final thoughts, for now, on free speech

Here, here, and here are some of the instances i have expressed myself on the question of free speech. I should make it clear in case I had not done so that in talking of freedom of speech, I mean the government shall not hinder the free expression of thought. I would extend this to include institutions of learning. I have read of several claims of students in universities in America demanding safe spaces and universities responding by prohibiting some forms of speech. I am of the opinion this shouldn’t be the case. What we end up with eventually is either the Rushdie affair of the Polish affair, both unfortunate.

In the third link above, I expressed my disagreement with the hate speech act that created the national cohesion commission as both a waste of funds and a means to stifle disagreement or dissent.

In the last post, I agreed with Pink that the humanitarian (term borrowed from J Rauch) challenge to free speech is quite a hard challenge but insist that in the face of reprehensible, offensive speech, more speech is what is required not restrictions.

You or me have no right not to be offended or give offense. Anyone who makes his business to create offense by saying reprehensible things should be ignored.

In the same context, all those attempts by different states in the Uneducated States of America to legislate teaching of creationism in schools should not even be taken seriously. No body has asked their parliament to legislate teaching of algebra, so what is this nonsense about creationism that should be given so much airtime?

This short video represent my final thoughts on the matter and I am open to criticism

on free speech

When I last wrote on this topic which was yesterday, I did ask if the state should limit what we can say or what should be the consequences of saying stupid things. People should say whatever they want to say and only good ideas should survive. The text about killing witches still exists but it has been overtaken by better speech. And I think only criticism will deal with ignorance.

This brings me to a very interesting case where this is tested. Jill has posted this and I will just quote her

“God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”

William Kelly

William was until last week a cop. Do you think the police department should have fired him for holding and expressing such opinion? Does suppressing such thinking address racism in the police force or work place generally? How is this different from the Rushdie affair or from the Charlie Hebdo affair? What is society to do with ideas/ speech that is unpleasant?

on free speech

Among the very interesting debates of our times is the one around free speech and whether there should be limitations on what we can say or write. There are countries with laws against blasphemy- laws I call a victimless law-, laws against libel and so on. You can be sued for causing a panic, like shouting fire in a movie theatre or bomb in a plane. Or some such thing. Or you can be de-platformed, fired or hounded out of public life for saying not nice things.

My question is are there topics that should be a no no or should we have unrestricted free speech? Is there any place where this is the case?

Should there be libel suits?

What should governments do about speech that hurt my feelings or our feelings as a group that was previously oppressed (you know with the victimhood Olympics that is on TV currently)?

Tell me what you think.

What sort of evidence are you looking for?

Is a question many atheists have been asked in one form or another. Many have given varied answers to the question and my contribution, though not new, is to say evidence that would be accepted by any reasonable person/observer.

But who is a reasonable observer/person?

Abstract philosophy and exercise is only suited for that person who is well fed and housed. The practical man or woman has use for philosophy to the extent to which it is relevant to their lives and until professional philosophers address issues of practical men and women, their works will remain in university bookshelves read only by other professional philosophers.

On free will

by Voltaire.

Before you say not again, Voltaire argues that all our actions are caused. And when there are two competing activities, the dominant idea will take precedence. He writes

The will, therefore, is not a faculty that one can call free. A free will is an expression absolutely void of sense, and what the scholastics have called will of indifference, that is to say willing without cause, is a chimera unworthy of being combated.

Free will by Voltaire

He concludes by saying we can only do what we will, but we can not will what we will do.

Schopenhauer in his essay on Freewill wrote

A free will would therefore be one that was not determined by grounds; and since everything determining something else must be a ground ± a real ground, i.e., a cause, in the case of real things ± a free will would be one that was determined by nothing at all. The particular manifestations of such a will (acts of will) would therefore proceed absolutely and quite originally from itself,without being brought about necessarily by antecedent conditions, and thus without being determined by anything according to a rule. In the case of such a concept clear thinking is at an end because the principle of sufficient reason in all its meanings is the essential form of our whole faculty of cognition, yet here it is supposed to be given up. However, we are not left without even a terminus technicus for this concept; it is liberum arbitrium indifferentiae. Moreover, this is the only clearly determined, firm, and settled concept of that which is called freedom of the will. Therefore one cannot depart from it without falling into vague and hazy explanations behind which lurks a hesitant insufficiency, as when one speaks of grounds that do not necessarily bring about their consequents. Every consequence of a ground is necessary, and every necessity is a consequence of a ground. From the assumption of such aliberum arbitrium indifferentiae, the immediate consequence that characterizes this concept itself and is therefore to be stated as its mark is that for a human individual endowed with it, under given external circumstances that are determined quite individually and thoroughly,two diametrically opposed actions are equally possible.

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER Prize Essay on the Freedom of the Will

May you will what you will in this coming year!

If you have time, I suggest this post. The history of the free will problem

On the omnipotence paradox

Most times this paradox is formulated as can god create a square triangle? To which many apologists have said their god can only do things that are logical. They have further argued that this doesn’t diminish omnipotence but I am not persuaded. Same apologists believe an ass has spoken, a snake walked and a floor covered the entire earth surface.

Can god make a tall person short? Or a black person white? If not, why? Is there any logical contradiction in the above questions?

Or am I missing something?

If this is

As Leibniz wrote, the best of all possible worlds that god would have created, are we justified in trying to change it? Or should we say with the author of Tao that

Do you want to improve the world?

I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.

It can’t be improved.

If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.

If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,

a time for being behind;

a time for being in motion,

a time for being at rest;

a time for being vigorous,

a time for being exhausted;

a time for being safe,

a time for being in danger.

The master sees things as they are,

without trying to control them.

She lets them go their own way,

and resides at the center of the circle.

Should one pray to have their situation altered if the world is sacred and this is the best possible world that the good god could make?

Is making a vaccine trying to change the world? If this is the best possible world, does it mean that a world without disease was not possible and to ask for such a world is to ask for too much? What does this argument mean for heaven then? Or hell for that matter?

Happy Holidays everyone.

Evidence for Christianity

The argument from truth

The author of the linked post intended, and failed, to show that atheism is not compatible with truth or to argue that atheists have a problem with truth. I argue, without fear of contradiction, that s/he has not proved their case. They didn’t even get off. We cannot, from reading their blog determine what truth is and how its existence is proof for god or an argument against atheism.

I will state, following Odera Oruka that all truths are contextual, where context is a tradition that determines the levels of understanding and the rules of rationality. Within a context, objectivity is implied and therefore, to argue that truth is contextual is not to commit to relativism.

After failing to make a coherent argument for truth as demonstrating that the Christian god exists, our interlocutor moves to morality and attempts to kill the horse that has been killed so many times there is no death left in it- is morality objective or subjective?- in their own words

What about claims that morality is relative? Someone may say one behaviour is acceptable and another not. If there is no God, then all our morals are a matter of personal opinion and not objective.

And as I have said of truth, codes of behaviour are context specific. And within a given context, whatever norms or codes that people live by are considered, they will be objective.

Our interlocutor then writes

If there is no God, then all our morals are a matter of personal opinion and not objective.

as if transferring the source of the opinion improves objectivity. Where gods have been claimed to have spoken, they have not been clear. Is it bad to kill? Not if they worship a different god. Or if it is as a sacrifice to a god. So that, if we are to follow the precepts laid down in the bible (our interlocutor argues for Christianity), we would not be certain on how to act.

We are told

However, if there is a God, and that God has defined right and wrong moral behaviour, then we have a standard outside of ourselves providing us with an objective standard for morality. If God does exist then we can have real objective moral truths.

and I ask which are these? Don’t eat shellfish? Take for example the command don’t kill. Why should we not kill? Because god has said. This, I argue, is unhelpful. It takes us to WLC philosophy of divine command theory where everything that god says is right. I am not sure Euthyphro’s dilemma has been successfully answered.

Most times when I read blogs by Christian apologists, I am left wondering why do they live in such small worlds. When a person writes

The Atheist must borrow the Christian worldview, to hold onto objective moral truths, but at the same time they want to reject the foundation for moral truth.

i ask is the world divided only between Christian and atheist? From whose world view does the atheist in Buddhaland borrow from?

If 1+1=2, the existence of god adds nothing to this. It is independent of gods. I don’t see how empirical facts help with the argument for existence of gods. Unless the apologist is able to demonstrate that the existence of god will change the value of 1+1, then using it as an argument to demonstrate the existence of god fails, unless I am missing something.