Euthyphro dilemma

One common argument for the existence of God is the moral argument, which says that the best explanation for humanity's shared sense of right and wrong is a god who sets an objective standard. I've discussed with the Morality Argument before, but I'd like to bring up one particular question that comes up for people who subscribe to this argument: The Euthyphro dilemma:

ἆρα τὸ ὅσιον ὅτι ὅσιόν ἐστιν φιλεῖται ὑπὸ τῶν θεῶν, ἢ ὅτι φιλεῖται ὅσιόν ἐστιν

Plato first posed the dilemma in the dialogue called EuthyphroWhich translates to "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" When dealing with Christianity, the dilemma can be phrased like this: "Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?"

If God commands things because they're moral, then that means there is some standard of morality above and outside of God and he's only passing it on to us.

If something is moral only because he commands it, then morality is arbitrary. If God wanted to declare that genocide is allowed, then it would no longer be evil. If God is the very definition of good, then saying "God is good" is meaningless. You might as well say that that the book 1984 is Orwellian.

The standard Christian response to the dilemma is to say that goodness flows from God and is one with his very nature. I don't think that really avoids the problems of the dilemma, but I'm not bringing this up in order to settle the issue. I only want to point out that there is a dilemma. It doesn't disprove the existence of God, but it does show that the Moral Argument is not without its problems. I think that there are better explanations for our shared morality than god that are simpler, fit better with the facts and raise fewer questions.

Note: I encountered the Euthyphro Dilemma while reading a review of Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig. The review was written by Chris Hallquist and I recommend it. And yes, this is all a thinly veiled excuse to add Greek to a post.

AMC Best Picture Showcase

Sara and I went to the AMC Best Picture Showcase on Saturday. It ran from 11 am to 11 pm, with about a 20 minute break between each film. The $30 ticket included all 5 movies and unlimited popcorn.

12 hours is a long time to be in a theater, but it's still nothing compared to the 24-hour Butt-Numb-a-Thon that Brendan went to in 2003. There were over 400 of us in the theater and it did start to smell by the end of the day.

Sara watched Juno with some friends in December, but other than that, we had not seen any of the movies. I thought they were all good films.

Juno was my favorite, though I wasn't surprised that it didn't win. Daniel Day-Lewis deserved the Best Actor Oscar and Diablo Coty did write the best original script.

How to Talk Good

HowToTalkGood.com is a site dedicated to exposing and improving business communication. It's produced by my brother, Mike. Mike is a professional writer and he uses knowledge, sarcasm and pitiless scorn to point out the stupid ways that some business people are using the English language.

Street view in KC

Street View in Google Maps now includes Kansas City.

Fish Friends

Emma and I made this video today:

[youtube]ZQvOuCfaDH8[/youtube]

She made all of the models except for the white fish. iStopMotion is a really nice app for doing this. You can even use your Apple Remote to trigger frame captures.

Screencast: Install weather plugin for b2evolution

Here's a video showing how to install and use my Weather plugin for b2evolution.

[vimeo]621773[/vimeo]

Screencast: Install b2evolution

I made the video below to show how to install b2evolution in under 5 minutes.

[vimeo]616987[/vimeo]

If you have ideas for other video tutorials, please leave a comment.

Brian in Iraq

My brother-in-law, Lucas, did two tours in Iraq and now one of my very good friends is in the process of being deployed. He's keeping friends and family up to date at http://brian-in-iraq.blogspot.com/. (As I'm writing this, I typed in http://brianiniraq.blogspot.com/ to see if I remembered his url correctly. I was wrong, but it's a real site, too. That's kind of depressing.) Brian is an awesome guy. Regardless of how he feels about politics and the war, he's honoring his commitment and serving bravely. We're going to miss him while he's over there. Following the election this year won't be the same if I can't trade links with him and chat about strategies, issues and life in general.

I think the world of Brian, Lucas and all the others like them who serve our country. But I wish they didn't have to go. I wish the war was over and our troops could come home and stay home.

Be safe, Brian.

MacHeist II

The Apple community/fanboys are abuzz about tomorrow's Steve Jobs keynote address. It's always fun to see what they come up with, but I'm not in the market for a sub-notebook or renting movies through iTunes, so it won't mean too much to me. If they announce a new iPhone with 3G, GPS and a huge price cut, then I might get seriously excited.

MacHeist is selling software bundles in conjunction with MacWorld Expo and giving 25% of the proceeds to charity. It's fun to watch because as the sales go up, they add more apps to the bundle. The price is $49 and the current list of apps retails for $368. I'm looking forward to making some stop motion animation, balancing my checkbook and maybe making some screencasts with the bundled apps. Pixelmator is the latest to be unlocked. It's a PhotoShop-type app with stunning Mac style. Check the list of apps and the causes that they're supporting. If you decide to buy, please use my referral link below:

MacHeist II

b2evolution version 2

Development releases of b2evolution version 2 have been coming out since September. I've watched the new features and waited for things to stabilize a bit before upgrading the brendoman.com install. Version 2.3.0 should be out in a day or two and it's being labeled a release candidate. I've upgraded most of my plugins to work with the 2.x series, so the main obstacle now is upgrading all of the brendoman.com skins. What's new in version 2?

In addition to all the bugfixes and subtle improvements that come with new versions of most software, this update has some notable features.

New admin interface

Francois was working on the new admin skin during his US trip this summer, so I got a sneak peak at it. I think it's really beautiful. One of the things that drew me to b2evolution originally was the very attractive admin interface, and the new version continues that tradition. Don't take my word for it, check out the demo.

Toolbar

While you're there, take a look at the new toolbar at the top of the page. There are links to the pages that you'll use the most, and this toolbar also displays when you're viewing the blog, too, provided you're logged in.

Widgets

This may be the best feature of the new version and it will be totally unnoticeable to readers. In old versions, when a blog admin installed a new plugin, they would have to edit the php files that make up their skin in order to have the plugin display something. With widgets, you install the plugin, click a link to add the widget and it's on your site. No php knowledge required. This is great for any admin, but especially for multi-user sites like ours. Now when a user wants to change up their sidebar, they can do it themselves. And if they switch skins, their sidebar goes with them. It's also nice for plugin developers because we can trim a few steps off of our install instructions.

jQuery

Here's one that may only matter to developers. b2evolution now ships with the jQuery javascript library (actually it has since 1.10). This will help us add features that make b2evolution faster and easier to use. The very small number of changes that I've made to the core were centered around this feature.

Improved urls

b2evolution has always had clean urls for posts, but this release adds them for categories, too. Instead of yoursite.com/?cat=123 you can have yoursite.com/category_name. There are more choices for post urls, including /post_title, /category_name/post_title and /2007/12/27/post_title (the old default).

SEO

This doesn't matter much to me, but if search engine placement is very important to you, you'll be happy to see that you can choose from among 5 SEO expert recommended settings or you can tweak the SEO settings yourself.

Photoblog

For several months now, Francois has been adding features to make it easier to post photographs. That now includes image resizing and skin dedicated to displaying photos.

I'm really looking forward to getting brendoman.com on this new version. Once I finish upgrading all the plugins, I'll have to deal with skins. The skinning api changed more than anything, so upgrading old skins will be time-consuming. If any of the hostees want to volunteer to switch to a skin that already works for version 2, that would speed up the process.

Congratulations to the developers on this new release. If you run your own b2evolution install, be sure to give it a look. You can find 2.x-ready plugins here and here.

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