "caused" to do good deeds? (giving possessions to the poor)

This doesn't follow even from my worldview, but really gets confusing considering "goodness" and "badness" aren't real concepts in your view.

What does the moral condition of the act have to do with the cause of the act? Especially considering your moral categories are not grounded in anything that has force.

"goodness" and "badness" aren't real concepts in your view.

Ha ha, well, depends on what you mean by 'real'.

Some try to say it's got to be either their kind of realism or 'anything goes' - pure preference.

Whether 'good' and 'bad' are real or not... whatever 'real' means... whether 'good' and 'bad' are well defined or not... I really don't see us abandoning them.

WL,

If vengeance is a purpose of punishment what does it change? The degree of punishment? The effect on the punished? The effect on the victim? The effect on 3rd parties?

WisdomLover

"But what does not seem to make sense, is the idea that the bad robot somehow deserved his imprisonment or execution as a punishment."

This is exactly what I had in mind when I raised the issue of justice and responsibility. If responsibility cannot be tied directly to the individual, it does not serve justice to imprison or execute him. It simply introduces injustice and essentially defines it as the right thing to do(Justice in action). As you stated, it might not be vengeance, but it also is not justice. One has a right to ask, in your robot example, what is it? The only thing that I can reasonably come up with is that it is arbitrary utility. It is a means to a particular end, but no way of knowing if that end is justified since the concept in the model does not exist.

This is why your statement...

"But it is simply a fact that the bad robot does not deserve a punishment. "

...is absolutely on target. Justice cannot be served where there is no justice or injustice. Furthermore, the robots cannot even conceive of there being such a thing as their nature precludes any such possibility. But this is where the human example diverges from the robot one. We are more than robots and the fact that we understand the concept of justice is what shows our elevation to be higher. It is this understanding that forces us to discard the utilitarian and deterministic model for the one that better fits the nature of what we are. That is why we exercise justice in punishing wrongdoers who have earned it.


"If mechanism is true, that's just a useful illusion."

If the mechanistic, deterministic and utilitarian model is true, then no illusions of any kind would be possible. Illusions are not part of that kind of system. That we are capable of having such, takes us right out of the system altogether and disqualifies it as part of reality.

I believe there is far more evil at work here than the MSM is telling. When i saw that guy in court drugged out of his mind, my discernment was screaming this is not what it appears to be. I thought the same with the Norwegian killings. This smacks of mind control see http://vigilantcitizen.com/vigilantreport/was-the-batman-shooting-a-ritualistic-murder-carried-out-by-mind-controlled-patsy/

RonH

"Whether 'good' and 'bad' are real or not..."

That reality can be determined on the basis of this question. Is the quality of good or bad attached to the thing itself or just something inappropriately imposed on it by our mind? It becomes a question of perception vs. reality and how we parse those out.

"whatever 'real' means... "

I would guess that having existence would be a quality required of something being real. Thus, we must establish existence. If we can, it is real.

Is there fault in my reasoning...do you think?

RonH-

Vengeance changes things in precisely this way: that we are achieving vengeance through punishment is at best an illusion if mechanism is true, but it might not be an illusion if mechanism is false.

Are you asking why it's better to have the real thing rather than a useful illusion?

WL,

It might not be an illusion? Thanks.

RonH

While your busy debating illusions taking your focus away from the issue at hand, this is what the perpetrator had to say (regardless if he a satanic mind contol victim or not, most people, including many christians simply cannot comprehend the satanic mind control and black magic in full view for those with the eyes to see in today's society and simply turn a blind eye)
"The video footage of Holmes was taken at Miramar College in San Diego and showed him explaining that “temporal illusions” are “an illusion that allows you to change the past”. Holmes said he had been working on “subjective experience, which is what takes place inside the mind as oppose to the external world”.
- Source: The Telegraph"
So many on here are simply blind to satan and that he is the prince of the world and controls the satanic "ruling elite" and getting caught up in sophistry and philosophy that ignores the harsh reality of fallen men and satan's part the in end times which are upon us. I beg you wake up before it's too late. Mourn with the mourners but don't get caught up in this evil world and its tricks. The only way we anyone can be saved is by the our Lord and Saviour. Who can not say those murdered by this evil have not been saved some suffering or tribulation in this evil world? Only trust in his infinate truth and wisdom which we as fallen beings and existing in spaceand time rather than infinity at present have to accepet we can never fully understand. Only faith in his perfection, his glory, his creation, his plan and his his mercy and love (no matter how that appears to fallen man, God uses "evil" people for his plans as well as the believers) and that he knows what he doing.

Black magic? Satanic mind control? End times? Satanic ruling elite? God using evil people?

Only at STR...

Andrew,

Perhaps this is the video they refer to?

If so, do you think it is evidence that Holmes is a subject of satanic mind control?

Dr. Iago,

While such alarmism is often present here, you will learn to ignore it. Not everyone on this blog is engaged in apocalyptic sciamachy.

Wisdom Lover,

You are correct to point out that if one were to wait until there is no evil to discuss the problem of evil, then the problem of evil can never be discussed. It's too ubiquitous. However, in pointing this out you are stating a trivial truth which does not address the concerns of those who initially responded with disgust to STR's most recent "answer" posts.

It isn't the proximity in time to the shootings in Colorado that is objectionable. It is the attempt to piggyback off of them to discuss the problem of evil and pretend to be offering a purported "answer" in relation to evil and the shooting. To see that this is exactly what STR is up to, simply read the title of this post and the first paragraph therein. STR is not merely discussing the problem of evil, they are presuming to do so in relation to the shootings in Colorado, and pretending to have the "answer". Having been confronted about this in the previous post, Amy quietly went back in and changed the word "answers" to "thoughts" after the fact.

Apparently Melinda didn't pick up on the cue, as she went on to create yet another post with a claim to have not only the right "answer", but to have it at the "right time". Perhaps tender evangelical hearts have found some form of intellectual "answer" in these posts. If so I would hate to disenchant them of their perspective. But I see no answer here whatsoever..


There sure are a lot of rules in appropriately communicating with regard to catastrophes. I would say something potentially helpful, but I could unwittingly commit a faux pas. Maybe tomorrow would be better.

But criticizing your blog host and publisher never seems to be out of season.

Cactus,

Please.

If the truth I were pointing out were so trivial, you wouldn't still be trying to make people shut up.

Is it your idea that a blog dedicated to Christian apologetics should not have the unmitigated gall to actually try to answer a philosophical problem? Or is it that they should never do so in relation to real events, but only in relation to cooked up events?

And I don't think I'm defending everything about Melinda's post here. I frankly think this post also falls into the trap of sensitivity. Surely not as badly as some of the comments do, but I had a reason in my initial comment for repeating the phrase "season our words with salt" with just a hint of salty sarcasm.

In a setting like this, it's a fool's errand to try to say the right thing at the right time. All you can do here is defend what you take to be true with as much force as you can muster and let the chips fall where they may. That strategy will usually be OK, because people mostly come here precisely to hear positions argued for with passion and verve.

Now, in fairness to Melinda, her main address isn't to be all sensitive toward readers who might be hurting because of Aurora. (As I said before, it is extremely unlikely that anyone is in the category of STR readers suffering because of Aurora).

She isn't really trying to say the right thing at the right time in her blog post, she's simply repeating Brett's discussion of the different faces of the problem of evil. So that later on, when talking to someone else about the problem of evil, you have some vague idea of what the right thing is to say at the right time.

If you are going to discuss evil one-on-one with a particular individual, it makes sense to pay attention to which problem of evil is eating him. Doesn't it?

Should we only think about those issues when people aren't vexed by evil?

Isn't the very idea backward?

Isn't it especially now, when the topic of evil is so likely to arise, that we should be aware of the issues Brett touches upon?

As for Amy's post, It's almost all direct quotation. I guess she changed what? "Greg's answer here" to "Greg's thoughts here"?

OK

Whoopy-do!

I do wish she hadn't closed the comments. It looks like Malebranche and Hutchinson managed to intimidate her with the charge of bad taste. Maybe that's not what moved her, I'm just saying how it appears.

Cactus,


I think you are perhaps misreading this OP on some level, I mean about its purpose overall?


WL said:


"She isn't really trying to say the right thing at the right time in her blog post, she's simply repeating Brett's discussion of the different faces of the problem of evil. So that later on, when talking to someone else about the problem of evil, you have some vague idea of what the right thing is to say at the right time."

Look at what is given and think about one of the goals of this Blog in helping Christians to think more carefully:

1)It's important to understand what is being asked
2 begin by making some key distinctions

3)define the issues
4)this leads to greater clarity

5)distinguish between the intellectual problem and the existential problem
6)intellectual problem requires a tough-minded philosophical response

7)existential problem requires a tender-hearted pastoral response
8)existential problem hint: Christian clichés, you may as well keep your mouth shut

9)on a personal level as well
10)Is your own soul prepared for suffering?
11)This question haunts me a bit……

12)make a distinction between different kinds of evil
13)moral evil
14)natural evil

15)distinguish the logical (deductive) problem from the evidential (inductive) problem
16)this distinction is vital as our response to the logical and evidential problems will be different

What does telling me about natural evil (earth quakes etc) have to do with asking me to talk to these families? Nothing at all, and the reason is obvious: The OP is not a call to come up with a sweet and clever answer and knock the mental and emotional socks off of those victims, and thereby allow us, the clever ones with all the answers, to “Piggyback” on their pain-filled coat-tails and ride to glory. That accusation of yours (piggybacking) is somewhat off color, perhaps? The OP is not about any of that. It is a guide to those of us who may find ourselves wanting to talk about these things and it is a guide to the hard, detailed mental efforts we must force ourselves to go through if we mean to be of any help at all, and, it is also a call to us to go through some tough and honest heart-checks in our own willingness to take our own medicine, should we dish it out, and ask “Is my soul prepared for suffering?” and face the brute fact that for most of us “This question haunts me a bit…….”

This OP is a “tool” to help us think and not a call to be Pastors necessarily.

Lastly, we took the time to call the Police Dept there and come up with some information, and share that information, lest anyone wanted to offer direct assistance to these families. I’m confident several have.

You seem unhappy with "answers" provided here. The Problem of Evil has many faces, and the thread here really only touched on, not the OP's instructions on thinking, but on some of the double talk of those who offer that nothing is real, and "I'm not real, I'm only in a Matrix for all I know" sort of talk about things in general. "All is illusion, all is illusion....we're not real....." When we have to question our own reality, it will take tens of thousands of words to first address "that" never mind the many, many faces of evil.

As for evil, there is Love, and I find when we move both our Mind and our Spirit in that direction, towards Love Himself, He Himself brings those things which we thirst for, which we need, which we intuit the necessity of.

The problem that we all have is that there is always going to be someone out there with a super thin skin that will take offense at something someone will say regardless of how tactful the effort on the person saying it. This is especially true of folks who have had no opportunity to build a thicker one through a challenging life. I think that folks that take offense so easily, deserve our pity, but we should be taking away an important lesson from them and that lesson is "There but for the grace of God go I." We should be grateful that we were spared their condition.

RonH,

I am sorry, saying goodness and badness aren't "real" concepts in your view, is a bad way for me to communicate.

What I'm trying to say is that goodness and badness in your view don't carry any ultimate force. I am sure you would agree with this. With no One powerful enough or just enough in a purposeless universe moral statements can be nothing more then just advice.

That is why your statement...

"....something caused him to do this does not imply that he is designed. Something might have caused him to give all his possessions to the poor. That would not imply that were designed either."

....makes absolutely no sense to me. As you suggested, "something" made him do this such that we (as a society) should ...."Find the causes and work toward reducing or eliminating them."

What does mere advice (good, bad or otherwise) have to do with whether or not he was the cause of the tragic events?

Putting the free will/determinism issue aside, when you make a moral statement like the one that says we should work toward reducing and eliminating the causes that made him do it, it implies you have an ideal in mind for the proper functioning of human beings. This implies that human beings have been designed to function in a particular way, and this guy didn't follow the program. Do you see my point?

WL, I shut down comments because I didn't want to have to continue to monitor a barrage of contentless, mocking comments over the weekend (assuming the ones I was having to remove would have continued). It wasn't a day I wanted to take that, nor one where I wanted to subject others to it. And over the weekend, I wasn't going to have a chance to respond. Sorry about that, but I have my limits, and I actually did think the mockery and contempt piling up--not the answers--was inappropriate for the day. I knew there would be plenty of chances for people to take this up again, and voila.

Cactus, the fact that you disagree with this post only goes to prove one of my original points in the other thread that the problem you and your friends have isn't with timing, it's with the idea that there can be an answer at all. The point of Melinda's post is that you ought to give the right type of answer at the right time. That is, you ought to answer the question the person in front of you is actually asking. Therefore, you need to determine if what that person is asking for is comfort or an intellectual discussion. Brett said:

The intellectual problem requires a tough-minded philosophical response while the existential problem requires a tender-hearted pastoral response. If you attempt to answer the existential problem merely with philosophical abstractions or Christian clichés, you may as well keep your mouth shut.

That's exactly what you were asking for.

So if that were really your problem--if you had not been merely using a disingenuous objection as a smokescreen, you would have been in agreement with that point. No, your problem is in trying to answer the problem of evil at any time, which is why the objections given by you and your friends are always the same, whenever the subject comes up. This is why I found the comments so disingenuous the other day.

The ridiculous implication of your objections was that I would have gone up to the victims of the shooting as they came out of the theater and started explaining the problem of evil. That's absurd, not to mention insulting. As I explained the other day, the people in front of me who are reading the blog are asking intellectual questions, and at a time like this, they're asking, "How can I reconcile what I'm seeing on the news with the existence of a good God?" Hence the intellectual answer offered.

I doubt Melinda read the comments from the other day, so I thought it a happy coincidence that she happened to clarify this, in case anyone actually thought we were advocating going to the theater in Aurora to preach about the problem of evil (which I doubt even you thought).

As for the reason I changed the word, that was done because it didn't seem that you who were complaining had actually read the article linked to. The quote wasn't meant to stand alone, but to bring people to the article, which was more than an answer to that question at the end of the quote. I thought maybe you and your friends would understand more clearly if I changed that. Perhaps I give people the benefit of the doubt too often.

I'm endlessly hopeful people will be reasonable (if I can just make myself clear enough) and treat others here as they would in a conversation of real live people they know. I admit it's my own fault that I'm constantly disappointed.

The problem that we all have is that there is always going to be someone out there with a super thin skin that will take offense at something someone will say regardless of how tactful the effort on the person saying it.

Louis, I don't think the problem with these guys is thin skin. I think the problem is that they have contempt for apologetics, apologists, and evangelical Christians, so they'll take any opportunity to insult and impugn their motives.

The comments to this entry are closed.