Je Vous Dis, Merde! 42: Evil, God, Radical Agnosticism, and Politics

he Fall 2017 bad news cycle is unrelenting.

Over the past few weeks, Atlantic hurricanes and earthquakes have caused massive physical devastation and human suffering, especially in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

At the same time, So-Called POTUS Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un have been playing increasingly absurd, near-satanic, political brinkmanship games with nuclear weapons, bringing us ever closer to world-annihilation.

So it is now a self-evident fact, if it hadn’t been already, that natural evil and moral evil exist in this thoroughly nonideal, actual world.

And that self-evident fact, in turn, makes you wonder whether God exists or not.

In philosophy of religion and philosophical theology, this is known as The Problem of Evil.

By the concept of God, I mean the concept of a being that is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnibenevolent (all-good).

This is also known, for short, as the concept of a 3-O God.

By theism, I mean the doctrine that a 3–0 God exists.

And by atheism, I mean the doctrine that a 3-O God does not exist.

Now the classical Metaphysical Argument For Atheism From The Existence of Evil runs as follows:

(1) Assume that a 3-O God exists. (Premise.)

(2) Assume that evil exists in the world — both natural evil (e.g., disasters and disease) and also moral evil (wicked choices and acts, or just bad things that happen to people). (Premise.)

(3) Then EITHER a 3-O God is responsible for the existence of evil, in which case a 3-O God is Her/Himself evil and not all-good, which is a contradiction with God’s assumed 3-O-ness. (From 1 and 2.)

(4) OR a 3-O God is not responsible for the existence of evil and yet knew that it was going to happen and could not prevent it — so a 3-O God is not all-powerful, which is also a contradiction with assumed God’s 3-O-ness. (From 1 and 2.)

(5) OR a 3-O God would have prevented evil but did not know it was going to happen, and is not all-knowing, which is another contradiction with God’s assumed 3-O-ness. (From 1 and 2.)

(6) Therefore, given the existence of evil, necessarily a 3-O God does not exist. (From 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.)

If The Metaphysical Argument For Atheism From The Existence of Evil were sound, then it would be logically necessary that a 3-O God does not exist.

In the classical response of theism to this atheistic argument, it is claimed that it is at least logically possible that God has a sufficient reason for permitting evil that we are either capable of knowing, or else simply incapable of knowing, given our limited, “human, all-too-human” powers of knowing.

Perhaps this sufficient reason is the Leibnizian “this world is necessarily the best of all possible worlds” doctrine (brilliantly mocked in Voltaire’s Candide); perhaps it is free will; perhaps it is moral progress; perhaps it is all of these taken together; or perhaps it is something else completely unfathomable by us.

Let us call this classical theistic response Theodicy.

In response to Theodicy, the neo-classical Evidential Argument For Atheism From The Existence of Evil says that even if it is logically possible that God has a sufficient reason for permitting evil, nevertheless it is significantly more rationally justified to believe that God does not exist, than to believe that God exists.

And so-on, and so forth.

But there is another way of thinking about all this.

In my opinion, human perception and human knowledge are strictly limited to what is within the scope of (i) our “human, all-too-human” senses, (ii) our “human, all-too-human” imagination, and (iii) our “human, all-too-human” concepts — even when these perceptions, imaginings, and concepts are extended by the basic natural sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology, by the basic formal sciences of logic and mathematics, or by philosophy.

Yet a 3-O God, simply by virtue of Its/His/Her very nature as ALL-powerful, ALL-knowing, and ALL-good, falls beyond all possible human perception, imagination, and conceptualization.

Therefore, just by knowing the inherent limitations of all human perception, imagination, and conceptualization, we do know THIS with certainty: that we cannot know with certainty either what’s God’s nature is, or whether God exists or does not exist.

Let’s call this doctrine, Radical Agnosticism.

If Radical Agnosticism is true, then not only The Metaphysical Argument For Atheism From The Existence of Evil, but also Theodicy, as well as The Evidential Argument For Atheism From The Existence of Evil, are equally humanly unprovable.

Indeed, if Radical Agnosticism is true, then God’s existence and God’s non-existence are equally humanly unprovable: for, as a “human, all-too-human” being, given the inherent limitations of your cognitive powers, you cannot rationally justify a belief in God’s existence and you cannot rationally justify a belief in God’s non-existence.

So if Radical Agnosticism is true, then theism and atheism alike are equally rationally unjustifiable.

These radically agnostic facts, in turn, put The Problem of Evil in a completely new light.

If natural evil and moral evil both exist, and there is LOTS of evil of both kinds at all times and all over the place, but God’s nature is humanly unknowable and God’s existence and non-existence are equally humanly unprovable, then we can’t just do nothing.

On the contrary, we’ve got to deal with them.

So natural evil and moral evil are entirely up to us to deal with collectively, that is, they’re strictly political problems.

We and we alone, collectively, must deal with natural evil and moral evil, as best we can, by protecting, cleaning up, or fixing up the natural world when it is threatened or breaks down, by responding effectively to even the most horrific and monstrous moral evils, and above all by trying wholeheartedly to respect human dignity in a thoroughly nonideal actual world, as a political task.

Look at it this way —

Either God does not exist, and then we’re dealing with natural and moral evil for our own sake; or else God does exist, natural and moral evil are both parts of God’s plan for the world, we must do God’s work, under God’s jurisdiction, and then we’re dealing with moral and natural evil for God’s sake.

If Radical Agnosticism is true, however, then we know with certainty that we cannot know with certainty either way.

Nevertheless, either way, we must do something, and dealing with natural and moral evil is a political task.

— Call this the radically agnostic leap of faith.

So let’s leap!, and get down to it.

And, as always, to anyone who seriously disputes the soundness of this argument,

Je vous dis, merde!

***

“Je vous dis, merde!” (literally, “I say to you: shit!” or more loosely, “You’re so full of shit!”) is a morally and politically defiant slogan invented and first published by an early 20th-century Catalan anarchist who used the nom de guerre “Miguel Almereyda.” Almereyda, who was murdered in a French prison in 1917, was also the father of the famous French film director Jean Vigo, who immortalized the same slogan in his breakthrough 1933 film, Zéro de conduite, aka Zero for Conduct.

Here is the seven-part platform of The Wake The Fuck Up! Party , aka The WTFU Party, aka Up Against the Wall, Philosophy-Fucker!, aka UAW/PF —

1. Universal Respect for Human Dignity (URHD):

· Human dignity is the absolute non-denumerable moral value of every member of humanity, and everyone ought to try wholeheartedly to treat everyone else in a way that is sufficient to meet the demands of respect for human dignity, especially including (i) alleviating or ending human oppression, and (ii) actively engaging in mutual aid and mutual kindness.

2. Universal Basic Income (UBI):

· Anyone 21 years of age or over and living permanently in the USA, who has a personal yearly income of $50,000.00 USD or less, and who is capable of requesting their UBI, would receive $25,000.00 USD per year, with no strings attached.

3. A 15-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs):

· Anyone 18 years of age or older who is living permanently in the USA, who has completed a high school education, and is mentally and physically capable of doing a job, would be offered an eco-job, paying a yearly wage of $25,000.00 USD, for fifteen hours of work (three 5-hour days) per week.

Thus anyone 21 years of age or older with a high-school degree and who is also mentally and physically capable of working, would have a guaranteed yearly income of at least $50,000.00 USD if they chose to do an eco-job.

The rationale behind the three-year gap between (i) being offered an eco-job at 18 and (ii) beginning to receive their UBI at 21, is that every young adult who has finished high school will have the option of pursuing three years of part-time or full-time free higher education without credentialing, i.e., for its own sake, after high school, before making longer-term decisions about what I call job-work and life-work.

***

Here are a few more details about UBI and eco-jobs.

(i) The UBI is to be paid by a monthly stipend check.

(ii) Eco-job income is not taxed.

(iii) For all individual yearly incomes of $50,000.00 USD or under, no tax will be levied; hence for someone receiving their UBI and also doing an eco-job, no income tax will be levied.

(iv) For all individual non-eco-job incomes, for every $1.00 USD earned above the standard UBI of $25,000.00 USD, the monthly UBI stipend is reduced by 50 cents, until the recipient’s UBI is reduced to zero; hence for those individuals with yearly non-eco-job incomes equal to or under $50,000.00 USD, the maximum UBI + non-eco-job income sum is always $50,000.00 USD.

(v) For all individual yearly incomes over $50,000.00 USD, for every $10,000.00 USD earned, that surplus income is taxed at the rate of 1%, with the highest surplus income tax rate being 50%; hence the maximum surplus 50% tax rate starts at individual yearly incomes of $550,000.00 USD, and applies to all higher surplus incomes.

***

4. Universal Free Higher Education Without Credentialing (HEWC):

· Everyone would be offered, beyond their high-school education, a free, three-year minimum, optional (but also open-ended beyond those three years, as a further option), part-time or full-time universal public education program in the so-called “liberal arts,” and also in some of the so-called “STEM” fields, including the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences.

· For many or even most people, their HEWC would fall between (i) the end of their high school education at age 18 and the corresponding availability of eco-jobs, and (ii) the beginning of their UBI at age 21.

· But HEWC would be open to anyone with a high school degree, no matter how old they are, provided they are mentally and physically capable of doing the program.

5. Universal Free Healthcare (UFH):

· Every human person living permanently in the USA will receive free lifelong healthcare.

6. 2-Phase Universal Open Borders (2P-UOB):

· Phase 1: Starting in 2021, there will be universal open borders with Canada and Mexico, and everyone who moves across those borders and then claims residence in the USA, will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the USA, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents to depend on the current availability of (i) adequate funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the USA, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

· Phase 2: Also starting in 2021, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will collectively form a Global Refugee Consortium (GRC), with three-way open borders to any political refugee, economic refugee, or asylum seeker from anywhere in the world (aka “global refugees”), who will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the three GRC countries, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents, and the precise distribution of new residents among the three members of the GRC, to depend on the current availability of (i) funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the three GRC countries, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the GRC and elsewhere in the world.

7. Universal No-Guns (UNG):

· No one in the USA, including police, internal security forces of all kinds, armies, and intelligence forces of all kinds, has the moral right to possess or use guns of any kind, for any purpose whatsoever, because the primary function of guns is coercion, and coercion is immoral.

· UNG would be implemented by repealing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 2021 and then universally banning the possession or use of guns thereafter.

I’m also assuming that Universal Public Education (UPE) — universal free access for all human persons of any age to good public education up to the end of high school — already exists in most countries, and needs no further justification.

Where UPE does not already exist, it would automatically become a necessary part of the seven-part WTFU Party package, thereby making it a eight-part package.

***

Mr Nemo, Nowhere, NA, 29 September 2017

***

The WTFU Party is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here. Please consider becoming a patron! We’re improvident, but cheerful.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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