Sunday, March 31, 2013


On this day of Easter, let us not forget this important fact: Jesus did not exist.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's entirely possible, perhaps even probable, that there was a guy named Yeshua who came from Nazareth and preached in Jerusalem and was crucified for his beliefs.

But that's not the person that Christians are talking about when they talk about Jesus. They're talking about the son of God, born of a virgin, who performed miracles and rose from the dead. That Jesus never existed. And that Jesus is not the same person as Yeshua. If he is, then Santa Claus lived in Turkey in 300 AD.

And we know next to nothing about the "real" Jesus. The only writings we have that talk about Jesus and were written anywhere close to when he actually lived were written by Christians, and were talking about the miraculous version.

And it's entirely possible the "real" Jesus didn't exist either.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moral Intuition

We usually judge moral theories with our intuition. We see what a moral theory says about a hypothetical scenario and see if that agrees with our intuition. People arguing for a particular moral theory frequently give examples of situations in which that moral theory gives an answer that most people's intuitions agree with. People arguing against a particular moral theory frequently give examples of situations in which that moral theory gives an answer the most people's intuitions disagree with.

But a lot of times the examples used are very unlikely situations. That's not a problem for the moral theory. A good moral theory should work in any situation, likely or unlikely. But it is a problem for our intuition.

Intuition is only useful in circumstances it evolved in.

Consider physics. Humans have pretty good intuition with regards to running, jumping, throwing and other things we've been doing for millions of years. But outside our relatively limited experience, our intuition is virtually useless. There's nothing intuitive about general relativity or quantum mechanics.

Which is why I don't think hypothetical problems like the Trolley Problem are useful in determining what makes a good moral theory (though they can be useful in helping us examine our intuitions). Because such hypothetical scenarios rarely reflect our normal experience, so our intuitions don't necessarily apply.

So then, the question is, if we can't trust our moral intuition, then how should we judge a moral theory?