Truth and Tension Essay

Submitted By princemisfitqueen
Words: 1870
Pages: 8

Philosophical Health Check - Analysis 2
The Philosophical Health Test has identified the following tension(s) in your beliefs:

Statements 10 and 23: Is there an all-good, all-powerful God?
27% of the people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:
There exists an all-powerful, loving and good God
And also that:
To allow an innocent child to suffer needlessly when one could easily prevent it is morally reprehensible
These two beliefs together generate what is known as 'The Problem of Evil'. The problem is simple: if God is all-powerful, loving and good, that means he can do what he wants and will do what is morally right. But surely this means that he would not allow an innocent child to suffer needlessly, as he could easily prevent it. Yet he does. Much infant suffering is the result of human action, but much is also due to natural causes, such as disease, flood or famine. In both cases, God could stop it, yet he does not.
Attempts to explain this apparent contradiction are known as 'theodicies' and many have been produced. Most conclude that God allows suffering to help us grow spiritually and/or to allow the greater good of human freedom. Whether these theodicies are adequate is the subject of continuing debate.

Statements 17 and 28: Are there any absolute truths?
36% of the people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:
There are no objective truths about matters of fact; 'truth' is always relative to particular cultures and individuals
And also that:
The holocaust is an historical reality, taking place more or less as the history books report
If truth is relative then nothing is straightforwardly 'true' or 'factual'. Everything is 'true for someone' or 'a fact for them'. What then, of the holocaust? Is it true that millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other 'enemies' of the Third Reich were systematically executed by the Nazis? If you believe that there are no objective truths, you have to say that there is no straight answer to this question. For some people, the holocaust is a fact, for others, it is not. So what can you say to those who deny it is a fact? Are they not as entitled to their view as you are to yours? How can one both assert the reality of the holocaust and deny that there is a single truth about it? Resolving this intellectual tension is a real challenge.

Statements 24 and 3: How much must I protect the environment?
54% of the people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:
The environment should not be damaged unnecessarily in the pursuit of human ends
But disagreed that:
People should not journey by car if they can walk, cycle or take a train instead
As walking, cycling and taking the train are all less environmentally damaging than driving a car for the same journey, if you choose to drive when you could have used another mode of transport, you are guilty of unnecessarily damaging the environment.
The problem here is the word 'unnecessary'. Very few things are necessary, if by necessary it is meant essential to survival. But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life. The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself. A single plane journey may add more pollutants to the atmosphere than a year's use of a high-emission vehicle. Who is guilty of causing unnecessary environmental harm here?

Statements 2 and 9: Can we please ourselves?
29% of the people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:
So long as they do not harm others, individuals should be free to pursue their own ends
But disagreed that:
The possession of drugs for personal use should be…