Re: [The-Burnsville-Socrates-Cafe] 5/14/13 questions and discussion

From: Shannon
Sent on: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:52 AM
Just to clarify from last nights conversation, when arguing against ethical relativism my point is not to try to assert that any particular theory is correct but that we can at least say that some theories are better than others.
I don't think that when we argue about right and wrong that it is merely expressing a preference. If that were the case, even having the conversation would be silly like arguing chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla (everyone knows that coffee is the best...;) but seriously I agree with the idea that not all decisions will have foundational ethical implications. In that sense, I think that there can be several and at times many "correct" ethical answers (Steve...tolerance to different ideas is a good thing) however when discussing the matter with a person who thinks that killing for fun is perfectly acceptable (willy nilly) I'm gonna have to side with Jim/John...we can be critical of this viewpoint...and I would argue it is wrong and not just a matter of preference.
For those of you in support of relativism, how do you reconcile the ability to even have a discussion about the topic...if it is just a preference expression, then we have no basis to evaluate when we think action is good/bad, evil/good, etc whatever evaluative language you want to use. I think that we all make these judgments and have reasons for making those judgments has to have some explanation...that does not mean that we cannot be mistaken about what we think/believe. These kinds of issues are harder to decide because the facts that support them are slippery, but that does not mean that we can't arrive at some as the basis for our claims. 

From: Jon Anderson <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, May 15,[masked]:25 AM
Subject: [The-Burnsville-Socrates-Cafe] 5/14/13 questions and discussion

5/14/13 questions and discussion

1-why do we often associate mental illness with immorality?7
2-is our volunteer military actually voluntary, and is it actually working for us?8
3-ought we be concerned with the changing minority/majority statuses in America?11
4-what are the differences between fear and paranoia?10
5-are evil and the existence of god compatible?12
6-why is the intelligence of the many so different from the intelligence of the individual?9
7-does the real threat of government lie in bureaucracy?6
8-what is culture?6
9-where does fear initiate itself from?5


are evil and the existence of god compatible?

David: Leibniz, a 19th century Christian philosopher dealing with morals and god, set this problem forth.

John: he also co-invented calculus.

Shannon: Voltaire made fun of him and his "best of all possible worlds".

David: does god play a role in evil?

Gina: we have to define god

David: I know

David the Elder: if god created everything did he create evil?

Jim: this is somewhat a multidimensional issue. If we say god's in control of all, then he's the cause of all evil and you have a fundamental problem. Then there's this dilemma: bad things happen to good people. for me, if evil exists, god is saying "I can judge this person by what he/she does". It's a free will deal. Could a good god really believe we are free to do good and evil?I say yes. Evil doesn't disprove god.

David the Elder: assuming there's a god, is it the church that's screwed it up?

Jim: Luther permitted each person to interpret god -- a possible dilution of the Catholic version that could only come from their leadership. This development removed the philosophy of good and evil. Christian bureaucracies will do harm, sure, like any bureaucracy will. Free will solves this dilemma.

David the Elder: 325 AD we get the christian god. How do we know which god that is, or of which we speak tonight?

Jim: I'm just reconciling god and evil. Those more superficial points are non-essential. What might be a defect of my argument?

Jon: perhaps your argument's requirement of free will? The free will question remains an unresolved one.

Jim: I reject that argument.

David the Elder: what if god didn't want us to have free will?

Steve: then we wouldn't have sin. The concept of evil is absolutely necessary in order to need a god. Without evil we need no god to save or protect us.

Dick: there was no evil in Eden.

Steve: that's a structure for a religion. A raison d'ĂȘtre.

Jim: is it evil or injustice? The dilemma of bad things happening to good people?

Steve: could injustice be a form of evil?

Vivian: the garden was perfect, wonderful. That can't be good! Maybe that's what evil is for.

John: 1. Other than battling evil, we could have god to help explain why things exist. 2. the garden of eden story explains free will and how we're responsible for what we do, unlike the other animals. 3. Rabbi Kushner says god's not all powerful. That's his answer to the people who ask him why would a loving god do bad things to good people. 4. I'm curious where else in history, among other civilizations and at different times, the Garden of Eden occurs.

Richard: looking at god and creation stories we tend to think about it via faith. If we think via science, god is basically energy that creates life. If that god exists, the creator of nature, it's human nature to have sin and instinct. this creates sin/evil. What are the sins? That's all suppressed human instinct. As time progresses different cultures have looked and will be looking for god, creating different names for this fundamental simplicity.

Jim: how would that god produce evil?

Richard: evil is a human invention. There is no evil. Evil is, for example, is a result of the means and results we have towards various kinds of dominance/control. Having god defined gives power.

John: are you saying the main reason for god's existence is to get power?

Richard: not necessarily, it just ends up there.

Jim: so god exists, evil doesn't?

Richard: or if god existed it could be dead now. We don't want to accept the simplicity of nature.

Vivian: how are we different form the other animals?

Richard: we talk about good and evil.

Steve: in cultures with Abrahamic influence evil is the antagonistic of good. In buddhist it's a duality to be overcome.

David: Leibniz wondered if god just wasn't perfect enough to not make evil.

Steve: a lot of the religions have tried to displace ab (and superior to) original religions. In a way this meant the monotheistic faiths' god felt threatened by (and superior to)  natural faiths -- by nature, perhaps, itself! Isn't that ironic?

Richard: very ironic.

John: if Buddhists don't formally believe in evil or good would they think that abortionist is evil?

Jon: the Buddhist goal is non-duality. A Buddhist would support or oppose abortion as they see fit. Concepts of evil serve no purpose for Buddhists when they are looking at issues. I also agree with Richard enthusiastically! I consider god to be another word for reality. Reality is most certainly all-powerful! Our concepts of good and evil are part of reality, but I insist they can not rise above the conceptual to become certain. The real evil is what we say it is (until we change our minds, and we do/will). We, I think, use the concept of evil often to remain ignorant of what is happening, to avoid paying attention to reality/god.

Shannon: I think we sometimes talk about evil as relative, and sometimes that's a mistake. There must be an objective evil.

Julie: we were talking about good and evil as a reason for god/free will. there are other conceptions of god that have a good god and an evil god, making the battle between good and evil a supernatural one.

Jim: do we play a role in the outcome?

Julie: it's not so clear. Free will isn't as important there. For me we need to determine what is harmful, rather than maintain standards via our ever-changing notions of evil.

Jim: this has me thinking of conservative and liberal politics. Conservatives prioritize standards and traditions, liberals are eager to doubt those ideas and create new ones. We much choose.

John: is there or has there ever been a society that doesn't condemn unreasonable killing? I think that may stand as an objective evil.

Richard: yes

Jim: is there any society where any person in it can decide to kill someone?

If there is a problem you can do nothing about, why be upset? If there is a problem you can do something about, why be upset?

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