Complete News – “Monsanto and government merge into one” – anti-Monsanto protests planned worldwide – YouTube
Activists from 55 countries will participate in a global protest this month against biotechnology giant Monsanto. According to mother-turned-protest organizer, Tami Monroe Canal, the idea was born of frustration.
“The first few months after moving to Utah I didn’t have access to farmer’s markets and the fresh produce that I had out in California,” said Canal. “I became increasingly angry every time I would go to the grocery store and spend a small fortune to ensure I wasn’t feeding my family poison.”
Canal began the project as a Facebook page on Feb. 28, and says her anger was sparked by California’s Proposition 37 campaign to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The measure failed, but the fight gave her a clearer picture of GMOs, Monsanto, and the food manufacturers who spent $45 million to defeat the initiative.
“Prop 37 really opened my eyes to what GMOs truly are and how damaging they can be to human health,” Canal said. “I just couldn’t in good conscience feed my family that anymore.”
Consumers don’t buy products directly from Monsanto, but the company’s biotech corn and soy dominate the American market. The protest encourages people to join a growing boycott of companies likely to use GMOs—including Kellogg’s and General Mills—as a way to change the system.
Anonymous endorsed the upcoming event, but organizers say most of the people involved in the march have never been to a protest before. According to Canal, people from all walks of life share her frustration.
“Food affects everyone,” she said.
Monsanto has a legacy of controversial and poisonous products—such as PCBs, Agent Orange, DDT, bovine growth hormone (rBGH), Roundup, and aspartame to name a few. For the past two decades, however, Monsanto’s main focus has been GMOs, and many are concerned that the new food technology threatens human health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that GMOs are safe, but many farmers, doctors, and researchers disagree. Estimates suggest that roughly 80 percent of U.S. food products contain GMO ingredients. With no labels to identify GMOs, Canal says that Americans still need to know that there is cause for concern.
“We’re trying to raise consumer awareness,” she said, “because who in their right mind is going to give their kids something that’s going to give them all these adverse health issues.”
Soon after Canal developed the march and boycott idea, she enlisted the help of seasoned Seattle activist and journalist, Emilie Rensink.
While critics have been speaking out against Monsanto for years, Rensink says that a combination of unpopular policy decisions and social media created just the right conditions for a big demonstration.
“This was kind of the perfect storm,” she said.
Attention for the march picked up speed soon after President Obama signed a budget bill including a measure dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act. However, critics say the recent legislation is only one example of the blurry line between industry and government.
“I think the whole recipe for [Monsanto’s] success is due in large part to the political favoritism that they receive in the United States,” said Rensink. “The FDA is headed by ex-Monsanto executives, and they give them special subsidies over smaller farmers and other farming operations. They are given an unfair advantage in my view.”
Canal points to Michael Taylor, who for the past two decades has bounced back and forth between his job as Monsanto attorney and head of U.S. food regulation.
“It’s a huge conflict of interest for him to be holding the position of power that he holds,” Canal said. “I honestly think going through the government is futile at this point, because the FDA is so embedded with Monsanto.”
While U.S. regulators have shown little concern for GMOs, outside the United States the push back has been much more significant. According to the Non-GMO Project, most developed nations label, restrict, or ban GMOs.
In an email, Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher said the company had no statement regarding the upcoming protest. However, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant recently characterized GMO critics as social media elitists who overlook the pressing food problems of the less fortunate.
“There is this strange kind of reverse elitism: If I’m going to do this, then everything else shouldn’t exist,” Grant told Bloomberg in a May 14 interview. “There is space in the supermarket shelf for all of us.”
Monsanto supporters point to the company’s promise to address world hunger with increased crop yields and lower food prices, but critics dispute this claim as well.
In Seattle, protesters will march in front of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to highlight what they consider to be an institution helping to further the GMO agenda.
“Bill Gates has been a large proponent of GMOs as a solution for world hunger,” Rensink said, but studies have shown that GMOs don’t produce higher yields. So the notion that GMOs are somehow able to feed the world is really just an empty assertion.”
The march and rally in Salt Lake City will feature a local Vietnam vet discussing how he lost friends to Agent Orange, a beekeeper speaking about the danger Monsanto pesticides pose to the bee population, and a presentation by Grow Food Not Lawns about self-sustainability, and supporting organic co-ops.
Like other venues around the world, Salt Lake will also feature bands playing protest songs against Monsanto and GMOs.
“We’re trying to keep it a little lighthearted,” Canal said. “But I want people to understand the severity of the issue and realize that it is our time in this nation to stand up to something that is so wrong.”
The current 250 year licence granted to the USA to use English as its official language is due to expire at the end of January 2014. The licence was originally granted by King George III and intended as a stop-gap till the colony (as it was then) decided on it’s own language between Arapahoe, French or Spanish.
The new House of Representatives is facing a difficult decision but will probably opt to move to Spanish in the near future. Already 26% of US citizens speak Spanish and California has already experimented with shop assistants pretending not to understand English speaking customers.
The probability is that illegal immigrants from Mexico will now be given teaching jobs to bring the remaining US citizens up to speed.
All official documents such as passports, drivers licenses and Costco membership cards will now need to be translated.
The President has assured the public than the language transition will run smoothly and that Goldman Sachs were organising a team to insure a smooth passage. GS has advised its clients to buy bonds in outsourced charter schools
Robert Meeropol will have been living with the specter of his parents, the only two US civilians executed for espionage, for exactly six decades on June 19 — amid a highly publicized trial against Bradley Manning, a US soldier who leaked classified military intelligence from the nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the anniversary of his parents’ deaths that, in the immediate, made way for McCarthyism, Meeropol wants to rally the international community to speak out against the proposed 20-year incarceration of Manning, 25.
“It wasn’t until late 1952, when the executions were already looming, that a national movement arose” for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Meeropol’s parents, who were executed the following year, “It was a bigger movement around the world, but there was a significant movement in the US (…) Bradley Manning support has grown a lot quicker,” Meeropol told The Vancouver Observer.
“The more people scream bloody murder, the better that is for Bradley Manning. I’m not sure it will make a difference [for the ongoing trial], but that’s all we can hope for, is that people come out,” Meeropol added, encouraging people to get involved in a mounting movement calling for Manning’s release, spearheaded by the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Heir to an execution
Frida Kahlo, Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso are just a few of the international icons who spoke out against — but were eventually unsuccessful in halting — the Rosenbergs’ execution in the early 1950s.
Born in New York City, the Rosenbergs had both been active in the Communist Party and local labour union movements. In the aftermath of their execution for allegedly revealing the secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, a slew of books, movies, released evidence and testimony have introduced a number of hypotheses regarding whether the couple was actually engaged in espionage for the USSR.
In 1995, a cable released by US authorities revealed that Julius Rosenberg had indeed provided Moscow with an unknown degree of information, and in 2008, Morton Sobell, who served 18 years in prison after being tried together with the Rosenbergs, admitted that he and Julius had in fact engaged in providing military information to the Soviets.
Today, Meeropol admits that his father was a spy.
“My father was acting in secret to provide information to another government, which he had placed his faith in, because he believed it represented working class — the 99% in today’s parlance. I believe that faith was misplaced,” he said.
Still, Meeropol — himself a lawyer — noted that there is no conclusive evidence to support that Julius Rosenberg ever provided Moscow with the secret to the atomic bomb — the charge on which he was executed.
And historians largely agree that there is no substantive evidence that Meeropol’s mother, Ethel Rosenberg, engaged in any espionage at all, let alone providing the Soviet Union with the atomic secrets for which she too was killed. The FBI had reportedly coerced her brother, David Greenglass, into testifying against her, when they threatened to incriminate his own wife.
Ethel Rosenberg, for her part, declined to “reveal” the names of any of her alleged accomplices. Her husband Julius died after one shock in the electric chair at New York’s Sing Sing prison. Ethel’s heart reportedly wouldn’t stop beating; She died after five shocks.
“I think the government pretty well knew that my mother wasn’t engaged in any activity. They knew they were killing somebody for something this person didn’t do,” Meeropol said.
Robert, then only six, and his brother Michael, 10, were orphaned, until they were adopted by the family of social activist Abel Meeropol, who penned Billie Holiday’s celebrated anti-lynching song Strange Fruit.
Over the past 60 years, the Rosenbergs’ children have engaged in an odyssey to, as Robert Meeropol says, not necessarily exonerate his parents — they have pledged to reveal incriminating information to the public as well — but rather seek out and release the heavily classified evidence in their trial to the American public. In 1975, Robert and Michael filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which resulted in the release of 300,000 documents related to the Rosenberg case.
“The people have a right to know what the government does in its name,” Meeropol said.
Robert Meeropol feels “a connection” to Bradley Manning not just because of the deep moral dilemma that has gripped the public over Manning’s trial as it has over the Rosenbergs’ execution in the last six decades, but also because of Robert’s own commitment to informing the US public about what it funds with tax dollars.
Manning leaked US military information obtained during his work in Iraq as a military analyst to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks. Among the leaked intel was video footage of a US attack helicopter killing a group of Iraqi civilians — to include one Reuters journalist.
Manning has plead guilty to 10 of the 22 counts he faces, including the release information that could have aided the US’s enemies abroad. But in court last week, Manning maintained that his actions aimed to reveal the US military’s overarching “disregard for human life” to American civilians.
Several analysts have noted that, as Manning stands accused of releasing potentially sensitive information to Wikileaks, the US Senate has chosen to drop an investigation into the Washington’s ambiguous cooperation with the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, an Oscar-nominated film that portrayed the details of the assassination of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
Meeropol believes that the US judiciary is as flawed today as it was in 1953.
“We have judicial system that is implacable,” he said.
There is a telling gap between the charges against the Rosenbergs and the trial against Bradley Manning, Meeropol notes.
“There is a qualitative difference between supplying information to public and giving it to another governmental entity, even if you believe that’s in the public favor.”
“The government is arguing that Bradley Manning’s intention in his actions is irrelevant. The fact that he wanted to get this material before the public because the public deserved to have it, rather than aid the enemy — the government says that’s irrelevant.
Meeropol addressed his argument directly at The Vancouver Observer.
“That means, if you released information as an investigative journalists with no intention to aid the enemy, you can be charged for releasing information that aids the enemy. That’s dangerous to every investigative journalist or whistleblower. It’s dangerous for any democracy. If the government takes information off limits to the public, and disputes the flow of that information among the public, it is stopping the very activity that is a crucial function of any democracy.”
Like many in the North American Open Access community, Meeropol also believes that the prosecution against the late Aaron Swartz was motivated — not entirely by Swartz’s attempt to make millions of paywalled JSTOR articles available to the public — but by his overarching support for the free flow of information on the Internet.
“I don’t have the computer smarts or savvy to understand the details, but I understand the threat that it represents to those in power. They want to control the flow of information. The basic statement that Aaron Swartz made was this info should be made open to the public,” Meeropol said.
“That statement goes back to the original commitment [of my brother and I] that we’ve been committed to since our FOIA in the 70s. Something basic, but radical: That the people have right to know what the government does in its name. That’s what [people like Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz] put their lives on the line for.”
Six decades down the line, the Rosenbergs’ specter lingers.
In pop culture, Meeropol has literally seen his mother’s ghost — portrayed by Meryl Streep in TV drama Angels in America. In The Book of Daniel, author E.L. Doctorow’s fictionalized account of the Rosenberg children’s lives after their parents’ execution, Meeropol was recast as a young girl, who, after suffering the emotional trauma of her parents’ death, commits suicide.
“Yeah – she goes crazy and kills herself,” Meeropol says.
In 1990, Meeropol started the Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC), a non-profit that offers support to the children of targeted activists and other political entities in the US, like the children of Mumia abu-Jamal, who “suffer the same fate” of the Rosenberg/ Meeropol brothers.
The RFC Web site features the letter Julius and Ethel Rosenberg wrote to their children on their last day:
Be comforted then that we were serene and understood, with the deepest kind of understanding, that civilization had not as yet progressed to the point where life did not have to be lost for the sake of life: and that we were comforted in the sure knowledge that others would carry on after us (…) Always remember that we were innocent, and could not wrong our conscience.
Whatever the Rosenbergs’ crimes, Meeropol maintains that the crime of knowingly executing a mother without evidence and leaving two children orphaned — of a sharp punishment in a trial full of uncertainties — “is greater than any crime in which the Rosenbergs would have engaged.”
“My parents were following their conscience.”
Robert Meeropol’s daughter Jenn will take the reigns on RFC — carrying on her fathers legacy, over half a century after her grandparents’ execution by the state.
N THE EARLY HOURS of New Year’s Day, 1986, a little girl was brutally beaten, raped, and then strangled in Flint, Michigan. The girl’s mother was living with her boyfriend, another man who was unemployed, and her three children including a nine-month-old infant fathered by her boyfriend.
On New Year’s Eve, all three adults went drinking at a bar near the woman’s home. The boyfriend, who had been taking drugs and drinking heavily, was asked to leave the bar at 8:00 p.m. After several reappearances he finally left for good at about 9:30 P.M. The woman and the unemployed man remained at the bar until 2:00 A.M. at which time the woman went home and the man went to a party at a neighbor’s home. Perhaps out of jealousy, the boyfriend attacked the woman when she entered the house. Her brother intervened, hitting the boyfriend and leaving him passed out and slumped over a table. The brother left. Later, the boyfriend attacked the woman again and this time she knocked him unconscious. After checking on the children, she went to bed.
Later, the woman’s five-year-old daughter went downstairs to go to the bathroom. The unemployed man testified that when he returned from the party at 3:45 A.M. he found the five-year-old dead. At his trial, the boyfriend was acquitted of the crime because his lawyer cast doubt on the innocence of the unemployed man. But the little girl was raped, severely beaten over most of her body, and strangled by one of those men that night.
Many horrible stories just like this one occur everyday. In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevski described an instance of children being thrown in the air and caught on bayonets and another of children being hunted down and torn to pieces by a rich man’s hounds. Surely, any of us would have intervened to prevent any of these heinous crimes if we had known about them and could have prevented them without risking harm or injury to ourselves or others. It is even more certain that we would have intervened to prevent at least one of these terrible acts. But they weren’t prevented by God or anyone else. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, he surely knew about the crimes and could easily have prevented them without any risk of harm to himself or others. We see no reason why God, if he exists, would not have intervened to prevent at least one of these horrible acts. So it is reasonable for us to think that there is no such reason. So it is reasonable for us to think that God does not exist.
I want to explore whether this argument against the existence of God is a good one. Can we reason from the fact that we see no reason that would justify God, if he exists, in failing to intervene to the conclusion that it is reasonable to believe there is no such reason and so reason to believe God does not exist?
Sometimes not seeing something is a reason to believe it isn’t there. If I don’t see an elephant in the room, there is reason to believe there is none. However, if I don’t see a virus with my naked eye that is no reason to believe one isn’t there. As Steve Wykstra (of Calvin College) says, it is a matter of seeability. Elephants have high seeability–viruses, low.
Similar considerations apply to a person’s reasons for action. If I am a chess master and see no good reason for a move by a novice, then I have good reason to think there isn’t any. But if the situation were reversed, that is, if the novice saw no good reason for a move by the master, then the novice would not have good reason to believe there is no such reason. Novices’ reasons have high seeability for masters; masters’ reasons have low seeability for novices.
Perhaps a general principle can be constructed based on these few examples:
Noseeum 1 S’s failure to see X is good reason for S to believe X isn’t there if and only if S has no reason to think if X were there S would not see X.
Put another way, this principle says that if we have reason to think we wouldn’t see something even if it were there–reason, so to speak, to think that something is “invisible”–then our failure to see it gives us no reason to think it isn’t there. On the other hand, if we do not have reason to think it is “invisible,” then our failure to see something does give us reason to believe it is not there.
This principle seems to give the right answer in the cases we’ve considered so far. In the case of the elephant, a person has no reason to think that if an elephant were in the room he would not see it–that is, no reason to think elephants are invisible. Similarly, the chess master has no reason to think that if there were good reason for the novice to make some move he would not see it. So the Noseeum 1 principle implies that a person’s failure to see an elephant, or the chess master’s failure to see the point of the novice’s move, gives each reason to believe there is no elephant in the room and no point to the novice’s move, respectively. On the other hand, there is good reason to think that if a virus were present we wouldn’t see it with the naked eye, and good reason to think that even if there were a point to the master’s move, the novice would not see it. That is, there is good reason to think these things are “invisible”–in the first case to all of us, in the second to the novice. So the Noseeum 1 principle correctly implies that anyone’s failure to see a virus with the naked eye, or the novice’s failure to see the point of the master’s move, does not give those people reason to believe that there is no virus or that there is no point to the master’s move.
However, Noseeum 1 does not correctly handle the following example: Some scientists ask me to reach some universal generalization about the color of a certain kind of animal which I had never seen until they showed me a large sample of that kind of animal. While the sample is large, I do not know whether it is representative or has been chosen by the scientists for some special reason unknown to me. Suppose on failing to see any that have orange markings on them I conclude that no animals of that sort have orange markings. Clearly, my failing to see any with orange markings does not give me good reason to believe that none have those markings even though there is no reason for me to think that if some did have orange markings I would not see them (for instance, I have no reason to think that the scientists would keep any such animals out of the sample they showed me).
This example suggests that a stronger principle may be true:
Noseeum 2 S’s failure to see X is good reason for S to believe X isn’t there if and only if S has reason to think if X were there S would see X.
According to Noseeum 1, if I have reason to think I wouldn’t see something even if it were there–reason to think it is “invisible”–then my failing to see it is no reason to believe it isn’t there. However, according to the Noseeum 2 principle, it is not just my having reason to think I wouldn’t see something even if it were there that undercuts the reason-giving force of my failing to see it. That force is also undercut if I don’t have reason to think I would see something if it were there, that is, if I don’t have reason to think it is “invisible.” According to Noseeum 2, reason to think something is not “seeable” is sufficient to undercut the reason-giving force of failures to see, but so is lack of reason to think the thing is “seeable.”
Applying Noseeum 2 to the example above, it turns out that since I do not have reason to think if some of these animals had orange markings I would see them–no reason to think their being orange is “visible,” it follows that failing to see any with such markings does not give me good reason to believe none have those markings. If we applied it to the other examples, we would get the same results as we got from applying the first principle. Hence, Noseeum 2 can account for all the intuitive judgments we have considered about when failing to see something gives us reason to believe it is not there while Noseeum 1 cannot.
Suppose we try to use Noseeum 2 in an argument to show that our failure to see a good whose realization by God would justify him (if he exists) in allowing so much suffering gives us good reason to think that there is no such good, and so good reason to believe God does not exist. The question we have to ask is whether we have reason to think that if God exists and has adequate reason for allowing all the suffering we see, we would see it. In other words, the question we have to ask is whether we have reason to think that if God exists his reasons would be “visible” to us. If the answer is that we do have reason to think they would be “visible,” then our failure to see a point to all the suffering we see will give us good reason to think there is no point. If the answer is we don’t have reason to think they would be “visible” to us, then our failure to see a point will not give us good reason to believe there is none.
Things don’t look promising for those who say we have reason to think that if there is a good whose realization by God would justify him in allowing so much suffering, we would see it. Surely, God would know more about the conditions of realization of the goods we know of than we do; surely, he would know more than we do about what needs to be the case for those goods to come into being or to continue to exist. And even if we don’t have reason to believe there are goods of which we are unaware, goods beyond our ken, surely we do not have good reason to believe there aren’t any. Given our ignorance of what is needed to realize goods of which we are aware and of whether there are goods beyond our ken, we cannot have good reason to believe that if God exists and has adequate reason for allowing so much suffering we would see it. For all we know, he allows it because it is the only way to realize goods of which we are aware or goods beyond our ken.
It looks as though atheists are not going to be able to use Noseeum 2 to argue that our failure to see a point to so much suffering gives us good reason to believe there is none. In fact, theists can use that principle to show the opposite, namely, that our failure to see a good whose realization by God would justify him (if he exists) in allowing so much suffering does not give us reason to believe there is no such good and so no reason to believe that God does not exist.
Before accepting these conclusions we should compare our failure to see a reason for so much suffering to tribesmen’s failure to see a reason to cut open another member of their tribe who is suffering from severe abdominal pains. Suppose a visitor suggests that the tribesman who is in pain should be cut open and a small part of his body (the appendix) removed. Now either (G) there is a good that justifies a skilled person’s cutting open their brother or (-G) there is not. Which should the tribesmen believe, that there is such a good or that there isn’t?
The answer to this question depends, of course, on what justified background beliefs the tribesmen hold. Suppose the tribe members know about Western medicine and believe that a person trained in Western medicine knows more about the body, its illnesses, ailments, injuries, etc., and their treatments, cures, etc., than they do. Suppose, also, they have never observed anyone survive who had a cut in the abdomen like the one that is being proposed. Now whether it is reasonable for the tribe members to believe that it would be best for their friend to be cut open by a skilled person will depend on whether they have reason to believe the visitor is a Western doctor or is at least knowledgeable about the ways of Western medicine. In short, they will have reason to believe (G), that there is a good that justifies a skilled person’s cutting open their brother, if and only if they have reason to believe the visitor is a trustworthy person who is more knowledgeable about the body, its illnesses, etc., than they are.
The question, “Is there a good whose realization by God would justify him (if he exists) in allowing so much suffering?” is like the question, “Is there a good whose realization would justify a skilled person in cutting open and removing the appendix from the tribesman?” Of course, there either is such a God-justifying good (G*) or there is not (-G*). But which is it reasonable for us to believe?
In the case of the tribesmen, whether it is reasonable for them to believe that there is a good that would justify a skilled person’s cutting open their brother depends solely on whether it is reasonable for them to believe that the visitor is trustworthy and more knowledgeable than they about the body and its afflictions. A parallel conclusion seems true when it is a question of whether it is reasonable for us to believe that there is a God-justifying good for allowing all the suffering we see. Of course it’s true that if we have reason to believe God exists, then we’ll also have reason to believe that there is such a good, for God would not allow all the suffering we see if there were not. But it also seems true that in our circumstances we have reason to believe there is such a good only if we have reason to believe God exists.
In principle we could have other reasons for thinking a God-justifying good exists (just as in principle the tribesmen could have reasons for thinking it best to cut open their brother that had nothing to do with their reasons for thinking the visitor is trustworthy and knowledgeable about Western medicine). For instance, if we knew there was a very wise, nondivine person around and that he said there was such a good, then we would have reason to believe there was even if we didn’t have reason to believe God exists. But the circumstances in which we do not have reason to believe God exists, but do have reason to believe that there is a God-justifying reason for all the suffering, do not seem to obtain. Surely, the mere possibility that there are such God-justifying reasons does not give us reason to believe there are. So in our epistemic circumstances, the only reason for thinking there is a good whose realization by God (if he exists) would justify him in allowing so much suffering is that there is reason to think God exists.
Suppose one grants that there is no reason to think God exists. Assume, also, that, leaving the problem of evil aside, there is no reason to think he does not exist. Shouldn’t we then suspend judgment about whether there is a God-justifying reason for his allowing all the suffering we see, not believe there isn’t? No, because the hypothesis that there is no such good is a better explanation of why we fail to see one than the explanation that there is such a good which is hidden to us. Other things being equal, explanations which posit some hidden mechanism are never as good as those that do not. That is why we should believe that there is a real world outside us that is pretty much the way we think it is, not some evil demon causing the sensations in us that we think are caused by physical objects outside us.
The case of the tribesmen exactly parallels our actual situation. They will have reason to believe that there is a good that justifies a skilled person’s cutting open their brother if and only if they have reason to believe the visitor is a trustworthy person who is more knowledgeable about illnesses and the like than they are. We will have reason to believe there is a good whose realization by God would justify him in allowing so much suffering if and only if we have reason to believe that God exists. In circumstances where the tribe members have no reason to think the visitor is trustworthy and knowledgeable in the relevant respects, the best explanation of their failure to see a sufficient reason to cut open their brother is that there none. When they have reason to think the visitor is trustworthy and knowledgeable, the best explanation is that there is such a reason of which they are ignorant. Similarly, in circumstances where we have no adequate reason to think that God exists, the best explanation of our failure to see a good which would justify God in allowing so much suffering is that there is no such good. But if we have adequate reason to think that God exists, then the best explanation of our failure to see such a good is that there is one but either it, or the conditions needed for its realization, are beyond our grasp (or both).
This discussion suggests that the following principle, not Noseeum 2, is the correct principle linking failures to see to reasons to believe:
Noseeum 3 S’s failure to see X is good reason for S to believe X isn’t there if and only if X’s not being there is part of the best explanation of S’s failure to see X (or is deducible from statements which are).
It is clear from Noseeum 3 why a person’s failure to see something would give him good reason to believe that it isn’t there in some circumstances but not others. As we have already seen, in circumstances where the tribesmen have no reason to think the person who proposes to cut open their friend is knowledgeable about Western medicine, their failure to see a reason does give them reason to think there is none. However, if they have reason to think the person is, then the best explanation of their failure to see a reason is that there is a reason which is beyond their grasp. We have also seen that similar results follow regarding divine reasons for allowing suffering.
Noseeum 2 fails because it is not sensitive to differences in epistemic circumstances–differences in the background beliefs a person is justified in holding. When we have no reason to think God exists, Noseeum 2 will imply that our failure to see a divine reason for allowing all the suffering we observe is no reason to think there is none. That is because we have no reason to think we would see a divine reason if there were one–because we have no reason to think divine reasons are “visible.” According to Noseeum 2, that is sufficient to undercut the reason-giving force of our failure to see any such reasons. According to Noseeum 3, if we have no reason to believe God exists our failure to see a reason which would justify God in allowing all the suffering we see gives us reason to believe there is none because that is the best explanation of our failure to see such a reason.
Having argued that we are in a position to judge that there is pointless suffering if and only if there is no adequate reason to believe that God exists, I will now criticize an argument meant to show that we are in no position to judge that there is no good that would justify God in allowing so much suffering, and so in no position to judge that God does not exist on the basis of apparently pointless suffering. The basis of this conclusion is the claim that we are in no position to judge that God’s allowing all that suffering is not needed to realize goods of which we are aware or ones (if any) of which we are not. For similar reasons it would follow that we are in no position to judge that there is sufficient reason for someone to intervene to prevent some heinous act (say, the brutal beating, rape, and murder of a little girl). After all, both a human being’s failing to intervene, and God’s failing to intervene, might be needed to realize certain important goods. And if we are in no position to judge that God’s failing to intervene is not needed to realize those goods, how can we be in a position to judge that our failing to intervene is not needed and our intervening is morally required?
Here is a formalization of what I have been arguing based on the idea that we are sometimes in a position to judge that human interventions are morally required and yet in no better position to judge that they are than to judge that divine intervention would be required. The argument form is modus tollens: “If p, then q,” “not-q,” therefore, “not-p.” Since the argument is valid, the conclusion follows from the premises so any criticisms must be of the premises.
1. If we were in no position to judge that there would be no adequate reason for God (if he existed) to allow so much awful suffering because we are in no position to judge that his allowing all that suffering is not needed to realize goods of which we are aware or ones (if any) of which we are not, then we would never be in a position to judge that there is adequate reason for some particular person to intervene to prevent some heinous act (since we are never in a position to judge that a person’s failing to intervene is not needed to realize goods of which we are aware or ones (if any) of which we are not).
2. But sometimes we are in a position to judge that there is adequate reason for some particular person to intervene to prevent some heinous act.
3. Therefore, it is not true that we are in no position to judge that there would be no adequate reason for God (if he existed) to allow so much awful suffering because we are in no position to judge that allowing all that suffering is not needed to realize goods of which we are aware or ones (if any) of which we are not.
Perhaps we are in no position to judge that there would be no adequate reason for God (if he exists) to allow so much awful suffering but if so, it is not because we are in no position to judge that allowing all that suffering is not needed to realize goods of which we are aware or ones (if any) of which we are not. Hence, an argument which relies on that claim will not show that we are in no position to judge that there is pointless suffering. And any argument that tries to show we are in no position to judge that there is pointless suffering risks proving too much, namely, that we are never in a position to judge that there is adequate reason for some particular person to intervene to prevent some heinous act.
It is worth pointing out that the consequent of the first premise in this argument does not read:
then we would never be in position to judge that no particular person has adequate reason to intervene to prevent some heinous act (because we are never in a position to judge that failing to intervene is not needed to realize goods of which we are aware or ones (if any) of which we are not).
We might well be in a position to judge that no particular person has such a reason because we are in a position to judge that he has no reason to think that his nonintervention is needed to realize goods weighty enough to justify that nonintervention. But the actual consequent of the first premise concerns what reasons there are, not the reasons some particular agent has, for intervention.
And surely the second premise is true: Sometimes we have adequate reason to believe that there is adequate reason for some particular person to intervene to prevent some heinous act, not just that she has such reason. We know enough about what reasons there are that might justify nonintervention, and about their conditions of realization, to have adequate reason to believe that nonintervention would be unjustified by this person in these circumstances and intervention required.
Failure to see the point of so much suffering gives us reason to believe there is none, if we have no reason to believe God exists, even though it would not if we had adequate reason to believe he does. Once we have reason to believe that there is pointless suffering then we can use the following argument to show that God does not exist:
1. If God exists, there is no pointless suffering.
2. But there is pointless suffering.
3. Therefore, God does not exist.
Since I do not think we have reason to believe God exists, I think we have reason to believe there is pointless suffering and so reason to believe God does not exist. If I am right, the only way anyone can refute this argument is by offering reasons to believe that God exists. If we lack reasons for believing in God we should be atheists, not agnostics
This article was originally published in Philosophy: The Quest for Truth [third ed., ed. Louis P. Pojman, Belmont: Wadsworth, 1996], pp. 74-80.)
Bruce Russell is professor and chair of the philosophy department at Wayne State University. He has published several articles in philosophy of religion and moral philosophy.
The scientists, headed by Doctor Julius Sanreso, welcomed the research findings and said that it would be in the interests of those who believe in such nonsense as organised religion or creationism to accept the fact that religious books were written by men as a control system.
“Just think for one second, if ‘God‘ or a ‘messenger of God’ had written that particular religious book/bible, how come the writings only occur within a very limited period in human history? Also, consider the fact, that a human writing on a piece of paper, or a few pieces of paper, is not the word of ‘God’. If they were really written by a universal God or entity, the books would not be limited to some pre-medievel costume drama but would encompass all universality, history, the future and science. Language is something created by man, not an all-seeing, all encompassing entity. God would presumably be universal and timeless as well as all-knowing, as is the universe, therefore these man-written books and scriptures, are just that, man-written linguistically created nonsense used to control men and women thousands of years ago. Why would ‘God’ write anything anyway? One must consider the fact that, even now, there are religious zealots and ordinary people still entrenched in a control belief system that is so far removed from reality that it borders on madness. There is no rational or scientific way that organised religions can have a modicum of truth or factual reality because of the very reason that these books are entombed in the time that they were written. These books should therefore simply be viewed as limited parables and historical fiction, as well as a lesson in how millions of people can be so easily controlled.”
The research paper also came to the conclusion that reward/punishment religions, as control systems, were losing their grip on most of the population of the world and only a few die-hard fanatics and delusional maniacs were carrying on with the flame of idiocy.
“The game is up for all religions, how long can this sham carry on, with their ridiculous outdated ceremonies? The priests are deceivers, and they need to come up with some pretty radical solutions to their thousand year old magic trick. People aren’t as dumb or easily swayed as they used to be thousands of years ago, they actually have reasoning powers and can see through the utter nonsense of organised control systems like religion.”
The problem for the world’s political leaders, is that slowly, humans who were controlled for so many years by fictitious writings, may suddenly lose their controlled ‘faith’. This could be quite dangerous, because it would mean that these people would suddenly wake up and realise that they have been fooled for so long by being communally hypnotised.
“We must ensure that the people who have been fooled for so long by fictitious belief systems utilised to control humans do not get too angry when they realise that what they believe in is nonsense written by humans utilising human created language. This could be dangerous for society, so we must either let them carry on believing their fiction or try to somehow support them when they realise the truth,” Dr Sanreso said.
The research paper will be published in its entirety in 2015.
Proving the Irish Famine was genocide by the British — Tim Pat Coogan moves Famine history on to a new plane
“The Famine Plot”, published by Palgrave MacMillan, was released in America last week and Coogan should have been here to launch it but in a separate but equally confounding plot he was denied a visa to come here by the American Embassy in Dublin.
The conclusion from his book is unmistakable. Ireland’s most prominent historian, who has previously created definitive portraits of both Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera, has now pointed the finger squarely at the British during the Famine and stated it was genocide.
It is a big charge, but Coogan is a big man, physically, intellectually, and in every sense and makes a very effective accusation. Coogan has painted a portrait of devastating neglect, abuse, and mismanagement that certainly fits the genocide concept.
I mean if we go back to that time, Ireland was the equivalent of Puerto Rico or Samoa, massive dependencies on the United States today.
If there were a massive food shortage in either of those two countries, we know the US would step up to the plate, literally.
Back in Famine time, the same potato crop disease occurred most heavily in Scotland, outside Ireland, yet there were relatively few casualties as the landowners and government ensured, for their own sakes as much as anything, that there was no mass death.
That was not the case in Ireland, where a very different mentality prevailed. The damned Irish were going to get what they deserved because of their attachment to Catholicism and Irish ways when they were refusing to toe the British line.
As Coogan painstakingly recounts, every possible effort by local organizations to feed the starving were thwarted and frustrated by a British government intent on teaching the Irish a lesson and forcing market forces on them.
Charles Trevelyan, the key figure in the British government, had foreshadowed the deadly policy in a letter to the “Morning Post”, after a trip to Ireland, where he heartily agreed with the sentiment that there were at least a million or two people too many in the benighted land and that the eight million could not possibly survive there.
“Protestant and Catholic will freely fall and the land will be for the survivors.”
Shortly after, he was in charge of a policy that brought that situation about.
One Trevelyan story and one quote suffice.
“British Coastguard Inspector-General, Sir James Dombrain, when he saw starving paupers, ordered his subordinates to give free food handouts. For his attempts to feed the starving, Dombrain was publicly rebuked by Trevelyan…”
The Trevelyan quote is “The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.”
Tim Pat Coogan has done an enormous service with this book.
Read it and weep.
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