the problem of evil

is not a problem for atheists unless one doesn’t understand what the problem is.

So first, as a public service announcement, I will share the problem in brief. More complex formulations of the argument have been made and anyone interested can look at the works of Hume, Platinga, Swinburne, and Rowe among others. But for now, we will refer to Epicurus formulation of the problem, thus

is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is not omnipotent

is he able but not willing? then he is malevolent

is he both willing and able? then whence cometh evil?

is he neither unwilling and not able? then why call him god?

It can be seen immediately that this is a problem for a certain species of gods. These are those gods whose followers claim are omnipotent and omniscient. If one believes in a god without omni properties, then the problem of evil is lessened or even eliminated. It is therefore absurd to claim that the atheist has a problem of evil.

The author of this post, starts by making absurd premises, arguing

so that if creatures are not able to err and so do evil, they cannot act, and so are not actual

and i am going to sit here and wait for an example of evil committed by a sloth. And even before that first paragraph is complete, we are told

Thus if God was going to create anything whatsoever, he had no option in logic but to open the way to error, evil, sin, and death.

which immediately presents a contradiction. There is no logical contradiction involved in the sentence; to create a being that doesn’t err. In fact, the theist undermines their case because they without blinking an eye posit the existence of angels that cannot err and a heaven peopled with beings that can’t err. So which is it?

The apologist’s next step is a strawman. We are told

If there is no God, then there is no such thing as evil

which wasn’t the contention. The question is how can we reconcile the evil that we see with the existence of an all loving and powerful god? If we agree there is no god, as there is no evidence for any, then we are left with evil and a question of how to respond to it. And even from the examples the theist gives thinking he stumped the atheist, it is men and women who have acted to end, or reduce the evil being perpetrated. It is through the action of men that the slave trade ended- at least in theory-; it is through the actions of men that the second world war ended. I am willing to be shown evidence that a god intervened in either of the two examples I have given.

And what I said at the beginning of this post is clearly evident. Here, we have a theist with access to the internet but is afraid to do any thinking. He writes

There can be only โ€œproblems.โ€ On atheism, there is no Problem of Evil, because there is no evil. Thus there is nothing whatever to which an atheist might object, on grounds transcendent to or therefore more suasive than those of his own private and nowise privileged preferences.

Which is a strawman. On atheism, there is no problem of evil not because there is no evil, but because an all loving and powerful god doesn’t exist– at least no evidence exists for such a god. So we are left with evil bit no god. And what we do from here is what matters. Do we sit by and watch as pastors feed their flock bleach as treatment for covid or do we as reasonable people stop such atrocities?

Or am i missing something?

created sick, commanded to be sound

The poem below by Baron Brooke serves as an answer to this

O wearisome condition of humanity!
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity;
Created sick, commanded to be sound.
What meaneth nature by these diverse laws?
Passion and reason, self-division cause.
Is it the mark or majesty of power
To make offenses that it may forgive?
Nature herself doth her own self deflower
To hate those errors she herself doth give.
For how should man think that he may not do,
If nature did not fail and punish, too?
Tyrant to others, to herself unjust,
Only commands things difficult and hard,
Forbids us all things which it knows is lust,
Makes easy pains, unpossible reward.
If nature did not take delight in blood,
She would have made more easy ways to good.
We that are bound by vows and by promotion,
With pomp of holy sacrifice and rites,
To teach belief in good and still devotion,
To preach of heavenโ€™s wonders and delights;
Yet when each of us in his own heart looks
He finds the God there, far unlike his books.

The author of the linked post asks

Created, as we have been, in the image of God, and endowed with the faculties of intellect, emotion and will, and possessing a moral sense; at the same time we are capable of enormous cruelty and injustice. Sometimes the question is asked, Why would a good God allow bad things to happen? The real question, however, is why do we as human beings do bad things, when we should know better?

And I think s/he asks the wrong question. Why such an outcome if we are the work of an all-knowing, powerful and loving god? It would be asking why a code behaves badly if it was coded by genius? Should we not investigate the source of the code and not the code? And in the case of men, the problem is really with a maker, if you posit a deity. Man, the only animal with a moral sense. Man the sad animal.

Next s/he writes

What began as good is now ruined, the result of moral rot and decay. What a sad commentary on human existence!

which again should be rewritten to What a sad commentary on god’s handiwork!

It is interesting what passes apologists give their gods. It seems we demand more from our fellows than apologists ever demand of their gods.

This one left me in stitches. The author thinks presenting an argument would take the place of evidence. In effect, an argument for fairies is all that is needed to believe a fairy is real.

at times like this when I can’t brain

I think about some of the paradoxes in life. Recently someone went to court here and the court ruled in his/their (i am not sure if it was one or many persons) favour that it is to ask for too much to expect that the MCA (member county assembly) should have a degree. But then it occurred to me that it is only in politics that we really don’t care whether our representatives are educated or have anything to offer as long as they can convince us to Q in the sun and cast votes in their favour.

Politics also looks to me to be the best job if you want to live long. There is no mandatory retirement age. The only way to not be in office is to be voted out by a guy more charismatic than yourself, or rich ( can get funding), or can rig the elections in their favour if you live in some of the countries I know where Lenin or was it Stalin who said the most important person is not the person who votes but the person who counts the votes.

But maybe in making laws or in determining how resources are shared, we don’t need the best brains, just anyone can do. And this being the case, we should not complain about bad governance. As Carlin used to say and Brian reminds me all the time, we get the politicians we deserve except where the CIA installs stooges or where the army takes charge like in Mali and Sudan recently claiming the civilian government has failed in their mandates.

In another post on this blog, I did write in agreement with an author (I can’t be bothered to check) that Plato’s Republic with the philosopher king is not democratic. It is elitist and based on the whims of the philosopher. There is no way to check the powers of the king. It does not encourage free inquiry, and unlike the land of the free (The Uneducated States of A) has barriers to progress. One is almost always destined to remain in the state they were born.

But maybe I have got all this politics wrong.

I don’t know about you

But as for me, I can’t wait for trump to launch his social media platform- truth social- where only truth shall be broadcast. There will be no fake news. There will be nothing about the election or even the audit that recently yielded no results. We will finally speak truth to power to the likes of Dorsey, Zuckerberg and whoever else doesn’t agree with us.

against religious indoctrination in schools

Today is Mashujaa (Heroes) Day here at home. For those who do not know, this is the day, many years ago that the Colonial administration declared state of emergency in Kenya and began the arrests of those who claimed to be Mau Mau leaders and their sympathizers, The arrests began on the night of 19th October and proceeded for many days followed by trials of the leaders and the eventual jailing of some in Kapenguria and a draft of other measures. But that is not what this post is about.

In our primary and secondary schools, there is a subject on religious education indoctrination offered depending on your religious persuasion and the schools sponsor. So for example, schools that are sponsored by Muslims would offer Islamic religious education. But it is not education what they do. It should rightly be called indoctrination. It is taught as if those things in the Koran or the bible are really fact. In essence it is to make religious believers out of young impressionable minds.

And they are most often a captive audience with little opportunity for rebel. They can’t opt out without consequence. If you are unlucky and ended up in a school run by the catholics, they will try and make a catholic out of you, Mass is mandatory regardless of whether you are muslim or a believer in voo doo. It just doesn’t matter.

I argue here that it is not the role of educational institutions to indoctrinate our children. Whether children want to or not attend church cannot be made mandatory by school administration. Religious indoctrination does not prepare these young ones to be critical thinkers or good citizens. It only prepares them for church work or sheep. Mostly sheep. And this should be a private affair. If your parents are sheep, that is theirs, but children as impressionable as 4 year olds should only be taught that which can be known.

Schools should teach them social skills. Arithmetic. Science to the level of their understanding while all the time encouraging curiosity and critical thinking. If any philosophy is to be taught in schools, it should start at a level where they can now begin to process abstract concepts but only as preparation for being good citizens.

If you are of a different opinion, I would like to hear it.

I watched The Closer

By Dave Chapelle and I don’t know what the furore is all about.

Comedians and court jesters say annoying things all the time and so what. There’s nothing in the show to suggest that he is inciting violence against any one group. And I think he is within his rights to support whatever cause or individual he chooses. We might not agree with his choice of words or even his jokes but we can’t stop him from saying it.

Or maybe I am missing something.

Pandora papers and a media that is asleep

The case of Kenya.

Now, unless you are Ark, you probably have heard about the recent leak dubbed by the ICIJ as the Pandora Papers concerning money kept in offshore accounts by some elites from different countries.

Of interest to me in this matter is that the family that has been at the centre of looting this country for a combined duration of more than 50 years has been named as in the leak as having some dosh stashed in an offshore account. This could not by itself be illegal but raises a lot of many questions such as source of funds, was tax paid on them, how much more is the first family and other families hiding in a country impoverished by mismanagement of public goods.

The two bodies that would be asking questions about this matter are asleep. The main stream media feeds us political gossip. Parliament is useless. I can understand why parliament is unable to function. Half of them or more, if the questions raised during the presidential election petition are computer chicks- vifaranga vya kompyuta- as we say here. They owe allegiance to computer algorithm not the constituency of humans they represent.

The media is owned by these oligarchs and do not want to lose advertising money from the government of the day by appearing to be independent. Or critical. The only recourse is to read what independent journalists write but these do not have a wide reach and so such serious matter dies without raising eyebrows in a country people plagued by poverty,unemployment and unequal access to resources.

Maybe some day we will get to the bottom of the systematic rapine of the country by successive regimes and recover stolen loots even if it takes 100 years to do it. It will have to be done.

Until then, we wait.

if your religion has you defending absurdities

It is probably time for a new religion.

Here we have a fellow who purports to answer tough questions from believing teens but not before he throws an accusation against atheists. So what’s the question?

Godโ€™s ordering the Jews to kill every living thing in certain cities (Deuteronomy 20:16-18): Is the above a correct understanding of scripture? If so, how was it right for them to kill the children that must have lived in a city so large?

Any rational person would say no, it wasn’t right. But not our apologist. First he compares this to WW2 or bombing of the ISIS, two events all right thinking people have condemned. But that is not all. He or she claims to be doing a root cause analysis arguing that this all began with the curse of Noah upon his grandchildren, shortly defending slavery to arguing these people believed in wicked gods so it doesn’t matter if they were all killed, defends the great land grab by Abraham’s descendants (that is still a cause of strife in the middle East) as the final justification for the murder of children. If you find nothing wrong with this, you can’t be helped.

Mike Ruel on the other hand is a comedian. He tells us there is internal and external evidence why the bible is true. I will not even consider what he calls evidence. If the bible is a miracle(inspired, dictated by a deity), no evidence is needed nor can any be adduced. If it is not a miracle, the absurdities found within its pages that are contrary to reason disqualify it from being true. Remember, Hume on miracles has not been answered.

And finally, this can be filed under bad arguments for theism. The author starts from some atheists have argued in favour of determinism to free will is incompatible with atheism and therefore god. This is poor argumentation. Whether atheism is true or false is not tied to whether determinism is true or false. The only question that is important for the atheist is, is there a god? All other questions are up for grabs.