The antinatalist fine tuning argument.

The fine tuning argument, which should be familiar to anyone involved in apologetics from either side, aims to prove the existence of God by pointing out various features of the universe which are conducive to the existence of life as we know it. So for example they will point to the cosmological constants, assume a range that constant can take, and point out that only a small part of that range permits life to exist. Or they will point to various features of physics, such as the four fundamental forces, and that large changes in those forces would not permit life to exist.

Given these facts, believers argue that it is more probable that God is the source of these coincidences than they coming about by random chance.

There have been a great number of debunkings of this argument. One fatal objection is that we really have no idea what the possible range of the cosmological constants are, and so we cannot truthfully say if the universe is fine-tuned or not. Another fatal objection is that fine-tuning actually makes naturalism more probable, not theism: if naturalism is true, we should expect the universe to be fine-tuned, but if God created the universe, there’s no reason why the laws of nature should be so hostile to life.

However, my point here is not to talk about the argument proper, but rather to question the very framework on which the argument is based: that God wanted to create life and that this was in line with his nature as standard of morality.

From the antinatalist perspective, the creation of life would perhaps be the most evil act to ever be perpetrated. In short, life entails suffering, and suffering is always undesirable. The antinatalist solution is to cease procreating and therefore cease bringing about new life which will suffer and die.

If we assume that God exists and created the universe, he was faced with one fundamental decision: to create beings that suffer, or to not do so (note that this option does not necessarily mean to not create any beings). Christians argue that it was good for God to choose the former (because otherwise we wouldn’t be here), and antinatalists argue that it would have been good for God to choose the latter (because we wouldn’t be here).

If God was good, then he wouldn’t have created beings that suffer. The fact that suffering exists is the proof that either God is not good or God does not exist.

Applying the antinatalist perspective to fine-tuning follows from there: if the universe is finely tuned to support the existence and proliferation of life, then the universe either arose naturally or was the outcome of a deliberate, profoundly evil, act. It would be better if the universe was not finely tuned for life.

And if the Christians are right that it is extremely unlikely for a “random” universe to accommodate life, then the act becomes that much more deliberate, and therefore culpable. This leads us to the inescapable conclusion that the more effective the fine-tuning argument is, the more evil God is.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the issue of suffering is explainable. Physical pain, for example, is a signal to the body that it is being harmed. Emotional pain is more varied but it is also generally associated with damage to one’s psychological well-being.

Since this is a moral argument, albeit one based on moral principles that few people would argue with (e.g. suffering is a bad thing), objections can be made in the lines of those made against other moral arguments. I’ve seen quite a few play out on atheist shows, and I want to examine the two I’ve most commonly observed.

The first common response is that atheists have no standards of morality, and that therefore they cannot declare that something is good or bad. A statement such as “suffering is a bad thing” presupposes the validity of the Christian worldview.

My answer is that the first premise is incorrect. We are all equipped with standards of morality (moral intuitions), whether we’re religious or not. We are all capable of making statements about morality like “suffering is a bad thing.” Unfortunately our intuitions are often marginalized or erased by biases, including religious bias. Christianity hinders the formation of moral standards. How can it be the source of morality if it hinders it?

The clever Christian could then reply that the moral intuitions were put “in our heart” by God. Yes, of course, once you accept the primacy of the imagination you can posit any ad hoc rationalization for any inconvenient fact of reality. But the fact remains that they are accessible to all, Christian or not, and that using them or explaining them does not require one to presuppose any Christian concept.

Another fatal response to this rationalization is the following: if the God of the Bible really did implant morality in humans, then Christianity must be contradictory, since our moral intuitions often contradict the Bible’s idea of morality, which supposedly comes from God himself. If both are true, then Christianity entails that slavery is invalid and that slavery is valid, that genocide is invalid and that genocide is valid, that rape is invalid and that rape is valid. But both cannot be true.

The second common response is that God’s morality cannot be evaluated or compared to ours because God does not exist on the same plane as we do and his morality is of an entirely different order.

Now let’s be honest here, this is an ad hoc rationalization, pure and simple. But even if we follow along, it still makes no sense. If God’s morality has no relation whatsoever with human morality, then why follow it? We are humans and need a human morality to operate on this planet, just like monkeys operate on monkey morality, dolphins operate on dolphin morality, and so on. It would be just as imbecilic to demand that a dolphin follow human morality than to demand that a human follow divine morality.

In short, if God is such a different kind of thing that humans cannot evaluate its morality, then there’s no clear reason why we should even consider following divine morality in the first place, let alone take God’s side on any moral issue. Indeed, if we cannot evaluate God’s morality, then it cannot be good or evil from a human perspective. But we can still evaluate God’s actions from a human perspective, and call those actions good or evil from a human perspective. That doesn’t require us to evaluate God’s morality at all.

Naomi Wolf on How Fake Democracies Are Rolling Out a Global Blueprint for Control

@3rdWaveLessons on Twitter

If you follow Twitter at all, I highly recommend that you follow @3rdWaveLessons. Her lampooning of liberal feminists is right on target, often with copies of their own tweets for comparison. It’s funny but sad, a reflection of how low “feminism” has gone in the past forty years.

Police Apologist Bingo.

From AntiPorn Activist Network.

After gender abolition, what happens?

radfemale provides an answer to this question, while at the same time giving a positive account of what anti-genderists are fighting for.

“We’re all entitled to our opinion!”

There is a sort of liberal handwaving that happens when someone wants to dismiss your position but doesn’t have the ammunition to argue against it. It is expressed as: “we all have the right to our own opinions” or “we’re all entitled to think what we want” or “you have the freedom to say that” or something of the sort. The funny part is when they get all astonished that you dare to disagree with such a “reasonable” principle.

I say it’s liberal handwaving, but conservatives occasionally use it too, mostly when Christians are pressed against the wall and have run out of arguments. Then they’ll pop up with some kind of “well, we all have faith in something,” as if arguing against faith was a waste of time because we’re all entitled to have faith in something, anything, as long as it sounds religious enough.

My first problem with this tactic is that it’s often nothing more than a passive-aggressive way of expressing disagreement without actually addressing anything substantial. Like I said, they use it when they have nothing left to say but don’t want to acknowledge being wrong. Basically, they’re really saying “you’ve made some great points but I can’t acknowledge that fact because doing so would threaten my worldview, so I’ll just say a platitude in the hopes that you’ll just forget about it.” It’s a complete negation of reason.

Telling someone that they have the right to say what they’re saying is just a trivial response. If it’s true, then it necessarily applies to anything anyone might say, so why mention it in this particular situation and not others? We observe that people mostly invoke their right to speak when they are doing something particularly objectionable, such as pornography or corporate meddling in elections. They use the free speech argument because they have no other arguments left.

My second problem with this tactic, and perhaps the most important, is that it’s just plain false: you most certainly are not entitled, or have a right, to any opinion you want. Entitlement and right imply a need so great that going against it is a form of aggression (e.g. food, shelter, health, justice, equality, freedom, and so on). An opinion is not one of those things. No one has ever died for the inability to formulate a certain opinion. No one has failed to flourish because they were not entitled to an opinion.

Let’s be more specific here, because it’s not all opinions that are at issue. You can have opinions or beliefs all you want about things that are not statements of fact, and I will not begrudge you if you claim having a right to those opinions or beliefs. The problems begin when you make statements of fact. and these problems amplify quite a bit if those statements are purported to be about other people.

So for example a man may feel fulfilled by his masculine gender role. He would be entitled to feel that way and to believe that this is his way to flourish. But if that same man stated as a fact that masculinity was the ideal that all men should achieve, then I would certainly object to such an inanity whether he liked it or not. And if he judged me, or some other men, on the basis of that standard, then I would not recognize that he is entitled or has the right to believe this. I would correctly judge that he is hurting other people and should keep his beliefs to himself. No one is entitled to hold opinions that entail injury to others.

Nothing stops anyone from believing that opinions are just a harmless sort of thing that come and go without any impact on other people, just floating around in our brain disconnected from the outside world. The problem is that our beliefs are very much connected to our actions.

There can be a lot of misunderstanding about this. So for example someone may point out that the Bible says to love one another and to follow the Golden Rule, and that organized Christianity has never acted as if this mattered. But it would be an error to use this as an argument to prove that beliefs do not inform actions. For the most part, the beliefs that inform our actions are incentives innate to the structures we live within.

Keep in mind the difference between theoretical purposes and actual purposes, because I think that’s usually what trips people up. The theoretical purpose of Christianity does include charitable works and providing moral standards for a community. Its actual purpose is to keep people in line and promote its own idea of ultimate truths, and charitable works are just a means that religious organizations (and corporations, and cults, amongst others) use to polish their public image. It’s got nothing to do with “loving one another.”

Beliefs guide actions. What we believe about other people informs how we see them, and how we see people influences how we act towards them. This is simple logic. Beliefs have consequences; unethical beliefs usually have unethical consequences. They can entail real harm to real people.

My third, and final, problem with this tactic is that it’s an attempt at having one’s cake and eating it too: the person is making claims about reality while taking refuge behind the subjective.

So coming back to my first example, a Christian may argue that “well, we all have faith in something,” which is an attempt to reduce factual issues to the personal realm. But if the issue under discussion was, say, Creationism, then a lot of factual issues were probably involved (such as the fossil record, carbon dating, DNA, and so on) as well as beliefs about other people (such as the motivation of scientists or of people who believe in evolution). These beliefs are not a priori equal to any other belief, and they are not purely personal constructs.

Mitchell and Webb – Kill The Poor

Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” is also shit.

I’ve posted a number of links on the numerous serious flaws in Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of our Nature. But he’s written other shit books. The Blank Slate, Pinker’s political attack on the opponents of evolutionary psychology, is also shit. Stavvers debunks The Blank Slate’s attacks on Anarchism.

Essentially, two hypotheses are proposed by Pinker in his treatment of anarchism:

1. That violence is an integral part of human nature

2. That the only way to stop it is to have a police force

The first hypothesis is not possible to test: this is a shortcoming of evolutionary psychology as a whole: one cannot empirically test whether something is “human nature” or not. We can look at proxies–for example, if violence is genetic, we can study identical twins who were raised apart, though even this methodology is flawed.

The second hypothesis would require controlling for all confounding variables, to test whether a police force is truly necessary and the only thing standing in the way of our horrifying nature. Essentially, one would need people raised in a complete vacuum with no mitigating factors such as economic deprivation or racism. This is, of course, impossible to test.

So what we are left with is a fairy story: we’re all violent, grappling thugs, and it’s only the presence of a policeman that stops us chucking a brick through the nearest window and running off with a spangly new telly.

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