Quick Roundup 266

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Divine Sadist

Andrew Dalton reminds me of an objection I have always had to Pascal's Wager: In addition to the fact that Pascal's Wager assumes that the Christian God is the right one to gamble on (And ignore for a moment that He is reported to regard gambling as a sin.), there is also the flaw that the argument assumes that He really means it when He is says that belief will be rewarded in the hereafter.

If a deity were perverse enough to create intelligent life, but make the demand that it abdicate its intelligence or face eternal perdition, why stop there? Why not consign all to eternal suffering, but especially those stupid enough to take silly promises at face value?

FCC Measure to Ensure Low Quality Cable for Poor

Galileo Blogs discusses the inevitable consequences of a recent FCC decree that sounds like it came right off pages of Atlas Shrugged:

[N]ot only is the FCC chairman's action immoral, but it will not "help" the poor or anyone else. The key to understanding this is the observation of the cable industry association that "cable companies were often granted exclusive rights to buildings after agreeing to make major capital investments in upgrading systems." Thus, a principal reason for these exclusive deals is so that apartment owners can negotiate with cable companies to pay for the wiring of their buildings. A wiring upgrade means higher bandwidth, and therefore more channels, faster Internet service, and enhanced telecommunications service. Strike down the exclusive deals and you cut out future wiring upgrades and the enhanced services it brings. [bold added]
And then, in a few years, this result will strike someone like Dennis Kucinich like a bolt from the blue. The proposed remedy won't be to get out of the way of such exclusive deals permanently, but to arbitrarily force cable companies to lower their rates -- which will mean that we can all have the same shabby service.

The only way to avert such a scenario is to make a principled case for capitalism as the moral and practical political system. This requires advocating a proper understanding of morality as a field open to rational inquiry, including the determination of why we should have morality in the first place. Only then will egoism be properly understood and its practicality be known and appreciated.

And speaking of altruism, Galileo's previous post incidentally provides an excellent example of the lethal consequences of human (self-)sacrifice.

Colorado "in the Wood" on Health Care

Ari Armstrong notes a coincidence that would be amusing but for its potential consequences:
I particularly like the title, "Plan Five." For some reason, it reminded me of Plan 9 from Outer Space. The comparison is doubly fitting, because the movie is about the goofy plans of extraterrestrials, and the movie is one of the worst ones ever made. But at least it's funny. Not so with "Plan Five" from the 208 Commission.
Armstrong notes the skepticism of a Colorado paper arising at least in part from the hefty price tag of a proposed plan to socialize medicine in his state. That particular objection is a mere road bump -- useful only for possibly slowing down the move to enslave physicians.

-- CAV


johnnycwest said...

As a teenager I moved from agnostic to atheist. I reasoned that if God existed, clearly this superior being would be an Objectivist. I guess this could be formulated as Johnny's wager: I bet superior rational beings would be Objectivist, in which case they would advocate reason in all things including the belief in God. I rest easy, knowing God is an atheist.

Bill Spears said...

I could understand a deity that demanded the odd offering of a bucket of KFC, but demanding belief in the existence of. How insecure!

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh! I see that you're both treating this proposal with about the degree of seriousness it deserves!

I made it to agnosticism before encountering Ayn Rand, but accepted her explanation of why atheism is the correct position when I learned of it.

Had some doubts in high school, but being in Mississippi, I figured that once I got out of state to a good college, things would finally be explained to my satisfaction. (I did at least see faith as a cop-out even if I thought people used it in Mississippi due to being poorly educated.)

My hopes for a rational proof of God's existence were quickly shown to be ill-founded and I became an agnostic without much fear. The "God" I semi-believed in was a benevolent and understanding chap (with a good sense of humor) who would never ask me to fake anything.

At first, I sort of missed Him, except that I can thank Ayn Rand for pointing out to me that at part what many of us are trained to call God is a projection of the best within us. In that sense, He never really went away, but only became more real to me over time.

Damn religion for trying to sever us, not just body from soul, but from our own realization of the best within us for what it really is.

Jim May said...

When I was younger, I often ran across Jimmy Swaggert on early-morning TV, and on the set of his show was a hypothetical newspaper with a screaming headline "MILLIONS MISSING", a reference to the "rapture" of the Church. I wondered what Swaggert would do if he woke up one morning and read that headline in a real paper... but he and all his friends were still here.

That would be quite the practical joke to play on an evangelical, no?

Gus Van Horn said...

That would be right up there with one I heard on television once about having everyone outfitted in ape suits for Senator John Glenn's return to earth from his last trip in space.