NaClhv

Theology, philosophy, math, science, and random other things
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Impressions from my trip to Ukraine during the war

(All the pictures in this post can be seen at their full resolution here, and my post about the whole trip in a larger context, including Norway and Moldova, can be found here.) So, how did I end up going to Ukraine during the war? I assure you this was initially not my own idea, […]

What do we want? Reflections on AI and morality

Essentially, these AIs solve all kinds of "how" problems for us. We now know how to play a good game of chess or go, how to reply to any text prompt, and how to create an image from just a text description. This leaves us with the "what" problem. What do we want? What do we value? This is a hard question. Can an AI answer it for us? No, I don't think so. At least not any of the AIs as we have them today. Remember, the fundamental function of all the AIs we've discussed is to take in data, and give us what we said we wanted. So it seems that there's some kind of bootstrapping step missing, in that we have to give the AI "what we want" as an input, but expect "what we REALLY want" as an output.

The justice of the reprobates' eternal punishment in hell

Hell does not necessarily impose an infinite punishment, and the sins of the reprobate are not necessarily finite. Biblical Christianity is perfectly flexible on both of these points. Either one of them, in isolation, is enough to fully answer the objection of "infinitely disproportionate punishment", and we have both. So we can say with confidence that the reprobate in hell will get exactly what they deserve - the exact right level of punishment commensurate with their sins.

A moral evaluation of abortion

Roe v. Wade was recently overturned. I think this is an opportune time to organize and express my thoughts on abortion. This is my honest attempt to understand the issue. I chose to tackle a controversial topic, take an unpopular position, then moderate it with nuance. I have no illusions about any benefits or harms I may acquire as a result. My only defense is that this is what I really think, after a genuine attempt to get as close as I can to the truth.

Love your enemies

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says "Love your enemies," he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken or we shall be plunged in to the dark abyss of annihilation.

On becoming a good person

I don't care much about the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. I mean, it's hard to care, given some perspective. It happened half a world away. The death count at the moment stands at 136, according to Wikipedia. That's nothing. The world's mortality rate is about 0.8% per year - or about 100 persons per […]

The lifetime of evil (part 2)

In the last post, I introduced the idea that an act - an evil act in particular - has a characteristic time-scale over which its consequences become clear. This time-scale can be determined from the mechanics of the act in question. I was initially inclined to call this the "half-life of evil", but that phrasing […]

The lifetime of evil (part 1)

The lifetime of an evil may be defined as: The time it takes for the negative consequences of an evil act to be made clearly manifest. Or, The time it takes for an evil practice, policy, or organization to be abolished. Or, The time it takes for the moral arc of the universe to bend, […]

History, moral progress, and moral perfection (part 2)

In the last post of this series, we examined the nature of social progress, and where that leaves us in the course of history. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. In the future, it will continue to bend towards perfection - and away from our current state. The […]

History, moral progress, and moral perfection (part 1)

Do you think that you live at the apex of moral history? That, after thousands of years bumbling and mistakes, your particular place (America, for instance) and time (June 2015) is when your society has finally gotten things right and achieved perfect virtue? Obviously you don't. I hope none of us are so foolish, provincial, […]
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