On punishment

I have on different occasions shared opinions and quotes on this topic. It is known by regular readers that I am I lean towards abolition of prisons. I also believe with JJR that we should abolish capital punishment in the few places where it is still in the statutes. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with what to do with violent offenders. I listen to podcasts on crime and some of the offenses leave me wanting to throw up. The cruelty. The pain caused to families. The violence to the victims. It is all too sick. And the question is, what must society do to protect itself from such?

All that is not the subject of this post.

In this post, I want to ask a question. Different countries have term limits for different crimes ranging from a few weeks to several lifetimes or even capital punishment. The question is, was there a rational basis for say determining that for the crime of sexual assault, the minimum time for rape is 10 years (according to the Kenyan law)? I think the mandatory sentence was ruled unconstitutional. What is to be achieved in the ten years? Could the society achieve the same goal with a shorter sentence? Say 2 years?

What are your thoughts on this matter? Are there rational ways of determining what length of a sentence is required for say a murder? Keep in mind society doesn’t always punish murders. For example, during war, the guy whose side wins i.e kills the most, gets more stars on his shoulder and a presidential commendation for valour and other military honours. It is the killing by individuals not sanctioned by the state that we abhor completely.

Maybe I have this all wrong.

On morals

A lot has been written on this subject and a lot will continue to be written. On whether the huge volume of the subject has improved our knowledge of the subject is still up for debate. It is in this vain, that I will add my thoughts to the subject. It is not to be imagined that this is my first article on the subject. Various of my musings can be found on this site.

What is the basis of morality? Self love. The maxim, do not do unto others what you don’t want done unto you and the positive one that do unto others what you would wish done unto you. The nature of man and woman has not changed in the many years we have existed. We avoid pain and seek pleasure. And sometimes, we can bear pain if it leads to a future pleasure. In essence, therefore, morality has the appearance of universality because everywhere human beings have the same nature.

What has religion to do with morality. Nothing. Except sometimes to pollute it or claim that it was dictated by either their god or prophets.

It is my view that any other claims to the basis of morality that doesn’t refer to self love are all empty and chimerical.

In finishing, I refer to my last post in which I enquired whether we should judge the ancients by the standards of today, I submit yes. It was wrong then and it is wrong now to hold others as slaves and chattels. It is contrary to morality. It was contrary to morality to hold the inquisition especially on matters so doubtful and unfounded on the right way to believe.

I am open to be persuaded that I am wrong on this.

On free will

I know some of you are about to say, not again, but indulge me a bit. This will not be long.

I have seen a species of arguments that goes something like if god is omniscience, then we can’t have freewill as an argument against freewill but I think this line of argument is mistaken. Unless of course god determines or directs our actions, then we are puppets in a cosmic game that we don’t know its purpose.

But the omniscience of god still poses a problem for the problem of evil. God knows what we will do and in her godliness decides that it is best to let the baby be raped and the mother hacked to death to satisfy some cosmic ends.

It would be possible, in my view, to retain freewill and gods omniscience. Only thing is that we can not alter the future. It is determined unless god is misguided. This is all so confusing.

For avoidance of doubt, I am still a freewill and god skeptic. I am this morning attempting to be the devil’s advocate.

Have a confused Monday, will you and if you are Chinese, Happy New Year.

The Greeks had some strange ideas

I find it curious that they would argue nothing is naturally and intrinsically just, or honourable or disgraceful; but things are considered so because of law and fashion(custom). Is this the case or can a case be made that it is good to help a person in need regardless of custom? Or do is it the case that what we consider good are so just by custom?

I however agree with them that both the poor man and the rich man experience pleasure in the same way, that is, wealth or poverty have no bearing on the sensation of pleasure.

I think, our criminal justice systems would have served us all better if it was grounded on the basis that errors ought to meet with pardon, for men err not intentionally but from external circumstances or influences and that is best to teach one who has erred than to hate him.

And finally, since the wise man’s country is the world it is prudent not to expose oneself to danger for the sake of country.

Which do you disagree with?

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 “problems.” 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?

All morality

Can be summarised as follows

To enjoy and have others enjoy, without doing harm to yourself or anyone else

Nicolas Chamfort

For the discerning reader, you can see the tinge of utilitarianism in this maxim. This however, reminds me of the article I read recently (Brian you remember) that talk of morality is no longer meaningful or something to that effect.

I think, echoing Nietszche and Onfray, that we have failed in creating a new morality. We are still caught up in the Platonic-Christian ethos though with a secular priestly.

Maybe I am missing something.

On absolute truth

Is it an absolute truth that there are *no* absolute truths. That had this been evident to our ancestors, human history at least of the last hundred of years would have been more peaceful.

Those who insist on having absolute truth, morality or something interest me. Have they examined how they got to this absolute? Was reason a guide? Have their examined differing opinion or this conviction is taken without consideration of differing opinion.