Thursday, March 28, 2013

God, Evil, and Cake-Cramming: An exchange with Keith Parsons

KP: Discussions of the problem of evil, like all philosophical discussions, tend to be conducted at a level of theoretical aridity. When discussing these issues with a class, we first go through all the standard moves and counter-moves. Then, I recommend that they step back from the theoretical for a moment and consider the testimony of those who have actually confronted radical evil. I mention two texts, Elie Wiesel's Night and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. Wiesel and Ten Boom, as survivors of Nazi death camps, certainly had experience of the worst that humanity can dish out. Their reactions were totally different. Wiesel says that the experience destroyed his God. Ten Boom said that she had found that God's love is deeper than the deepest evil. I then challenge my class to consider whether anyone who had not been subjected to such experiences has the right to judge those who have. Do any of us have the right to say that either Wiesel's or Ten Boom's response was irrational or perverse? I think not.

Still, I have heard testimonies of those who have encountered great loss or suffering that struck me as cheap and facile, Years ago when I was still a Christian and went to church I heard a preacher talk about a couple whose seven-year-old son had died. The couple dealt with their loss by saying that, as they viewed it, God had lent them their son for seven years and then called him back to his true home. The preacher compared those who express outrage at the loss of a child to those who bitterly complains when the owner asks for a lent item to be returned. That answer made my skin crawl even when I was devout. I cannot help but feel that there is something cheap, facile, and, indeed, callous about that answer.

It seems to me that a far more authentic response was the one of the main character in Peter de Vries' novel The Blood of the Lamb. He takes a cake to his daughter's hospital room to find the bed empty. The nurse tells him that his daughter has died overnight. On the way out he passes the chapel where there is a large crucifix. He takes out the cake and crams it into the face of the Christ on the cross.

Fortunately, I have never had a loss like that, but, if I did, I think I would be one of the cake-in-face crammers.

VR: Facile responses to the problem of evil are problems, for the simple reason that we do not know what the explanation is. What was really wrong in the preacher's comment is the fact that it sound as if the feelings of those who are angry with God for losing a child are illegitimate.


I can surely understand the cake-cramming state of mind. However, whether this grounds a rational argument against belief in God is another matter, and some people act as if that attitude is morally superior to other possible attitudes, and I don't buy it. It's the Ivan Karamazov move: This is evil, God should have done something, and nothing we might find to be true hereafter can render God innocent of allowing this kind of suffering.

I happen to think that an disconfirming argument against theism from evil probably can be made. I think "skeptical theist" responses based on our expected lack of understanding of these things decrease the weight of the argument, but they do not eliminate it entirely. On the other hand, when I think about argument from evil, I find that the very things that generate the argument, such as the capacity to feel pain (as opposed to just having one's c-fibers fire), our conscious minds, our moral awareness, and our ability to think rationally, are all things that make philosophical naturalism, which is typically offered as the alternative to being a theist, implausible to me. What I don't see is an argument from evil that somehow outweighs all the others. It is, at most, something theism can't explain, or can't explain as well as I wish we could. Why this is a more severe explanatory failure that naturalism's failure to explain consciousness has always escaped me.

I mean, people who do believe in an infinite being invariably think that that being is good. Do you know any actual subscribers to Paul Draper's Indifferent Deity Hypothesis? What that expects you to believe is that God controls the universe, and there is a moral standard, which God somehow fails to satisfy. So, I don't see any plausible alternatives if I want to reject naturalism and God both.

167 comments:

unkleE said...

" What I don't see is an argument from evil that somehow outweighs all the others."

I'm with you on this. I think the problem of evil is a very strong anti-theistic argument (I think stronger than you think it is), but it cannot be made until one has an objective ethic, and a real human being (not just an emergent property of a meat robot). So the theistic arguments from humanity and morality are primary whereas the argument from evil, strong as it is, is secondary in a sense.

If it wasn't for that clear fact (as I see it), I think I would have stopped being a christian believer decades ago.

Walter said...


I mean, people who do believe in an infinite being invariably think that that being is good. Do you know any actual subscribers to Paul Draper's Indifferent Deity Hypothesis?


I haven't read Draper's hypothesis, but I don't see why the possibility of a somewhat indifferent deity is so hard to believe (maybe it is just hard to accept on an emotional level?).

One analogy might be that of a computer programmer who creates a simulated universe filled with artificially intelligent agents. As their creator I might care for them one sense, without caring for them in the same way that I might care for another member of my species. I don't know that I would or should have any moral obligations to these AI creations of mine. Perhaps I may want to just sit back and observe what happens with my creation with little to no interference from me, their creator.

Papalinton said...

" .... but it cannot be made until one has an objective ethic, and a real human being ...."

1. What is the difference between a 'real' human being and an unreal human being?

2. What is an objective ethic? And where can one buy one?

It seems to me the whole issue of God, Evil, and Cake Cramming would simply fizzle to a well-earned non-event if silly people refrained from both peddling all the nonsensical and unsubstantiated claims about the existence of a loving, caring omni-max god, and concurrently attempting to posit an argument from evil, or the myriad of apologetical permutations and commutations of supposed theodicean solutions, as some sort of rationale for their necessary co-existence. Such jejune and simplistic formulae were always destined to be monumental philosophical and theological failures, as it is now becoming devastatingly obvious and beyond a reasonable doubt. The dysfunctional nature of holding these disparate ideas and the accompanying cognitive dissonance simply renders any further theo-philosophical endeavours all the more disingenuous and mendacious.

"So the theistic arguments from humanity and morality are primary whereas the argument from evil, strong as it is, is secondary in a sense."

Sorry, UnkleE, this is not clear, let alone being claimed a 'fact'.

BeingItself said...

"On the other hand, when I think about argument from evil, I find that the very things that generate the argument, such as the capacity to feel pain (as opposed to just having one's c-fibers fire), our conscious minds, our moral awareness, and our ability to think rationally, are all things that make philosophical naturalism, which is typically offered as the alternative to being a theist, implausible to me."

How does philosophical supernaturalism make all those things plausible?

BenYachov said...

Theodicy like Young Earth Creationism is just simply wrong.

God is metaphysically & Ontologically Good. God is the Creator and principle of all Goodness. God is Goodness Itself. God is the Good in all good things. But God is not a moral agent with obligations to us and given His Nature in the Classic Sense it is incoherent to concieve of Him in that manner.

>I don't know that I would or should have any moral obligations to these AI creations of mine.

Walter's analogy is close to the mark except his Cosmic Computer Programmer is to much of a Theistic Personalist deity who feels morally indifferent.

The correct view is that it is incoherent to concieve of God having moral agency in the unequivocal sense a powerful human would toward the unfortunate.

BeingItself said...

Concerning your last paragraph:

"But Christianity does not teach that God is omnibenevolent."

http://helives.blogspot.com/2011/03/jerry-coynes-vexing-connundrum-if-you.html

So there is one plausible alternative. There is a god in charge, and sometimes he acts like a jackass.

BeingItself said...

Ben, you and Vic do not believe in the same god.

BeingItself said...

"Why this is a more severe explanatory failure that naturalism's failure to explain consciousness has always escaped me."

How does theism explain consciousness?

BenYachov said...

>Ben, you and Vic do not believe in the same god.

That is the first intelligent thing I have ever seen you post.

Who the hell are you & what have you done with the real BeingItself?

Anyway.....

I am by the Grace of God a Catholic Christian. Vic is a Christian but not Catholic. I am a Classic Theist. Vic can explain for himself where he stands.

Where I too speculate Vic might hold a hybrid Classical/Personalist view similar to William Lane Craig. Of course Vic can speak forhimself.

On the level of intent. Since Vic intends to worship the God of Abraham then He & I do worship the same God even if I believe He has some un-Catholic ideas about Him.

It's like if we where both British & I believed Queen Liz was an 18 year old cute Blonde girl & he correctly believe her to be a white haired octogenarian. He can't call me disloyal or a traitor since like him I am loyal to the Queen. OTOH if I as a Brit was loyal to the King of Spain then I would rightly be charged with treason.

Carry on.

BeingItself said...

I believe in the Laws Of Physics. Kumbaya.

steve said...

An obvious problem with Parsons's position is that an argument from evil presupposes evil. Yet many secular philosophers are moral relativists or moral nihilists (e.g. Michael Ruse, Alex Rosenberg, Quentin Smith, J. L. Mackie, Massimo Pigliucci).

Because Parsons is an apostate, he retains a residual sense of morality, which is a carryover from his long lost Christian faith.

BeingItself said...

Steve,

That makes no sense.

If Alex Rosenberg tried to run an argument from evil, you would have a point.

But the fact that there are Alex Rosenburgs is not a problem for Parson's position.

Mike Darus said...

"What that expects you to believe is that God controls the universe, and there is a moral standard, which God somehow fails to satisfy. So, I don't see any plausible alternatives if I want to reject naturalism and God both."
Victor:
Isn't it plain that Euthyphro is a false dichotomy? ""Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?" I recall that you have rejected Divine Command Theory (I think for good reason). Bu this does not mean you need to posit a standard of morality separate from God by which you can judge God. Ben's position correctly denies this. Even Christians (like me) who would fall into Ben's "personalist" category deny that God can be judged by us by some (higher?) code of goodness. We simply err when we conclude that if God is good, he will always be "good" to me and them assume that that will me my comfort, freedom from pain, persecution that doesn't hurt. We live in a world of danger. If I fall down, I get hurt. If I camp in an active volcano, the lava will dissolve my bones. If I live by the sea, I should install an early warning system for high waves. There is disease. If I crave a world where there are no tears,no death, no pain, no disease, there is such a world but it is not this one.

BenYachov said...

If I may repeat myself.

I forgot where I stole this from it's in my notes.

Enjoy.

QUOTE"God is not a moral agent and is therefore not morally imperfect

In trying to demonstrate that God is not a moral agent, Davies draws our attention to the premise that God is 'Being Itself'. Yet for Davies if God is Being Itself (something which classical theism insists) something has to be done to distinguish Him from all beings otherwise He could not be 'God' in the classical sense. You should remember that classical theism puts forward a God who is 'transcendent' and therefore is removed or apart from His creation. For Davies the only way we can do this is to deny that God is ‘a being alongside other beings' and if He is not ‘a being etc' we cannot say that He is morally good or bad as we can say with human beings.

A second reason for denying that classical theism is committed to regarding God as a moral agent brings us to the notion of obligation and duty. It is often said that a moral agent is someone able to do his duty, someone capable of living up to his obligations. Yet for Davies it is very difficult to see how the God of classical theism can be thought of as having duties and obligations. These normally confront people in social contexts, in contexts where there are other people around. Thus, I have a duty and obligation to turn up to work (something which my employer pays me to do) and you have a duty and obligation to come to my lessons in order that you may successfully pass your philosophy exam!

Like Brian Davies, Huw Parri Owen takes up the view that the God of classical theism is not bound by such expectations. Owen writes: "God's creative act is free in so far as it is neither externally constrained nor necessary for the fulfilment of His own life." It must follow then that if God has no obligations or duties, then we need not think of Him as being a 'moral agent'.

Davies third and final point centres upon the idea of success and failure. A moral agent is obviously one who can in some sense either succeed or fail. He can succeed if he acts morally where others have failed to do so, and he can fail if he acts immorally where others have succeeded. Yet for Davies it makes no sense to talk of the God of classical theism as succeeding or failing. One can only be said to have succeeded or failed against a background of success or failure, a background against which one can be judged to have succeeded or failed. Thus an author can be judged to have succeeded as a writer in the light of the history of writing.

Now Davies point is simply this: if, as classical theism holds, God creates 'ex nihilo' ('out of nothing') then He can have no such background and therefore cannot be said to be even capable of succeeding or failing.

Consequently, this implies that God is not a moral agent and the problems presented by the free-will defence are no longer insurmountable. God does allow my free actions without actually causing them (i.e. in the efficient sense) since unlike me He is not a moral agent! This attempt by Davies and Owen to absolve God from moral responsibility for suffering and evil is a bold and interesting one and serves to show that the accusation that God is morally imperfect can be challenged."END QUOTE

BenYachov said...

I'm just going to repeat myself.

Why reinvent the wheel?

The problem of Evil presupposes God's Goodness consists of perfect moral goodness. Or more accurately that God is a perfect moral agent.
Some attempts to defend God based on this presupposition mostly consist of showing how it is logically impossible for God to give us some goods without allowing some evil. Father Brian Davies thinks these arguments thought powerful ultimately fail(but might have some small validity). But don't waste your time.

(side note the Thomistic view of omnipotence tells us God cannot do the logically impossible. Example: Can't God do anything? So why can't He make 2+2=5? Answer: God can do anything 2+2=5 does not describe anything. It describes nothing and gives new meaning to the phrase "There is nothing God cannot do". Same applies to to Rock so heavy blah blah blah)

Brian Davies argues OTOH given a Classical understanding of the nature of God instead of an anthropomorphic Theistic Personalist one.

God's Goodness cannot be conceived of coherently as moral goodness. God is not and cannot by nature coherently be conceived of as a moral agent unequivocally the same way a human might be conceived thus. That is not to say God is not in some sense the same as what a morally good human person is(by way of analogy) but He is not unequivocally the same.

We might ask since God contains all Perfections does it not follow God has perfect muscle tone? Clearly not! That would be incoherent. Since God cannot have perfect muscle tone without having muscles. But if God had muscles he would be composite not simple in substance and thus not perfect. Also Muscles have potency that become actual while God is purely actual. If God had muscles He could not be purely actual. We can say God is Perfection Itself. Being Itself and Existence Itself. Since His existence and Essence are identical He can be the metaphysical source of perfection in perfect muscle tone without himself having muscles or perfect muscle tone.

In a like manner given the Thomistic Definition of Goodness. God can be the source of the Goodness in moral agency without being a moral agent Himself. We can't say coherently God is sober, temperate and Chaste they have no meaning given His Nature. Moral Agents share a moral community and God is not a member of a community with us given His wholly Other nature. Thus God cannot coherently be called a moral agent. Thus the problem of Evil becomes a non-problem.

As Davies says people who argue the Problem of Evil on both sides, Atheist and Theist have largely been wasting their lives. It's like arguing about wither or not Tennis players should be able to run the mile in under 10 minutes. A Tennis player is not the sort of athlete concerned with running the mile but playing tennis. God is not a moral agent. God's Goodness is not moral Goodness. Though he is the source of the Goodness in morality. God's goodness is something else. Being the First Cause and the Final Cause and goal of all things.

We don't let God off the hook over the POE. Rather it seems God isn't the sort of Thing that can coherently be hooked in the first place.

BenYachov said...

More repeats:

As the Agnostic Theist and Thomistic Expert & critic Anthony Kenny said "Morality presupposes a moral community, and a moral community must be of beings with a common language, roughly equal power, and roughly similar needs, desires and interests. God can no more be part of a moral community with them than he can be part of a political community with them."


Aristotle said, we cannot attribute moral virtues to divinity: the praise would be vulgar. Equally, moral blame would be laughable.

This I copied from a blog post that no longer exists.

QUOTE"God As Morally Deficient?
The point for now is just to indicate how different the classical theist’s conception of divine goodness is from that of the theistic personalist – and, for that matter, from the conception taken for granted by atheists who suggest that the existence of evil shows that God, if He exists, must in some way be morally deficient.

While God is not a Platonic Form, for the classical theist, to suggest that God is in some way morally deficient nevertheless makes about as much sense as suggesting that Plato’s Form of the Good might be morally deficient. The suggestion is unintelligible both because characterizing the God of classical theism as either virtuous or vicious is unintelligible, and because characterizing Him as deficient in any way is unintelligible. An atheist could intelligibly deny that such a God exists at all (just as he could intelligibly deny the existence of Platonic Forms), but to suggest that the God of classical theism might be morally deficient merely shows that such an atheist does not understand the view he is criticizing (just as an opponent of Platonism who suggested that the Form of the Good might be unloving or vicious would only show thereby that he doesn’t understand what sort of thing a Form is supposed to be)."END QUOTE

The theistic personalist or neo-theist conceives of God essentially as a person comparable to human persons, only without the limitations we have. The idea is to begin with what we know about human beings and then to abstract away first the body, then our temporal limitations, then our epistemological and volitional confinement to knowing about and having control over only a particular point of space and time, then our moral defects, and to keep going until we arrive at the notion of a being who has power, knowledge, and goodness like ours but to an unlimited degree.

Theistic personalism or neo-theism also rejects divine simplicity and its implications; indeed, this is the motivation for developing a conception of God by abstracting from our conception of human persons, for the theistic personalist objects to the notion of God as immutable, impassible, and eternal – finding it too cold and otherworldly, and incompatible with a literal reading of various biblical passages – and typically has philosophical objections to the notion of divine simplicity. Davies identifies Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne as theistic personalists.

As a Catholic & based on the Tradition of the Church I reject Theistic personalism. Indeed I am a total Strong Atheist as to the existence of any Theistic Personalist view of God...

But Classic Theism OTOH.....

BenYachov said...


Classic Theism as defined by Philosopher Edward Feser

QUOTE"God is not an object or substance alongside other objects or substances in the world; rather, He is pure being or existence itself, utterly distinct from the world of time, space, and things, underlying and maintaining them in being at every moment, and apart from whose ongoing conserving action they would be instantly annihilated. The world is not an independent object in the sense of something that might carry on if God were to “go away”; it is more like the music produced by a musician, which exists only when he plays and vanishes the moment he stops. None of the concepts we apply to things in the world, including to ourselves, apply to God in anything but an analogous sense. Hence, for example, we may say that God is “personal” insofar as He is not less than a person, the way an animal is less than a person. But God is not literally “a person” in the sense of being one individual thing among others who reasons, chooses, has moral obligations, etc. Such concepts make no sense when literally applied to God."

The above view is what I would call God.

There is no God but the Biblical God who is the God of Abraham & Aquinas.

steve said...

BeingItself said...

"That makes no sense. If Alex Rosenberg tried to run an argument from evil, you would have a point. But the fact that there are Alex Rosenburgs is not a problem for Parson's position."

It's a problem for Parsons if even his fellow atheist philosophers admit that they can't justify a necessary premise in the argument from evil.

Before Parsons can disprove Christianity, he has to disprove atheistic amorality.

BenYachov said...

KP argument is one of emotion not reason. Thus it cannot speak to me.

He can't pull the suffering card on me either since I am the Father of three autistic kids. Don't talk to me about suffering till you have looked my wife in the face and see she looks 15 years older then she really is because of our situation....then there are her sad eyes which haunt me every day of our marriage....

Anyway I could draw an equally vivid picture of a good person suffering horribly & a total dickhead living the high life at the expense of that man. Then point out in KP's godless universe regardless of how they lived both of those individual will suffer the same fate. Non-existence and it will be so total that on the practical level it would have made no difference of both or neither ever existed at all. At best the lesson learned is be the dick not the nice guy. OTOH it won't matter since it all goes away at death.

That is a powerful emotive argument.

But of course it's beneath me to seriously put it forth.

God is not a moral agent. God is metaphysically & Ontologically & purely Good & God doesn't coherently owe me anything.

From an aesthetic point of view it's quite liberating not being able to coherently blame God for the evil in my life then I can blame rain for making me wet.

Thus I can't get mad at Him & I am free to Love Him. After all how can you not love Goodness Itself?

Jason Pratt said...

The scriptures sure talk a lot as though God has moral obligations to His creatures, even though those obligations are rooted in His own intrinsic reality.

That's entirely coherent with a notion that God, as the ultimate foundational reality, is an eternally self-begetting self-begotten (and self-giving) actively interpersonal relationship.

That's entirely incoherent with the mere theism of the pre-Christian "classical theists", who along with rejecting as ludicrous the idea that foundational reality (even if rational, or even if rationally active somehow instead of a mere static reality) has moral obligations to anyone, even obligations rooted in Its/His/Whatever's own characteristics, would have also rejected (and did also reject) pretty much every claim that distinguishes Christianity as such (or even Judaism as such).

Appealing to a "classical theism" like the Platonic Good or Aristotle's Unmoved Mover, or the Prime Reason of the Stoics, is not a proper way for a Christian (as such) to deal with critiques about the existence of evil and suffering.

Trinitarian theism is, by being ortho-trin and not pantheism or nominal deism or something like that, inherently "a hybrid Classical/Personalist view". The Trinity is not a set of impersonal relationships, just as God is not an impersonal (i.e. atheistic) Force, even if we have to use metaphors of human personal relationships when discussing the Persons. It is because God is personal, and thus is more than the Pure Good of Plato, that God can and does have obligations: the Persons have obligations to One Another, and the substantial unity of deity even exists because the Persons fulfill their obligations to Each Other.

To say that "God is faithful" (to pick only one of many important such statements in the scriptures) and then to deny that God has obligations at all, is to undermine any personal trust in God. I don't personally trust rain to fall, or to make me wet when it falls; that would be as silly as blaming rain for making me wet.

But God is pesonal; rain is not. It was no impersonal force Who sacrificed Himself on a cross one Friday almost 2000 years ago, but the Living Action of the Living God Most High.

Otherwise, Easter really does mean nothing, other than some guy being crucified (and maybe raised from the dead by some impersonal force as a side effect or a magic ritual he prepared in advance perhaps). Catholics aren't supposed to be revering only a "classical God" in the Mass (Who or Which would never specially act to invest real presence in the elements), and not merely the personal spirit of a man who lived 2000ish years ago in Palestine either.

JRP

BenYachov said...

>The scriptures sure talk a lot as though God has moral obligations to His creatures, even though those obligations are rooted in His own intrinsic reality.

Not at all. God can't lie for example not because He is morally obligated to some Moral Law higher then Himself but because being Truth Itself it is incoherent for Him to be able to lie. OTOH God is not obligated to tell you anything or keep you from coming to the wrong conclusion.

>That's entirely incoherent with the mere theism of the pre-Christian "classical theists", who along with rejecting as ludicrous the idea that foundational reality (even if rational, or even if rationally active somehow instead of a mere static reality) has moral obligations to anyone, even obligations rooted in Its/His/Whatever's own characteristics, would have also rejected (and did also reject) pretty much every claim that distinguishes Christianity as such (or even Judaism as such).

Your claim God is a moral agent unequivocally compared to human moral agents is nowhere taught in Scripture.

BenYachov said...

Not that I believe Sola Scriptura mind you. That's as false a belief to me as Neo-Theism/Theistic Personalism.

But the Bible doesn't teach God anywhere is obligated to us. It teaches Grace which by definition we can't earn by our own strength at all.

>Appealing to a "classical theism" like the Platonic Good or Aristotle's Unmoved Mover, or the Prime Reason of the Stoics, is not a proper way for a Christian (as such) to deal with critiques about the existence of evil and suffering.

Rather this is the God that all of the Church Fathers East & West presupposed. The God of the Philosophers & the God of the Bible are the same God.

You can't claim you believe in the God of the Bible alone sans the God of the philosophers because your so called god is a god of the philosophers. The Post enlightenment philosophers of Neo-Theism or Open Theism.

>To say that "God is faithful" (to pick only one of many important such statements in the scriptures) and then to deny that God has obligations at all, is to undermine any personal trust in God.

Rather to say God has obligations to us is to court the vile heresy of Pelagianism.

What happens to Grace? I thought your kind believed in Grace Alone?

As Fr Greotchel said Pelagianism isn't just a false teaching it's an unkind one.

>But God is pesonal; rain is not. It was no impersonal force Who sacrificed Himself on a cross one Friday almost 2000 years ago, but the Living Action of the Living God Most High.

Sorry but God is never called "personal" by any Christian till a Unitarian did it in the 16th century as Davies points out. God is called "trans-personal" or "meta-personal". He is above a mere human person. Also since God has Intellect & Will He cannot be "impersonal".

But if your so called "god" is nothing more than a disembodied human being with magic powers then the Incarnation has no meaning since God isn't doing anything remarkable by becoming Man. If anything he is being redundant becoming man. Scripture the OT says "God is not a Man".

God becoming man is taking the Unknowable and Transcendent & connecting it to the finite and known. Christ is the Ultimate Bridge.

BenYachov said...

>Trinitarian theism is, by being ortho-trin and not pantheism or nominal deism or something like that, inherently "a hybrid Classical/Personalist view".

Sorry no Palamas was a Classic Theist. I'm all for reconciling Him with Aquinas and I reject anti-Palamas views some other hardcore Thomist hold too being I have such love of Eastern Catholicism. But the fact God can communicate Himself to us on our level to the point where our limited understanding sees him as a person like us doesn't make him a mere person like us.

My cat no doubt precieve me as another more dominant animal but I am still an intellective being.

>The Trinity is not a set of impersonal relationships, just as God is not an impersonal (i.e. atheistic) Force, even if we have to use metaphors of human personal relationships when discussing the Persons. It is because God is personal, and thus is more than the Pure Good of Plato, that God can and does have obligations: the Persons have obligations to One Another, and the substantial unity of deity even exists because the Persons fulfill their obligations to Each Other.

Sorry Jason I reject your Protestant either/Or mentality.

Either I believe in your anthopomorphic Pelagian "god" who owes me stuff & is like a human person only more uber or I believe in "Classic god" who is just The Force.

Sorry I believe in neither.

If you haven't read JOHN OF THE CROSS, Nicolas of Cuza, Gregory of Nyssa, Mikarios, Thomas Merton, Mister Echart with Aquinas then you rants mean as much to me as KP's.

steve said...

BeingItself said...

"That makes no sense. If Alex Rosenberg tried to run an argument from evil, you would have a point. But the fact that there are Alex Rosenburgs is not a problem for Parson's position."

Evil is a key premise in the argument from evil. Well, if many atheist philosophers deny moral realism, then Parsons can't take that premise for granted in his argument.

Rather, it is incumbent on Parsons to argue for his premise before he can use that premise.

BenYachov said...

Sorry people.

Classic Theism does not equal belief in the THE FORCE or an "impersonal" deity.

A God without Intellect and Will is impersonal. Not the True God of Abraham and Aquinas.

I can't love a Theistic Personalist "god" because I already love the Saints. They are human persons exalted who pray for me & I can't bear the thought of reducing God to their level.

BeingItself said...

"Evil is a key premise in the argument from evil. Well, if many atheist philosophers deny moral realism, then Parsons can't take that premise for granted in his argument.

Rather, it is incumbent on Parsons to argue for his premise before he can use that premise."

False. That evil exists is a premise of Christianity. The argument tries to show that a certain type of theism is internally inconsistent.

Hope that helps.

cl said...

It's odd to me that Parsons begins by asking whether one has grounds to pass judgment as irrational, then offers his own irrational reaction to what he deems a facile explanation.

In my experience, and as Walter alludes to, that's the biggest problem with POE discourse: divorcing feelings and emotions.

steve said...

BeingItself said...

“False. That evil exists is a premise of Christianity. The argument tries to show that a certain type of theism is internally inconsistent.”

What makes you think Parsons is merely assuming the existence of evil for the sake of argument? If you’ve read much of his stuff, he has fits of moral indignation on a regular basis.

Moreover, why would a moral relativist or moral nihilist care whether a certain type of theism is internally inconsistent? After all, they’re in no position to say it’s morally wrong to be inconsistent, or intellectually virtuous to be consistent. So even if the argument could succeed on purely internal ground, that’s a pyrrhic victory.

That reduces atheology to a crossword puzzle. Just a way to pass the time.

steve said...

BeingItself said...

“False. That evil exists is a premise of Christianity. The argument tries to show that a certain type of theism is internally inconsistent.”

Well, that's obviously false. When atheists deploy the argument from evil, they typically cite paradigm-cases of gratuitous evil to illustrate their premise.

That, however, depends on *their* interpretation of what counts as evil. So the atheist is applying his own yardstick.

BeingItself said...

Steve,

You are getting sillier and sillier.

All that is needed is for Parsons and the Christian to agree that there is evil in the world.

steve said...

BeingItself said...

"You are getting sillier and sillier. All that is needed is for Parsons and the Christian to agree that there is evil in the world."

Thanks for illustrating your jejune grasp of the issues. The existence of evil is a presupposition of Christianity, not a disproof of Christianity. In fact, the nonexistence of evil would disprove Christianity.

The atheist requires something far more specific than the bare existence of evil. Usually, his premise requires the existence of *gratuitous* evil. And that's something that many Christians don't grant.

Moreover, some Christians don't consider the existence of gratuitous evil to be a defeater for their version of Christian theism.

You also dodged the issue of why a moral relativist or nihilist would even care about the problem of evil.

cl said...

Steve,

"Moreover, why would a moral relativist or moral nihilist care whether a certain type of theism is internally inconsistent? After all, they’re in no position to say it’s morally wrong to be inconsistent, or intellectually virtuous to be consistent. So even if the argument could succeed on purely internal ground, that’s a pyrrhic victory."

So well said. The thing is, as much as atheists like to stomp up and down about how rational they are, they really just don't get it. I mean, you just laid it all out, right there, and your opponent does nothing but continue to stomp and protest.

im-skeptical said...

I've always found it difficult to understand why this is so hard for most theists to grasp. I think it's much more likely that you will hear atheists speak of 'gratuitous suffering' than of 'gratuitous evil'. That's because it is theists who believe their omni-good god made a world filled with evil things, whereas atheists believe the world is what it is, suffering and all. They don't have to explain why (given that there's nothing contradictory in their view), but theists DO have some explaining to do, given their incongruous beliefs.

steve said...

im-skeptical said...

"I've always found it difficult to understand why this is so hard for most theists to grasp. I think it's much more likely that you will hear atheists speak of 'gratuitous suffering' than of 'gratuitous evil'."

You keep swinging and you keep missing. There's a reason it's called the argument from evil rather than the argument from suffering. For unless suffering (or a particular type of suffering) is evil, there is nothing even prima facie incongruous about the existence of suffering in relation to God's goodness.

cl said...

Steve,

See? im-skeptical STILL doesn't get it. Worse than that, we get remarks like this:

"...it is theists who believe their omni-good god made a world filled with evil things..."

These types of remarks show the utterly pedestrian nature of the average internet atheist.

im-skeptical said...

So Steve, are you claiming that there is no evil in the world?

steve said...

im-skeptical said...

"So Steve, are you claiming that there is no evil in the world?"

The question is equivocal. Try again.

im-skeptical said...

It's a simple question. I didn't think I'd get an honest answer from you, and I was right.

Papalinton said...

The atheists among us, those that once subscribed to supernatural superstition, to the panoply of non-human agents that we once imagined socialized with us as we once extended our sociality to these [putatively] live supernatural entities [receiving word direct from the god-mouth itself, having the odd prayer co-incidentally answered, witnessing miracles, asserting with the straightest of faces the 'fact' of revivification of putrescent corpses, participating in primitive cannibalistic rituals in which we again imagined that by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of some dead superhero/warrior we would be imbued with some of his powers etc etc etc], we must never forget there are those that continue to believe, propagate and perpetuate these arcane and nonsensical stupidities. We must never forget that there are people that have yet to swing out over the medieval swamp of theological thought; that have yet to swing far enough out and away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and into the 21stC. We must never forget there are those that to this day simply incapable of recognising and registering, let alone understanding and appreciating that they are, in fact, the product of a very long apologetical tradition of interpolation, misconstrued mythologizing, legendising, plagiarism, literary fraud, historical revisionism, pseudepigrapha, anonymous and misattribution of texts, "burning rival gospels" (cf. Pope Leo), indeed the full armoury that characteristically defines the apologetical strategy of attempting to rationalize a phantasy. Their commitment to the supernatural industry is emblematically consistent with the utter dearth of substantive worth for any claim they make, whatsoever, on which they can be called to account.

Theists have never, in the history of apologetics, resolved the issue of 'evil' as they jejunely perceive it, describe it and to which they are theologically wedded. The religiose are at odds with each other as to whether God is indeed the creator of evil, or is just an enabler of evil, or is simply insouciant to the charge of depraved indifference allowing evel to surface as an apparent feature of free will or whether evil is simply an emergent property of 'free will', or whether evil even exists as an objective feature. These have never been resolved. The closest to any form of resolution has been the classical and time-honoured theological strategy, the schism, as each religious apologist cleaves into their respective cabals of like-mindedness, in search of the warm and fuzzies of support for their particular brand and flavour of theodicy.

It is worrisome to read the nonsensical contributions of Ben Yachov. It is amusing to read the inane contributions of Steve Hays and cl, as they attempt to thwart the discussion going forward.

"Before Parsons can disprove Christianity, he has to disprove atheistic amorality." Oh the asininity of a Hays contribution. One could not telegraph a more imbecilic endowment in want of trying.








Steven Carr said...

I really don't think Victor understands the argument from evil.

Evil and suffering occur pretty much randomly.

There is no god organising the world, just as there is no god organising quantum events.

ingx24 said...

Papalinton,

Arguing against religion/Christianity does not equal arguing for scientism. People are not, in the absence of religious belief, going to bow down to Science(TM) as their new Gospel and accept that all of their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, imaginings, sense of personal identity, etc. are all nothing but chemical reactions and electrical impulses in their brains, and that we're nothing but "moist robots" (to use Dennett's term). Such a "belief" (or if you would prefer, "pattern of electricity") is unlivable, and would most likely drive a good number of people to suicide (myself included) if sincerely believed.

Materialism and scientism will destroy society if they are allowed to spread. Maybe we do still need religion, to protect us from such dangerous and nihilistic beliefs.

steve said...

Poor Papalinton thinks that being able to use a thesaurus is a substitute for being able to construct an argument.

im-skeptical said...

So what's your argument - or do you just dish out insults?

Papalinton said...

ingX24

"Arguing against religion/Christianity does not equal arguing for scientism. People are not, in the absence of religious belief, going to bow down to Science(TM)"

I wholly agree with you. Science is not a substitute for religion. There is nothing for which science is a substitute. Science stands or fall on its merits. Science will continue, 'an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles.' [As the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy notes.]

Religion is a purely cultural phenomenon, an artifice of cultural expression that ebbs and flows according to its use and relevance to the society or community it serves. Religious boundaries are defined and constrained by the groups that subscribe to that belief. Hence it is germane to speak of a map illustrating the distribution of completely different religions, each determined and regulated by their own knowledge base, texts, traditions, belief structures, and key features; all of which are constructs of the cultural milieu in which they are developed, maintained and perpetuated.

But the science in the US is the same in Africa, in Russia, in Denmark, no matter where the scientist. The pursuit of science not defined by cultural imperatives.

"Such a "belief" (or if you would prefer, "pattern of electricity") is unlivable, and would most likely drive a good number of people to suicide (myself included) if sincerely believed."

If you firmly believe this a true statement of your condition or circumstance, in all seriousness, I would urge you to talk to a health professional, or someone close you can turn to for help.

Longstreet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

"Poor Papalinton thinks that being able to use a thesaurus is a substitute for being able to construct an argument."

And I know how to use one, Steve. ;o)
It must be inordinately difficult and dispiriting [pardon the pun] when one is not able to discern an argument let alone follow it. But then when one has been trough-fed for much of their life from the communal bowl of religious gruel, is it any wonder that the religiose are resentful and begrudging of the smorgasbord, ever mindful of the partly-digested cud-ground hayseed on which they grew up? Not much of a meal really, and certainly not a healthy diet for a healthy mind.

steve said...

im-skeptical said...

"So what's your argument - or do you just dish out insults?"

I already presented my argument. Try again.

ingx24 said...

"Such a "belief" (or if you would prefer, "pattern of electricity") is unlivable, and would most likely drive a good number of people to suicide (myself included) if sincerely believed."

If you firmly believe this a true statement of your condition or circumstance, in all seriousness, I would urge you to talk to a health professional, or someone close you can turn to for help.


If someone could offer 100% definitive proof that materialism is true, and that all of my thoughts and feelings are nothing more than chemical reactions and electrical impulses in my brain, I would most likely either go into denial or commit suicide. Maybe it's just me but I can't live believing that I don't really exist. Not sure how people like Daniel Dennett and Paul Churchland can live normal lives and have connections with other people if they sincerely believe that no one really has a mind including themselves.

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

"an argument from evil presupposes evil. Yet many secular philosophers are moral relativists or moral nihilists"

That's your 'argument'? You don't even understand the argument from evil. Go back and read what BI and I said, which has obviously gone right over your head. The argument from evil is not in any way predicated on what atheists believe. It's predicated on what YOU believe. You haven't presented any argument at all. You don't even know what you're arguing against.

ingx24 said...

From my understanding, the "argument from evil" is actually supposed to be a reductio ad absurdum of the theist's position. The argument tries to show that the theist's position is either internally inconsistent (i.e. that the existence of God and the existence of evil, two aspects of the theist's position, are incompatible with each other) or that the theist's position is incredibly unlikely (i.e. that the existence of God along with the existence of evil, which are, again, two aspects of the theist's position, are very unlikely to both be true, making the theist's overall position unlikely).

Dan Gillson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BeingItself said...

I enjoy your comments Pap.

Dan, your comment is therefore false. Nice try with the caps and boldface though.

Papalinton said...

"That's your 'argument'? You don't even understand the argument from evil. Go back and read what BI and I said, which has obviously gone right over your head. The argument from evil is not in any way predicated on what atheists believe. It's predicated on what YOU believe. You haven't presented any argument at all. You don't even know what you're arguing against."

Your assessment is correct, im-skeptical. The issue of evil as purported in Scripture is a religious conundrum wholly of their own making. It is an issue that the religiose have never been able to resolve in two-point-one [2.1] millennia of Christian apologetics, let alone provide a cogent, logical, reasonable and satisfactory explanation. The cognitive dissonance in attempting to explain evil as a non-God feature which an omni-max God is unable [or as Ben Yachov would have it, is not required] to control, or better yet, a condition that is not only allowed but endorsed by God as expressed 'free will', a Pontius Pilate act of the washing of the hands, if you will, of any and all responsibility, would simply disappear. As I noted in an earlier comment:

"It seems to me the whole issue of God, Evil, and Cake Cramming would simply fizzle to a well-earned non-event if silly people refrained from both peddling all the nonsensical and unsubstantiated claims about the existence of a loving, caring omni-max god, and concurrently attempting to posit an argument from evil, or the myriad of apologetical permutations and commutations of supposed theodicean solutions, as some sort of rationale for their necessary co-existence. Such jejune and simplistic formulae were always destined to be monumental philosophical and theological failures, as it is now becoming devastatingly obvious and beyond a reasonable doubt. The dysfunctional nature of holding these disparate ideas and the accompanying cognitive dissonance simply renders any further theo-philosophical endeavours all the more disingenuous and mendacious."

When one thinks outside the religious box, steps out of the theological paradigm, the notion of good and bad things happening becomes not only clear but tractable to remedying, stopping and even reversing damage. There is no confused inexplicable link to supernatural superstition, be it Gods, Satans, Devils, angels, etc etc. for its rationale. The kind of nonsense that predicates the Christian understanding of evil is best illustrated through this piece of creative imagination:

"The author of the Book of Revelation tells how he sees in a vision Satan rallying Gog and Magog, "the nations in the four corners of the Earth," to a final battle with Christ and his saints:

"When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the Earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore."[21]

Ezekiel's Gog from Magog was a symbol of the evil darkness of the north and the powers hostile to God,[1] but in Revelation, Gog and Magog have no geographic location, and instead represent the nations of the world, banded together for the final assault on Christ and those who follow him.[22]"
[Wiki]

Remember the invocation of Gog and Magog by President George Bush as a justification of the War in Iraq? [See: Ricks, Thomas (5 October 2012). "Fear Factor ‘500 Days’ by Kurt Eichenwald". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2012; and, Sneyd, Mary. "Agog over Bush's comments on Gog and Magog". Cleveland Live LLC. Retrieved 16 October 2012; and HERE.]

And Christians think they have an intellectual handle on 'evil' that atheists can only dream about. I wonder who the anal retentive are in this discussion?

Sheesh!










Papalinton said...

Dan
Capitalising and bolding your anger doesn't make your comment any the truer or relevant.

It would be constructive and helpful had you any substantive contribution to make to the discussion. This is a serious discussion where religious clap-trap meets methodological naturalism head on. ;o)

Keith Parsons was a devout woo-meister. He no longer is. Re-read his original post on the nature of theological explanations of the existence of evil and how theists can facilely explain away its presence and God's non-involvement and non-responsibility, despite the claim of omni-max.

A theological explanation of evil simply doesn't make sense. A theological explanation is a low-grade attempt at amelioration of suffering based on an erroneous premise directed at the visceral, emotional level.

If you think otherwise, I am keen to read it.

Dan Gillson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Gillson said...

Linton,

1.) I'm not angry, you're just thick. I have watched you spew the same overwritten, condescending tripe about the death of religion and the intellectual superiority of atheism since I started commenting here and, frankly, it's getting old. Time to either play a new tune or to play your old one somewhere else.

2.) When I say that most of your contributions consist mostly of overwritten tripe, I mean that you are trying to write well beyond your skill level, and it shows. As an example, take this bit of fodder you call a sentence: "A theological explanation is a low-grade attempt at amelioration of suffering based on an erroneous premise directed at the visceral, emotional level." I have no idea what that means, and it isn't because I don't have the vocabulary, it's because the sentence doesn't make sense. Let me demonstrate. Let's start with the first part of this sentence. You tell us what a theological explanation is: it is a low-grade attempt at amelioration of suffering. That's simple enough, but I don't know why you chose to use the genitive of suffering instead of a gerundive ameliorating suffering. It makes the sentence needlessly chunky. Plus, you forgot the definite article before "amelioration", which just annoyed me beyond reason. However, these are little nitpicks, so let's move on. The next part of your sentence, "based on an erroneous premise directed at the visceral, emotional level," is anyways where all the fun begins. First of all, you need a comma before "based on", because as it stands, the sentence reads as though it is the "suffering" that is "based onyadda, yadda, yadda " and not the "theological explanation", which is how you probably meant it. Next comes the very strange "erroneous premise directed at the visceral, emotional level." … This little fragment boggles my mind. How does one direct an erroneous premise at the visceral, emotional level? What--the--eff, man? What does that even mean? I can't even make sense of it when I take this fragment in conjunction with the rest of the sentence! The sentence is a grammatical failure.

Dan Gillson said...

3.) Grammatical failings notwithstanding, I think I know what you meant. What I think that you meant to say was something along the lines of: "A theological explanation [of evil] is a low-grade attempt at ameliorating suffering, but it's based on an erroneous premise [this is where you'd tell us why]. It is merely meant to appeal to us at the emotional, visceral level." You take it from my meta-commentary that I think that you're begging the question, i.e., you need to tell us why theological explanations of the problem of evil are based on erroneous premises, and you need to specify what these erroneous premises are. As it stands, you merely assert it without actually making an argument. All this is to say that when I see you saying shit like "when one is not able to discern an argument let alone follow it" as though you are intellectually superior than that person, I get pissed, because you aren't. And if you were in the room with me when you said shit like that to someone, you'd find me, muscles tensed (which is a scary sight), in your face, shouting you down without remorse. I hate that sort of bullshit smugness, especially when its from someone as mediocre as you.

Papalinton said...

ingX24

"If someone could offer 100% definitive proof that materialism is true, and that all of my thoughts and feelings are nothing more than chemical reactions and electrical impulses in my brain, I would most likely either go into denial or commit suicide. Maybe it's just me but I can't live believing that I don't really exist. Not sure how people like Daniel Dennett and Paul Churchland can live normal lives and have connections with other people if they sincerely believe that no one really has a mind including themselves."

Somewhere in the mix between your theological worldview and methodological naturalist worldview you have latched onto a misperceived notion of materialism. You already have 100% definitive proof that materialism is true. You are real and present. You are not a figment. You are a product of your Mom and Dad, all perfectly natural and materially observable. That is a good place to start. I am no different to you, ingX24, that is, a real live human that laughs, cries, and loves. Unlike you, however, I am also a methodological naturalist. But being a theist or an atheist does not change who you are or what you are. I dream, I think, I have imagination, I make decisions; indeed I do everything that you also do. Knowing you are "chemical reactions and electrical impulses in my brain" will not change one jot the material reality of who you are or what you are. Whether you are a theist or an atheist, you will remain exactly as you are. Only your ideation changes. If God were to drop dead tomorrow, you would still be ingX24, a real live, natural, material entity. If you were to become a Hindu tomorrow, it would be as if the Christian God dropped dead tomorrow and Ganesha became THE WORD, but you would remain, fully materially, ingX24 with a different worldview. If you became an atheist, as I did, it would be as if the Christian God dropped dead tomorrow. The reality of the effect is identical; your belief in a Christian god would simply fade away into inconsequentiality and irrelevancy. Changing worldview is a victimless undertaking. Old gods don't die, they get forgotten. Humanity's history is chock filled with a litany of Gods that no longer possess the great psychological and emotional sway they once did over their adherents. Just as the God of Christianity has you completely, both psychologically and emotionally, by the balls, so too did Osiris and Mithra and Wotan and Zeus in their time grip people in such unquestioning obedience and power.

The only difference between you and Dan Dennett is you do not share the same worldview. That is it. End of story. The only difference between you and me is we do not share the same worldview. That is it. End of story. I could have remained a Christian but I didn't. And in that transition only my worldview changed. Everything else about me remained exactly the same, except I freed up some space in my memory banks in pursuit of emerging truths, and facts, more of an empirical nature rather than theological . On leaving the faith my life was unshackled, my mind, released from bondage, unafraid of the challenges in both life and the exigencies of the human condition. Nobody is going to die or go to hell as a result of the difference in worldview, unless you subscribe the to irrational and powerfully psychosomatic fear of theistic eternal damnation. The bondage to supernaturalism is a bondage of mind.

Just think through the issues, ingX24. Fear is a great inhibitor.

Papalinton said...

"... chose to use the genitive of suffering instead of a gerundive ameliorating suffering."

"Plus, you forgot the definite article before "amelioration",...."

'"First of all, you need a comma before ..."

"However, these are little nitpicks ..."

Oh out of the mouths of babes. How right you are. Now. Tell me again about superiority, condescending smugness, and overwriting?


Compare the following:
"1.) I'm not angry, ...."

"And if you were in the room with me when you said shit like that to someone, you'd find me, muscles tensed (which is a scary sight), in your face, shouting you down without remorse."

Case closed.

Dan Gillson said...
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Dan Gillson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

Dan,

That's a little rough on Papalinton, don't you think? Everybody's style is different. He has things to say, useful information to present, and speaks in a civilized manner. I find that to be refreshing when the conversation gets heated. As for respecting the beliefs and opinions of others, I'd say he typically shows more of it than he is shown by many of them.

Papalinton said...

Oh Don't mind Dan, im-skeptical. He's letting off steam as he is rightly entitled. I'm big enough, ugly enough, and old and worldwise enough, to fend off incivility. But I do appreciate your calling out such behaviour as and when it appears.

Papalinton said...

Dan
I am most happy to stand toe-to-toe with you if you feel that physicalism is your strongest suit.

Physical threats and bully-boy behaviour has never been an acknowledged mediation strategy in resolving diverse and disparate social engagement. But I must say I did enjoy your wonderful 'And I'll fuckin' tear you limb from limb' imagery that such words conjure up in the mind.

Respecting the beliefs of others only deserve respect if they are in themselves respectable. Far too much obsequious, unwarranted and undeserved deference has been demanded by and accorded to religious fraternities that have resulted in dire consequences for individuals, society and the community. The ingratiating piety of clergy and church, and our unquestioning acceptance of it, is precisely the reason why 'kiddy fiddling' pedophilia and pederasty has zipped under the radar of all civil societies across the world for so many years, for centuries if the truth be known.

And do you know why it was never reported to the appropriate law enforcement authorities? Under Canon Law, pedophilia is deemed a sin, not a crime. Under the aegis of Canon Law pedophile priests and the church were protected from exposure and shielded from due process of the law. The belief that Canon Law supervenes Civil Criminal Law is one such religious belief that even you would agree is not worthy of respect. And there are countless others.

Respect is earned.

ingx24 said...

Papalinton,

First of all, I am not a Christian. I don't subscribe to any particular religious worldview, and I find many of Christianity's dogmas to be disturbing. But not being religious does not entail being a materialist. I am a dualist not because of any theological dogma, but because common sense demands it. If you cannot see that your mind is just obviously different from electrochemical activity in your brain, then you are in the grip of a scientistic ideology and there is nothing more I can say.

My experience is that most materialists don't even understand dualism at all - they think that it's "postulating" some "immaterial matter" or "ghost in the machine" or "ectoplasm" to "explain" the mind, because they have lost their ability to see the mind as it is in itself. Materialists see the world through the glasses of scientism - everything must be physically observable/quantifiable or it's not real. Materialists see correlations between brain activity and states of mind, and rather than making the conclusion that mind and brain are very deeply connected, they make the conclusion that they are identical - since the electrochemical brain activity is what is observable, the correlated mental activity simply must be identical to it. "Postulating" immaterial, unobservable mental states separate from the electrochemical activity of the brain would simply be "unparsimonious" and a "violation of Occam's Razor".

Also, you don't seem to have understood my point. My point was that materialism, as a belief, is unlivable. One simply cannot sincerely believe that everything one thinks, feels, etc. is really nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain, as such a belief would basically amount to believing that every mental experience you have ever had or will ever had is just a delusion, and that you and everyone you know are really just mindless zombies.

Walter said...

Somewhere in the mix between your theological worldview and methodological naturalist worldview you have latched onto a misperceived notion of materialism. You already have 100% definitive proof that materialism is true. You are real and present.

I fail to see how the fact that ingX24 is "real and present" serves as definitive proof that ontological naturalism is Truth.

One thing that bugs me about certain New Atheist types is the belief that once you debunk the claims of whatever religious orthodoxy happens to be prevalent in your particular culture, then ontological naturalism wins by default and requires no argument to establish it as the One True Metaphysical Worldview. Naturalism must be argued for as one theory among many, not simply accepted by default because you are angry at being duped by organized religion.

ingx24 said...

One thing that bugs me about certain New Atheist types is the belief that once you debunk the claims of whatever religious orthodoxy happens to be prevalent in your particular culture, then ontological naturalism wins by default and requires no argument to establish it as the One True Metaphysical Worldview. Naturalism must be argued for as one theory among many, not simply accepted by default because you are angry at being duped by organized religion.

Quoting for emphasis.

Dan Gillson said...

Linton,

1.) "Physicalism" is a philosophical doctrine, not an argumentative style.

2.) If respect is earned, then bother to earn yours or go. If you quit your prevaricating, your ugly condescension, and your strutting, I'll be quite a pleasant person to talk to.

steve said...

im-skeptical said...

“You don't even understand the argument from evil. Go back and read what BI and I said, which has obviously gone right over your head.”

Yes, you’re repeating yourself. That’s because you shot your wad the first time around.

I responded to your confused objection. Sorry that sailed right over your head.

“The argument from evil is not in any way predicated on what atheists believe. It's predicated on what YOU believe. You haven't presented any argument at all. You don't even know what you're arguing against.”

Since you have difficulty thinking this through on your own, I’ll take you by the hand and walk you through the process.

In order for the argument from evil to get off the ground, the atheist must identify examples of evil. And not just any evil will do. After all, the bare existence of evil is not a prima facie defeater or undercutter for Christianity, inasmuch as evil is a given in Christian theology. A fixture of Christian theology.

That gives the atheist two options. On the one hand, he can cite empirical examples which he deems to be evil by his own standards. However, that will require him to justify his value system. Since many atheists reject moral realism, they disqualify themselves from venturing objectively true moral judgments. Therefore, an atheist can’t take moral realism for granted.

Conversely, he can try to identify examples which the Christian deems to be gratuitously evil. The problem with that tactic is that, by definition, a Christian wouldn’t be a Christian unless he thought God had a morally sufficient reason for the evils he causes and/or permits. So his attempt to mount an internal argument from evil is abortive from the outset.

ingx24 said...

So it seems like the only way that an atheist could get the argument from evil off the ground would be if he were a moral realist - which would require rejecting materialism (if suffering is nothing but releases of chemicals, how can suffering be objectively bad? how could it possibly be morally wrong to cause certain chemicals to be released in the brain of a meat robot?)

ingx24 said...

I think the only way for the argument from evil to get off the ground is starting from a perspective that has no commitment to Christianity or materialism - the perspective of an "outsider" to both views who is trying to figure out if the existence of God is probable. In that case, I believe that the argument from evil can get off the ground, and is a very strong argument against theism. The problem is that, once the question of God's existence is decided in the negative, the contemporary atheist's next move is to argue in the direction of materialism (since we ALL know that materialism simply MUST be true if there's no god, right? RIGHT???), which completely undermines the concept of suffering that the atheist originally used to argue against theism. If all mental phenomena, including suffering, are all reducible to electrochemical reactions in the brain, then suffering is essentially illusory - just a remnant of a pre-scientific "folk psychology", easily replaceable by talk of electricity and chemicals. But in this case the atheist contradicts himself - he reduces away the very phenomenon he originally used to justify his position.

Let me anticipate an objection. Surely, many atheists will say that their position on the philosophy of mind is not the reductive type-type identity theory of the 1950s. Today's materialists tend to go with functionalism, where mental concepts are multiply realizable, identified by their functional role rather than by their material constitution. But the objection still stands - in the case of humans, what the materialist wants to play the functional roles of mental states are indeed the electrochemical reactions of the brain. So mind still gets reduced to brain in functionalism (at least in the case of humans), despite claims by some that functionalism is a kind of "non-reductive materialism". In addition, the functionalist redefines suffering, as he does all mental states, in functional terms - leaving out the qualia that made the argument from evil so effective in the first place.

The upshot is that contemporary atheism has been weakened by materialism and scientism. Atheists can no longer wield the argument from evil without contradicting themselves, so long as they continue to insist on materialism being the only rational world-view and the only alternative to religious belief.

tl;dr argument from evil doesn't work if you're going to insist on materialism once you've established atheism.

Papalinton said...

Dan
"1.) "Physicalism" is a philosophical doctrine, not an argumentative style. "

And did you think to yourself for a moment before you put to word that I might actually know what 'physicalism'? Why do you think I chose the word in the first place?

Or were you driven to be instructor vs pupil in the exchange?

Papalinton said...

Walter
"One thing that bugs me about certain New Atheist types is the belief that once you debunk the claims of whatever religious orthodoxy happens to be prevalent in your particular culture, then ontological naturalism wins by default and requires no argument to establish it as the One True Metaphysical Worldview. Naturalism must be argued for as one theory among many, not simply accepted by default because you are angry at being duped by organized religion."

Is this directed at me? Am I one of the 'certain New Atheist types'. Other than asking the question, I won't respond to this pejorative nor the other gratuitous remarks.

You are absolutely right; "Naturalism must be argued for as one theory among many ..." But the theories that gain substantive support must also be supported by the swell of evidence, proofs, facts. It seems to me that as we delve deeper into the disciplines of, for example, psychology, sociology, the neuro-sciences, the various other sciences, many of the earlier theories, Cartesian dualism, Aristotle's four elements, the need for an uncaused cause to explain the existence of the universe, etc etc seem not so much to be losing ground, rather, they are becoming much harder to defend in respect of the on-going development of our knowledge-base.

History informs us in many ways of this transition. After Descartes posited his dualism theory, the mind-body dichotomy seemed to be where all the money was at. That theory is under serious challenge, and seems largely to garner support from an increasingly smaller network, mainly centred around theology and its attendant philosophical arguments, best exemplified by Plantinga and Feser, and our own Dr Reppert. They are indeed philosophers. But much of their philosophy is informed by theology. So it is specific to defending Christian precepts. Their philosophy does not account for the philosophical underpinnings of Hinduism, nor even Islam although they share the same creator god of the universe, along with Judaism, if cultural tradition is to be believed. Nor does their philosophy account for the vast array of incoming data out of anthropology, psychology, sociology, the neuro-sciences, and many other sources [evolutionary biology]. I can understand Dr Feser's utter frustration with post-modernism and modern philosophy [I have just finished his very interesting book, TLS]. But it is to be expected if his form of philosophy is static and bound to Thomist scholasticism, which seems to have been passed over by modern philosophy. Why? There are many reasons, none of which would be to Dr Feser's liking.


In the main, whatever philosophical box one wishes to put it [physicalism, ontological naturalism, materialism, electrical firing brains :o), lumps of flesh :o)] there is a trend towards naturalism, in its wider term, away from supernaturalism. And there is good reason for this. Evidence points that way. And this is consistent, even at the quantum level, where things are a deal murkier. But much of that murkiness is to do with not knowing rather than unknowable. Much of what constitutes Thomist or Cartesian philosophy [these are simply a few examples mind you] today can be characterized as being "argued for as one theory among many". In terms of trends in modern philosophy they can also be characterised, and I say rightly, as protective, rear-guard responses, in support of fading theories.

Whether 'immaterialism' continues in the mix of philosophical categories remains to be seen.






ingx24 said...

Really tired of hearing this "science has been successful for centuries without supernaturalism so naturalism wins" argument. Science, BY DEFINITION, deals with what is physically observable and quantifiable, and even then only with phenomena that can be predicted and controlled. Of COURSE natural/material explanations are always going to work if your method is, BY DEFINITION, limited to those areas of the world where natural/material explanations will always work. Just because science can't observe thoughts and emotions directly (as opposed to observing correlated electrochemical activity, which does allow us to infer what someone is probably thinking to a certain extent) doesn't mean that they aren't "real" in the sense that introspection suggests.

ingx24 said...

After Descartes posited his dualism theory, the mind-body dichotomy seemed to be where all the money was at. That theory is under serious challenge, and seems largely to garner support from an increasingly smaller network, mainly centred around theology and its attendant philosophical arguments, best exemplified by Plantinga and Feser, and our own Dr Reppert.

Yes, because theological dogma is the ONLY possible way one could POSSIBLY believe in a mind separate from the electrochemical activity of the brain, right? It couldn't POSSIBLY be that materialist reductionism is completely absurd, implausible, and flatly contradicted by everyday experience, nooo...

Dan Gillson said...

Linton,

No, I didn't think you knew what physicalism meant because our exchange up to that point had nothing to do it, and your challenge to debate me about was a non sequitur. I thought that you had misused the word. In fact, I can think of no other time that the topic came up between us, so I don't know what motivates you to want to debate me about it.

im-skeptical said...

Obtusity abounds. I think it's pointless. Leave it to Steve to mindlessly repeat the same old lame objections that don't address the problem: "the atheist must identify examples of evil". No, evil is YOUR problem, not mine. That's what the argument is about. But you say "a Christian wouldn’t be a Christian unless he thought God had a morally sufficient reason for the evils he causes and/or permits." That's the crux of the biscuit. You're OK with it because 1: you haven't given it serious thought, or 2: you just don't care as long as all this bad stuff doesn't happen to you. And I doubt you ever will.

BeingItself said...

Imagine this scenario. You get a brain scan and right after are told to write a story about something that happened to you as a kid. You are then shown that based on the scan a computer was able to predict exactly the story you would write, along with spelling errors and typos. This is not a trick. The computer really can predict this.

Would that be enough to convince you guys that physicalism about the human mind is true?

B. Prokop said...

Would that be enough to convince you guys that physicalism about the human mind is true?

Hmmm... I guess then, by Being Itself's logic, since we can track all the mental processes involved with interpreting the eye's detection of light, right down to the very thoughts that are generated from this perception, then light itself cannot possibly exist!

All we can do with your brain scans and computers is show that thoughts actually do exist, and that they are processed in the brain. But that they are in any way "material" is not shown at all, not in the least - any more than the operations of the eye disallow for there being such a thing as light.

ingx24 said...

No, you're completely missing the point - no dualist denies that what you just described is possible. You just don't get it - correlation does not equal identity. It should be obvious to anyone who is able to think logically that electrochemical brain activity is not the same thing as mental activity. The fact is that your computer is not going to be able to read anyone's mind through a brain scan without a mapping table of all the correlations between brain activity and mental activity. If brain activity really was identical to mental activity, we would just be able to read people's thoughts right off from a brain scan, without needing any prior knowledge of correlations. But instead the exact opposite is true. The obvious conclusion to draw is that brain and mind are deeply connected and function as a unit, not that they are identical.

I'll say it again: If you can't tell the difference between electrochemical reactions and conscious mental experiences, you are in the grip of a scientistic ideology and there is nothing I can do to help you.

ingx24 said...

My previous post was directed at BeingItself, not at Bob. Bob posted before I finished writing mine :P

BeingItself said...

ingx24,

Can you come up with a scenario that would convince you of physicalism?

"It should be obvious to anyone who is able to think logically that electrochemical brain activity is not the same thing as mental activity."

Wow. All those neuroscientists and philosophers of mind sure are illogical.

ingx24 said...

The only thing that could possibly convince me of physicalism is a radical reconception of the physical that makes it so that the integrity and irreducibility of the mind is retained while still identifying mind with brain (i.e. something along the lines of Russellian monism). But the Russellian monist view threatens to collapse into panpsychism, so most materialists aren't going to want to go along with it.

Basically: You cannot convince me that my mind is not real. If you want to say that my mind is physical, you better have a conception of the physical that allows that to be possible without reducing the mental out of existence.

BeingItself said...

What I meant was is there any demonstration or experience or experiment that you can imagine? I'm looking for something specific. Because it seems to me if not, then your position is simply incorrigible dogma.

Papalinton said...

ingX24
"Just because science can't observe thoughts and emotions directly (as opposed to observing correlated electrochemical activity, which does allow us to infer what someone is probably thinking to a certain extent) doesn't mean that they aren't "real" in the sense that introspection suggests."

I'm keen to hear where you think thoughts and emotions come from, where they reside, what they are made of. To suggest immaterialism, is pretty much an unsatisfactory response to me because from there, there is no where else to go. How does one discuss let alone investigate immaterialism? To suggest supernaturalism is also to me a hedging proposition for which there is no signature that takes into account the mountain of investigative knowledge that explanatorily functions very well without reference to the supernatural.

We know, no electro-chemical process = no thoughts. We also know, no electro-chemical process = no emotions. We can also observe that thoughts are indeed a product of millions of co-ordinated neuronal electro-chemical explosions. We can also observe different reactions and different thoughts in real-time that are realized as the different regions of the brain light up as the different neuronal electro-chemical activities engage. We can also observe that when the same or similar question or challenge is repeated, exactly the same areas of the brain and neuronal activity are stimulated, indicating ordered patterns of firings, over repeated sequences. This is a pretty clear indicator consistent with the laws of physics/nature. The consistency of these stimulus responses are also observed with emotions. The same for love, anger, pain, despair, happiness. Each are expressions of different sets or combinations of neuronal electro-chemical explosions. When we talk of 'feeling', it is the surge of electro-chemical reactions, those largely already known to physics, that dispose us to experience love, anger, pain etc etc.

I think we have philosophized ourselves out of our natural existence. I think we have compromised our stance with the advent of the untested supervenience of supernaturalism, a proposition brought into popular use through the religious impulse. I am agnostic on the prospect of a supernatural realm, one that is infused and diffused throughout the natural world, replete with (putative) immaterial non-human agents with which we socialize, as religion contends. I am also someway confident that the notion of the supernatural was an explanatory mechanism for dealing with natural occurrences that at earlier times in our history were simply inexplicable. It was born out of a time when superstition, magic, occultism, mysticism, and theology were the principal explanatory tools available, along with supernaturalism. I also think we carry over into this 3rd. millennia many of the derivatives of these earlier explanatory tools that remain grounded in philosophies that were in themselves a product of the same cultural imperatives [superstition, magic, mysticism, etc etc] that formed the underlying principles guiding those societies. I think the conflicts between various philosophical camps, science and religion, the various takes on the existence of the cosmos, are symptomatic of the uncomfortable fit of these earlier propositions within the contemporary explanatory paradigm.

Cont.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
What we are seeing in philosophy today is a slow shake-out with the progressive adoption of methodological naturalism, together with its metaphysical naturalism stance, as the basis on which philosophy is best placed to the challenges going forward. This position in large part was driven by the need to accommodate into its sphere of deliberations the advances of science and the increase of its explanatory power since the early part of the last century. Whether it is welcomed or otherwise, at base, a trend towards naturalism and away from supernaturalism is in the move. Whether supernaturalism regains its footage remains a question of supportive evidence found in the continued investigative contribution to our knowledge base and our understanding of that new knowledge base that offers the best explanation into the future.

Papalinton said...

ingX24
"It should be obvious to anyone who is able to think logically that electrochemical brain activity is not the same thing as mental activity."

On what knowledge do you base this conclusion?

Would it be a reasonable proposition to anyone who is able to think logically that without electrochemical brain activity there would be no mental activity?
Would it be a reasonable proposition to say there is a direct correlation between electrochemical brain activity and mental activity?

Can dead people have mental activity?
Can dead people have emotions? Where do these emotions go when someone dies?

How does one explain the direct causal link between sectional brain injury and the non-registration of electro-chemical activity in that brain section? How does a brain injury kill a mental activity? Or further yet, Can a physical brain injury kill an immaterial mental activity?

How does an immaterial mental activity occur without electrochemical brain activity? Can an immaterial mental activity occur/operationalize/live/ take place/ come about/ transpire/ materialize/ arise/present/ exist/ appear/ or prevail without electrochemical brain activity?

And finally, Can an electrochemical brain activity cause a mental activity? By what other means do you know can cause a mental activity if electrochemical brain activity is not the same thing as mental activity?

B. Prokop said...

Can dead people have mental activity? Can dead people have emotions?

Yes, they most certainly can, and do... as you yourself will discover after your own death.

ingx24 said...

What I meant was is there any demonstration or experience or experiment that you can imagine? I'm looking for something specific. Because it seems to me if not, then your position is simply incorrigible dogma.

No, because MATERIALISM IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC THESIS. IT IS A PHILOSOPHICAL ONE. The data of science are compatible with every answer to the mind-body problem. Materialists always think science has confirmed their position because they hold onto a commitment to scientism, where everything simply MUST be a scientific hypothesis, and immaterial entities simply cannot exist because science can't observe and quantify them.

Papalinton said...

"Can dead people have mental activity? Can dead people have emotions?
Yes, they most certainly can, and do... as you yourself will discover after your own death.

"Evidence? Nah. Not when I'z got faith."
A Catholic is a person who is incredulous of the obvious, but who understands the nonexistent.

BenYachov said...

A belated Happy Easter Brother Bob.

As they say in the Eastern Rite Churches.

Christos Voskrese!

PS. Linton is still a Positivism anti-philosophy fundie & I don't think he has any hope of improvement.

B. Prokop said...

"Evidence? Nah. Not when I'z got faith."

Poor, poor, Papalinton. I actually pity you. Still making the grossest of category errors and failing to adhere to the very basics of logical thinking.

Your problem (one of them) is that you look for material evidence for things already stated to be non-material. How's that supposed to work? If you want evidence of the non-material, then look to the non-material to find it. Look to beauty, good and evil, love, consciousness, existence itself, time and space, life and death, mystery, music, art, narrative, community, history, charity, etc., etc., etc.

There's plenty of evidence out there. It's staring you in the face.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

"Khristos voskres" to you as well.

By the way, an atheist demanding physical evidence for the supernatural makes me think of a man who insists that paintings do not exist because he can't hear them, or of someone declaring there's no such thing as music because he can't see it.

steve said...

im-skeptical said...

“Obtusity abounds.”

Thanks for your candid self-admission.

“I think it's pointless. Leave it to Steve to mindlessly repeat the same old lame objections that don't address the problem: ‘the atheist must identify examples of evil’. No, evil is YOUR problem, not mine. That's what the argument is about.”

Take Rowe’s famous hypothetical about Bambi dying in a forest fire. Rowe considers that an example of gratuitous evil. That presumes the atheist’s interpretation of the event.

Sorry you’re chronically unable to draw elementary distinctions.

“That's the crux of the biscuit. You're OK with it because 1: you haven't given it serious thought, or 2: you just don't care as long as all this bad stuff doesn't happen to you. And I doubt you ever will.”

Even if your armchair psychology were correct, that’s irrelevant to your claim that the problem of evil demonstrates the incoherence of Christian theism.

BenYachov said...

>Take Rowe’s famous hypothetical about Bambi dying in a forest fire. Rowe considers that an example of gratuitous evil. That presumes the atheist’s interpretation of the event.

That example only works if you turn Bambi into a 3 year old little girl.

Since I don't believe animals are person or conscious the way humans are they are simply matter being damaged by other matter.

There is no spirit there to suffer.

In fact I think even Daniel Dennett thinks animals aren't conscious the way humans happen to be.

Just thought I'd chime in carry on.

Walter said...

Since I don't believe animals are person or conscious the way humans are they are simply matter being damaged by other matter.

There is no spirit there to suffer.



I could not disagree with you more on this subject, Yachov.

The following is an excellent response to Bill Craig's theory about animal suffering.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKuEbbDi-tQ


B. Prokop said...

Walter,

See my comment to the thread above this one. I think you and Ben are not in true disagreement here, but rather are defining your terms quite differently.

BenYachov said...

Meaningless Walter,

I felt pain when I was circumcised as an infant but I have no memory of it & as an infant my intellective powers had not yet developed.

Thus I didn't really suffer now did I?

Equating "feeling pain" with suffering is your first mistake.

BenYachov said...

There is just absolutely in principle no way to scientifically penetrate an animal's "subjective" experience(Nagel Bat etc) so in principle there is no way to prove animals "suffer".

Looks like these people are drunk on the Positivism koolade.

We are dealing with an argument from philosophy and the philosophy of mind.

All the C-fibers in the Universe do not equal "suffering". At best they beg the question by assuming the mind is solely a physical entity.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

I'm not saying one way or the other, but just because you can't remember it does not mean you did not suffer at the time. There are countless of instances of times in my life when I've been in great pain, but don't normally think about any more (and therefore don't usually "remember" them). But I certainly suffered when they happened.

BenYachov said...

I am an intellective physical being with a spiritual soul which I believe via philosophy of mind and philosphy of nature.

I have no empirical means to access the "subjective experience"(assuming that concept can even apply) of a non-intellective spiritually soulless creature.

So how do I know they "suffer"?

Besides I am not too thrilled the makes of those videos only concept of Dualism is Descartes.

PLUEEZ!!!!!!!!!!!

ingx24 said...

Isn't it just obvious that animals have an immaterial aspect just like humans do? Sure, animals may not have the same intellectual capabilities as we do, but saying that animals are purely material puts you either in the position of denying animals are conscious (as Descartes did) or saying that matter magically gains consciousness when given a certain form (as Aristotle did).

I mean yeah, you can't prove that animals are conscious, but you can't prove that other people are conscious either.

BenYachov said...

Bob,

Suffering assumes a "person" in the unequivocal human sense of a person who is conscious in their intellect of themselves as a being who at the present moment undergoing serious deprivation of their nature.

An animal is a being of pure instinct with sense memory only not intellect.

Even Primates aren't what we are.

BenYachov said...

>I mean yeah, you can't prove that animals are conscious, but you can't prove that other people are conscious either.

If you believe in realism then you can conclude other people are conscious via intelligent communication with them & philosophical argument.

But we agree on the limits of science even if we disagree on other things.

cheers.

Walter said...

A)I have no moral aversion to smashing a rock.

B) I have a moral aversion to stomping in the head of a dog.

My conclusion is that animals are more than just moving matter.

BenYachov said...

Of course Augustine and many western Fathers believed before the fall of man, animals that where predators hunted prey.

So the lame arse argument used by some Atheists against Theistic Evolution is BS specifically the one that assumes there was no death or suffering before the fall. Rather no human death according to many fathers.

Anyway my ultimate point is there are Atheists who agree with me that Animals are not conscious in the way humans are conscious. So any argument from animal "suffering" is a non-starter since I see no reason why I might change my view here even if in the future I somehow stopped believing in God.

So bottom line replace Rowe Bambi with a 3 year old child or Rowe's argument is a non-starter with me.

BenYachov said...

>A)I have no moral aversion to smashing a rock.

Neither do I but if that Rock is on somebody else's property and breaking it serves no useful purpose then it's just wanton vandalism with is immoral.

>B) I have a moral aversion to stomping in the head of a dog.

Neither do I for good purpose but doing it just because I enjoy inflicting pain or gratuitously is
unreasonable and the exercising of a wicked will. Thus it is immoral to kill any animal for pure fun.

Hunting is immoral unless you are culling the herd or eating your prey & using it for human benefit.

>My conclusion is that animals are more than just moving matter.

You argument is superficial since there is no way I can kill any human being without divine authority. But even thought I have no such prohibition against a rock or animal even then I have moral limits to my behavior.

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

"that’s irrelevant to your claim that the problem of evil demonstrates the incoherence of Christian theism."

The problem of evil has been around for a long time. I didn't invent it. There have been many theists and theistic philosophers that do understand it, and their way of addressing it is not to simply say that it's a problem for the atheist. Your way is to stick your fingers in your ears and shout "LALALALA". As I said, it's pointless to argue.

Walter said...

Hunting is immoral unless you are culling the herd or eating your prey & using it for human benefit.

If your philosophical speculations hold true, then it would not be immoral to hunt for sport. If animals are just matter in motion, then clubbing a baby seal for its fur is no more morally significant than mowing my lawn.

I will stick with my moral intuitions against your philosophical speculations.

ingx24 said...

To be honest, the entire Thomist system in regards to souls and biology does not make sense to me. Thomists redefine "soul" to mean the substantial form of a living thing, rather than an entity that is the subject of conscious experiences such as thinking, feeling, seeing, etc.. The subject of experience, to Thomists, is the organism itself - and consciousness is taken to be a fully material property (since Thomists define matter very loosely and do not deny it the ability to be conscious). Thomists say that, since their concept of matter allows for a fully material organism to be conscious, and since Thomists allow that colors, sounds, etc. exist objectively in the physical world, the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical system can easily avoid the "hard problem" of consciousness as well as the interaction problem (and the intentionality problem since final causes are part of Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics). But I fail to see how this is a solution - Aristotle never explained why animals are conscious while plants and inorganic matter are not, despite only humans having an immaterial part (the intellect). Why does matter suddenly develop the capacity to feel, sense, and imagine when it takes on a certain form? Thomists, so far as I am aware, have no explanation - meaning that the A-T system has as much of a problem with the "hard problem" of consciousness as materialism does.

B. Prokop said...

"I will stick with my moral intuitions against your philosophical speculations."

Walter,

I strongly suspect you'll find Ben doing the same, whatever he may post. I doubt he spends his spare time torturing puppies, serenely confident that they're not suffering.

Ben,

I honestly don't understand why you insist on defending this hill. Animal suffering or the lack of it are not key issues worth going to the mat for. No doctrine depends on how the issue is decided. Neither outcome is either a strength or a weakness for either Christianity or atheism. Nothing of substance depends on it. From the atheist, materialist standpoint, whatever suffering is occurring is pointless and meaningless in any case, and from a Christian standpoint, we anticipate a redeemed cosmos devoid of suffering.

Joshua said...

Once, a girl I was dating said, "I *really* want to have a baby, because then I would have something that was truly *mine*!" She was lamenting the fact that boyfriends tended to wander and stray, while presumably a child does what you tell it. I was utterly shocked at her attitude, and promptly dumped her. The attitude is no longer shocking to me, since I've encountered it enough times. But it is still completely perplexing to me, and disturbing that people like her can become parents.

That's my reaction to the cake-crammer. I just don't get the attitude, AT ALL.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Happy Cruciversary, everyone.

ingx24 said...

Papalinton,

I think this quote from Stewart Goetz is relevant here:

"I believe that most people are religious because they believe that the mind is immaterial. They do not come to believe that the mind is immaterial because they are religious." (Source: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/god-and-mind-body-dualism)

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Poor, poor, Papalinton. I actually pity you."
Please don't pity me Bob. It is a waste on natural energy. Do something useful. Take that pity, judge the amount you profess to feel and turn it into a dollar value, dust off your wallet and put that amount of money into a deserving charity, preferably Médecins Sans Frontières . It is non proselytizing to the captive and vulnerable destitute.

"Look to beauty, good and evil, love, consciousness, existence itself, time and space, life and death, mystery, music, art, narrative, community, history, charity, etc etc"

I have all of that. There is not one thing on that list that I do not have or not experienced. Music? Trained on the piano, play the clarinet. My favourite album? Andres Segovia "Fantasia para un gentilhombre". Absolutely stunning and heart wrenching.

Art? I personally built [as a qualified builder] a 9-square purpose-built studio some 50 feet at the back of my home with two studios, one for my wife to work in and one for me to paint and draw in, a bathroom and a large common area replete with lounge furniture and festooned with beautiful art, all original, from my grandchildren to a painting by Raffaello Ossola that I bought in San Gimingnano, Italy and had shipped back. See HERE. Provenance? The painting is titled: Dipinito in acrilico su tela di Raffaello Ossola, "Cosmogenisi", cm 120 X 100. Bought by me in 22/05/01.

I relish and love all that. Nothing immaterial that I can see and feel. All part of the beautiful, natural world sans God and god stuff. Humanity lived without a Jesus-god for a 100,000 years before the Christian memeplex was invented in the Western world and will again once the fad has passed over. One need only to undertake a cursory historical review of the 3,000 year period of the Egyptian Gods before they faded into the dust of history. If the longevity of the Egyptian Gods is any indicator it looks as if we might still have a 1,000 years to go before Jesus is relegated to shelves of Myths and Legends alongside his erstwhile compatriots. Where is Zeus today? Where is the Norse God, Wotan, today? Where is Mithra? Marduk? Anu?

Funnily enough, In the two thousand year reign of the Jesus myth, christianity has made an imperceptible dint in India or Pakistan and has largely been kicked out of the Middle East, Asia Minor, all across North Africa after having an almost unchallengeable strong hold for the first 600 years of its existence. Christianity is highly unlikely to return in any meaningful way to these regions. After the wave into the other parts of Africa passes over, christianity will again recede into the desert. It might take a generation or two, but it is inexorable. The consistency of the historical pattern is indelible.

The trouble with the human condition is that humanity is likely to invent another stupid God fable to replace it, just as we have witnessed in our own lifetime, Scientology.

So, Bob, the naturalist reality of my life goes on. Gods need not apply. Step outside the Christian hothouse, and all is revealed, the WHOLE world, warts and all.

Papalinton said...

ingX24
Stewart Goertz is a christian. reasonablefaith.com is WLC's blog.

Can you see any connection between these two people and the Stewart Goertz quote and any predisposition or a priori sentiment?

I could write a critique on the quote you suggest. There is much to challenge, but would it be worth my while?

Walter said...

I strongly suspect you'll find Ben doing the same, whatever he may post. I doubt he spends his spare time torturing puppies, serenely confident that they're not suffering.

That is my point. Yachov and I most likely share an intuition that it is wrong to inflict needless pain on an animal. But if Yachov's view is true, then this God-given inhibition we share is difficult to explain. If animals have no more significance than rocks or trees, then why do most people "feel" that it is immoral to inflict needless pain or death on an animal, while having no such inhibition when it comes to pruning bushes or smashing rocks to make gravel? It's because trees and rocks cannot experience pain.

And the reason that Yachov wants to fight on this hill is because animal predation is known to have existed long before humans arrived on the scene and had their alleged Fall from grace. So his theological suppositions are driving him to marginalize animal pain and suffering as something that has no more moral significance than a comet crashing into Jupiter.

Papalinton said...

Walter
"That is my point. Yachov and I most likely share an intuition that it is wrong to inflict needless pain on an animal ...."

A beautifully crafted and meaningful response.

BenYachov said...


>I honestly don't understand why you insist on defending this hill. Animal suffering or the lack of it are not key issues worth going to the mat for. No doctrine depends on how the issue is decided.

It's easier. I have good secular reasons to believe they merely feel pain but they don't really suffer the way we do. So it takes the teeth out of certain Atheist arguments. Especially from that class of Atheist or Theist who commit the anthropomorphic fallacy(i.e. project human behavior & experience onto animals).

Also I have a moral objection to equating animals with humans. Since in practice it doesn't so much raise the dignity of animals as lowers humans to the level of the animal. When I hear people compare mentally handicapped children to animals it pisses me off big time.

We both know why.

>Neither outcome is either a strength or a weakness for either Christianity or atheism.

Yes and no.

Nothing of substance depends on it. From the atheist, materialist standpoint, whatever suffering is occurring is pointless and meaningless in any case,

No argument.

>and from a Christian standpoint, we anticipate a redeemed cosmos devoid of suffering.

Still the Damned will still be part of mere creation even if they have cut themselves off for all time and eternity the Beatific Vision.

It's relative in a certan sense.

Cheers Bob!

Good to see ya.

BenYachov said...

@Walter

Hey dude!:-)

>That is my point. Yachov and I most likely share an intuition that it is wrong to inflict needless pain on an animal.

It's generally wrong to needlessly deprive anything of it's natural perfections. It's a matter of degree. Hurting an animal is more wrong then vandalism of a rock. Hurting a human is the most wrong etc….
OTOH Justice from the public authority might demand I hurt a human as punishment for their crimes(execution, maybe corporal punishment, imprisonment, taking away money & property etc) provided I am a recognized agent of said authority.

You can medically experiment on animals. You can clear an area for human habitation etc….

>But if Yachov's view is true, then this God-given inhibition we share is difficult to explain.

Not at all.

>If animals have no more significance than rocks or trees, then why do most people "feel" that it is immoral to inflict needless pain or death on an animal,

I "feel" needlessly spray painting the Mona Lisa is immoral(& it is) & we both know the Mona Lisa feels nothing about it.

Like I said needlessly depriving anything of it's perfection is wrong.

while having no such inhibition when it comes to pruning bushes or smashing rocks to make gravel? It's because trees and rocks cannot experience pain.

>And the reason that Yachov wants to fight on this hill is because animal predation is known to have existed long before humans arrived on the scene and had their alleged Fall from grace.

According to many western Fathers Augustine, Aquinas etc..

>So his theological suppositions are driving him to marginalize animal pain and suffering as something that has no more moral significance than a comet crashing into Jupiter.

OTOH you know Walter I don't believe God can be coherently called a moral agent. Thus to morally evaluate God given the Divine Nature is not coherent. A Classic Theistic God needs a Theodicy like a fish needs a bicycle. But OTOH all my philosophical, metaphysical and Theological intuitions tell me only humans have spiritual immortal souls. Animals have material mortal ones that cease to exist when they die. So I can't help but conclude animals suffering is no more significant than comets hitting Jupiter. But if Atheist materialism is true it may be that goes for human suffering too.

Cheer man.

BenYachov said...

>If your philosophical speculations hold true, then it would not be immoral to hunt for sport.

That does not logically follow since to deprive anything of it's perfection without good reason is nothing but vandalism.

You can hunt for sport but not only for sport. You can't kill an animal for no other reason then sport. Like I said food, cull the herd, human use.....

>If animals are just matter in motion, then clubbing a baby seal for its fur is no more morally significant than mowing my lawn.

Assuming you really need that fur to live. If I am freezing in the Arctic then screw the damn thing. It's him or me & I have a soul so there! Give me the fur fuzzball!

>I will stick with my moral intuitions against your philosophical speculations.

Without Divine revelation how do you arrive at moral intuitions?

Answer:Philosophy or are your moral intuition not based on reason only your feelings?

Walter said...

Without Divine revelation how do you arrive at moral intuitions?

Answer:Philosophy or are your moral intuition not based on reason only your feelings?


You need to look up the definition of intuition, Yachov, since you seem to be confused. Intuition is not based on reason. A deist like myself would conjecture that we humans are created with a basic sense of right and wrong. I don't need to consult a stone tablet filled with divine commands to know that it is wrong to torture children for my own amusement; I apprehend that it is wrong in a basic noninferential way. This same basic intuition informs me that it is evil to inflict needless pain on ANY living creature capable of experiencing it. The only people who are completely devoid of moral intuitions are psychopaths.

BenYachov said...

>You need to look up the definition of intuition, Yachov, since you seem to be confused. Intuition is not based on reason.

So you believe in intuition alone sans reason? That reduces your morals to the level of the emotive.

>A deist like myself would conjecture that we humans are created with a basic sense of right and wrong.

True but without reason or revelation you can't know the contents of the categories of "right" and "wrong". If they are based solely on feelings then they are even more capricious and arbitrary.

>I don't need to consult a stone tablet filled with divine commands to know that it is wrong to torture children for my own amusement;

Reason already tells us it is harmful for the child & for the torturer. Also it tells me it's OK to cause pain to a child if I am treating him/her medically if it is part of the healing process.

>I apprehend that it is wrong in a basic noninferential way. This same basic intuition informs me that it is evil to inflict needless pain on ANY living creature capable of experiencing it.

The key moral word here is "needless" which you can only judge with reason.

>The only people who are completely devoid of moral intuitions are psychopaths.

They are mentally ill and can't rationally conclude the importance of following the moral and natural law.

Walter said...

So you believe in intuition alone sans reason? That reduces your morals to the level of the emotive.

I did not say that I believe in intuition alone, my intuition is subject to epistemic defeaters. You have to demonstrate that my moral intuition is flawed, not just assert it. Intuition is NOT based on deliberative reason, it is an *immediate* apprehension of facts (moral facts in this case).

True but without reason or revelation you can't know the contents of the categories of "right" and "wrong". If they are based solely on feelings then they are even more capricious and arbitrary.

What you are suggesting is that if I come upon a scene where an adult is torturing a child for amusement, I cannot know if it is wrong until I consult my divine rulebook or deliberate philosophically for hours, days, or weeks about the actions of the adult. That is hogwash, I can know immediately it is wrong based on what Christians would call the "moral law written on our hearts."

There is also a secondary problem when it comes to relying on putative divine revelations that don't come to us directly. But we can save that for another discussion.

BenYachov said...


>I did not say that I believe in intuition alone, my intuition is subject to epistemic defeaters.

Then what else is there? Reason/Philosophy or/with Divine Revelation.

>You have to demonstrate that my moral intuition is flawed, not just assert it.

I see no reason to challenge any of your intuitions. I merely point out they are subject to reason.

Reason tells me it is allowed to proform a painful experiment on an Animal to save human life. It also tells me proforming the same experiment on a human being as if he where another lab rat is immoral.

>Intuition is NOT based on deliberative reason, it is an *immediate* apprehension of facts (moral facts in this case).

No just the general sense there is right and wrong but it is not reliable in all cases for specific content.

I might "feel" squemish killing an animal but my intellect tells me it's right in order to feed my starving child.

>What you are suggesting is that if I come upon a scene where an adult is torturing a child for amusement, I cannot know if it is wrong until I consult my divine rulebook or deliberate philosophically for hours,

Only because you where taught it was wrong which was part of it. My anthropology Professor told me of a partner of his who was studying a primitive tribe that had no contact with the civilized world & he saw a Father kill his own daughter right in front of him for what looked like making a mistake in collecting berrys. Needless to say the guy was horrified. Granted if he was able to he would have stoppped him. But obvious this barbarian's own intuition was not enough to save his child's life.

> days, or weeks about the actions of the adult. That is hogwash, I can know immediately it is wrong based on what Christians would call the "moral law written on our hearts."

You are partly correct but I am merely saying the intuition alone is not enough & so I don't know why you are fighting me.

BTW one difference between you and the Barbarian father is you where raised a Christian at one point in a civilized society.

I am not sure why you are fighting me on this? Where do you think we disagree?

Walter said...

I am not sure why you are fighting me on this? Where do you think we disagree?

We disagree on the moral significance of gratuitous animal suffering. Your claim is that animal suffering is either A) nonexistent, or B) as morally significant as rocks breaking apart. My moral intuition tells me that you are wrong.

BenYachov said...

>We disagree on the moral significance of gratuitous animal suffering.

Which is a product of nature created by a God who is not a moral agent & can't coherently be concieved as such.

>Your claim is that animal suffering is either A) nonexistent, or B) as morally significant as rocks breaking apart.

Clearly both are true.

>My moral intuition tells me that you are wrong.

Rather it is wrong for you a human being who is a moral agent to cause any animal pain or suffering without good reason or to do so as you say gratuitously.

So what is the problem again?

Walter said...

So what is the problem again?

This right here:

Clearly both are true

It makes no sense for God to either give us a direct command or instill in us a moral intuition to not needlessly harm animals if animal harm has no moral significance. Your attempt to equate animal harm with vandalism is ridiculous. I can "vandalise" inanimate objects in my possession to my hearts content and not feel the slightest twinge of conscience; not so with living beings.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

interesting discussion.

"True but without reason or revelation you can't know the contents of the categories of "right" and "wrong". If they are based solely on feelings then they are even more capricious and arbitrary."

Have you ever tried reading the bible? Now there's some capricious and arbitrary morals for you.

BenYachov said...

>It makes no sense for God to either give us a direct command or instill in us a moral intuition to not needlessly harm animals if animal harm has no moral significance.

Burning paper and wood has no "moral significance" by that logic t makes no sense for God to either give us a direct command or instill in us a moral intuition to not needlessly burn the Mona Lisa.

Who says there is no "moral significance"? Of course there is just not one that is the same as harming a human which is even more restricted.

I can kill an animal to eat it I may not kill a human for food.

>Your attempt to equate animal harm with vandalism is ridiculous. I can "vandalise" inanimate objects in my possession to my hearts content and not feel the slightest twinge of conscience; not so with living beings.

Living things have greater perfection then non-living thus have more moral sugnificance but still not the same as a human.

Animals are not people or persons & are living matter without spirit so in a sense their "suffering" is matter being damaged by matter & not the same as humans and you may not do what you want with them without limit even if you own them.

You must accept it or give me a rational argument.

BenYachov said...

@Walter

I can have natural sex with my wife without sin but that doesn't mean I can do whatever I like too her.

You can't torture animals even if their suffering isn't the same as torturing a human.

You can't burn the Mona Lisa even if you "own" it.

Sorry.

Morals are based on more than mere feelings.

ingx24 said...

Animal suffering is not just matter damaging matter - there is a qualitative aspect of pain there that does not exist when, say, comets strike the surface of Jupiter. If this qualitative aspect of pain is the source of physical suffering in humans, surely it must be in the case of animals as well.

BenYachov said...

More random thoughts.

>Your attempt to equate animal harm with vandalism is ridiculous.

Not really since in both cases it is matter damaging matter. Of course animals have the additional perfection of being alive so they are above inanimate objects in the hierarchy of being so they are owed by moral agents more consideration.

>I can "vandalise" inanimate objects in my possession to my hearts content and not feel the slightest twinge of conscience; not so with living beings.

Not really I can't burn down my house at will without being arrested. I can't use my private possessions for evil purposes.

Morals are comprehensive. I can feel bad for a suffering animal out of natural sympathy but I also know the animal is not experiencing what a human experiences because there is no person there to experience it.

Sure I can treat inanimate objects in a way I can't treat an animal without good reason but I can't treat a human the way I threat an animal.

BenYachov said...

>Animal suffering is not just matter damaging matter - there is a qualitative aspect of pain there that does not exist when, say, comets strike the surface of Jupiter.

But is there a "who" who suffers or an "it"?

That is the issue. There must be a qualitative difference between what an intellective being experiences vs a creature of blind instinct?

>If this qualitative aspect of pain is the source of physical suffering in humans, surely it must be in the case of animals as well.

Only if you assume animals subjectively experience it the same as humans.

I see no reason to believe this.

Walter said...

You can't burn the Mona Lisa even if you "own" it.

Yes I can, and without the slightest moral aversion.

All you are doing is mirroring Descartes when he described animals as nothing but automata. To Descartes a dog whimpering in pain is like a whining gear that needs some oil. The dog is only mimicking pain behavior, but not truly experiencing pain. I may not know what it is like to be a dog, but I also don't truly know what it is like to be ben Yachov, so if I followed your line of reasoning I could just as easily conclude that you don't really experience pain, even if you act like you are or say that you do. But that would be a rdiculous thing for me to conclude since you would surely exhibit all the signs of being in a pain state, just like most animals do.

As far as I am concerned, my observation of the natural world trumps your theologically motivated philosophical speculations, because your beliefs can easily lead to such acts of animal cruelty like vivisection.

ingx24 said...

Only if you assume animals subjectively experience it the same as humans.

I see no reason to believe this.


I see no reason not to believe it - they sure do show every sign of experiencing pain the same as we do.

BenYachov said...

>Yes I can, and without the slightest moral aversion.

You base your moral intuitions on your feelings not your intellect. That is very dangerous. Like let's take this moral intuition about animals. It's only for the cute ones now isn't it? Really ugly, smelly, aggressive, unpleasant and aesthetically unappealing animals might not warrant this intuition from you. You could even be like Captain Ahab in MOBY DICK who blamed the White Whale & followed his emotions to his doom. To quote First Mate Starbuck "Tis madness Captain to be such enraged. To seek vengeance on a dumb brute who acted out of blind instinct is blasphemous!"

That is where this nonsense leads.

My late Italian Maternal Grandmother of Happy Memory used to kill lobsters in the sink for meals she & Mom cooked. I didn't care. But if I saw her split a puppy in half the way she did a lobster I would still be in therapy.

My intellect would tell me the Mona Lisa is a valuable piece of art that belongs to the world and it would be unreasonable to damage it. Reason also tells me Starbuck was right.

>All you are doing is mirroring Descartes when he described animals as nothing but automata. To Descartes a dog whimpering in pain is like a whining gear that needs some oil. The dog is only mimicking pain behavior, but not truly experiencing pain.

Again you are equating pain with suffering. You are projecting human experience & nature onto animals. You are seeing an animal as nothing more then a human with fur. I see no logical reason why this must be the case regardless of what Descartes taught.

> I may not know what it is like to be a dog, but I also don't truly know what it is like to be ben Yachov,

I can communicate intelligently and tell you how I feel so there is no doubt I am a person. There is no reason to believe an animal is a person anymore then a rock even though they are alive. Also it isn't just mere physical pain that causes suffering. After all masochists feel physical pain and they are way into it and not suffering. Say no more.

> so if I followed your line of reasoning I could just as easily conclude that you don't really experience pain, even if you act like you are or say that you do.

Nonsense! The mere fact I am a human being mandates I be regarded as a person. Humans are rational animals thus persons. Even mentally handicapped humans. The problem with your "reasoning" is mentally handicapped persons who are severe can be treated like lobsters since your morality is feelings based and on some functional utilitarian view. Not on anything objective like reason with moral intuitions sans intuitions alone.

>But that would be a rdiculous thing for me to conclude since you would surely exhibit all the signs of being in a pain state, just like most animals do.

Can an animal contemplate "This pain might not stop?" Can it fear the future and contemplate what might go wrong? Can an Animal long for death against it's survival instinct? Can an animal hope? Is there anyone really there to do so? I think not. All my beloved pets where nothing but my creations. They where not really the "people" I imagined them to be or projected on them. But I am content to play that game with any future pets I might get. But they are not my children & can never be so for it would be immoral.

BenYachov said...

>As far as I am concerned, my observation of the natural world trumps your theologically motivated philosophical speculations, because your beliefs can easily lead to such acts of animal cruelty like vivisection.

How can slavish adherence to Law for it's own sake arrived at by reason lead to this? It simply cannot. Only throwing out natural, moral & Divine law can lead to this. Animals even the ugly ones are safe with me. You I am not so sure.

If anything your view will doom un-cute animals and lump mentally disadvantaged human beings in with animals. Statements l've heard from animal rights wackos like "We should treat animals like we would a retarded child". sickens me because it never raises the animal to the human level. It lowers humans to the animal level. A representative of Planned Parenthood has recently said in Florida, parents & doctors should have the right to kill a baby who survives a botched abortion attempt. Nice people! But I also hear horror stories of a man who is fined thousands of dollars for shooting bear who tried to attack his kid because it was an "endangered species".

This is what happens when you follow only the Law in your Heart and spurn the rest of the law via reason and revelation. It is better then no law at all but it's still not fully good.

BenYachov said...

@ingx24
>I see no reason not to believe it - they sure do show every sign of experiencing pain the same as we do.

Couple of problems here. 1) Your still equivocating between "feeling pain" vs suffering. I am not claiming animals don't feel pain. That's stupid! I am claiming they don't really suffer in the unequivocal sense a human being suffers.

2) A human who is a masochist "feels pain" but they don't really suffer unless you refuse to help them feel pain. I went to a Passover Seder this year & was quite put out over the fact that the Bitter Herbs where so weak. Last year it was as hit as blazes & I shed tears when I ate it. I really enjoyed it! I feel teh same about salsa if it doesn't hurt it what is the point?

3) Assuming at your starting point an Animal is metaphysically identical to a human means you have to treat animals with the same rights as humans.

Seriously?

So you are in a burning building with a dog and the fireman comes and saves the dog because he has just as much right to live as you do?

Seriously?

I can understand if the fireman chooses a 5 year old child over me if he can only save one. I would hope by God to be man enough and brave enough to let it happen. But a dog?

Sorry no. Not even the Mona Lisa.

Walter said...

Yachov, now you are just ranting a bunch of nonsense. This is like arguing with a YEC, they don't care on whit about observable reality since they already *know* the "truth."

Below is a review of Michael J Murray's book: Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/23930-nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw-theism-and-the-problem-of-animal-suffering/

And here is the money quote:
We also have independent evidence that many animals are capable of experiencing pain, evidence that parallels the evidence we have for thinking our fellow humans are capable of feeling pain: We witness pain behavior, not just reflex actions to noxious stimuli (protective pain), but subsequent pain-induced behavioral modification caused by bodily damage (restorative pain); we observe significant anatomical and neurophysiological similarity between humans and many animals (including all mammals and most vertebrates); endogenous serotonergic and opioid pain-control mechanisms are present in all mammals[11] [Why would organisms incapable of feeling pain have endogenous pain-control systems?]; efferent and afferent nerves run throughout their bodies; analgesics and anesthetics stop animals from exhibiting pain behavior, presumably because these substances prevent the pain itself in much the way they prevent pain in humans; and there is compelling experimental evidence that the capacity to feel pain enhances survival value in animals, based on the self-destructive tendencies displayed by animals that have been surgically deafferented.[12],[13] Based on this cumulative observational, analogical, and experimental evidence, we are clearly justified in accepting that animals can feel pain, and so, we're justified in rejecting any neo-Cartesian explanation that denies animals have this ability, based on what we justifiably accept. Consequently, all neo-Cartesian CDs fail, for they fail to meet even the low bar that Murray sets for CD-success. Neo-Cartesian CDs are not "as plausible as not, overall" given our justified acceptances.

Walter said...

My late Italian Maternal Grandmother of Happy Memory used to kill lobsters in the sink for meals she & Mom cooked. I didn't care. But if I saw her split a puppy in half the way she did a lobster I would still be in therapy.


Why should that bother you? It's only matter damaging matter, right? Your words betray your philosophy.

'nuff said on this topic.

Papalinton said...

Walter
"Below is a review of Michael J Murray's book: Nature Red in Tooth and Claw"

Great find. Thanks. I've picked up the website and the quote and added them to my 'ready reference' bookmark for future use and reference.

A hat tip for the tip.

BenYachov said...

@Walter

Now you are just being emotional & as such you refuse to interact with my logical arguments or the problem.

>Why should that bother you? It's only matter damaging matter, right? Your words betray your philosophy.

Why do I feel sympathy when video game characters(like captured slaves in Fallout 3) cry in pain? It's a natural emotive response. I know if I shoot a child character in Fallout 3 that it will via it's programing scream in pain. I also would know I haven't really shot a real child. I also know I still can't bring myself to do it nor would I want too. I like feeling aversion to causing pain even simulated pain. I also think it is reasonable to maintain those feelings.

Plus I was a child when Grandma killed lobsters & I don't know what I know today. Besides as an adult I wouldn't let my grandmother or mother splay a puppy.

I have already explained why but for some reason you are on the rag bitching that I don't believe animals are mini-persons or experience reality the way humans do(assuming there is anyone there to experience it).

>This is like arguing with a YEC, they don't care on whit about observable reality since they already *know* the "truth."

Says the ex-fundie deist who believes in intuition sans reason as a basis of morality.

>We also have independent evidence that many animals are capable of experiencing pain, evidence that parallels the evidence we have for thinking our fellow humans are capable of feeling pain:

So basically Walter you refuse to deal with the pain vs suffering distinction? You insist on A Priori defining pain & suffering as synonyms?

That is about as honest as when im-skeptical pretends the Bible is clear & ignores the fact Catholics, Rabbinic Jews and Eastern Orthodox deny perspicuity yet keeps citing his private interpretations at me thinking I would give a shit.

Pain vs suffering is not the same. I gave an example (i.e. masochists) which you are afraid to touch. Animals feel pain. But do they suffer as humans who feel pain do or might? I must conclude they do not.

>Based on this cumulative observational, analogical, and experimental evidence, we are clearly justified in accepting that animals can feel pain, and so, we're justified in rejecting any neo-Cartesian explanation that denies animals have this ability, based on what we justifiably accept. Consequently, all neo-Cartesian CDs fail, for they fail to meet even the low bar that Murray sets for CD-success. Neo-Cartesian CDs are not "as plausible as not, overall" given our justified acceptances."END QUOTE

Descartes was for all intensive purposes a materialist who believed in invisible ghost matter alongside physical matter. Of course he didn't believe animals felt pain. But his metaphysics are all bullcrap anyway as was his anacronistic science. Still the writer here equates pain with suffering. Why? Because he is a materialist or sympathetic to them? He believes humans are material beings only without a spiritual component. Since humans are material only & humans suffer then animals who are matter only can suffer like humans. Also if materialism is true then there is no reason why we won't conclude pain=suffering since there is no transcendental non-material intellective component here.

Of course I haven't even dragged Nagel or Dennett or some non-reductive materialists into this.

What is your point? Animals feel pain and react when feeling pain?
Of course they do. But do they suffer as humans do? Are they metaphysically identical to humans?

Gee Walter beg the question much?

Walter said...

Says the ex-fundie deist who believes in intuition sans reason as a basis of morality.

Key word there is *ex-fundie*. I also said that my intuition is subject to evidential defeaters, but apparently you missed that.

So basically Walter you refuse to deal with the pain vs suffering distinction? You insist on A Priori defining pain & suffering as synonyms?

Suffering is recognized as a synonym for the experience of physical pain, and it is good that you at least acknowledge that animals do indeed experience pain, perhaps even horrific pain. As far as whether animals suffer mental or emotionally, then I would agree that that is a different question. Research indicated that some animals like elephants, dolphins, and many primates do have a rudimentary self-awareness, so it is possible that they can "suffer" in a way similat to ourselves; the difference might be one of degree rather than kind.

You want to deny the above based on a particular school of philosophical thought that props up your parochial religious beliefs. I am not interested in your Thomism, I am more interested in studying the only true revelation: the natural world.

BenYachov said...

@Walter
>Key word there is *ex-fundie*. I also said that my intuition is subject to evidential defeaters, but apparently you missed that.

“Evidence” is a word we use in empiricism. What you expect to find a Cartesian Ghost in the Machine with humans and the lack of one in an animal?

Positivist claptrap!

>Suffering is recognized as a synonym for the experience of physical pain, and it is good that you at least acknowledge that animals do indeed experience pain, perhaps even horrific pain.

So you concede you have been equating “pain” with “suffering”? Well that is some progress.

>As far as whether animals suffer mental or emotionally, then I would agree that that is a different question.

We still in principle can’t know what it is like to be a Bat. Having a real intellective consciousness & powers of aesthetics makes all the difference in the world.
Strip those out and the agonies of Hell would mean nothing to me since there would be no “me” to give a shit. Just animal flesh moved by blind instinct with it’s c-fibers and nerving ending firing furiously. Nothing more and nothing to get on about since "BenYachov" wouldn't really be there.

> Research indicated that some animals like elephants, dolphins, and many primates do have a rudimentary self-awareness, so it is possible that they can "suffer" in a way similat to ourselves; the difference might be one of degree rather than kind.

I’ve read that worthless claptrap. The researchers commit the anthropomorphic fallacy big time. Like if an elephant spend more time then other animals looking at itself in a mirror they read into that behavior a human being admiring his reflection & say the creature has primitive vanity. Data is undeniable but A Priori reading human behavior into animals dooms the research to more question begging.


>You want to deny the above based on a particular school of philosophical thought that props up your parochial religious beliefs. I am not interested in your Thomism, I am more interested in studying the only true revelation: the natural world.

What do I need of Thomism when Atheists like Nagel or Stove and others will do just nicely?

Walter said...


We still in principle can’t know what it is like to be a Bat


That is right. We can't know that a bat is incapable of suffering or not, but we can observe reactions to pain that mirror our own, and that is good enough for me.

I have seen dogs who have been hit by cars and survived. Anyone who listens to their howling and whimpering and yet still tries to claim that the animal is not really aware of its pain is nothing but a fool caught in the grip of a strong idealogy (like YECs).

I see why another Christian here calls you Son of Confusion because you most definitely are confused.

BenYachov said...

@Walter

Emotion is not argument.

>That is right. We can't know that a bat is incapable of suffering or not, but we can observe reactions to pain that mirror our own, and that is good enough for me.

I can also observe they show no power of intellect, intelligent communication, Rational cognitive ability, ability to think in the abstract and they don't produce Art.

They are not people. Accept it.

Some of them are cute, fuzzy, affectionate and they poop.

That's it.

>I have seen dogs who have been hit by cars and survived. Anyone who listens to their howling and whimpering and yet still tries to claim that the animal is not really aware of its pain is nothing but a fool caught in the grip of a strong idealogy (like YECs).

This is a heart strings argument. I pulled the same on my Atheist Anthopology Professor as an Undergrad Freshman.

"You mean to tell me Prof Fidel that there is no God & that means all the good people who died slowly during the holocaust where just snuffed out while Hitler died quickly at his own hand and got away with it? No Heaven for the victims? No Hell for Hitler?"

Interestingly this did not convince him & 25 years later it doesn't convince me since I grew up and added to my education.

>I see why another Christian here calls you Son of Confusion because you most definitely are confused.

Yes I get Walter you are an animal lover. So am I. I get it from my Paternal WASP Grandmother who never cooked lobster in her life.
But I love animals as animals not people. To confuse the two leads to real suffering and is true confusion.

PS. Courting Paps and Ilion's approval is scraping the bottom of the barrel now don't you think?

Just saying.

ingx24 said...

Descartes was for all intensive purposes a materialist who believed in invisible ghost matter alongside physical matter.

Nope. Try again. Where do you learn your philosophy of mind from? Paul Churchland??? Even your idol Ed Feser knows that Descartes did not believe the mind was made of "ghost matter" - in fact Feser has stated this in MULTIPLE posts on his blog. I would think you would have read those posts and known what Descartes actually thought as a result. Guess not.

BenYachov said...

>Nope. Try again. Where do you learn your philosophy of mind from? Paul Churchland??? Even your idol Ed Feser knows that Descartes did not believe the mind was made of "ghost matter"

Why would you assume I always tow the line with Feser and can't think for myself?

>- in fact Feser has stated this in MULTIPLE posts on his blog. I would think you would have read those posts and known what Descartes actually thought as a result. Guess not.

Why don't you cite SPECIFIC POSTS and we will discuss them?

I am open to real discussion.

ingx24 said...

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/06/churchland-on-dualism-part-iv.html

"What philosophical dualist ever said anything about “ectoplasmic processes,” or about the “hidden constitution” or “nomic intricacies” of an immaterial substance? Even apart from the “ectoplasm” nonsense – which is, of course, just a rhetorical flourish intended to make dualism sound ridiculous before it is even given a hearing – Churchland’s description of dualism is a ludicrous caricature. He makes it sound as if the dualist were committed to the existence of an object which is just like a material object in having various parts arranged in a certain way so as to behave according to law-like regularities, only one made out of some ghostly kind of stuff rather than of matter. But that is precisely the opposite of what a Plato, an Aquinas, or a Descartes actually held. For them, as for philosophical dualists generally, the soul is necessarily something simple or non-composite, and thus without parts of either a material or a quasi-material sort. Hence it has no “hidden constitution” or “nomic intricacies” of the sort Churchland has in mind. It is not a kind of ghostly mechanism because it is not a “mechanism” at all. (True, Descartes was a mechanist, but only concerning the material world, not the mind.) For the Cartesian dualist, who is Churchland’s immediate target, the essence of the soul is just to think, and thought is (on this view) essentially conscious."

And as if that weren't enough, we have this from Bill Valicella's blog:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/11/dennetts-dismissal-of-dualism.html

"A substance dualist such as Descartes does not hold that minds are composed of some extraordinarily thin intangible stuff. The dualism is not a dualism of stuff-kinds, real stuff and spooky stuff. 'Substance' in 'substance dualism' does not refer to a special sort of ethereal stuff but to substances in the sense of individuals capable of independent existence whose whole essence consists in acts of thought, perception, imagination, feeling, and the like."

BenYachov said...


Ok inx24 then I am guilty as charged with channeling Churchland's (mis?)understanding of Descartes.

So what? Elsewhere (see Feser's post "What is the Soul") lumps ghosts, ectoplasm and Cartesian immaterial substances together in his discussion of Hylomorphism.

My point remains the same. If you want to kick it up a notch then I can say "animals are conscious" and "animals have two souls".

Of course animals only have the consciousness of sense not intellect.

Also their souls are a vegetative soul and a sensitive soul neither of which are spiritual.

My point remains I have no reason to believe animals "suffer" in the unequivocal sense humans do nor do I have any reason to believe they are metaphysically equivalent to humans. I have every reason to believe the opposite.


ingx24 said...

My point remains I have no reason to believe animals "suffer" in the unequivocal sense humans do nor do I have any reason to believe they are metaphysically equivalent to humans. I have every reason to believe the opposite.

What reason do you have besides Christian dogma and the speculations of a philosopher (Aristotle) who lived over 2000 years ago when no one knew the first thing about biology, anatomy, or physiology?

While I am sympathetic to the Aristotelian point of view in some ways, I have a lot of issues with the Aristotelian conception of living things. People say that it completely dissolves the mind-body problem, solves the "hard problem" of consciousness, etc. But I don't think it does either of these things. From my understanding, Aristotle took it as a brute fact that animals and humans were conscious - he simply said that animals and humans could sense and imagine in virtue of their form. He did not explain why animals are conscious as opposed to plants which are not. Furthermore, Aristotle assimilated imagination to the sensory organs rather than to the mind, which doesn't really make sense to me (Descartes may have made a similar claim when he said that imagination consists of the sensation of images projected onto the pineal gland by the mind). Just because imagination is similar in kind to sensation does not mean that it requires a material organ in the same way - it certainly isn't obvious that forming mental images requires a specific organ in the body in the same way that it is obvious that the eyes are needed for seeing. While I do think the Aristotelian synthesis regarding living things is at least coherent, and is in far better shape than any form of materialism, I still don't buy into it, especially if it leads to seeing animals the way BenYachov does.

BenYachov said...

@ingx24
>What reason do you have besides Christian dogma and the speculations of a philosopher (Aristotle) who lived over 2000 years ago when no one knew the first thing about biology, anatomy, or physiology?

Don't bullshit me ingx24 I read your attacks on Scientism when you went at it with Paps. That was you right?

Didn't Crude on this thread
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/08/animals-are-conscious-in-other-news-sky.html

mention too you that "No past or current dualists can prove that animals necessarily lack the fundamental mental properties or substance. Furthermore, given that none of these theories specify empirical means for detecting the right stuff for consciousness, and indeed most dualist theories cannot do so, they seem forced to rely upon behavioral criteria for deciding the Distribution Question. In adopting such criteria, they have some non-dualist allies. For example, Dennett (1969, 1995, 1997), while rejecting Cartesian dualism, nevertheless denies that animals are conscious in anything like the same sense that humans are, due to what he sees as the thoroughly intertwined aspect of language and human experience (see also Carruthers 1996).

Really don't bullshit me with the Positivism crap.

>While I am sympathetic to the Aristotelian point of view in some ways, I have a lot of issues with the Aristotelian conception of living things.

Throw him out then. I still have non-Aristotilian reasons to believe what I believe and if your only response is to make a Scientism run at me then hilarity ensues.

>Aristotle took it as a brute fact that animals and humans were conscious - he simply said that animals and humans could sense and imagine in virtue of their form.

What does Feser say?
" Descartes’ position implies that sensation and imagination are immaterial. Hence if sensation and imagination turn out to be material after all, the post-Cartesian philosopher understandably concludes that the remaining operations of the res cogitans, and higher cognitive activities in particular, might be susceptible of materialist explanation as well.

But the Aristotelian tradition has in the first place always regarded sensation and imagination as corporeal faculties, and as having nothing essentially to do with the reasons why our distinctively intellectual activities are incorporeal."

Just thought I'd mention it.

>I still don't buy into it, especially if it leads to seeing animals the way BenYachov does.

My position is no different then Dennett (except his view infants aren't "conscious" sickens me) both he & I still believe animals should be treated in a humane ethical way.

So what is the problem? I don't regard a dog's suffering as metaphysically the same as a human child's?

Well I would hope so!

ingx24 said...

"But the Aristotelian tradition has in the first place always regarded sensation and imagination as corporeal faculties, and as having nothing essentially to do with the reasons why our distinctively intellectual activities are incorporeal."

The problem is that the Aristotelian tradition has no explanation for the fact that animals and humans are conscious while plants and inorganic matter are not. Does sentience just "pop" into existence once matter takes on a certain form? Saying that the Aristotelian conception of matter does not rule out material substances being conscious does not explain where sentience comes from if it is not there in plants and inorganic matter.

I should also clarify: I do not deny that animals do not have the same intellectual faculties that humans have (this should be obvious to anyone who has tried to teach a dog to do, well, anything). What I deny is that this makes animal suffering morally insignificant, or that it makes it so that animals can't even be said to "suffer" at all. Even if animals can't "reflect" on their pain the way we can, it doesn't change the fact that animals demonstrably feel pain and clearly find it unpleasant. That alone makes animal pain of moral significance, although I will concede that animal pain probably isn't *as bad* as human pain because animals don't have that ability to reflect on what's happening to them (at least not as much as humans do).

Walter said...

@Yachov
I have a hypothetical scenario that I would like to run by you.

Imagine that you have a beloved family pet that has many years of life ahead of it, and something happens to the pet, requiring surgery to correct the issue. You go to the Veterinarian who gives you two options: surgery with anesthesia for $1000, or the Veterinarian can muzzle the animal, strap it down tightly, and perform the procedure with your pet fully awake for $500. Euthanasia is not an option because your wife will murder you if you euthanize. Do you save the $500, confident that any pain that your pet experiences during the surgical procedure is utterly meaningless?

BenYachov said...

@Walter

>Imagine that you have a beloved family pet that has many years of life ahead of it, and something happens to the pet, requiring surgery to correct the issue. You go to the Veterinarian who gives you two options: surgery with anesthesia for $1000, or the Veterinarian can muzzle the animal, strap it down tightly, and perform the procedure with your pet fully awake for $500.
Euthanasia is not an option because your wife will murder you if you euthanize.

I reply: You obviously don't know my wife or what a skinflint she is. Either is too expensive for our limited budget so I would have it put down & so would she. I don't know who this woman is you speak of but my wife is Rosemarie.

That is what we did with my cat since neither of us could justify
spending anything to cure the cat & still take care of 3 autistic children.

>Do you save the $500, confident that any pain that your pet experiences during the surgical procedure is utterly meaningless?

Animals have sense memory so allowing it to needlessly suffer would damage it & likely warp it's behavior instead of heal it.

Like I said you can't deprive an object of it's perfection without good reason.
Saving $500 dollars is not a good reason to damage the animal in that manner.

OTOH since we are proposing absurd scenarios(yours is absurd since it is likely illegal) suppose a scientist told me they could do an experiment on an animal which involved operating on it without anesthetic & the results of the experiment could lead directly to a cure for autism.

I would have it done in a heartbeat.

Of course if the scientist said he needed to experiment on a child in the same manner....I would call the police right after I punched him in the face.

Because doing that to a child an intellective being is objectively worst than doing the same to an animal.

So save $500 dollars? No! Cure autism. F**k yeh!!!

Because the Animal is just matter being damaged is why it's ethical to experiment on it to save human life. But not to save a buck.

If I was rich I would pay $1000 after all who wants an animal who has been subjected to needless pain? But killing it is always an option you special pledding nonsense doesn't apply.

BenYachov said...

@ingx24

>I do not deny that animals do not have the same intellectual faculties that humans have (this should be obvious to anyone who has tried to teach a dog to do, well, anything). What I deny is that this makes animal suffering morally insignificant,

If you read my past posts I believe damaging nonliving inanimate objects is not morally insignificant. So obviously there is moral significance to animal suffering just not equivolent to a human & subjectively(assuming you can apply that term to something which is not a "self") it is not the same as human suffering. It is matter being damaged or we could say mere sensitive living matter but nothing more. Comets hiting Jupiter and so forth.

>Even if animals can't "reflect" on their pain the way we can, it doesn't change the fact that animals demonstrably feel pain and clearly find it unpleasant.

Their blind instinct which they evolved makes them resist it. But phrases like "finding it unplesant" imply intellective conteplation.

>That alone makes animal pain of moral significance, although I will concede that animal pain probably isn't *as bad* as human pain because animals don't have that ability to reflect on what's happening to them (at least not as much as humans do).

That is very close to where I am at. Like I said I could endure the pains of Hell itself if you stipped me of my intellective conciousness & aesthetical sense. But of course there would in fact be no "me" to experience it.

ingx24 said...

BenYachov,

I'm sorry, but I no longer feel comfortable talking to you. Your views on animals disturb me and I would prefer to not discuss this matter with you any longer. Harming animals is wrong just because of the fact that they suffer pain, not because it "deprives them of perfection". If you can't see that, then I have nothing to say to you.

BenYachov said...


>I'm sorry, but I no longer feel comfortable talking to you. Your views on animals disturb me and I would prefer to not discuss this matter with you any longer.

How rational and not at all childish cowardly of you.

Not.

>Harming animals is wrong just because of the fact that they suffer pain, not because it "deprives them of perfection". If you can't see that, then I have nothing to say to you.

So based on that morally perverse reasoning it would be OK to kill a child as long as I do it without pain but causing pain to an animal is wrong?

Further more based on that criteria any animal experimentation for human benefit (especially for mentally disabled) that causes pain to an animal is wrong.

Good to know my kids can suffer but at least no animals could be harmed for their benefit.

There is something very wrong with you buddy. Your right we shouldn't speak.

BenYachov said...

There is something intrinsically wrong with people who disproportionately love animals equal or more than human beings.

It's unseemly animals can't love you back the way a human can & I think it hurts human beings.

It' kinda heartless if you ask me.

grodrigues said...

@ingx24:

"Just because imagination is similar in kind to sensation does not mean that it requires a material organ in the same way - it certainly isn't obvious that forming mental images requires a specific organ in the body in the same way that it is obvious that the eyes are needed for seeing. While I do think the Aristotelian synthesis regarding living things is at least coherent, and is in far better shape than any form of materialism, I still don't buy into it, especially if it leads to seeing animals the way BenYachov does."

When Aristotelians say that memory and imagination, here in the sense of the capability to "recombine" memories, does not call for an immaterial soul, is because these powers deal with *particulars*, not universals. What you remember is always a particular image; if I ask you to imagine a triangle, what will pop up in your mind is the image of a *particular* triangle, with certain specific angles, in a certain color, maybe in a certain background, etc. You can only imagine particulars, not universals, and that is why an organ in a material substratum is enough to support imagination.

About the animal discussion, I do not want to get in it, but I will just note how completely surreal it is. Ben Yachov does not need my defense, but he is of course 100% right. No one disputes that animals feel pain; what he is denying, and I will also strenuously deny, is that animal suffering has any of the spiritual and intellective qualities human suffering has, so that while killing an innocent human being is evil, in the case of animal this may be trumped by other considerations. We cause pain to animals when we kill them to take their fur, their meat, etc. We can break a rock in two; we cannot break Mona Lisa in two (among other reasons, because it is not ours to break). Animals are not on the same level of inanimate objects, but they are not on the same metaphysical level of humans either.

The mention of "Christian dogma" is ironic, first because already in the Torah we find the injunction that the righteous man cares for his domestic animal (quoting from memory), and second, because if there is anyone who is being dogmatic are the PETA minions who make constant, nauseating emotive appeals. And if we do not bow to their sentimentalism, then it is because we are some sort of psycopaths that go out in the backyard and club puppies to death and with extreme prejudice just for the heck of it.

Exeunt.

Walter said...

No one disputes that animals feel pain...

I am fairly loath to return to this discussion, but the dispute is whether animals in any sense aware of their pain, and whether their pain is meaningless or not.

...what he is denying, and I will also strenuously deny, is that animal suffering has any of the spiritual and intellective qualities human suffering has, so that while killing an innocent human being is evil, in the case of animal this may be trumped by other considerations.

I don't believe that neither I nor ingx24 ever claimed that animals are on a metaphysical par with human beings. Hell, I am a meat-eater and not a cannibal. I just object to philosophical speculations which can and have led to justifications of animal cruelty by classifying non-rational animals as nothing more than organic machines, that have no more intrinsic worth than moving bits of mud. An animal is not a human, but neither is it a pumpkin that you can carve with impunity.

(this post is for grodrigues. I won't be arguing with James any further on this subject)

BenYachov said...

@Walter

>I won't be arguing with James any further on this subject.

You don't get off that easy with your little emotive display or implications that I somehow condone tormenting animals for fun or am totally indifferent to their pain. I just don't regard it as metaphysically or morally equal to human suffering. I don't concern myself with it as if it where human suffering and I believe it to be immoral to equate animal suffering with human. Not so much that it raises animals too high but brings humans down to their level.

When the dirtbags over at Planned Parenthood openly talk about parents and doctors being able to kill live children I think I have reason to be outraged and condemn raising animals to human status.

>the dispute is whether animals in any sense aware of their pain, and whether their pain is meaningless or not.

Only on the sense and imaginative level which is purely material. There is no intellect or person there experiencing the pain & suffering as a human suffers. Thus it is more like Comets crashing into Jupiter. I would believe this if I deny God tomorrow. My view would be slightly different then Dennett.

Thus Rowe's Fawn must be transformed into a 5 year old little girl named Fawn before his evidentialist argument from evil against the existence of God can get off the ground.

But naturally I have an answer for that.

Walter said...

I just don't regard it as metaphysically or morally equal to human suffering.

I don't either, but neither do I consider their pain to be meaningless simply because they cannot articulate a sentence and ask you to please stop. You see, if animal pain has no more significance than two rocks smashing together, then there is no good reason for me not to kick the shit out of my dog every time I feel like. It would be no more different than punching a cabbage. Good to see that you reject that.

I also enjoyed this little admission: "Animals have sense memory so allowing it to needlessly suffer would damage it & likely warp it's behavior instead of heal it."

That was the admission that I was looking for. Bye-bye.

BenYachov said...

@Walter

>I don't either, but neither do I consider their pain to be meaningless simply because they cannot articulate a sentence and ask you to please stop.

Here you are projecting onto animals that they are somehow like unto human persons who are mentally handicapped.
No there is no person there who being damaged merely lacks their natural ability to articulate what is part of their essental nature. Animals are not persons or mini-persons.
They don't by nature have intellect and will thus they are not persons. Only Instinct, Appetite and Sense. All of which are material manifestations.
That is their essential nature. Nothing more.

>You see, if animal pain has no more significance than two rocks smashing together, then there is no good reason for me not to kick the shit out of my dog every time I feel like.

I already explained why you can't & you have no intelligent response.

No rather if we have a Fawn who has been burned by lightning & is caught under a tree in a forest & is still alive one should not conclude that is nearly as horrible as if that happened to a human child.
It's not.

>It would be no more different than punching a cabbage. Good to see that you reject that.

There is a moral prohibition against wasting good food as well.

Basing your moral sense on your feelings is inadequate and leads to all sorts of PETA nonsense.

>I also enjoyed this little admission: "Animals have sense memory so allowing it to needlessly suffer would damage it & likely warp it's behavior instead of heal it."

In which case how could it make a good pet & what good purpose would it serve other then save 500 bucks? Accept your weird belief that everything is permitted because condition A exists.

>That was the admission that I was looking for. Bye-bye.

See ya.

Hal said...

Walter,
"I don't either, but neither do I consider their pain to be meaningless simply because they cannot articulate a sentence and ask you to please stop. You see, if animal pain has no more significance than two rocks smashing together, then there is no good reason for me not to kick the shit out of my dog every time I feel like. It would be no more different than punching a cabbage. Good to see that you reject that."

Couldn't agree more with that. Thanks for posting it.