Mailvox: evading Euthyphro

NR queries the Catholic response:

I regularly visit your blog and remember that you’ve discussed the Euthyphro question. I was looking at a Catholic website ( that answers theological questions, and the old question came up on their website like this:

“Is the difference between good and bad whatever God says it is? Or is God good because he conforms to a standard of goodjavascript:void(0)ness?”

And the question was answered this way:

“Neither. Goodness is not imposed upon God from some external standard nor is it invented by him. Rather, it is rooted in his own eternal and unchanging nature. For example, when God commands us to love him with our whole heart and to our neighbor as ourselves, that is rooted in the fact that God himself is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8). He could not suddenly choose to forbid loving God and neighbor, or command hating God and neighbor, for he cannot be other than what he is.”

Is this a valid answer in your opinion?

It’s potentially valid answer, but I consider it to be inaccurate as well as evasive because it confuses God’s essence with God’s will in an attempt to avoid the so-called dilemma. I believe God can choose to distinguish between His will and His essence and I suspect that He has done precisely that in the case of certain individuals who had specific roles to play at a crucial nexus. In fact, there is an inherent contradiction in the two ideas of a) a Catholic God who cannot forbid loving God, and, b) an Omniderigiste God who controls the actions of all individuals, including those who do not love Him. Of course, Catholics do not necessarily subscribe to omniderigence, so this contradiction is not necessarily intrinsic to the Catholic answer.

So, I come down strongly on the side of good and bad being whatever God says it is. We know, from the Bible, that God does change His will. But changing one’s will is not the equivalent of changing one’s essence. And I never lose any sleep over the possibility that He will change His mind about His definitions of good and bad tomorrow, since that requires a failure to distinguish between the concepts of possibility and probability.

Iceland defies the vampire squids

A few politicians are finally beginning to listen to the people rather than the banksters:

Iceland will hold a referendum on a depositor accord with the U.K. and Netherlands after President Olafur R. Grimsson blocked the bill in a move that threatens to undermine the island’s efforts to repair international relations.

“The constitution is very clear about the need for a referendum in this situation,” Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir told reporters in Reykjavik today.

Grimsson vetoed the so-called Icesave accord after more than 60,000 of Iceland’s 320,000 inhabitants signed a petition urging him to reject the legislation. The bill, which polls show about 70 percent of the population opposes, had obliged Iceland to use $5.5 billion in borrowed funds from the U.K. and Netherlands to cover depositor claims from the two countries after the failure of Landsbanki Islands hf in October 2008. The absence of clear cross-border regulatory rules on depositor insurance has allowed settlement of the claims to drag on and left Icelandic taxpayers disgruntled over having to pay for the failure of a private bank.

Why should all the people of Iceland be responsible for paying 40 percent of their annual GDP on behalf of the 22 people who owned the failed Icelandic bank? Why should they be held responsible for paying off the Dutch and UK governments just because the Dutch and UK politicians decided to prevent Dutch and UK investors from suffering the negative consequences of their bad investment decisions? The truth is that there is no reason whatsoever, and the Icelandic people should call the banking community’s bluff; the banks need borrowers more than the borrowers need banks. And even in the unlikely event that the financial isolation threat is carried out, in the long run the Icelandic people will be much better off without having the vampire squids constantly draining their economy of its profits. They will be even better off if they use this incident to stay out of the EU.

“Britain warned Iceland that it would be frozen out of the European Union after its President abruptly vetoed the repayment of a £3.6 billion loan.”

I seem to recall that 70% of the American public opposed TARP. And I imagine an even higher percentage will oppose SuperTARP once they realize that the White House just opened up the floodgates for a continuous banking bailout via Fannie and Freddie. So, it’s interesting to see this demonstration in real-time of which countries are genuinely democratic and which are not.

The Porker Principle

Science proves that the average woman quits trying to stay in shape once she get married:

It is widely known that women tend to gain weight after giving birth, but now a large study has found evidence that even among childless women, those who live with a mate put on more pounds than those who live without one. The differences, the scientists found, were stark. After adjusting for other variables, the 10-year weight gain for an average 140-pound woman was 20 pounds if she had a baby and a partner, 15 if she had a partner but no baby, and only 11 pounds if she was childless with no partner…. There is no reason to believe that having a partner causes metabolic changes, so the weight gain among childless women with partners was almost surely caused by altered behavior.

A recent British survey showed similar conclusions, as 22 percent of new brides put on an average of 21 pounds in their first year of marriage. Which shouldn’t be surprising, given that “More than half said they no longer worried about their appearance and weight after their big day.”

Basically, if you’re not marrying a gym bunny, there’s a pretty good chance she’s going to pork on you the moment she gets that ring. On the other hand, if you see a slender, attractive woman over the age of 30 with a child at the beach in Europe, you can be almost certain that she has between two and four more. For some reason, the chubbos tend to have only one child, occasionally two, while the slender ones average four. But I have no idea whether this is the result of being disciplined, being too busy to sit around and eat, or some combination of the two. Regardless, I’m sure some evolutionary enthusiast can concoct a fairy tale to explain it.