Justin Li


Colored Language

2009-05-04

Last week's question: what answers do people give for the question "why do good things happen to bad people?

Here's a survey of what people have written. These were taken off the first 6 pages of Google results, searching for the question without quotes. Just browsing through, it's clear that people as the reverse question (bad things to good people) quite a bit more often. A quoted search gives 72,700 for bad things/good people, but only 4,200 for good things/bad people.

I'm a little surprised, because I think it's a much more bothersome question. Let's take a look at what people think.

Justice is delayed, not non-existent

This is in essence the same answer to the bad things/good people question. The idea is that there is an objective good and you will be rewarded, but that reward is not immediate (read: it will come after you die). In the same vein, punishment is not immediate either.

It's all Satan's trick; just focus on what God has given us

This is an interesting explanation, because the logical extensions are curious. Paying attention on what God has given us, while it's not a bad thing, is not really a solution. It is implied that justice is delayed, or that what you get in this life is not as important as what you get in the next one. Otherwise, if it is Satan's trick, then Satan seems to be a perfectly valid way of getting rewards. But if that's the case, why aren't people giving up their posessions and living like Mother Teresa? Behaviorially, then, wordly posessions do have some value. Turning inwards to what we do have, therefore, is more ignoring the problem than an explanation.

It's to show God is merciful to everyone (who are all bad)

I assume that God is merciful to them is so they may repent... when the "bad people" do well in this life, and don't believe that they do well because of God, but because of what they did. That is, they're probably not going to repent. Also, it's delayed for the good people, so the good people can... what?

The "good things" may not be really good

Sure. The people with "good things" (ie. wealth) also have bankruptcies and divorces. But not all of them do. Just as one bad thing happening to a single good person makes justice questionable, one good thing happening to a single bad person asks the same questions. That's like saying, oh, that good person is vegetative in a hospital, so he won't be rained on now. Great.

It is paid for in something else, like regret and guilt

You don't feel guilt if you don't get caught. Also, fascinating discussion on circumcision/"genital mutilation".

No Christian would take a bad-person-with-good-thing's place

Yeah, not all atheists have horrible family lives. Please. To put it in perspective, would you change places with someone who talks to an invisible friend every week, who believe they and other people are sometimes possessed by spirits, and that there are shadowy figures plotting to ruin their lives at every turn? No, it's not a delusional new-age conspiracy theorist (or John Nash crossed with Emily Rose). Just prayers, the Holy Ghost, and Satan respectively.

My personal answer? Dumb luck. Some people just get lucky, and others get unlucky. Deal with it.

This week's question: Synesthesia is the intriguing phenomenon that some people have. Synesthetes, as those with synesthesia are called, have two senses inexplicably linked, such that when one sense is activated, they involuntarily experience something in the other sense as well. One of the most common forms of synesthesia is grapheme-color synesthesia, where letters, numbers, and parts of words are associated with a color. Given this type of synesthesia, how do synesthetes perceive ambigrams?

PS. I have no idea what the answer is, so if you know someone with grapheme-color synesthesia, can I contact them and find out? Thanks.

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