Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Absense of good

Snopes has an interesting essay regarding idea, circulating in several anecdotes, that evil has no existence, except as absence of God. (Or absense of Good.)


Alexander Greene said...

I was going to add something here, but then I thought: I'd rather stay silent on this and be thought a fool, than to open my mouth and prove it beyond doubt. :)

emptyspaces said...

Funny thing is, after reading that myth I'm even more convinced there is no god.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I loved the "Einstein version" of the chauffeur switch. A -still popular- very old classic!

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Riddle me this, Emptyspaces:

If there is no God, then what IS "absence of God", defined similarly to absence of heat or light?
Or, perhahps, I should ask "God is absence of WHAT?"

Ooh, I've just roundhouse-kick-opened wide either a family-sized can of worms, or a king-sized can of furious debating whoop-ass! :-)

But "boredom is absence of action". -- Chuck Norris (unsourced)

Unsourced because, of course, there CAN be no survivors to bear witness to THAT fantastic event: the Chuckster fighting [the crap out of] boredom! Just like with Yahve doing the Big Bang. ;-)

You just need to have faith in that above quote. If you value the cohesion of your molecules. ;-p

emptyspaces said...

Pascal - the absence of God is reality.

And I, too believe that Chuck Norris would win a battle with boredom. And you got me thinking, perhaps Chuck's greatest battles were with himself. So evenly matched!

Kent McManigal said...

My own definition of "evil" is "That which harms those who do not deserve to be harmed right now".

Something that simply does not prevent them from being harmed might not be "good", but I don't think it is necessarily "evil".

In other words- It is better to watch an innocent person be attacked than to be the attacker. It is best to intervene and stop the attack if possible (sometimes it is not possible).

Alexander Greene said...

further to my last post ...

Okay, the temptation to prove my foolishness is too great. I'm biting.

I'd have continued the story differently, by having the teacher come back to the pupil with something like:-

'Does stupidity exist?' the teacher asked.

'What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been stupid?' The students snickered at the question.

The teacher replied, 'In fact, stupidity does not exist. Stupidity is the absence of any kind of faculty for thought. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no capacity to think.'

The teacher continued, 'Child, does ignorance exist?'

The theist child responded, 'Of course it does.'

The teacher replied, 'Once again you are wrong, boy. Ignorance does not exist either. Ignorance is in reality the absence of knowledge. Knowledge we can study, but not ignorance.

In fact we can use mathematics and science to break knowledge into many topics and study the various interactions of the phenomena of the world with an eye to understanding how it all goes together. You cannot measure ignorance.

A simple mote pf knowledge can break into a world of ignorance and illuminate it. How can you know how ignorant a certain man is? You measure the amount of knowledge present. Isn't this correct? Ignorance is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no knowledge present.'

Finally, the teacher asked 'Does evil exist?' When the student trotted out some glib answer about vice and sin and crime, the teacher silenced him and continued:-

'Evil as you call it does not exist. What you call "evil" is what people with intelligence, possessed of knowledge, call "informed choice." People with intelligence gather knowledge about the world and that knowledge, processed through an intelligent mind, determines how they choose to live their lives.

A woman can choose to live without a man, or indeed she can choose to live with another woman, just like a man can choose to be single, or to live with another man, rather than just have a dissatisfying and loveless marriage thrust upon them without questioning.

A human can gather evidence about the way the world works and, by discovering mathematics, chaos theory and natural selection, confirm - with evidence to back his claim - that this universe does not need to be explained away as being some grey haired old man's snowglobe in the clouds, but that it can be a wild, complex and fascinating place in its own right that owes its existence to no God.

"This is what I call the absence of God - but sadly, there do exist far too many people who believe in stupidity and ignorance, and who claim that these non-existent things are the Creator.

"And those who seek to stifle intelligence in others, to deny knowledge and to deny people their choice? Sadly, they do exist, and I'm looking at one right now. You just failed your course."

And with that, the student was forced to leave the college.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"the absence of God is reality."
Prove it! K'annak sh√Ęter. ("If you're so brilliant." Local expression.)
By strict objective definition, it's called "believing" because it's outside the scope of knowledge and verifyable facts. The existence of God can neither be proven, NOR disproven. All attemtps in both directions are pure rethoric. (And THIS is an undisputably proven fact!)

Also, Emptyspaces ("empty", as in, absence of what, BTW? ;-), check again and read carefully: this post is about "absence of GOOD". With two Oh's.
Hah! The Cunning Master strikes again, swifter than Zeus' bolts! I'm a linguist, I'm a debater, booya!
(Hey, good thing I'm also immensely modest, right?)

"perhaps Chuck's greatest battles were with himself"
Careful there, buddy.
Chuck Norris discovered a new theory of relativity involving multiple universes, in some of which Chuck Norris is even more badass than in this one. When it was discovered by Albert Einstein and made public, Chuck Norris roundhouse-kicked him in the face. We know Albert Einstein today as Stephen Hawking.

That's some good definition there.
Would you happen to be buddies with the Chuckster, the man whose roundhouse kick is always right? ;-)
Good points overall, in fact.
And (gulp!) what a nice-looking rifle you got there, pilgrim.
[avoids staring]

(gulp!) What a nice-looking set of teeth you got there, pilgrim. Must make for SOME biting! ;-)
Still, you write stories well.

I''l leave y'all to ponder this bit of deep religious wisdom. Amen, bros. Yo! Peace.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Ignorance is weakness.
Weakness is absence of power.

Lose some ignorance by reading this.
There have been too many conflicting crappy claims about that important topic.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

My verif: "ablet". To be, or not to be, I hence wondereth?

By returning to what you wrote and reading it carefully, Emptyspaces, symmetry of the "equal" function means that conversely, according to you, "reality is absence of God". Sounds like a pretty negative conception of the Universe to me. What about "42" then?
(Am I bad, or what? }:-)

The problem, way I see it, is that you're defining something pretty intuitive (reality), through something which remains highly undefined (God).
There are, pretty much, as many definitions of "the One And Only God" as there are believers in God.
A weird polymorphic reality of monotheism, I know!

Anyhow, the bottom line is, I asked you more specifically, "God is absence of WHAT?"
Should I take it, by implication, that to you "God is absence of reality"?
If Reality = null-God, then God = null-Reality.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum. Ab absurdo et ab imo pectore.

Booya, baby! Top THIS, Shark-Teeth!

Ooh, I'm having a ball!

In fact, I'm having a pair! :-D

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

And let's not forget my masterful demonstration that God loves raspberry milkshakes. And orgasms.