Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Episode #6 The Life and Times of Penguin & The Problem of Evil

In this episode I use the Eugie Foster short story The Life and Times of Penguin to discuss the idea of The Problem of Evil.

Episode #6 (13 minutes 28 seconds)

Show Notes

The Problem of Evil (Wikipedia)
The Problem of Evil (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Epicurius
Alvin Plantinga
God, Freedom and Evil by Plantinga



Extra Life Radio
Escape Pod
Geek Fu Action Grip
Eugie Foster

Ancestor
Treks in Sci Fi

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9 Comments:

Blogger Bob Mottram said...

Another possible alternative is that god is a machine, like a big computer, and that terms such as "good" and "evil" have no meaning to him. As a universal machine (in the Turing sense) god can still be all-powerful, capable of creating any world and implementing any logical sequence of events to arbitrary levels of precision.

Deciding when a particular state is evil or not might be a tricky business for the god machine. Is evil a boolean or a real value? If a cat jumps on a mouse and eats it, is that an evil act? If someone treads on your toe, or merely forgets your birthday, is that evil? If not a boolean, how is a degree of evilness assigned to any given situation? Perhaps the lookup table would be too large for the machine to handle.

There is also the argument of consistency. If the god machine detects an evil state would it be able to remove it without causing fatal inconsistencies within its own world system. In a similar fashion if an error (a bug) occurs within a computer program simply erasing the area of memory where the code was contained is likely to cause the program to crash altogether rather than to continue running correctly. Obviously god cannot take actions which lead to inconsistencies in his own work without also violating his omnipotent status.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Jesse said...

Boolean god! :)

BTW Jason, the latest show,and the new art, haven't shown up in the iTunes feed yet.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Cai said...

Good point, Bob :)

But why should god be constrained within the abilities of a Turing machine? Surely it would be possible for a truly omnipotent god to remove any given evil act, even if he had to make the 'rules for consistency' of his universe arbitrarily complicated to account for it?

Surely there shouldn't be a point where you can say of god, "ah, well I suppose he just can't do *that*..."

Jason: yeah :( It looks like your latest RSS entry doesn't have any mp3 file attatched to it...

11:20 PM  
Blogger Bob Mottram said...

The trouble is that if god allows inconsistencies then he's really pulling the rug out from beneath himself. If he can change the rules arbitrarily at any time then this makes it impossible to see infinately into the future and the past (omniscience).

From what we can observe of the universe it doesn't appear to have significant inconsistencies - as would be the case if god kept changing his mind or making arbitrary interventions (a bit like a kind of cosmic Judge Dredd). The laws which govern physics, chemistry and so on seem to be pretty constant everywhere. Indeed this kind of steady predictability is an absolute prerequisite for any kind of biological life.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Just an FYI, iTunes isn't properly reading your feed. It isn't listing episode #6.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

It's in iTunes now. The new logo is very cool!

6:06 AM  
Blogger Seth said...

You have to be kidding... atheists don't accept a world view with an objective view of evil?

Theists have ULTIMATE subjectivity, the subjective viewpoint of god. Only atheists can possibly have an objective view of evil.

3:10 AM  
Anonymous john said...

The way everyone sees good and evil is subjective, regardless of what they believe. There are grey areas that people wont agree on. Not to get into this discussion but look at abortion, many people think it is evil, while many people do not.

To look at good and evil objectively, you would have to be able to see this whole debate from the outside. You would have to know who was right and who was wrong. A higher power could look at good and evil in this world objectively because he is not a part of it. If a person feels they understand said higher power, than they probably feel they have some small amount of objectivity when it comes to good and evil.

Of course you could just say there is no right or wrong, good or evil, it's all subjective. You would be objectively looking at the situation, but you are basically declaring that there is no evil, only the perception of evil. Your objectively declaring that the concept of good and evil is subjective... blah.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Jason Rennie said...

Interesting comments guys. Come over to the forum if you want to discuss more.

8:54 PM  

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