Monday, April 30, 2007

Problem with the Problem of Evil (part I)


I drive a lot for work. This gives me plenty of time to think. My thoughts have been caught up quite a bit lately with the problems in the "Problem of Evil" argument. As an aside, if you're ever on Jeopardy its also called the "Epicurean Paradox." For those unfamiliar with the argument, you can generalize it like this:

  1. God exists. (premise)
  2. God is omnipotent. (premise — or true by definition of the word 'God')
  3. God is all-benevolent. (premise — or true by definition)
  4. All-benevolent beings are opposed to all evil. (premise — or true by definition)
  5. All-benevolent beings who can eliminate evil will do so immediately when they become aware of it. (premise)
  6. God is opposed to all evil. (conclusion from 3 and 4)
  7. God can eliminate evil completely and immediately. (conclusion from 2)
    1. Whatever the end result of suffering is, God can bring it about by ways that do not include suffering. (conclusion from 2)
    2. God has no reason not to eliminate evil. (conclusion from 7.1)
    3. God has no reason not to act immediately. (conclusion from 5)
  8. God will eliminate evil completely and immediately. (conclusion from 6, 7.2 and 7.3)
  9. Evil exists, has existed, and probably will always exist. (premise)
  10. Items 8 and 9 are contradictory; therefore, one or more of the premises is false: either God does not exist, or he is not both omnipotent and all-benevolent or there is a reason why He does not act immediately.
The first thing you may notice is that the argument assumes in #7.1 that suffering may not potentially be the best way for some things to be learned. It is a prejudice to think that there must be a better alternative to what exists. If God is omnipotent and all-benevolent, and created all that exists then it should be assumed that based on these qualities He would have created things in the best way possible. Thus, the existing state of things is the best way it could have been created. To assume otherwise is to assume that God thinks as does the framer of the argument, which is ultimately prejudiced toward said framer.

Another thing present in the argument is in #5 and #10 when it states the possibility that "there is a reason why He [God] does not act immediately. It is stated last for a reason, the debater wants this to be the last alternative. However, the fact that this alternative is even acknowledged ends the debate. If there is a possibility that God's thoughts are infinitely above that of humans it is always possible that the moral weight of such things as free-will is much greater than the moral weight of suffering. Also, in #5 its states that "All-benevolent beings who can eliminate evil will do so immediately when they become aware of it." This again doesn't take into account the moral weight of free-will. If an all-knowing God thinks that free-will is better than the potential evil that could be caused, lesser-knowing humans must accept it as true just like a 5 year old has to accept that the brownies he really, really wants before dinner may not be good for him because his mommy told him so.

An interesting problem (and somewhat less noticeable by most folks) is that the argument assumes the existence of evil. Here, most people are probably like "yeah, isn't it obvious that evil exists?" It is. Therefore, God exists. You see in a world in which God does not exist the possibility of a humankind-wide standard of morality reaches nil. To paraphrase Dostoevsky "If God doesn't exist, then all things are acceptable." Without God, there is no one to punish your wrong doing (outside of human law enforcement of course). There is only subjectively relative law, and that means that to claim that evil exists is only to claim that you, as an individual, believe it exists based on your personal standards. On the other hand, if you claim that evil exists and is known objectively and not relatively based on personal belief, then God must exist and must have created a "natural-law" so to speak, of which all of mankind has knowledge.

The laptop is getting hot in my lap and my coffee is running dangerously low, so I'll continue with some more interesting (or not so interesting) thoughts on the problem of evil later.

Schedule for next semester

The moment I'm sure you've all been anxiously awaiting- my fall '07 schedule:
Persuasion (you can all prepare to be persuaded often after next semester)
Theory of Knowledge
Ethical Theory
(I'm sure it'll be great at a public school)
Russian II
Intro to Western Theater Drama
(this fulfills an arts requirement)

Believe it or not, Texas A&M is supposed to have one of the top five philosophy dept. in the country. I have no sources for verification of this, but that's the word on the street. I'm pretty excited about next semester.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Beautiful

I heard a conversation the other day about beauty. One person said "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," while the other said "beauty is objective." Its easy to understand and agree with the first person. To say that something is beautiful in contemporary usage lends towards its personal likability. Modern art is "beautiful" to some people. Pile up some metal, throw in some bricks and viola, beauty! I seem to feel intuitively, however, that beauty is not personal fancy. Instead the second speaker may have been on to something. I don't care much for the majority of modern art, but place me in the Rocky Mountains and my heart sings for joy. I long to praise the artist. I don't know if I can explain it.

Perhaps the word "beautiful" is somewhat overused in contemporary language. Is it another word like "love" which is cheapened by everyday use? I think that in the traditional Christian sense it is used in describing things that tend toward the Divine, that is to say things that show a hint of God Himself. Take us for instance. We say that each and every human being is beautiful no matter their appearance or mental or physical abilities. How can we believe something like that if beauty is only personal preference? Surely I prefer some people to others, or I prefer one person's appearance to another but I'm still called to recognize the beauty in each individual. Why? Because we are created in the image and likeness of God. We tend to reflect the beauty of God in our very existence, in our souls.

This concept of an individuals beauty as inherent based on their likeness to God is key in understanding the loving of one's neighbors- and enemies- as commanded by Jesus. The one whom I despise is also inherently beautiful just like my wife, my mother, my best friend- or the aborted.

How is that anyone can ask for the death of a small child if it is beautiful? Its beauty, its inherent value is already given from God, it has already been created in the image and likeness of God. Who therefore has the right to remove from this earth its beating heart? Does rape steal away the beauty of God's likeness? Does incest or an unintended pregnancy remove God's glory from His created image and likeness? Is it possible that down syndrome or autism can hold back the awesomeness that causes angels to fall on their faces and tremble at the sound of His voice. Of course not.

Yes, I think I can explain it. Beauty is God. That is why we find it in the mountain peaks He has created with a whisper of His mighty voice. That is why the smallest unborn child or oldest bed-ridden man and woman is beautiful.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven AND earth are FULL of your glory and beauty.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The rest of the Liturginator's Crew- "Triage"

Paul over at Alive and Young has the rest of the story on the Liturginator's group as put into action by the Vatican: Triage.

Thanks Paul.

Orthodox Catholic Video

Neat video showing old pictures of Catholics compared to new- similar things. What the hippies and feminazis of the Church don't want you to see.
I love the ending: "Face it hippies, its over."

Catholic Simpsons

Funny cartoon. I like Rev. Lovejoys "one true church" bit, it makes me glad to be a part of the one holy, catholic and apostolic church.

FANTASTIC interview with Dr. Anthony Esolen- "Finding the Masculine Genius"

One of the best interviews I've read all year. I don't know what struck me so much. I think maybe it was the fact that this is so rarely heard and yet so completely true. Read the interview HERE. Read it!

Among some of my favorite things Professor Esolen said were:

"I see manhood as the drive to lead -- to serve by leading, or to lead by
following loyally the true leadership of one's father or priest or captain. The
man exercises charity by training himself to be self-reliant in ordinary things,
not out of pride, but out of a sincere desire to free others up for their own
duties, and to free himself for things that are not ordinary. The man also must
refuse -- this is a difficult form of self-sacrifice -- to allow his feelings to
turn him from duty, including his duty to learn the truth and to follow it. A
man loves his own family, but he also loves his family by refusing to subject
the entire civil order to the welfare of his family; he understands that if he
performs his duty, other families besides his own will profit by it. A man must
consider his life dispensable for the sake of those he leads; he must obey his
legitimate superior; if and only if he does so will he become really necessary
and really worthy of the obedience he claims, with scriptural authority that
need not embarrass anyone."

"Then they might notice that Jesus is not the cute boyfriend that many of
our churches make him out to be, the one who never goes too far -- forgive me if
that is a little coarse. Jesus loves women, as all good men must; Jesus obeys
his mother at Cana; but Jesus does not hang around the skirts of women; he
speaks gently, but as a man speaks gently, and when he rebukes, he rebukes
forthrightly and clearly, as a man. His closest comrades are men, though they
are not necessarily the people he loves best in the world. He organizes them
into a battalion of sacrifice. He is remarkably sparing in his praise of them;
certainly, as is the case with many good and wise men, he is much more desirous
that they should come to know him than that they should feel comfortable about
themselves. From his apostles he seems to prefer the love that accompanies
apprehension of the truth, rather than love born of his own affectionate actions
toward them. In fact, they respond to him as men often respond: They admire and
follow with all the greater loyalty the man who rebukes them for, of all things,
being frightened when it appears their ship will capsize in the stormy Sea of
Galilee! Men can learn from Jesus to seek the company of other men, at least in
part for the sake of women, and certainly for the sake of the village, the
nation, the Church and the world. They can learn that there are two ways at
least in which man is not meant to be alone: He needs the complementary virtues
of woman, and he needs other men. A soldier alone is no soldier."

Tell it like it is

Archbishop Angelo Amato had a few things to say to the media about abortion clinics and other contemporary progressive things: "'slaughterhouses of human beings', euthanasia, and 'parliaments of so-called civilized nations where laws contrary to the nature of the human being are being promulgated, such as the approval of marriage between people of the same sex ...'"

Get the story HERE.

Monday, April 23, 2007

He he, found it online


Good article from New Oxford Review

A good article showing the hypocrisy of the contraception crowd, especially some up in the hierarchy of the current breast cancer craze. Get the story HERE.

I like this:

"Artificial birth control has become increasingly accessible and customary. Slowly we have depreciated our own self-worth to the point of calling contraception "healthy" and implying it is "pro-family," as the Better Homes and Gardens article transparently articulates. Yet those who say they are pro-women will continue to deny the Pill's link to breast cancer, the national media will ignore the Mayo Clinic study, and we will skip through fields of flowers wearing our pink ribbons."

UPDATE:
Catholic & 20 Something pinged back with the link to the report referred to in the article. Thanks Christopher.

UPDATE 2.0:
Lynne at A Quiet Catholic pinged back with a more recent report from the Mayo clinic. It is HERE.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A business chart I can understand


A few Godstock Texas Pictures

We had about 600 teens there for the weekend camping out Saturday night. We played games, listened to a few talks, adored Christ in the eucharist and had a plain old good time.















Godstock 2007- Austin Diocese

We had a blast with our youth group from St. Thomas Aquinas this weekend at Godstock in the Texas hill country. Here's a clip of Amy and I with our "triplets" in the back. They were great.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Liturginator


When the Vatican realized the scope of liturgical abuse in America they decided something had to be done...they called in...


THE LITURGINATOR

Disney- the place where fairies can get married

I recall as a kid not being able to read my Disney Adventures magazine anymore since my parents canceled the subscription because Disney had put out the highly anti-catholic movie "Priest." I think its time to renew the call to boycott Disney (if you don't already avoid most of their trash).

As it turns out, the Magic Kingdom thinks it has the power of the Heavenly Kingdom and is performing magical gay unions. The story is HERE.

According to the article:
"Gay couples are now free to buy a Fairy Tale Wedding package at Disneyland, Disney World, or Disney's cruise ships, with 'a ceremony setting befitting the dreams of a princess.' The Disney properties have long allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot on the premises, but this is the first time those unions are being given official sanction. The Magic Kingdom has thus proved itself more progressive than the motherland, or as progressive as you can be while throwing around the word 'fairy.'"


My first reaction is to tell everyone "Do NOT take your kids to Disney World/Land." The last thing a six year old (or any kid for that matter) needs to see is two guys in princess outfits (or pink prince outfits) exchanging vows. I shudder to be the one to answer little Bobby's question of what the hell is going on.

The article continues to go on explaining that the writer thinks its a good thing- blah blah blah my heads up my you know where but then she says:
"My objection: Marriage isn't being re-engineered. It is evolving in an impeccably Hayekian fashion, as folkways appear on the ground and are gradually ratified by imitation, then market acknowledgement, and then, only lastly, by the law. For eons, same-sex couples have quietly lived as though they were married. As social mores changed and gays came out of the closet, so did those longtime-companion relationships. Before long, lovers were holding their own marriage ceremonies, which were not recognized by the government or (at first) by any established church but did carry weight with family, friends, and neighbors. Couples started to draw up marriage-like contracts, in an effort to establish rights privately that they couldn't acquire publicly. Businesses had to decide whether to extend benefits to gay spouses; with time, more and more did."


First of hun, marriage can't evolve. This will always be the contention of those who give a crap about truth. Marriage isn't just an "I love you and want to live with you" thing. That's what it is reduced to when anyone other than a man and women want to get married. It isn't that its not fair, its that it isn't possible.

That marriage is treated as an "I love you and want to live with you" thing is evidenced first by the prevalence of divorce in our society- the moment one member of the couple is tired of the arrangment the throw in the towel to find a new one. It only makes sense that if that's all that marriage is then anyone can marry anyone (hell, anything) and its fine. If marriage is no more than feelings and a living arrangment then that psycho who married the Israeli dolphin a while back would be justified.

If on the other hand marriage really is a union whereby two individual people become one, and that this union is not only symbolically, but really actualized through the marriage act then same-sex marriages are not only not possible but ridiculous.

Secondly, what the author demonstrates is not an argument for "marital evolution" but is a demonstration of how the slippery slope has pushed the cultural concept of marriage from knowing its unacceptable to saying they want it to be acceptable to thinking that gives them a right to demand its acceptability.

Bottom line: don't take your kids to Disney, for it is the land of the fairies now.

Some young doctors have consciences

More doctors to be in Britain are not learning how to perform abortions based on conscientious objection. Get the story HERE.

Of course teachers blame it a lack of "glamour" in the baby murdering field:

"Some senior doctors have blamed declining interest on the lack of 'glamour' involved in the work.

This has been dubbed 'dinner party syndrome' where doctors don't want to admit to their friends that they do abortions."

What's the solution? Make someone else do it:
"But the situation has prompted abortion groups to call for a change in the law which would allow nurses to carry out early surgical and medical abortions - procedures which are technically simple."


I hope the nurses have the right and the consciences to object.



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Partial Birth Abortion Ban Upheld!

Score one for the home team! The Supreme Court has held that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is not unconstitutional. This of course isn't the end all end to abortion, but its definitely a step in the right direction. Get the story HERE.

The new conservative judges helped to get this done. Just another reason why guys like Giuliani can't be elected by a pro-life base.

Keeping Catholic Hospitals Catholic in Britain

Bravo Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Get the story HERE.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Soldiers of Christ

Its amazing to see the resolve in the bishops of Zimbabwe. To get a little blurb on it go HERE.

Confirmation for the kids from my parish was last Friday, and in all the preparation the focus was on them becoming not just adults in the faith but also becoming warriors for Christ. If there is any modern example of this it is in Zimbabwe.

PETA's ultimate nightmare

ConocoPhillips and Tyson have combined forces to come up with a low emissions diesel made of diesel (of course) and animal fat. Get the story HERE.

Anyone who's read a college newspaper in the last decade has probably read an article on a kid who was "ahead of his time" because he ran his car on vegetable oil or something similar. What's funny is diesels can run on vegetable oil and similar things without modification. I'm not sure how these new "low-sulfur-emission" diesels would do, but the old ones ran great, especially on a mix of diesel and whatever.

Interesting to me in the story is that despite these two companies coming up with a semi-alternative fuel, there is still that left wing tendency to hate on corporations: "But some renewable-fuel advocates say ConocoPhillips will be able to take unfair advantage of a tax credit designed to create new refining capacity for clean-burning fuels, even though they'll be using existing refineries." Do you want it or not hippy?

What will PETA do with this? They already hate Tyson's guts as the largest producer of chicken meat in America. Now they have to figure out what they dislike more, killing chickens for meat or fictional global warming.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Move over Napolean Dynamite

French candidate is himself shocking

A French pres. candidate is "shocked" the Church's standing on sexual ethics and "that it is 'shocking' for the Church to teach that 'homosexuality is a sin.' He told the newspaper that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic. 'One does not choose one's identity,' he commented."

Two things of note that this guy missed: 1) Homosexuality itself is not sinful but disordered, whereas to act upon homosexual desires is sinful. This could be likened to pre-marital sex between a heterosexual couple. Since marriage between two members of the same sex isn't possible (via natural law) acting upon homosexual tendencies is always and everywhere wrong. 2) The all knowing and infallible science has not said that homosexualtiy is something you are just "born with." As a matter of fact Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the human genome project, has written that the opposite is true. Also, psychologist Dr. Dean Byrd writes HERE that more and more psychologists are discovering "sexual identity was far from fixed." Not only have studies shown that "re-orientation" works, but the American Psychological Association journal has said that re-orientation should be available based on these criteria:
"(a) respect for the autonomy and self-determination of persons, (b) respect for
valuative frameworks, creeds, and religious values regarding the moral status of
same-sex behavior, and (c) service provision given the scientific evidence that
efforts to change thoughts, behaviors, and feeling-based sexual orientation can
be successful."


I hate it when people, especially politicians run their PC mess at everyone just expecting them to jump on board and not ask questions. Guess again Frenchie.

Why Giuliani can put his candidacy where the rays of the sun ain't

Kudos to Giul's on his work in the big apple after 9/11, but don't take us for fools now big boy. Get the story on his "contortionist act" HERE.

The final sentence says it all:
"Mr. Giuliani says people who don't like his position do not have to vote for him. Many social conservatives who view abortion as a make or break issue are likely to follow his advice."

Senate votes to kill more babies

The senate passed legislation which would force American tax payer dollars to pay for embryonic stem cell research- which has been the least scientifically promising as well as the most ethically bankrupt.

I suppose that means they all dumped on s.30 which would have allowed federal dollars to be spent on stem cell research without the use of human embryos. I don't know why stem cell research which isn't morally challenged isn't supported over baby killing research. Aren't these the same folks on the left who want an end to animal testing, whaling and seal clubbing? But babies are okay right? Well, I suppose they would just contribute to the obvious global warming crisis... A good break down is at the Saginaw Seminarians blog.

Thank goodness Dubya has said he'll veto this again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Legalized murder law that didn't get enough votes takes effect anyway

President Silva of Portugal who claims he believes "that abortion is 'a social evil,' and urged efforts to encourage women not to abort" ramrodded through legislation to legalize murder in the form of abortion. Makes perfect sense right? I always thought if something was a serious "social evil" and gravely affected others, i.e. dying babies, then we shouldn't be allowed to do it. I guess that's why I'd never make it in politics- I give a damn. Get the story HERE.

The Hypocrisy of being Pro-contraception AND Pro-Marriage

An excellent article by Patrick Danielson in the New Oxford Review called "Homosexuality, Contraception & the Defense of Marriage." Danielson shows that "The contraceptive ethos assumes that pleasure for its own sake justifies sexual experience, and this assumption effectively sunders the morally and socially indispensable twofold nature of human sexuality." Also "The case against homosexual marriage thus becomes an argument for the moral superiority of one form of pleasure usurping another: Homosexual sex is inferior, for example, because it does not involve the conjoining of generative organs."

Good article, give it a read.