Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Post-Sabbath Theology Hoisting from Comments

The highly intelligent Jacob Levy writes in counterfactual mode:

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Sabbath Theology Blogging: If there is an omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent Creator who has nonetheless created beings with free will--if somehow the human condition is somehow compatible with such a thing--then, although I keep using the word "benevolence," it must not mean what I think it means. How can I have any idea how such a being would, or could, be able to reconcile its omnipotence with our free will, and what rules would govern such a reconciliation? How could I know what morality would mean to a being who was not suspended between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, to whom the metaphysical was not opaque, who did not occupy the circumstances of justice, and who was its own telos? Yes, I do think I'm ignorant of what morality could mean in that context.

Now, this doesn't trouble me on an ongoing basis because I don't subscribe to the belief in that Creator, and so I think we know what good and evil are.... But if I'm wrong about that, then it seems likely that morality looks quite different from how it looks to me.

Nevertheless, even though morality would look quite different were that to be the case, I would bet the house that moral behavior for a God would not include much waterboarding-for-eternity, or much eternal roasting of sinners on spits in the flaming gales of flautus that proceed from the haunches of Asmoday.

John Emerson writes:

[I]t seems to me that Levy did a double reverse flip. Many religions say "We are the only true religions". Unitarians say "All religions have some truth in them, but they should be tolerant." Levy says "All religions have some truth in them, and they should not be tolerant."

Exactly. The substance is horrifying. But the technical difficulty of the dive.... Of course, only religions that fear what other religions would do to them will support liberal secular norms of tolerance, and Jacob Levy is a deep student of Judith Shklar and her "liberalism of fear."

Matt writes:

Blah. Whatever his small virtues as a writer may by, can we agree that it's quite silly to quote Heinlein as any sort of moral or religious authority?... [H]e's really not much of a moral thinker, perhaps a step above Rand but not likely much, and that's saying very little.

I agree. Isaac Asimov is much higher in quality as a moral thinker and religious authority. Particularly in his reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

And, of course Unfogged.


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