Saturday, November 22, 2003

Good God

Thinking about God, don't ask me why. The old Heinlein quote about the absurdity of god being all of omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Yes, that's absurd. I think we mostly focus on the omnipotent part, god as creator and manipulator of the universe. This is the part science has successfully replaced.

What about the benevolent part? I'm doing the exercise of imagining a God that is far from omnnipotent but is omnibenevolent in the sense of being the source and focus of all that is Good. God/Good. You know. Somehow that's a lot easier to believe in because it's that much more decoupled from physics.

Let's say God is a concept that has some hard-to-understand relationship to reality, just like the concept of "3", or "function", or "factorial". All of these are concepts, they can be embodied as marks on paper or rituals or whatever, they are unreal things with real instantiations and influence.

Very good, but so what?

Here's the full Heinlein quote:

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills. [Robert Heinlein, Notebooks of Lazarus Long]
Ah, Heinlein, grandfather of all the net flamers that ever were and ever will be.

Theory 2: god isn't especially benevolent, since he created both good and evil and maintains them both. You probably couldn't have one without the other. Contrast, you know.

And I guess theory 3 would be giving up omniscience, evil exists because god just doesn't know about it, making him sort of a sunny airhead type. That one doesn't seem satisfying somehow.

Why I am engaging in this sophomoric theology is anyone's guess, I suppose it means I'm tired.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Proof explorer

Cool tool for exploring detailed formal mathematics proofs, with heavy hyperlinking. I used to think about building something like this, but less formal, more educational, with some options for abstracting away the details.

I found this while looking to see if they still made Wff 'n Proof games, contemplating getting one for the big kid. Turns out they do. I wonder if it's worth buying $30 worth of wooden cubes and such to do what could be done better with software. But there is an irresistable urge to buy my favorite childhood things for my children.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Democrats are conservatives

Democrats are conservatives, Republicans are radicals. I realized this a few years ago, but it's nice to see it confirmed by an anointed pundit. The column is about foreign policy but it's equally applicable to economics, where the Dems are trying to conserve ideas that have been established for many decades (ie, child labor laws) and the Repugnicans are trying to overturn them in favor of unregulated markets, an extremely radical and dangerous move.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Straussian Illuminati

Reading an article on Leo Strauss and neoconservatism. This philosopher and his followers are revealed to be profoundly anti-democratic, and explicitly in favor of hiding their true beliefs from the masses.

More here, and here.

Ooh, the graphic version of the conspiracy:

Pro-strauss article by William Kristol and another one.