Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Darwin Awards: Homo Hyaena Homini

Time for some easy moral indignation.

I've been reading a lot about the Problem of Evil - the idea that the existence of evil is proof against the existence of God - a lot for the last several months. I had previously neglected it compared to other arguments, because even if that argument is successful, it doesn't go to show there isn't a necessary existence that isn't the universe itself, and just getting that far was enough of a challenge, as I thought. The strange thing is that even though I became much more aware of the seriousness of the problem, my answer to its question - a quaint sort of Augustinian theodicy, which, according to Nick Trakakis (whom I've corresponded with and who is quite a friendly guy) at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Evidential Problem of Evil is "...given the doubtful historicity of Adam and Eve, and given the problem of harmonizing the Fall with evolutionary theory, such an account of the origin of evil cannot reasonably held to be plausible". So, it's just implausible. But, implausibility and all, I still prefer it to Skeptical Theism (which I know sounds contradictory, and which you will just have to read about in the link if you want to know about).

Now, getting back on track - for a lot of people, the fact that horrendous evil like this exists in the world is proof enough there is no all-loving God. But in a bizarre twist, there exist things like The Darwin Awards, an appalling celebration of the Province of natural selection in weeding out people who die because of making the sort of stupid mistakes that most people occasionally make and not die from.

I think this Amazon reviewer nails it:

"A typical story tells of an abusive boyfriend (guffaw) who goes to jail for beating his girlfriend (chortle). She begs the judge to release him because she can't afford the rent (hee hee). He kills her and burns her body (giggle), and then blows himself up trying to burn the house down. Haw Haw haw! If you like that you'll love the book."

There are times when I want to vent moral indignation about things on a blog like this, and so far I haven't, because I don't want to espouse, even accidentally, any unpopular political sentiments. The academy is a politically charged arena, and I think it's stupid to make those sort of blog posts to be read by people the writer knows will agree. But here, at least, is something I hate that I don't think has any political dimension anyone could object to: the creator of these awards, Wendy Northcutt, is an appalling person, a hyena laughing at the tragic deaths of people who were somebody's son or daughter. I'm far more embarrassed by having someone like her in the same species as me than any of the people she and her readers get their kicks laughing at.

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