Category Archives: Theodicy

Brett Kavanaugh, moral luck and the veil of ignorance

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In this blog I have visited several times the intersection of mathematical probability with what we often call “divine justice” (also known as theodicy). For instance, the odds being diagnosed with any of several types of cancer resemble statistically the winning of a cruel lottery, with statistical annual diagnosis rates per 100,000 people eerily unchanged from year to year. Or take… Read more »

Rain events, the sand pile effect and climate change

I spent a lot of grandmother-visiting time in my youth, and went to university for a time, in the far-northern Michigan town of Houghton, located on the Keweenaw Peninsula protruding like a thumb into Lake Superior. This place regularly gets over 200 inches of “lake effect” snowfall each winter, but it has rarely been hit with up to seven inches… Read more »

Playing Yahtzee® with God

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the award-winning documentary Three Identical Strangers, about identical triplets who had been raised separately, only to meet for the first time when they were teenagers. The film first explores the question of why these three men were so similar but ends on asking why their lives turned out so differently. The classic “nature versus… Read more »

Constantine, Putin, Trump and the co-opting of religion

The Australian kangaroo and the American white-tailed deer are said to have evolved to dominate a very similar ecological niche. Both comprise the greatest number of large, undomesticated, plant-eating mammals on their respective continents, and both are amazingly adaptable to the pressures of human appropriation of the land. They are both, however, less adaptable to the threat of the automobile…. Read more »

A moral conversation about immigration

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The debate about immigration and asylum, especially on the southern border of the United States, has reached a fever pitch, and is even on the cusp of civil disturbance. In the language of a previous post, the moral conversation is NOT happening here, either between people or even, I would argue, inside the heads of most people. In that post… Read more »

The “God language” of violence

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I noted in an earlier post in my continuing series on ethics that I believe we often see religious language backwards in this pursuit. My view is that the various religious “God languages” of humankind, as well as the many philosophical and popular cultural languages, are the “means of expression” for more basic human needs and goals. And “God languages”… Read more »

When God plays dice in Hawai’i

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Now I don’t know … I don’t know I don’t know where I’m a gonna go When the volcano blow.  – Jimmy Buffett – “Volcano” This blog has been going for some time now, but it started with pondering a basic human dilemma, best illustrated at this moment in time by the volcanic lava flowing into inhabited parts of the “Big… Read more »

Monday morning quarterbacking and unintended consequences

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) A major flaw in the “teleological” (end-based) ethical models I have been presenting in recent posts is that how you intend for the ethical dilemma to turn out, and how it actually does turn out, may well be two different things. In my earlier… Read more »

Making the exception

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“Every rule has an exception, including this one.” (Anonymous) There is an old joke among tax accountants that there is really only one rule in the entire Internal Revenue Service Code: “Everything is taxable unless we say it isn’t.” The rest of the thousands of pages of code and revenue rulings consists of detailed exceptions to that one rule. That… Read more »

“God language,” fundamentalism and Trump

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My take on the link between Christian fundamentalism and Donald Trump is different from both many of his most avid supporters as well his strongest opponents. In short, just like I think we do in discussing Islamic-attributed terror, we give too much credit to “religion” and not enough to “God language” itself, apart from religion. Humans need to communicate. Our… Read more »