The REAL “Problem of Evil”

[moderator’s note: Nonlin.org produced this at about the same time as his “Miracles” post. I delayed this, so that they could be discussed one at a time. I’m now publishing this one.]

[a note to nonlin – if all of your post is one block, it is hard to add a “more” break. Maybe a short introductory sentence as a first block would make that easier]

  1. “Problem of evil” is supposed to disprove God because,
    • a) A God that is all powerful would be able to prevent evil.
    • b) A God that is all knowing would know that evil happens.
    • c) A God that is all loving wouldn’t want evil to happen and would take needed action to stop it.
    • d) Evil happens.
    • e) Since evil happens, these statements are contradictory.
    • f) An all powerful, all knowing and all loving god cannot exist while evil continues.
    Although short, this argument fails repeatedly:
    • c) A God that is all loving wouldn’t want evil to happen, but would not necessarily take needed action to stop it due to other, higher reasons.
    • d) Evil happens only in a theist universe. The true materialist would not believe in evil, hence this whole argument proposed by him/her would be meaningless and self defeating.
    • e) There is no contradiction given the c. and d. counterarguments.
    • f) Because there is no contradiction per e. counterargument, f. does not follow.
    • g) And f. would not follow even if a. to e. were true, because the conclusion may miss some unspecified additional evidence, such as the fact that the human brain is not good enough to judge God, rendering this and many other such arguments false throughout.
  2. How would we know ‘the good’ without ‘the evil’? We wouldn’t! Therefore Evil is inescapable as experiences are continuously normalized to include good and bad. There’s always a ‘too cold/too hot’, ‘too loud/too quiet’, ‘too much/too little death (who wished historical tyrants lived longer?)’, and so on. Whatever the range, there’s always an extreme good/bad. Cut the range in half and, what was moderate before, becomes extreme. Therefore, God tolerates the [necessary] evil to a certain extent and for a good reason, also as part of the free will deal He offered mankind. For those that say “there’s no need for this much evil”, the question is: “ok, then how much evil should there be?” In addition, the Book of Job clearly explains that it is not up to the lowly humans to second guess God. Those that did not understand this (Nazis, Communists, Eugenists, and many more) have tried to do better than God. But their dreams of evil-free societies invariably turn into nightmares full of evil.
  3. Evil should mean nothing to the materialist because of the determinism belief (despite the clearest experimental evidence that determinism is dead). And this is the REAL Problem of Evil. A problem only materialists should face since, according to any coherent materialist, not only were Stalin, Mao, Hitler not evil, but they also had no choice due to determinism. Yet mankind insists on calling those individuals evil and with good reasons. Seeing this dilemma, some argue for word substitution – suffering to evil – not noticing that the argument would thus go from bad to ridiculous. After all, God let Adam and Eve know ‘suffering’ will happen after the Original Sin transgression, and most people accept “no pain no gain”, hence suffering for a good reward. Others claim evil makes sense in “humanist morality”, clearly forgetting that, as determinists, they shouldn’t have the free will to do anything morally or immorally, just as stones and animals do not abide by any moral standards. Hume got this one thing right: you can’t derive ‘ought’ from ‘is’, therefore good and evil are incompatible with materialism.
  4. Is the concept of Evil just a human “evolutionary” adaptation? That doesn’t work because ‘ought’ was derived from ‘is’. The “original ought-is sin” is when materialists imagine the first RNA randomly happening and then, hocus-pocus, “evolution” with its ‘oughts’ takes over. The second is when we see no evil in the lion eating the gazelle alive, or the wasp turning the cockroach into a zombie food supply, the weasel killing all the chickens, peer violence, or even cannibalism, and infanticide. Yet we see evil in the human behaving like these (although infanticide against the unborn is OK – go figure). We do not need the concept of evil to avoid harm. But, aside from the mentally impaired, psychopaths, and a few hypothetical primitive cultures that supposedly do not know evil, all modern humans including the materialists know and oppose evil. Even communists are for “social justice” and fascists for the improvement of society, eugenists for the betterment of mankind and abortionists for “choice”. Not one of these stands for evil despite killing and persecution of the innocent. All these go to great length to hide, and minimize their evil deeds and often argue that – in fact – their opponents are the evil ones. “Sure, you have to break a few eggs to make omelet, right”? “But that’s not evil” is their argument.
0

532 thoughts on “The REAL “Problem of Evil”

  1. Nonlin.org: How about the fact that human is the ONLY outlier and by FAR in a lot of comparative measures? Measures that MATTER, not the “longest schlong to body size ” type.

    Nonlin.org:

    Corneel: Lemme guess. Measures that MATTER all rely to some degree on our cognitive abilities.

    Not only that, but also dexterity, endurance, life span, etc. Why do I have to educate you when you have access to the internet?

    DNA_Jock offers up examples of organisms that out-perform humans in each of nonlin’s cherry-picked categories. nonlin’s retort:”Dumb comparison.”
    I agree it’s a dumb comparison; but it is YOUR comparison.
    Corneel makes fun of this.
    nonlin’s comeback

    Nonlin.org: If you don’t even know what an OUTLIER is, don’t make bigger fools of yourselves by insisting. Or you just missed ‘outlier’ because it was not highlighted in pasta letters? Either way, take my advice and go silent on this one until you do some basic research.

    LOL. Corneel and I know what an OUTLIER is; and we remember that you described humans as “the ONLY outlier and by FAR in a lot of comparative measures” [all CAPS in the original]
    That’s hilarious.
    BTW, I would advise you to go easy on the whole condescension schtick whilst you are being slapped around. Your gibes miss, and do not make you look any better, if you get my drift. By way of example, it would be awesome if my boss hired some chimps: I own the company I work for, and I hear that you can get chimps to work for peanuts <gggg>. Also, the phrase “in that business of yours.” is a bit of a giveaway that you have no clue what I do for a living.
    I will admit to some curiosity — how do you support yourself? What would you say is your area of expertise?

    1+
  2. Alan Fox (to Nonlin):
    What is your source for those statistics?

    I doubt that matters. Nonlin’s problem would be that (s)he doesn’t understand that correlation doesn’t mean causation. Atheism, materialism and determinism might be compatible, they might even coexist in a large sample of atheists (if that’s even true, but I bet Nonlin got those assumptions from some creationist argumentations, not from any stats). That doesn’t make atheism w/o materialism incoherent. That doesn’t make materialism w/o determinism incoherent. Incoherence is not about whether something fails to follow some stats, but whether there’s a logical contradiction. Since there’s none, Nonlin can put his claims about incoherence back up his ass where they came from.

    0
  3. DNA_Jock (to Nonlin):
    By way of example, it would be awesome if my boss hired some chimps …

    Not forgetting Nonlin’s assumption that anything one animal can do any other animal can do as well.

    0
  4. Nonlin.org: I just observed (statistically) that atheism, materialism, determinism etc. go together as they are compatible. Are you saying they don’t?!? Which one and why? And don’t count yourself since you vote with the crazies. Look around you.

    From the fact that historically, these three have often been held by the same people, it does not follow that atheism without materialism and/or determinism is incoherent. Which is precisely what you have been insisting.

    1+
  5. Entropy: Nonlin’s problem would be that (s)he doesn’t understand that correlation doesn’t mean causation. Atheism, materialism and determinism might be compatible, they might even coexist in a large sample of atheists (if that’s even true, but I bet Nonlin got those assumptions from some creationist argumentations, not from any stats). That doesn’t make atheism w/o materialism incoherent. That doesn’t make materialism w/o determinism incoherent. Incoherence is not about whether something fails to follow some stats, but whether there’s a logical contradiction.

    Right, though I’d put the point in terms of association and inference rather than correlation and causation: just because someone holds both positions, it doesn’t logically follow that atheism entails materialism.

    Now, in partial fairness to Nonlin, there have been lots of historically famous atheist who did think that atheism entailed materialism and determinism. The most famous (at least in their time and place) were French philosophes like La Mettrie and Holbach. And they did claim that atheism entailed materialism and determinism.

    But just because there were historically famous atheists who insisted on this inference, it doesn’t follow that they were logically correct in doing so, let alone that non-materialistic atheism is “incoherent”.

    Philosophy does make progress, in a sense — I think that 20th and 21st century philosophy has, in close alliance with the sciences, developed a much more nuanced understanding of concepts like cause, explanation, model, mechanism, etc. There are problems with 17th-century understandings of materialism and of determinism that they could not have been aware of. But that doesn’t mean that non-materialistic atheism is logically incoherent.

    1+
  6. DNA_Jock: Corneel and I know what an OUTLIER is; and we remember that you described humans as “the ONLY outlier and by FAR in a lot of comparative measures” [all CAPS in the original]
    That’s hilarious.

    Hilarious indeed. No, you don’t know what an outlier is if you [directly] compare humans with trees, whales and microorganisms. Hint: outlier is not the highest, biggest, oldest, etc… although humans do hold a number of absolute records too… where it matters. Why would you even dispute that obvious? Like I said, you better go silent on this one while you research.

    0
  7. Kantian Naturalist: From the fact that historically, these three have often been held by the same people, it does not follow that atheism without materialism and/or determinism is incoherent.

    Once again: “Are you saying they don’t [go together]?!? Which one and why?”
    And did they go together historically for a good reason?

    Sure “it does not follow” from history. But history is revealing. By all means, change the course of history. But explain your action. For instance you can say:
    “materialism failed and now we have physicalicisticism, whatever that means”
    … and…
    “QM invalidates determinism, so now we must replace it with metaparaphysicalicisticism and whatnot”.
    Don’t be afraid, let’s analyze this and see if coherent or not. It should be fun.

    Kantian Naturalist: there have been lots of historically famous atheist who did think that atheism entailed materialism and determinism… But just because there were historically famous atheists who insisted on this inference, it doesn’t follow that they were logically correct in doing so,

    Not just historical. A number of (most?) new atheists still hold that. And in physics the atheists still talk about Schroedinger’s equation determinism, multiverse (determinism), and wave-particle duality as if there were material particles out there.

    Are you saying atheists are logically incorrect? Because you’re very much right on this one.

    Kantian Naturalist: But that doesn’t mean that non-materialistic atheism is logically incoherent.

    Other than yourself (counted with the crazies, remember?) who else promotes “non-materialistic atheism”? It certainly isn’t mainstream. I would have known about it.

    0
  8. nonlin, if you wanted to make the weaker claim that humans are an outlier in a lot of comparative measures, that would be fine. We would probably still dispute the importance of your cherry-picked anthropocentric metrics, because that’s just the way we roll. But at least you wouldn’t look idiotic when you selected lifespan or the nebulous “endurance” as your metrics, merely a mite narrow-minded.
    But that is not what you wrote. You wrote

    How about the fact that human is the ONLY outlier and by FAR in a lot of comparative measures?

    So to claim that humans are the ONLY outlier in terms of lifespan, and by FAR is a silly mistake. Tripling down on your mistake does not make you look good.

    1+
  9. Nonlin.org:
    [after some pretty imbecilic, poorly understood misquotations]
    … Don’t be afraid, let’s analyze this and see if coherent or not. It should be fun …
    … [mistakes “non-mainstream” for incoherent, atheists for physicists, and equations for beliefs] …

    Don’t be fucking stupid Nonlin. Enough is enough. At this point you’re desperately grasping at straws and it shows. You already told us that all you had was “statistics.” Well, if you have enough brains then you should understand that’s not enough to support your claims about incoherence and stop it. So, stop it.

    0
  10. Entropy: Enough is enough. At this point you’re desperately grasping at straws and it shows. You already told us that all you had was “statistics.” Well, if you have enough brains then you should understand that’s not enough to support your claims about incoherence and stop it. So, stop it.

    Yep. Nonlin’s ‘argument’ that atheism without determinism and materialism is “incoherent” turns out to show only that he doesn’t understand what the words “coherent” and “incoherent”.

    I’m withdrawing from this discussion. Enough of my time has been wasted already.

    1+
  11. DNA_Jock: if you wanted to make the weaker claim that humans are an outlier in a lot of comparative measures, that would be fine.

    Fuck off. You were just lectured on ‘outlier’ after you made a fool of yourself and now you’re the professor?
    Here:
    http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/phys/lifespan.html
    Pray tell “professor”, if longest lived humans live twice as long as longest lived orangutan, which is the longest lived among all primates, why does that not count as outlier and by far to you?

    And if you understand anything about this topic, explain why ‘longest lived’ matters whereas ‘average lifespan’ does not.

    0
  12. Kantian Naturalist: I’m withdrawing from this discussion. Enough of my time has been wasted already.

    Good choice. But I wish you hadn’t wasted my time to – in the end – agree with all I said including the historical angle which you brought up (and thanks for that).

    0
  13. Nonlin.org:

    DNA_Jock: if you wanted to make the weaker claim that humans are an outlier in a lot of comparative measures, that would be fine.

    Fuck off. You were just lectured on ‘outlier’ after you made a fool of yourself and now you’re the professor?
    Here:
    http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/phys/lifespan.html
    Pray tell “professor”, if longest lived humans live twice as long as longest lived orangutan, which is the longest lived among all primates, why does that not count as outlier and by far to you?

    Yes, like I said, if you wanted to make the weaker claim that humans were an outlier, that would be fine. But you did not; you claimed that humans were the ONLY outlier and by FAR, which we have demonstrated is moronic. Do you even read the comments that you respond to?

    And if you understand anything about this topic, explain why ‘longest lived’ matters whereas ‘average lifespan’ does not.

    Not clear what you are driving at here. To date, we have been discussing “lifespan” or “life span”, without qualifiers. To me, that denotes “average lifespan amongst those that reach maturity”, but if you want to claim that humans, on average, outlive Bowhead whales, produce your data…

    0
  14. Nonlin.org: Good choice. But I wish you hadn’t wasted my time to – in the end – agree with all I said including the historical angle which you brought up (and thanks for that).

    I haven’t agreed with anything you’ve said, and it’s unfortunate that you don’t seem to realize that.

    2+
  15. DNA_Jock: Yes, like I said, if you wanted to make the weaker claim that humans were an outlier, that would be fine.

    No. The claim is clear. My bad for trying to explain to stupid animals what only humans can understand.

    Kantian Naturalist: I haven’t agreed with anything you’ve said, and it’s unfortunate that you don’t seem to realize that.

    Not anything?!? Ok if you so say sensei.

    0
  16. Nonlin.org: No. The claim is clear. My bad for trying to explain to stupid animals what only humans can understand.

    What happens to you if you were to admit that you were wrong? Do you burst into flames, or what?

    0
  17. Corneel: What happens to you if you were to admit that you were wrong? Do you burst into flames, or what?

    Did I not give you credit when you said something smart? Or to Kantian earlier in this thread? Or to others?

    But let’s waste more time and review this side discussion:
    Nonlin:
    “Not this topic, but… Really? No objective reason? How about the fact that human is the ONLY outlier and by FAR in a lot of comparative measures? Measures that MATTER, not the “longest schlong to body size” type.”
    Corneel:
    “Lemme guess. Measures that MATTER all rely to some degree on our cognitive abilities.”
    Nonlin:
    “Not only that, but also dexterity, endurance, life span, etc. ”
    DNA_Jock:
    “Dexterity? My cat challenges you to a test of your hand-eye co-ordination: Try to catch a live mouse…Octopi do some pretty amazing stuff too.
    Endurance? I assume you mean distance running (if you meant ‘ability to endure severe environments’, then, err, there are some bdelloid rotifers you should meet). In cool weather, Huskies and horses have us beat, but yes, in warm weather, humans will run a marathon faster than pretty much any other animal. Enjoy that small victory.
    Nonlin:
    “You mistake agility for dexterity. How embarrassing?”
    DNA_Jock:
    “Life span? President is 3,200 years old, and Bowhead whales live for 130 – 200 years.”
    Nonlin:
    “Dumb comparison.”

    “If you don’t even know what an OUTLIER is, don’t make bigger fools of yourselves by insisting.”
    DNA_Jock:
    “DNA_Jock offers up examples of organisms that out-perform humans in each of nonlin’s cherry-picked categories. nonlin’s retort:”Dumb comparison.”
    …Corneel and I know what an OUTLIER is;”
    Nonlin:
    “No, you don’t know what an outlier is if you [directly] compare humans with trees, whales and microorganisms. Hint: outlier is not the highest, biggest, oldest, etc… although humans do hold a number of absolute records too… where it matters. Why would you even dispute that obvious?”
    DNA_Jock:
    “nonlin, if you wanted to make the weaker claim that humans are an outlier in a lot of comparative measures, that would be fine.”
    Nonlin:
    “You were just lectured on ‘outlier’ after you made a fool of yourself and now you’re the professor?

    And if you understand anything about this topic, explain why ‘longest lived’ matters whereas ‘average lifespan’ does not.”
    DNA_Jock:
    “Not clear what you are driving at here. To date, we have been discussing “lifespan” or “life span”, without qualifiers. To me, that denotes “average lifespan amongst those that reach maturity”, but if you want to claim that humans, on average, outlive Bowhead whales, produce your data…”

    So the guy that “understands” what outlier means is back to comparing humans with bowhead whales. Go figure.

    So where am I wrong exactly?

    Let’s take them one by one:
    Human…
    Intelligence – Absolute. By far.
    Dexterity – Absolute. By far.
    Speech – Absolute. By far.
    Civilization – Absolute. By far.
    Endurance – Outlier. By far.
    Lifespan – Outlier. By far. Why does this matter and why the ‘longest lived’? Because civilization is transmitted by the longest lived, not ‘the average’. Also because ‘the average’ is hard to measure and changing over time.
    Biggest schlong – Who cares?

    0
  18. Nonlin.org,
    If you claim (and you have…) that humans are the ONLY outlier, that necessarily means you are claiming that they are (in your parlance) the “Absolute. By far.”
    So, your list, which draws a distinction between “Outlier. By far” and “Absolute. By far.”, is an admission that you were wrong, and that there are other organisms who are “longer lived” than humans.Thank you for that.
    [BTW, this is equally true whether you want to make the metric ‘average lifespan’, ‘average lifespan amongst those that reach maturity’, or ‘longest lived’, so your attempted sidetrack is irrelevant. I had thought that your sidetrack was an attempt to take Redwoods out of consideration – their average lifespan may be rather short. Demanding we use “‘longest lived’ (3,200 years, ffs!) is quite the own goal there. Doesn’t matter. Check out Bowhead whales and, perhaps, Greenland sharks…]
    I don’t agree about dexterity, but that is just another example of your cherry-picking things that you think matter. I was very happy, though, to see you include “Civilization” as a metric: how about the wheel, New York and wars?
    <g>

    0
  19. Nonlin.org: Lifespan – Outlier. By far. Why does this matter and why the ‘longest lived’?

    It matters to me because you are in the habit of just asserting stuff, resisting correction whenever any of your assertions are challenged, and I feel that you should learn to support your statements. Also I happen to be knowledgeable about ageing research and I KNOW that humans being “outliers” for life span is a patently false claim.

    Now, an outlier for me is a data point that is conspiciously outside of the main distribution (usually over 3 standard deviations, but this is flexible). Below you’ll find a graph for maximum recorded animal life span plotted against mass (body mass is the single best predictor for life span). I have marked the approximate position of our species for your convenience (at typical adult weight ~60 kg and maximum recorded life span ~120 yrs). It should be obvious that, even within animals, humans are not an outlier, let alone the ONLY outlier, by FAR. You were WRONG. Would it hurt to acknowledge that?

    0
  20. Corneel,

    Cool links, thank you.
    Previously, I was emphasizing large mammals, because (a) I suspected that nonlin was more likely to view them as “counting”, given his anthropocentric perspective, and (b) I thought that his inarticulate

    And if you understand anything about this topic, explain why ‘longest lived’ matters whereas ‘average lifespan’ does not.

    was an attempt to demand that ‘average lifespan’ be the metric: quahogs, trees and many fish may not do so well under that measure, if (say) only a small fraction of progeny live to maturity…
    Nope. I may have overestimated him again; the triumph of hope over experience.

    0
  21. DNA_Jock: I was emphasizing large mammals, because (a) I suspected that nonlin was more likely to view them as “counting”

    I am pretty sure that is correct. Plants are probably completely off the radar. If we get to include clonally reproducing species, where the difference between individual and genetic clone (genet) blurs, then cases exist where life span exceeds the 10k year mark.

    0
  22. DNA_Jock: So, your list, which draws a distinction between “Outlier. By far” and “Absolute. By far.”, is an admission that you were wrong, and that there are other organisms who are “longer lived” than humans.

    This is plain stupid.

    DNA_Jock: I don’t agree about dexterity, but that is just another example of your cherry-picking things that you think matter.

    Cherry picking? Then you haven’t seen any hand-less human to know the difference. Or a stupid animal struggling with its inadequate dexterity. Whatever.

    DNA_Jock: Check out Bowhead whales and, perhaps, Greenland sharks…]

    We are not marine mammals, so once again you misunderstand “outlier”.

    Corneel: Below you’ll find a graph for maximum recorded animal life span plotted against mass (body mass is the single best predictor for life span).

    1. Not much of a predictor when r2 = 0.340.
    2. Correlation is likely spurious (or driven by other factors some of which they mention)
    3. Mixing everyone together proves, yet again, that you don’t understand “outlier”
    4. I already provided the link that clearly shows human outlier by far compared to primates. Search: also outlier by far when compared to terrestrial mammals.

    You can add ADAPTABILITY to “Absolute. By far.”
    Also POPULOUS to “Outlier. By far.” But this is likely a corollary of all others.

    Meanwhile, your “cousins” fling feces and suck on fleas as they have and will do for ever.

    DNA_Jock: Previously, I was emphasizing large mammals, because (a) I suspected that nonlin was more likely to view them as “counting”, given his anthropocentric perspective,

    Not ‘anthropocentric’ but ‘outlier’. Again.

    Also, by bringing up all those trees and whales, you imply I didn’t know about them, let alone see all them notable sequoias and redwoods with my own two eyes. This is obviously plain stupid again.

    0
  23. Nonlin.org: I already provided the link that clearly shows human outlier by far compared to primates. Search: also outlier by far when compared to terrestrial mammals.

    Why would I restrict myself to primates to confirm your claim when the whole of creation tells me otherwise?

    Nonlin.org: Meanwhile, your “cousins” fling feces and suck on fleas as they have and will do for ever.

    *penny drops*

    This is just “I ain’t no kin of no monkey” again, isn’t it?

    0
  24. Corneel: Why would I restrict myself to primates to confirm your claim when the whole of creation tells me otherwise?

    An infant knows that humans do not belong with trees and whales. You don’t.

    Concede that human is outlier by far within primates.
    Also concede that human is outlier by far within all terrestrial mammals.

    0
  25. Humans have the greatest number of cortical neurons (excluding cerebellum) among mammals (including cetaceans and elephants) — about 87 billion, by the most recent estimates (see here).

    Not sure why that matters, though. Clearly it is relevant for answering some questions., not relevant for others.

    0
  26. Nonlin.org: An infant knows that humans do not belong with trees and whales. You don’t.

    An infant also knows that trees do not belong with humans and whales, and that whales do not belong with humans and trees. So what?

    As a reminder how this kerfuffle started: You were objecting to my claim that there is “no objective reason to set humans apart from (other) animals”, by arguing that “human is the ONLY outlier and by FAR in a lot of comparative measures”. So far, the only traits that hold up are intellect and associated traits (language, culture, morality, etc). You can only salvage life span by narrowing your claim to primates. Sure, we are an extremely long-lived outlier among primates, which is largely explained by our greater body weight. But I really can’t think of a single valid a priori reason to dismiss non-primates or marine mammals.

    Speaking as a biologist, apart from our remarkable cognitive abilities, humans are actually rather boring. We do not stand out in terms of anatomy, physiology or genetics. Speaking as a human being, I agree that humans are tremendously interesting, but I am not going to pretend that this is an objective assessment.

    0
  27. Corneel: You can only salvage life span by narrowing your claim to primates. Sure, we are an extremely long-lived outlier among primates, which is largely explained by our greater body weight. But I really can’t think of a single valid a priori reason to dismiss non-primates or marine mammals.

    So funny seeing you cut your nose to spite your face – taking down yourself and all humans for your incoherent religion.

    Anyway, I don’t have time for repeated stupidity like pretending from an outlier the same as from an absolute.

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.