Friday, October 23, 2009

The Misappropriation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

The Misappropriation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

The Principle of Sufficient Reason (hereafter referred to simply as “the/this principle”), generally classified as work done by Gottfried Leibniz, asserts that for any event there must be a sufficient reason or prior event that accounts for its coming to happen or assessment as true. This principle has been expounded upon by many, from philosophers like Arhur Schopenhauer to Theologians like William Lane Craig.

As a general rule, and as originally outlined, the principle was to be nothing more than a deductive proof for the necessity of a cause that itself is not contingent. That is, it was meant to guide us to the reality that all events (both material and mental) are accounted for by making reference to some other contingent factor which lent itself to the former’s coming about. From here we are to, in avoidance of running back contingent factors ad infinitum, accept that there must be an original thing, which itself is not bound to contingency (i.e. something that is necessary).

Over the course of history the principle was then conceptualized in different ways so as to lend credence to some other, again, not originally intended point of view. Christians in particular have attempted to utilize this in an effort to further support their insistence that their belief in God is not just a faith-based ideal, but also one well within the confines of reason and logic. Putting aside the disingenuousness involved in exempting some particular character from contingency and making them “King of Contingent Factors” by branding them “necessary”, there are very relevant problems that come about for the great monotheistic systems when accepting this principle (this due to the particular traits they maintain are absolutely necessary of God).

The opening issue that becomes immediately recognizable is that God’s supposed knowledge of all things becomes questionable. From where does this material become supported as sufficiently known? When making reference to known things, we need make reference to how they became known, and saying, “God just knows” is the most exemplary case of question begging one could fathom. However, without the “God knows all” cliché, this God is hardly the conceptualization they need to retain their religious ideals and tenets. So, it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.

But, suppose we accept this! As painstakingly hard as that may be to do, suppose we push ourselves to accept this condition. Other problems just as quickly arise. What would prompt God to do such a thing? What (forgetting the problems of God being temporal) would cause God to up and create a world? We would need to appeal to sufficient reason for God to be acting in the way that he does (otherwise, he’d be acting spontaneously, not something they will be able to accept either). And, as we know, sufficient reasons for something to go about behaving in some particular way, as it relates to the mentality that spawned said decision, is always a combination of both cognitive and influencing factors (we have Schopenhauer’s elaboration on the principle to thank for this). The influencing factors are key in abolishing the monotheistic idea that God could be somehow self-sufficient in action and thought.

Also, if God knows everything, what does he know everything ABOUT? When we speak of knowledge, we are talking about our capacity to make claims of surety ABOUT things in the world. So, claiming that God has knowledge necessarily denotes that there is already something for God to have knowledge about! This means that God would not be anything near the God that the monotheisms have envisioned him to be. This point is not tied to the principle necessarily, but it was worth mentioning.

So, where to go from here? If Christians and the other major monotheistic religions accept the principle, they shove God into a corner that, quite frankly, would drive their religious tenets into meaningless, and as such into a place they would rather God not be. A God who has to exist alongside all other things is not the God they’ve envisioned, but it’s a God that is the necessary consequence of the acceptance of this principle. And hence, its misappropriation has become apparent in it’s contradicting the presupposed characteristics they’ve already granted God.

Now, this is simply an explanation regarding the uselessness and destructive nature that this principle has as it relates to Judao-Christianity, not an argument against the principle itself.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Should Children Die Because of Religious Fanaticism? (Old Writing),2933,368863,00.html

I have sourced the website (story) from whence my anger and confusion is coming, but will still relay a concise version of the events that have led to the untimely and unnecessary death of another child.

Neil Beagley, 16, is dead as a result of an easily treatable "urinary tract blockage". This ailment could have been easily resolved had he gone through a minor procedure involving doctors with medical knowledge and a catheter. Sounds easy enough, but nay; God was going to take care of it. He would do so in quite the same way he took care of Neil's cousin's illness. Oh, that's right. He DIDN'T. Neil's death has occurred just months after his 15 month old cousin Ava died of a blood infection and pneumonia, neither of which are fatal if doctors are informed within a relatively normal period of time.

I will avoid one issue that the article comments on, that of his age and the legality of his own decision-making capabilities. That is for another time and another note. However, on what planet does a 16 year old and/or his parents need be informed of the usefulness and the efficiency of medical care? I would say "in what country", but even in countries where there is little outside influence or the government is religiously led the citizens are well aware of the necessity for and efficiency of medical treatment. How sheltered and brainwashed must one be to live in a world where illnesses are a plague of God's wrath and cures are a blessing of God's mercy?

It's almost enough to make one speechless, to draw breath out of the mouths of those who are as confused and taken aback as I by acts of such a deluded nature. Who convinces these people that life is merely a gift from God, something that is his to grant and his to revoke? Who warps the mind of the young and convinces them to play along with a game so dangerous and potentially disastrous? This all taking place in the 21st century makes one even more befuddled.

Are the thousands of vanquished illness and the hundreds of millions of cured individuals not enough proof that science (specifically medicine) has brought us farther than any God could have even been imagined to? Are we so wrapped up in the hope for an afterlife and the orgasmic feelings produced by our brains that we confuse physical processes for supernatural ones? How far must we come before we can abandon superstition and welcome intellectual progress? How many deaths must the human race endure before we come together to put an end to unnecessary calamity and unneeded demise?

Or perhaps I'm crazy. Perhaps God just didn't want to help Neil, or his cousin Ava, or the billions of dead people who prayed their hearts out without ever being miraculously cured by the loving embrace of God. Maybe God didn't actually cure people until we realized how to do it ourselves. Somehow, God always seems a step behind us, or maybe he's riding along on our shoulder (or hanging onto our coattails, as that may be more properly expressed). Wherever he is, it's not ahead of the curve. He isn't curing ailments that aren't medically treatable. He isn't growing back limbs for the handicapped. He isn't putting an end to torture, disease, decay, death, illness, insanity, etc. We've done all of that on our own; and hopefully, the future will bring more cures, and more love, and more quick-fixes for our ailing brethren. But whatever the future brings, it will be our doing. It will be the product of mounds of evidence, work, and years of labor by humans fighting to make the world a less painful, and consequently, more enjoyable place.

I care not whether this comes off as a rant or an intellectual attack on troublesome nonsense. All I care is that others recognize as well that this plague upon our society needs to come to an end.

Health Care as Business

In contemplating the circumstances we find ourselves in, as it relates to the controversy over health insurance and health care in this country, a thought, in the form of a question, occurred to me:

What is the real reason for the intense disdain shown to the idea of
universal health care and those promoting it?

On first glance the rationale seems simple and justified, "I don't want my tax dollars (or an increase in them) being used to pay for someone else's sickness". Setting aside the inherent lack of care in such a comment, there is a massive amount of disingenuousness that is prevalent amidst such commentary as well; the most obvious of which is the lack of consistency in the application of this principle. If we are to believe that those fighting so staunchly against this are doing so based on the fact that they do not want their tax dollars being funneled into the pockets (or perhaps "limbs" would be more apt here) of those in need, then why is there such an absence of outrage over equally socialistic programs that are very much existent in America? Where are the marches on Washington demanding that they tear down the fascism inherent in the armed forces? Where are the petitions to dismantle the postal service? Where are the calls for the destruction of the police and fire departments? Not a word, not a letter, not a picket sign, not a thing.

This incredible absence of consistency should cause one to seriously doubt the sincerity in their argumentation. Were this about the matter that they claim it is relevant to, we would see these challenges en masse. So, with the revelation that this is actually a smoke-screen for their real issue, we must move to decipher what the issue actually is. The appropriate methodology now would appear to be pinpointing the major difference between health care and the aforementioned accepted social programs. They are all geared toward the assistance of the citizens of the state, they all aid in providing necessities and other important goods to those living under the governmental authority, and they all help ensure the safety and livelihood of those covered.

The key differentiating factor then would appear to be the already existing private sector. That is, when constructing the original social programs, the government was not setting out to put something into practice that would be a potential challenger to an already existing private sector; a private sector which had complete control over the monetary and economic structure of this running system. This of course, is without mention of the insurance companies which are reliant on the capacities they have to restrict, deny, and elicit services under conditions thought up, dreamt up, and fathomed on their own money-making whims. This understood, we need to press the issue as they relate to these different circumstantial factors.
Are we willing to allow people, humans just like you or I, to fear illness and death (for reason of the inability to pay), to suffer losses of life or limb (also due to lack of monetary availability), and to fall victim to bankruptcy, relinquishment of savings and property, and subsequent starvation and homelessness because of a system that denies them an innate right to be cared for? When we already dispense all of these helpful (and arguably, necessary) social services, does it make sense to restrict the most necessary of them all (i.e. to be cared for when we're ill)? To deny this most obvious necessity, while giving us the capacity to freely distribute letters to one another and have a local library to freely borrow books, would seem to manifest as a complete travesty in the organization of our priorities. When we realize the emphasis here is not being made on principled grounds related to a care for liberty, but rather for the sake of sustaining an institution which disenfranchises the poor for monetary gain, we're better equipped to reorder these priorities in a way that properly respects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.