Friday, July 13, 2012

Utility

In the previous post, admittedly in a very oblique way, I touch on an idea that has been becoming more and more clear to me. It's something I've used in the past but not really given a name. But I have one now and that name is utility.

Utility as a principle is a criterion for judging any theory, theological, philosophical or otherwise. I've used it in the past to choose open theism over classic theism, because one of the problems I have with the idea that every bit of minutia about my life is foreknown and therefore (people who ignore this 'therefore' are just being dishonest, in my books) predetermined is that it's no damn use to me. Such a view precludes prayer or any effort at all. Why would I involve my heart or passion in anything I do under such a scheme? Indeed most devout classic theists live like thoroughgoing open theists, praying to move the heart of a God that technically they believe to have already been in the future and decided it by knowing it, but willing to dichotomize and follow their hearts. Thus partly based on the non-utility of the theory of God existing outside a time that also already exists, I find I can't espouse it.

The post 'in other news' pokes fun at the atheistic religionists that I frequently encounter on my favourite tech news site, Slashdot. They pillory ad infinitum, at nauseam, all who refuse to espouse the idea that the complexity of life we see every day as merely a product of chance. Intelligent Design for them is an epithet, synonymous with stupidity. And yet, when we encounter complexity, as the character, Alison Blake, did in Eureka, (Series finale is next Monday!) it's of no use at all (no utility) to assume that it's a mere product of chance, and we just don't. The researchers who discovered Flame and Stuxnet, based on their findings of complexity, did not immediately assume that the right combination of operating system, hardware and atmospheric conditions had caused these targeted malware attacks to simply evolve. Rather, they theorized a concerted effort by technologically enabled government departments. And it appears they were right.

So also every investigative agency on the planet. Nothing complex and seemingly concerted can be viewed as random coincidence. CIA or NSA analysts would lose their jobs if they started with the assumption of randomness. So also everyone else. The most thoroughgoing (I love that word) atheistic evolutionist would not assume that time and chance produced a nasty prank against his daughter in school. And yet we are told, against all that we intuitively know, that underlying all of the universe there is a phenomenon of chance producing the complexity of life we see around us. Can it be? Written into the fabric of the universe is a basic principle -- evolution caused by chance alone -- that runs counter to all our method of living? Nuts. So I reject the idea. It has no utility. Oh wait, I forgot. It does have a use! It's a handy-dandy way of ignoring and helping others to ignore the uncomfortable idea that Someone might have caused me!

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