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5/30/2003

 

let's review



we've been over this a few billion times, so i'll be brief.

the first gulf war was concluded with a cease-fire, that is, we simply stopped shooting based on iraq's promise to dismantle it's WMD programs. there was no treaty, and officially the war never ended. in essence, saddam was a convicted felon on probation. the jailer would not come calling as long as saddam could prove he was complying with the terms of that probation.

throughout the nineties, saddam threatened, harassed, and obstructed united nations weapons inspectors in a desperate bid to retain his beloved chemical and biological stockpiles, as well as his nascent nuclear arms program. the inspectors had heroically managed to eliminate around half of saddam's existing stockpiles by the time the iraqi dictator had grown tired of the game and permanently expelled all inspection teams at the end of the decade--an action which, in and of itself, gave all the legal basis for war that was needed.

there are two possibilities for the remaining weapons:

1. saddam woke up one morning, suddenly saw the light, got religion, or whatever, and voluntarily did what he fought desperately to avoid doing for the better part of a decade or

2. saddam still had those weapons at the start of the second gulf war

if you doves out there want to maintain that 1. is in fact correct, not only do you have to posit an asinine explanation for iraq’s missing WMDs made all the more absurd by the lack of anything even remotely resembling a plausible motive, but you also have to give an account for why it was that saddam, after benevolently destroying his own weapons, failed to give one single, solitary shred of proof to that effect to hans blix. if he had done so, he would still be in power today.

locdog thought maybe we could use a little refresher




5/29/2003

 

God and evil



i've been busy with work and classes lately and haven't had much time to post, but i couldn't resist this tantalizing flame bait from an atheist buddy over on the fray:

Can God choose to do wrong?

If the answer is yes, this casts doubt on his omnibenevolence. Theologians hedge this by saying something to the effect of "God has the power to do wrong but chooses not to." The problem of this explanation is clear when we follow this up with the question, "Is it ever possible that God would choose to do wrong?" The paradox is back, for if we answer "no," then this is simply a different way of stating "God can do no wrong."

If the answer is no, then God's omnipotence is in doubt. "Is there anything that God cannot do?" If the answer is, "Yes, God cannot do wrong," then this suggests a limit placed on God, and the Christian God is limitless. And this leads us to some more difficulties, in terms of transcendence: a limit placed on God suggests some other entity enforcing said limit, which ruptures the presumption of God's preeminence....

So, what's it gonna be: a morally flawed, but All-Powerful God, or a weak Benevolent God?


here's what i wrote in response...

as all good atheists should well know, evil does not exist. it's just a tired old theological construct meant to keep the strong from claiming their rightful place over the weak. at best, that profound state of malaise you feel whenever you hear of a brutally murdered child or hurricane that killed thousands is just a convenient biochemical reaction built into you by darwin in an attempt to preserve our species.

as to your paradox, no, God cannot choose to do wrong, and no, that's not any limitation on God's freedom or power. for a Christian, wrong is that which God does not do. holiness or moral perfection is to emulate the Almighty, as the Scriptures attest on nearly every page. whatever God chooses to do is correct by definition.

"what if he chooses to torture babies for fun? wouldn't that still be wrong?"

if the answer to that question is "yes," that would mean that there is an absolute moral standard that exists apart from God and which God's actions are measured against. but that's silly--God defines reality. it's part of the job description, and we must accept this if your usage of the word "God" in the Judeo-Christian context is to have any meaning. you can see right away that the answer is "no," except you needn't worry because God doesn't do "bad" things like that. not because there is some external moral code He is compelled to obey, but simply because that's how He is, and to be otherwise would imply a contradiction in His very nature. God doesn't torture babies for fun because i know it's wrong, i know it's wrong because God doesn't torture babies for fun.

so no, God cannot "choose" to do wrong any more than God could choose to create a square circle or a married bachelor. it's all gibberish and nonsense, and as aquinas pointed out, it isn't worth wasting too many cpu cycles on.

so why does evil exist? why, because of us. evil must exist if we are to be free. unless i can will to evil, and have the power to actualize that will in some meaningful way, i'm a puppet. evil is awful of course, but it's an acknowledgement to human dignity--much like hell. hell tells us that the game we play is for real, that we have the power to make eternal choices. without that, none of what we do down here, free will or otherwise, matters a hill of beans.

locdog hopes to post more next week