Homosexuals and Atheism: An Uneasy Alliance

One of the most noticeable features of recent atheist polemic is its deliberate appeal to the gay community. Religion, it is argued, is innately hostile to gays and so the self-respecting gay man or woman should utterly reject it. While it is entirely understandable why many gays object to what they feel is religiously motivated prejudice and persecution, nevertheless it is not necessarily the case that atheism offers better protection.

Now my own opinion is that the debate about homosexuality has already gathered more attention and taken up more time than it deserves. While I believe that it falls short of the ideal set for us by the Lord, I don’t like the culture of hate that exists in certain parts of society, such as the violently homophobic lyrics in some Rap. I also feel that the desire to avoid being seen as homophobic has deterred entirely legitimate criticism of certain aspects of gay culture. For example, the reckless hedonism and promiscuity portrayed in some of  the novels of Edmund White would be seen as irresponsibly dangerous and self-destructive if done by heterosexuals. At that level, the sexuality of the people involved is immaterial: it’s squalid regardless of whether it’s done by gay or straight people. I don’t wish to discuss the morality of homosexuality or the prohibitions against it here, but to challenge the assumption that atheism promises a better attitude towards gay men and women.

Pro-Homosexual Attitudes in Paganism

While many religions have prohibitions against homosexuality, there are others which include the ‘queer’ in their conception of the sacred. Babylonian and Canaanite paganism included male as well as female temple prostitutes. There were particularly associated with the goddess of love, Ishtar. ‘There is no doubt, however, that the temples of Ishtar, the goddess of carnal love, were the sites of a licentious cult with songs, dances and pantomimes performed by women and transvestites, as well as sexual orgies’. The male participants in these rites, called assinu, kulu’u or kurgarru, included passive homosexuals. 1 Amongst the gods of Polynesia is one who presides over gay love affairs. 2 The Roman writer Apuleius, was gay as well as a devout member of the cult of Isis. Homosexuality was entirely acceptable in Graeco-Roman culture, a situation that has strongly influenced contemporary Neo-Paganism’s positive view of homosexuality. In the 1905 novel, The Garden God, by Forrest Reid, recounts the discovery by the gay hero that he and his boyfriend were lovers in previous lives in ancient Greece. Confessing their emotions to each other on a beach, they call upon the ancient Greek gods and goddesses. 3 Many shamans in the world’s indigenous religions may be gay or transvestites, their sexuality a sign of their deep connection to the uncanny and numinous. This was recognised by the ancient Greeks, who noted the presence of such individuals, and the respect in which they were held, by the ancient Scythians. The author of the Hippocratic medical treatise, Airs, Waters, Places specifically mentioned them, stating that ‘the Scythians themselves attribute this to a divine visitation and hold such men in awe and reverence, because they fear for themselves.’ 4 Here a rational, materialist explanation for their sexuality has been a challenge to the high status in which such people were held since ancient Greece. The above Hippocratic author was himself critical of the supposed supernatural origin of their sexuality. In an explicit statement of early rationalistic scepticism, he stated that ‘indeed, I myself hold that this and all other diseases are equally of divine origin and none more divine nor more earthly than another. Each disease has a natural cause nothing happens without a natural cause.’ 5 For this early exponent of sceptical medicine, the transvestism of this part of the Scythian people was due to varicose veins brought on by their constant horse riding and their highly dangerous attempts to cure it by cutting the carotid artery. 6 Thus, while individual religions may condemn homosexuality, theism as such does not, and some gays have found in those Neo-Pagan religions that accept it a more positive attitude towards their sexuality than may be found elsewhere in society.

Lack of Basis for Tolerance to Gays in Atheism

There is also the problem in that atheism, as a rejection of theism and its values, does not necessarily lead to a more tolerant or positive attitude towards gays. In the controversy surrounding the establishment of civil partnerships by the British government a year or so ago, the BBC noted on one of its news programmes that three quarters of the British public were opposed to gay marriage. This would seem to include many secular individuals who would not see their opposition to it as religiously based. A documentary by a British Black gay writer and broadcaster on Britain’s Radio 4 into the violent hatred of homosexuals in Caribbean culture, The Roots of Prejudice, while interviewing some Christian ministers whose preaching strongly condemned in very strong tones, nevertheless also considered that it was due to the very strong emphasis on masculinity in Caribbean culture. My guess is that the hatred in such lyrics may also act as a general redirection for the anger and bitter hostility generated by tensions elsewhere in some Caribbean societies. Despite the high hopes for prosperity and social advancement and improvement after independence, Jamaican politics has been tainted with corruption since the 1980s when politicians made alliances with the notorious Yardie gangs to advance their ambitions. In a climate when politics could be mixed with real gang violence, it’s possible that the anger and disillusionment at the contemporary situation, which could not be voiced because of the real danger of personal violence, could find an outlet instead in a common hatred of homosexuals.  

It is also the case that some of the postmodern philosophies that have become fashionable in recent years, despite their ostentatious promise of tolerance, actually offer the opposite. A few years ago some of the self-appointed arbiters of what was fashionable in Britain made statements highly supportive of Nihilism. One gay style guru got into Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’ for his declaration that nihilism was not enough, and that right-thinking gays should go beyond this, apparently not realising that if you go beyond the mere negative, you come back to embracing a positive view. Nihilism here seems to have had an attraction to those who saw themselves as courageous adversaries of oppressive social convention, preaching personal liberation and tolerance. However, there is the situation that in order to argue that gays also have the right to life, liberty and property, it has first to be accepted and recognised that there are indeed transcendent rights to life, liberty and property, rights which Nihilism implicitly denies, along with all other conventions. The persecution of homosexuals can only be condemned as immoral if it is considered that there are transcendent morals which are necessarily true beyond mere human opinion and social convention. Nihilism, by definition, entirely rejects this view. In the Brothers Karamazov, Doestoyevsky observed that without God, anything was permissible. Thus, just as some homosexuals believe that atheism will allow a greater acceptance of their sexuality, so nihilism also leaves open the possibility of renewed and greater persecution as morality becomes nothing more than individual opinion or social convention. This was one of the problems the British journalist and agnostic, Rod Liddle, in his The Trouble with Atheism on Britain’s Channel 4, pointed out with Richard Dawkins’ conception of morality in The God Delusion. Liddle remarked on Dawkins’ revised commandment, ‘You shall enjoy your sexuality, as long as you don’t harm others’ that it was all very wishy-washy. Dawkins replied that that was it’s advantage, as it could be revised and updated with the zeitgeist. The problem with this attitude is that, if morality is only the product of the zeitgeist, then the tolerance Dawkins was advocating may be totally rejected in favour of intolerance and persecution.

Hostility to Homosexuality in Atheist and Anti-Christian Ideologies

It’s also been the case that many atheist ideologies themselves have been hostile to homosexuality. Freudianism traced homosexuality to problems in a person’s upbringing, and attempts by Freudian psychiatrists to correct what they saw as a dangerous inclination towards it amongst their patients and charges could be cruel. A few years ago the BBC screened a documentary series, The Century of the Self, on the profound influence Freudian psychiatry has had on Western political, social and commercial attitudes, and the way Freudian psychiatrists were hired by governments, politicians and businesses to manipulate popular opinion. Amongst the chilling stories recounted in the series was the account of how one particular Freudian psychiatrist had attempted to bring up the perfect, well-adjusted family according to a strict Freudian regime. She was particularly worried about one of the boys, whom she feared would grow up to be gay, and so paid particular attention to preventing this from occurring. The result was a harsh, bizarre system inflicted on the children, with the result that far from being happy and well-adjusted, many of them became emotionally scarred and neurotic. The vehemently antichristian totalitarian regimes of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany both criminalised homosexuality. Twenty years ago the British theatre produced a play, Bent, about the Nazi persecution of gays and their incarceration in the concentration camps.

Materialistic Conceptions of Humanity No Guarantee of Tolerance

As part of the campaign to remove the perceived prejudice against gays, some scientists and activists have suggested a genetic, sociobiological origin for homosexuality in which it is viewed as an advantageous evolutionary strategy. For example, it has been suggested that homosexuality arose, as it allowed homosexual males to assist the early proto-hominid group in protection and foraging, while allowing the dominant heterosexual male to mate with the females. A variant of this view is that the homosexual gene exists to allow gay children to help their parents with child-rearing. Such sociobiological theories have been criticised by scientists for both their lack of evidence and their reductionist attitude to human psychology, sexuality and society. ‘Any of these ideas could be true, but they are mutually exclusive, and there is absolutely no evidence for any of them. This kind of reductionist analysis of something as complex and manifestly socially conditioned as human sexual preference causes anthropologists, psychologists and others to despair.’ 7

These evolutionary theories of the origin of homosexuality also suffer from the naturalistic fallacy of turning ‘is’ into ‘ought’. The problem is that there are many things that occur in nature that human society rightly condemns and prohibits. Science may explain the origin of homosexuality, but it still requires a philosophical justification through moral theory. Moreover, these sociobiological theories of the origin of morality generally miss the point. People don’t just behave altruistically from an evolutionary strategy to allow the survival of their children in the co-operative group in a way that can be simply calculated scientifically, as J.B.S. Haldan is supposed to have done on the back of an envelope in a pub. According to the story, after performing his calculations Haldane declared that he was willing to die for four uncles or eight cousins, this being the number required to replace a person’s own genes in the gene pool. 8 People act altruistically and with compassion not from a desire to protect their genes, or those genetically similar to them, but from a belief that what they are doing is transcendentally and objectively right.

Materialism a Threat to Human Dignity

Indeed, the materialism on which much atheism is based actually undercuts morality. For some very reductionist philosophers and scientists, such as Daniel C. Dennett and Sue Blackmore, consciousness is an illusion and people really are nothing more than organic automatons. Yet people’s everyday interactions with each other is predicated on the idea that there is indeed a ‘ghost in the machine’, and a transcendent self, an ‘I’, within their heads experiencing pleasure and pain. A good starting point for morality and altrusim is the belief that the suffering experienced by people is not an illusion experienced by an equally illusory, unreal self, but real pain suffered by a real person. This is traditionally the view of the theist religions, and so one of the forces that may actually protect gays, as well as heterosexual people, from dehumanising conceptions of humanity is actually this aspect of theistic religion.

Reproductive Technology and Children’s Right to Life, regardless of Predicted Sexuality

Similarly, Christian objections to the morality of genetic engineering and ‘designer babies’ may also protect homosexuals. For Christians, as well as very many other people of faith and atheists, recent developments in reproductive science threaten to devalue the sanctity of human life as people are offered the ability to choose their children’s heredity, including, possibly, their sexuality. A few years ago there was much hoo-ha about the supposed discovery of a ‘gay gene’. Suddenly the possibility that parents would choose their children’s sexuality seemed all too real. The Christian pastor, Albert Mohler has been strongly criticised on the internet for his suggestion in his blog that if it was found that an unborn child would grow up gay, then gene therapy should be used to prevent this. Long before he made these comments, however, I can remember Quentin Crisp causing similar outrage when he said something similar in the British media. What made this particularly surprising is that Crisp is a gay icon, and the dramatised treatment of his life, The Naked Civil Servant, a landmark in the campaign for greater tolerance towards homosexuals in British society.  Now Christianity considers that people are not simply the products of their genes. They have free will and a genuine moral choice. And for many Christians, the rights of the unborn to life and their inherent biological integrity and dignity means that such genetic tampering should be rejected regardless of which sexuality those doing the tampering intend to fix in the child. Again, Christian moral attitudes here towards the unborn may also protect those who could be suspected of growing up gay.

Christian Attitudes to Homosexuality: A Middle Way

At the moment there is a strong debate in Christianity over the morality of homosexuality, with some urging its acceptance while others are very strongly opposed. It is possible to find a middle way, however. Christian theology makes a distinction between the sin and the sinner. God hates sin, but loves sinful humanity, and gays do not deserve any greater condemnation than other people. This attitude was clearly displayed a few years on British television by a Baptist pastor in a documentary series on Channel 4. This was a mixture of reality TV and history as it followed a group of men and women and their children as they attempted to recreate the life of the very first colonial settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, in the first decades of the 17th century. The people themselves were a mixture of Britons and Americans, with the Baptist Pastor taking the role of the colony’s first governor. Part of his duties was to lead the community in Christian worship in the colony’s church, just as it would have been performed by the colonists nearly four centuries earlier. One of the guys in the party was secretly gay. Tormented, and unable to hide his sexuality any longer, the man stood up in church one Sunday morning and publicly declared his anguish and his sexuality to the rest of the community. The Pastor was unfazed. He simply remarked that while it was a sin, ‘all men have sinned, and fallen short of God’s glory’ and simply carried on with the service. A condemnation of the sin does not necessarily translate into hostility towards the sinner, and while traditional Christian morality rejects homosexuality, amongst the mainstream churches in the West it will lead also to a condemnation of violence against gay people as persons. Some of those who campaigned for the legalisation of homosexuality in Britain were liberal Christians who felt that the punishment was worse than what was punished. Atheism offers no guarantee of this, and its conception of humanity as a mere automaton whose notions of morality are merely the products of an evolutionary history designed to ensure the propagation of genetic material actually weakens this. Thus, while traditional Christian morality rejects homosexual, its concern for the person as a transcendental subject, made in the image of God, may offer to protect gays as well as heterosexuals from the dehumanisation inherent in a purely atheistic, mechanistic view of humanity.

Notes

1. Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq (London, Penguin 1992), p. 213.

2. G.H. Luquet, ‘Oceanic Mythology’ in Felix Guirand, ed., Richard Aldington and Delano Ames, trans., New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (London, Hamlyn 1968), p. 451.

3. Ronald Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford, OUP 1999), p. 48.

4. ‘Airs, Waters, Places’ in G.E.R. Lloyd, ed., and J. Chadwick, W.N. Mann, I.M. Lonie and E.T. Withington, trans., Hippocratic Writings (Harmondsworth, Penguin 1978), p. 165.

5. Lloyd, Chadwick, Mann, Lonie and Withington, Hippocratic Writings, p. 165.

6. Lloyd, Chadwick, Mann, Lonie and Withington, Hippocratic Writings, p. 165.

7. ‘Homosexuality’ in Anna Hodson, Essential Genetics: Genetics Clearly Explained and Defined (London, Bloomsbury Publishing 1992), p. 142.

8. Mary Midgley, Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears (London, Methuen 1985), p. 121.

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123 Responses to “Homosexuals and Atheism: An Uneasy Alliance”

  1. Kacin Alexander Says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Kacin Alexander

  2. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Couple things.
    None of the “Big four” appealed to homosexuals
    Certain religions are inherently hostile to gays
    Atheism isn’t a basis for morality anymore than any other fact statement is.
    Although Britian rejected same sex marriages, the more secular countries accepted them (Holland, SF). Technically the state is theocratic in England- it runs the church (similar to Norway, nut more active in England).

    Your straw manning atheism. Although there have been atheist who have disapproved of homosexuality, there is nothing inkerent in atheism that requires that. By contrast the bible advocates stoning.

    Example- Many of the anti-gays were communists (Nazis were Christians), like Fidel, who I believe has locked up gays.
    http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/montreal/story.html?id=4f764b9d-1adf-463d-b72c-67e6fa8b056e
    By contrast Hussein was openly tolerant of gays- although an evil dictator he was he didn’t care who you slept with.
    http://www.workers.org/2008/world/lavender-red-119/
    By contrast Christians and Muslims do care very much.

    I also like your middle road. What’s is next? Democrats are sinful for holding secular beliefs? I’m not talking about the party- I’m talking about the system of government. After all you can make a similar arguement from the bible.

    The basic fact of the matter is you are condemning them as sinful simply because the bible says so. In case you haven’t noticed, unquestioning obedience is wrong.

    There is more to say, but I will leave that to a gay person. Or a rhetoritician.

  3. Ilíon Says:

    Atheism isn’t a basis for morality anymore than any other fact statement is.

    ‘Atheism’ isn’t a “fact statement” — as though it were a simple statement of a simple/single fact — ‘atheism’ is an ‘-ism:’ it is a complex of statements which logically follow from some set of truth-claims. In the case of ‘atheism,’ the fundamental truth-claim is “The is no God

    Example- Many of the anti-gays were communists (Nazis were Christians), …
    You’re obviously ignorant. I don’t doubt that you like it that way.

  4. Feyd Says:

    Hi Beast,
    For me you’ve made a very strong case that the Christian middle way offers the most reliable long term safety for Homosexuals.

    But I don’t think it’s a saleable case on emotional grounds. Secularists are telling homosexuals they are every bit the equals of the rest of us, we are telling them God still loves them but yielding to their orientation is a sin.

    I know you said you don’t want to talk about the morality of homosexuality, but I hope you’ll excuse me for saying that Im not so sure same sex erotic behaviour is really a sin. Im uncomfortable about this as im going against scripture but my conscience clearly tells me it would be unfair for God to make people only attracted to their own gender and then deny them the joy of sex. Im sure the orientation isn’t always a matter of choice even from my own experience, I feel no attraction at all to men so my avoidance of homosexual experience is no more a moral choice than my avoidance of poached eggs or my love for marmite. Some folk, maybe most according to some scientists, are attracted to both sexes at least to some degree which blurs the issue. But some homosexuals just aren’t attracted to the opposite sex at all and no amount of moral effort is going to change that. Christ was silent on homosexuality, but His tolerance towards prostitutes and lack of fidelity in spite of scripture suggests he might be equally tolerant of gays.

    As a realist I don’t expect there’s much chance of main stream Christianity full dropping homosexual liaisons from the list of sins. Although anything can happen if God will its.

    But unless we do have a collective change of heart Im afraid this is one area where atheists propaganda will continue to hold the high ground. Not that im suggesting those who feel God truly considers homosexuality is a sin should change their message. Even combating atheist propaganda isn’t that important!

    Anyway its great to see you back BR, God bless you and all the other contributors and readers of your excellent blog.

  5. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Atheism is a fact statement (I don’t believe in god or there is no god). Other things do not “logically follow from it” (except the idea that religion is false- that is about it). The easist way to see this is the fact that all atheists aren’t the same. You have you communitarians, libertarians, rationalists, spiritualists, psychos, etc…

    I don’t see how what I said is wrong. Communism is the main secular position that criticizes homosexuality (other secular positions use the same arguement). It boils down to “don’t have kids” or “decadent borguise”. In other words its crap.

    I also don’t get what your objection to my Nazi statement was. Although people still argue about Hitler’s faith (probably heretical christian) we do know for certain the Nazi’s were christians- heck, one of the major problems they had with communism was it was godless! To be fair to the brown shirts the puple triangle wasn’t their invention- it was invented in Bagdad to mark gays. The Muslims have been worse to homosexuals than the Christians.

    You also don’t say why mindless obedience to this rule is okay. I’d go into a longer rant- there are so many biblical rules people ignore- but I don’t think I’d get a responce any more coherent then the one my previous post.

  6. Ilíon Says:

    Jesus was forgiving of prostitues … who sought forgiveness. But he condoned neither whoring nor whore-mongering.

    Furthermore, no one is born “gay.” And even if they were, so what?

    I was born with an amazing temper (I must have been! for all my family are stubborn and have hot tempers). Is it unjust for God to “deny [me]the joys” of expressing my temper?

  7. Rich Says:

    Atheism is a metanarrative, IMHO.

  8. Rich Says:

    ” Furthermore, no one is born “gay.” ”

    Support or retract.

  9. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Atheism isn’t a metanarrative. It doesn’t contain purpose, good guys-bad guys, a future goal, or a lens. Anti-theism on the other hand.

    We know that people are born gay for the simple reason that sexuality is hardcoded into your brain.

    Since god doesn’t exist arguements to god are futile. In addition although beating up other people is obviously wrong, no Christian has come up with a reason why homosexuality is wrong that doesn’t condemn behaviors that are accepted.

  10. MDS Says:

    Samuel Skinner writes,

    “We know that people are born gay for the simple reason that sexuality is hardcoded into your brain.”

    We don’t “know” any such thing, and your claim is an unsupported assertion; I am unaware of any scientific evidence that definitively shows that human sexuality is hardwired into us.

    Samuel Skinner writes,

    “Since god doesn’t exist arguements to god are futile.”

    Another unsupported assertion. Please support your claim that God doesn’t exist with something other than your say-so.

    Samuel Skinner writes,

    “In addition although beating up other people is obviously wrong, no Christian has come up with a reason why homosexuality is wrong that doesn’t condemn behaviors that are accepted.”

    What an ignorant thing to say. The Church’s condemnation of homosexual acts has its basis in an objective morality, not the whims of societal acceptance, so what you deem “acceptable behavior” may not be so for the Church. Furthermore, the Church’s condemnation of homosexual acts is made on the same basis that condemns heterosexual acts performed outside the bonds of sacramental marriage.

  11. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Funny, in a way.

    It was not less than 20 years to this day that a sociology book declared that all sexuality was LEARNED behavior. Now all of a sudden like Moses bolt from the blue “everything is hardwired”, including the preference in color and mates all to the same extent in the brain as what you get with blue eyes or brown.

    If this is truly the case and seeing that sexuality is not only innate at the genetic level, then other behaviors are genetic also. Like compulsive drinking and smoking and kleptomania and antisocial behavior.

    Are they then justified as socially acceptable. I am not here–and will not be here–to condemn the “gay lifestyle” and as a man married to a woman of course naturally I don’t run in those circles. But no one ever said that Scripture is an easy thing to follow or that certain traits have absolutly NO genetic basis. Your presupposition that God does not exist is just an easy-does-it quip and you are begging the question here about justification then at some other level.

    That’s fine. I am not going to get into proof games at the moment. That would take a long time.

    For now, I think BRs larger point was that while some don’t think atheism has anything but a blank slate as a starting point, that is NOT the overall impression many of its proprietors have about certain social issues. And YET as he points out homosexuality is not just a bugbear du jour of religious nuts or conservative Christians. The Church holds adultery and sex before marriage every bit as sinful as other kinds of breaking of the covenant in God’s plan for human sexuality. Accept it or not, but this mode of thinking that compares the Church to Hitlerism when BR among many others have pointed out that Hitler was hardly a Christian just because he and the Nazis mouthed certain slogans is off the wall.

    If Atheists like to removal ALL liability using Sam Harris by saying that atheism as a killer is falsefied because Stalin and Mao were simply nuts or “cults” of personality should give credence to the notion that not all people who claim to have “Christian values” should be taken seriously.

    It has to work both ways here. The Reality is that Hitler was no more Christian than I’m Chinese just because I know a few Confucian sayings. The meat of the matter with faith is whether the claimed adherents truly hold to those doctrines and not co-mingle with Teutonic Knight legends and astrology in the mix to spice things up. Or whatnot, for political purposes.

    Liars come in all creeds and stripes. Hitler also was an animal lover. Are all animal lovers therefore haters of man and Nazis? A famous Brit turncoat and spy for the Nazis was said to be good with children and own a pet fox and advocate social change. Are people good with children therefore evil?

    Be careful of your usage of supposed historical precedents.

    It is often said that Hitler was anti abortion. Half truth. Only for Germans and those of Aryan blood. He had no such thoughts about the Jews.

    Context is key. Regardless of what ACTU-UP or the N.O.W. harridans might tell you about what “those Christians believe, ‘just like Hitler’

  12. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PS, Beast.

    This will have to serve as my large cameo post on this issue. As far as the others, I had some follow up on Harris since he does appear to be one of your favorite topics for tomatoes. (lol) Second only to Dawkins and Chris Hitchens, perhaps.

    I am still working on the larger stuff but trying to congeal three posts at once, and I am just simply under the weather and physically exhausted, so it might take a while.

    I’ll let you know when I feel better.

  13. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    By the way, Mr. Skinner, Mosaic Law is superceded by Christ, so while God certainly wanted the Jews to separate themselves from their neighbors with strict ordinances, this is no longer the case. That was an another context entirely.

    And advocating something based on what tiny European nations do proves nothing. These nations also have socialism of the milkwater variety, which is merely Marxism-Light. They get free rides on all this handout cradle-to-grave welfare mentality because they, unlike the US–have fewer world responsibilities and in reality are actually very ANTI-individualist.

    You can’t do it all. What is traded for certain percieved social gains is lost when it comes to other kids of much-needed personal responsibility rather than having government agencies tax productivity into virtual oblivian, reward laxity and playtime over work, and produce an atmosphere where people demand lifestyle issues paid for by the more productive citizenry

  14. Ilíon Says:

    Ilíon: Furthermore, no one is born “gay.”

    Rich: Support or retract.

    Isn’t this fellow an absolute riot!?

  15. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Okay for the “are they born gay”… lets see how I can support this. Okay how many of you guys or gals have looked at porn? You know nudity and the like. Now here is the thing- you don’t do it in a group so what you desire isn’t learned behavior and you have different taste (trust me on this one- call it the Skinner line if you will, where pornography goes from pornagraphic to… disturbing). Since you don’t get the desire from an outside source (with the exception of fetishes- I think those are cultural) the only possible explanation is that your preferances are innate.

    The same goes with homosexuality. If different things turn different people on, why is it such a strech for the same thing to occur with different sexes. If there is anything wrong with my analogy please tell me- otherwise admit that I am right.

  16. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Skinner:

    I think you’ll find here little disagreement that many things have genetic roots. Including sadness, propensity to cheat, lie, steal, be happy, overeat, drink, smoke, obses over details, or just whip the rest of the class in algebra. The issues come in on how we handle these things.
    Uncomfortably, there is probably a genetic linkage to native creativity, intelligence, wit, and personal charm in salesmanship and politics that the Everyman does not have. Like homosexuality, we are never sure what exactly to do with these uncomfortable realizations.

    There is always some core innate curiosity about such things. In point of fact the much maligned Alfredy Kinsey (whom I’ve criticized myself) made the point that I would–and neither would argue that some things are not innate. Curiosity about sexual function and identity are innate, of course.

    Don’t tell that to the feminists, however, or they’ll raise holy cain reminding you that the only reason little girls like pink and soft things is that they are raised that way in “masculinist” societal settings. Probably it is the interaction of social elements plus innate curiosity. One can imagine at first that pornography is never read in a complete social vacuum even where it starts alone. We can’t judge the later years even though for many people the advent of the Internet means you have even MORE anonymity in seeing flesh images than ever before, when you had to muster the courage to thumb through at the local curb store or get your pals to get it if they were older.

    But one imagines that first starting off even with intense feelings these are not always modified into something more disturbing or harmful until social pressures later on tell you that the verboten is not only fun, but a normal part of things and of course society is more and more permissive about these things. Kids for example certainly have sexual feelings even at an early age (going all the way back to Sigmun Freud we knew this) but don’t know how to process them; Freud mentioned the Electra complex and the Oedipus complex where young children fall in love with the parent of the opposite gender because they are trying to work out what their own sexual identity means and in point of fact are just getting around to feeling what that means. Christian apologist once made a funny remark about the sex lives (or was commenting on this) of NUNS.

    to which most people say “huh”.

    But it seems that gender and sex are more akin to things we ARE more than what we do.

    So I agree in large part with what you’re saying, Skinner.

    Its just that the full expression of what we call “porn”, while done in private nowadays, still carries with it certain social expectations and responses. generally considered unhealthyful if they become obsessive and detract from real relationships or objectify females as mere meat.
    (one of the points I actually agree with some feminists about, though this explains why feminists don’t criticize gay porn)

    Or as American social critic called this stuff –”comically distorted fantasies brought to you by the wonders of technology”

  17. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    oops–meant to say the name of that apologist. His name is Peter Kreeft.

    And I assure you that you’ll be VERY interested in what he has to say about sexuality in Heaven. It might actually exist. And since the earth bound marriage bond is broken upon death according to Christ, he indicates it MIGHT be possible that sex in heaven COULD involved more than one soul mate of the opposite gender, though most probably very limited. This is due to the fact that the purpose will be different than the confines of earthly marriage which carries the analogy of Christ and Church, as well as raising children.

    People have this image of soul beings made of pure energy. He says this cannot be the case. We’ll just be different, not completely non-physical?

    Interesting?

    I though you all might find it so…..

  18. Rich Says:

    I see you can’t support your claim, Ilion, just like all the other claims you’ve made, that are document elsewhere.

    Do you think people choose teh_gay or maybe catch teh_gay?

  19. PTET Says:

    “The Church’s condemnation of homosexual acts has its basis in an objective morality, not the whims of societal acceptance…”

    vs.

    “Mosaic Law is superceded by Christ…”

    Indeed.

  20. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PTET:

    –you might claim, as does the imprimateur of your site that

    “materialistic ideology has no more subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins than it has the studies of computing, engineering, law, mathematics or medicine”

    (Apparently a knockoff of the commentary over on UD.)

    But is it not possible to subvert these alleged “always” hard sciences?

    YES–Dr. Josef Mengele is but one example. No one doubts you can use hypodermic needles to heal. They can also be used to inject psychoactive drugs. It is ALWAYS the USAGE of such “facts of the matter” that counts and not the facts themselves. As Stephen Jay Gould once quipped, “how do facts decide anything?” They just are, true.

    But…..

    I can use modern metallurgies improvements in steel to make shovels to dig and engineering to make buildings or I can beat people on the head with shovels and use engineering and mathematics to contract all manner of insidious design to harm people.

    Warfare comes to mind. Which JRR Tolkien parodied with Orcs participating in what can only be the wonders of science yielding to mechanized slaughter.

    Likewise in the biological sciences and other endeavors related there is a consistent if not always admitted adherence ahead of time to not only materialistic notions but HOW this can be made into a a world philosophy for some change or action. Thus most atheists, biologists, and other interested parties promulgating secularism are about 99% socialistic or very Leftist in outlook. These jackals like the ones that chase people away from the Pandas Thumb and similar watering holes for athiests may lay claim that certain ideas or notions (idea being far too strong a word) do not automatically flow from Darwinian ones, but their other statements belie this. Almost to a person. Thus again and again the statement from these manchildren that evolutionary science does not “lean” against religion or anything else and makes no philosophical claims or social commentary and YET not one article later they belie this by claiming just the opposite and the “meaning of life” without God, or traditional morals needing to be jettisoned, etc. Hmmm.

    Very few exceptions to this exist in the busybody world of “social change”.

    I let them use their own words:
    http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2008/01/20/religion-and-war/#comments

    More than a few detractors of Christianity from the alleged “hard sciences” not only make sure that naturalistic explanations are all there are, but tell you the reason this arbitrary assignment (per atheist Michael Ruse, who used just that term) is invoked. There is certainly a mission here.

    Perhpas Dawkins and EO Wilson can enlighten you on this matter. Since your site also seems to believe that certain notions naturally fall in place from “facts of the matter” about crocodiles and birds having some common ancestor, I could rest most of my case just on that.

    (Don’t test me on this one. I know crocodiles inside and out and yes they all look and act alike and yes they are all interrelated at some genetic level. This is not necessarily indicative of whether God made them what they are.)

    Further, I find it curious that now that I’ve seen your site as well (among, gosh, hundreds of other in the same vein), that to a person none of you understands this amazing realm called “context.”

    Its such a wonderful device. For a reason, too.

    Thus for example while I’m not sure in your “vs” dog and pony show above exactly what you’re trying to demonstrate, it seems once again false dichotomy is your pal. Its the equivalent of saying “birds vs. wings”, or “fish vs. fins” in constant contradictory battle for supremacy of presentation.

    The reality is, unfortunately, (also as your bane JP Holding would point out) is that the two are complementary. Nowhere in Scriputre or in church teachings except among the goofball types of the Unitarians with Wiccan high priestesses do we find the claim that the Church is now allowing homosexuality. Nowhere. The apostle Paul was clear on this.

    WHAT DID change was the APPLICATION of ordinances for punishment. Mosaic law was not merely a list of some odd rules of behavior and social discourse but proscibed severe penalties that no longer apply under a different rule of Grace.

    We no longer cook rapists in the electric chair here in the USA. This does not mean that rape is therefore legitimized by law and custom.

    DIG?

    To claim otherwise and use your standards of approach to context, one might as well claim that since, speaking of rape, all rape is sex, therefore all sex is rape. Whereas in the application of context we know this is not true.

    Thus there is no real contradiciton. Likewise in Scripture some provisions go away. This does not mean homosexuality is no longer condemned.

  21. PTET Says:

    Hi Wakefield Tolbert

    “(Apparently a knockoff of the commentary over on UD.)”

    A rather obvious satire, I would have hoped : )

    “But is it not possible to subvert these alleged “always” hard sciences?”

    Of course! But these sciences are subverted when they are ruled by irrational belief and mindless ideologies rather than the scientific method. You have made my point for me nicely. Thank you.

    “Likewise in the biological sciences and other endeavors related there is a consistent if not always admitted adherence ahead of time to not only materialistic notions but HOW this can be made into a a world philosophy for some change or action.”

    That’s nonsense. Science itself is neutral as to such questions. Scientists are human, and have their own foibles and preferences, religious or otherwise.

    “Thus most atheists, biologists, and other interested parties promulgating secularism are about 99% socialistic or very Leftist in outlook.”

    99%, huh? Tut tut. Doesn’t the Bible have something to say about bearing false witness?

    Here’s a Conservative Christian Biologist who would disagree with you about secularism in science.

    Most Christian scientists, my friend, accept evolution and say that it does not conflict with their faith.

    And have you heard of the Clergy Project?

    “To claim otherwise and use your standards of approach to context, one might as well claim that since, speaking of rape, all rape is sex, therefore all sex is rape. Whereas in the application of context we know this is not true.”

    You seem to have a bit of a think for making up what you think other people think. It’s not very becoming : /

  22. Ilíon Says:

    Feyd: I know you said you don’t want to talk about the morality of homosexuality, but I hope you’ll excuse me for saying that Im not so sure same sex erotic behaviour is really a sin. Im uncomfortable about this as im going against scripture but my conscience clearly tells me it would be unfair for God to make people only attracted to their own gender and then deny them the joy of sex.

    Ilíon: Furthermore, no one is born “gay.” And even if they were, so what?

    I was born with an amazing temper (I must have been! for all my family are stubborn and have hot tempers). Is it unjust for God to “deny [me]the joys” of expressing my temper?

    Rich: Support or retract.

    Ilíon: Isn’t this fellow an absolute riot!?

    Rich: I see you can’t support your claim, Ilion, just like all the other claims you’ve made, that are document elsewhere.

    Do you think people choose teh_gay or maybe catch teh_gay?

    What a blatantly intellectually dishonest person this Rich is (that can be put into Anglo-Saxon if the reader is having difficulty understanding it).

    Rich is a fellow who waves around, as though it were a magic talisman, the truism that “one can’t prove a (universal) negative” — when it suits him. And, when it suits him to ignore that “principle” … well, as always, his “principles” are quite fungible.

  23. Ilíon Says:

    I have identical twin sisters — which means that they have the same genetics.

    One is an alcoholic, the other is not.

    They both *chose* to be or to not be enslaved to alcohol.

  24. Ilíon Says:

    W.T.:… Thus there is no real contradiciton. Likewise in Scripture some provisions go away. This does not mean homosexuality is no longer condemned.

    Though, I would caution about that word “homosexuality” — what is Biblically condemned is “homosexual practice;” the term “homosexuality” is generally used to denote … to put this into Christian terms … the weakness of finding homosexual practice to be a temptation.

  25. Rich Says:

    You woefully misunderstand genetics, Illion. They are templates that give propensities. Nurture AND Nature. An incidence of homosexuality is natural. Natural is what nature does:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15750604/

  26. ptet Says:

    Hi Wakefield

    I replied to your comment but it doesn’t seem to have appeared!?

    Yes my “slogan” is a satire on that of Uncommon Descent.

    Yes hard sciences may always be subverted… But it is non-materialistic foolishness and ideologies (racism, religion) which subvert them.

    Your knowledge of evolution is obviously superior to mine or Dawkins so I shan’t argue that with you.

    And what makes apologetics so risible is its a priori belief and constant insistence that “scripture” trumps all evidence and reason.

    P

  27. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Hi PTET>

    Well I blog on a variety of topics. Not just religion. Which in fact has taken a backseat to most of my other interestes.

    I would say that I know only enough to know who the chief salesmen of many ideas are. Be that issues on science posing as salesman of philosophy of life or philosophies of life posing as social policy via force.
    Unfortunately the two are interrelated more than we’d like sometimes.
    Dawkins no doubt is superior in most respects in knowledge of zoology.
    When he steps outside these bounds and turns this kind of just-so tale he might as well put on the paint and big red nose of a clown, though.

    I would say Scripture in my estimation dosen’t so much as trump everything else but that it trumps all issues having to do with those areas affecting points of faith.

    Now I am not sure that sciences are always subverted by religion or racism. Those certainly have had negative roles. But there are some vain secular philosophies also that sounded good in theory but missed the human element all the while striving to save humanity.

    In fact I think it was the Athiest master of the ascerbic, HL Mencken, who said that the striving to save humanity is always a false face for oppressing it. That might sound cynical, but he got everyone in that fell swoop of his poisen pen.

    “facts of the matter” as GK Feyerberanc reminded us, are never “issues” in themselves–they have to be very carefully interpreted.

    Now beyond cynicism, it must be remembered that not all philosophy, secular or other, is evil or leads to dire straights. The very foundations of Western thought that allows us to enjoy the fruits of technology (which can be thought of as the frozen form of science) would not be possible were it not the right application of the appropriateness of such ideas. Many cultures before ours were relatively learned and advanced in their own way but had little notion of what you and I would call individualism of the kind that should neither be atomistic or inward but serving to a better goal in life. Christianity and the Greeks in no small part contributed to this achievement. Today even secularists argue over rehashed versions of those moments and ideas from history bequeathed to us by better minds, among them, the faithful.

  28. Ilíon Says:

    Rich:You woefully misunderstand genetics, Illion. They are templates that give propensities. Nurture AND Nature. An incidence of homosexuality is natural. Natural is what nature does:

    Ah! *Now* I get it! What Rich is claiming is that no one is born “gay.”

  29. Rich Says:

    No, you don’t get “it”. “It” being a subset of many things that you don’t get, which are catalogued elsewhere. People don’t choose to be gay, if that’s what you think. First, sexuality is a continuum, and whilst you can be close to either end, you can also be a centrist. The fact that a subset of the population chooses same sex partners is natural. From a rational view point I can see nothing wrong with it and those who oppose it or follow some unsubstantiated fairytale from antiquity that says these are bad people who should be stoned are in my opinion reprehensible in the same way that Sharia is reprehensible.

    PS. IF YOU DISAGREE YOU’RE GAY.

  30. Rich Says:

    Hola PTET.

    *does secret athiest sign*

    Just kidding!

    “And what makes apologetics so risible is its a priori belief and constant insistence that “scripture” trumps all evidence and reason.”

    Have you read “The Open Society and Its Enemies” by Popper? Any Historicism is bad IMHO.

  31. ptet Says:

    Hi Wakefield

    Without the scientific method, your “better minds, among them, the faithful” would be scrabbling around in the dirt with the rest of us. We wouldn’t even be talking.

    I would say Scripture in my estimation dosen’t so much as trump everything else but that it trumps all issues having to do with those areas affecting points of faith.

    Who’s faith? A billion Hindus? The Muslim crowd? And if so which flavor?

    Religion & faith have brought many things, Wakefield, good and bad. But without reason & the scientific method, you can’t tell them apart. That’s a slight problem for you there.

    P

    * flashes secret signal to Rich *

  32. Feyd Says:

    Ilion,

    Yielding to one’s temper does not bring joy! Not for most people anyway, one might experience a momentary sense of release but afterwards you always feel bad.

    Except if it was righteous anger, in which case its not forbidden

    ( The Gospels are clear both by implication and example, Luke 22:36 Matt. 10:34 , Mark 3:1-6 , John 2:12-25 and there are numerous quotes from the OT Ecclesiastes 3:3 )

    I should emphasise the ideal Christian life is characterised by generosity, compassion and forgiveness so you are right that in almost all circumstances Christians ought to keep their tempers under control.

  33. Ilíon Says:

    And yet, there are many people who live in a state of perpetual rage. Perhaps they do enjoy it.

    But you’re sidestepping the point of the question.

  34. Feyd Says:

    You’re right Ilion, I sidestepped your question. Cant really argue with your core point as I cant support my view from scripture.

  35. JOR Says:

    “Religion & faith have brought many things, Wakefield, good and bad. But without reason & the scientific method, you can’t tell them apart. That’s a slight problem for you there.”

    Well, you can’t tell one thing from another, period, without reason, but scientific method has little to do with it unless you’re just using ‘scientific method’ to mean ‘any method which is appropriate to the subject matter and its problems’. That’s a usage I find sympathetic but it is also an idiosyncratic usage, so you should make yourself clearer if you’re going to use it that way.

  36. ptet Says:

    Hey Jor

    scientific method has little to do with it unless you’re just using ‘scientific method’ to mean ‘any method which is appropriate to the subject matter and its problems’. That’s a usage I find sympathetic

    What method do you use to tell one religious revelation from another? Do you sacrifice goats? Or go off into the mountains for 15 years and live of berries? Or do you just know that Christianity is right and Islam is wrong ’cause God told you?

    : )

  37. JOR Says:

    PTET

    “What method do you use to tell one religious revelation from another?”

    Philosophical and historical inquiry. This involves educating oneself on the matters which the purported revelation addresses, to better understand if or when it goes wrong.

    “Or do you just know that Christianity is right and Islam is wrong ’cause God told you?”

    I’m pretty sure Islam is wrong but not at all sure that Christianity is right.

  38. ptet Says:

    JOR – I doff my hat to you, sir.

  39. Ilíon Says:

    Rich:No, you don’t get “it”. “It” being a subset of many things that you don’t get, which are catalogued elsewhere. …

    But then … as we see in just this thread alone … Rich is intellectually dishonest.

    What an interesting pair we must be: I’m stupid … and he’s a liar.

  40. Rich Says:

    It is my opinion that whatever the relative standing of Christianity, Islam is much much worse. They haven’t had a reformation / enlightenment period though – so they seem to be untouched by modernity.

  41. Rich Says:

    Hi Illion, please highlight my intellectual dishonesty, then I can work on fixing it.

    Don’t want to talk about homosexuality any more?

  42. Wakefield TOlbert Says:

    PTET:

    Reason and the Scientific method tell us how to get some physical things done. They do not prescribe lifestyle, emphasis on what is correct, nor how discoveries are to be used. The history of the interaction belies the myth that science and faith have ever been at odds. It can also be pointed out from real historians (not just those the Skepties like to link to on the net) like Martin Rudwick and Rodney Stark that Christianity was in the forefront of human rights, scientific discovery, and the philosophical notions that lead to what the Brits called Common Law and the US called legal norms even for secular society.

    http://www.townhall.com:80/Columnists/Column.aspx?ContentGuid=1996ef45-26ea-4495-a904-3c445cb24f7c

    AS I wrote to the clowns over at the Panda’s Bum, or Panda’s Thumb, or whatever;

    “According to real historians, like Martin Rudwick, Jacob Bronowski offers the “textbook” example of how smart people mangle history. The TV series “The Ascent of Man” which portrays Galileo before dark hooded sith lords of the Church and a simplistic donnybrook of Good vs. Evil is a “travesty” of reportage. The only thing gleaned to be true in his mockery is that this can only result from a DELIBERATE choice to “ignore the historical research available.” Said historical documentation can be found readily in Giorgia de Santilliana, whose book The Crime of Galileo is widely considered the final word on the issue. Seems the major part of the Church was actually on Galileo’s side, and the “clearest opposition came from secular authorities armed with secular ideas.” The Pope was also–at one time–a member of the “Galileisti” (his followers) until secular authorities piped up with their own set of concerns.

    And, of course, as with the Washington Irving mythologies that got transmogrified into ‘just so’ stories that in turn turned into “fact” about Christians allegedly once thinking the Earth was flat or that such false cosmology is found in the Jewish Scriptures (also untrue), it IS interesting to see just how long mythology http://www.veritas-ucsb.org/library/russell/FlatEarth.html can hang around as “science” and history.

    And I’ll bet good money in Vegas that Bronowski was one of these groggy elders like Asimov who thought the “Four Corners” of the Earth as mentioned in Scripture was really meaning that the Earth was flat as a cardboard box–not the ACTUAL interpretation of most real scholars who know of what they speak–the four cardinal directions.

    Of course, I realize that lauding liars and con artists helps to this goal of historical revisionism and distortion.

    As a sardonic acquaintance of mine recently quipped: “Funny how a nation of knuckle dragging bible worshippers is also the most technologically and economically advanced nation in the world. The mother of all non sequiturs is that progress in science and engineering is hampered by religious belief. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting and the proof in this case is that a nation founded on the principle of inalienable God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the best thing going. Judeo-Christian belief, whether true or not with regard to divine inspiration, is unquestionably a successful formula for the attainment of high living standards in a free society. I don’t know who said it but Never argue with success and if “ain’t broke” don’t fix it are apt here.”

    If Christian belief were actually some kind of “barrier” to science or progress, it is hard to fathom WHY so many founders of modern science were true believers. Paracelsus, Boyle, and Newton wrote extensively on theology as well as science. Others, like Kepler and Helmont–filled their notebooks with prayers and praise and theological underpinnings. Of course there are dozens of others. Which speaking of underpinning soon brings us another point to make. Some historians in the overkill Moonbat Mode try and dismiss these theological insights as but irritating distractions from pure works. Yet we find that belief in the God of the Bible WAS the UNDERPINNING of many of these men’s insights into a larger realm. It was more than mere expediency. Many of these early explorers of the Heavens used just that word and studied Creation on the assumption that God would have made an orderly Universe, not a Protean one where anything happens, and thus studied to better know the Creator of such wonders. In many if not most cases this was Prime Motivator One in the quest for greater material knowledge. They studied the Cosmos as a way to better understand God. It is the Christian conception of a God of Order that served as the foundation for later scientific insights–and yet today we see that some of us here think you can by analogy build certain skyscrapers with the basement first and then rip that ideological basement from under the rest and hope it stands. Not so. In the few episodes often mentioned over and over to utter exhaustion, like Copernicus and Galileo, the truth is that on the whole the Church had little to say about the findings per se but the implications of such to the moral order. That might have been in the wrong, but the Church actually (in these cases) defaulted to the SECULAR authorities at the time who were used to a worldview of the Aristotelians, and thus decided to fight along side THAT side of the coin.

    Galileo never repudiated his faith. Never. Not once. The positivist modernist approach to historical revisionism like that of JB claims that his religious defense was mere expediency, but the behavior cannot be explained this way if see his determination to fit both realms side by side.

    The other difficult reality is that Christianity has been in the forefront of advocating a philosophical stance that bolstered scientific progress.

    It might also be instructive to peek at the writings of historian John Hedley Brook’s taxonomic rehash on the numerous ways in which Christianity influence the development of science. Long story made short: Christian teachings have served as presuppositions for the whole scientific enterprise in the first place. Despite the mythology of Galileo and the Church which suckers in people like Bronowski and some others with coloring book notions about history (which is always to be read in context—on the whole the Church was actually not so much upset with his scientific ideas but rather what it perceived as repudiation of Aristotelian philosophy, which in turn THEY got from secular philosophers beforehand), the Church since the time of Aquinas has usually relegated the realm of science to scientists and philosophically mentioned that a Universe that ran according to rational laws was biblically one that actually made the most sense, from a deity that organized according to certain precepts. See historians Martin Rudwick and Rodney Stark on this and other common mythologies (like Copernicus) about how wildly modern revisionists with a chip on the shoulder have left out VAST swaths of context concerning those few incidents where religion and science got into a donnybrook. Thus for example, as Rudwick reminds us, modern types of religion bashers proudly boast that the Church fight with Copernicus was over mankind’s “high place” in the Cosmos—when nothing could be further from the truth. Thus types as diverse as Newsweek, the boneheads of PBS, laudy-laud boy Jacob Bronowski, and Daniel Boorstien all take the swipe at the Church for “fighting” the “demotion of mankind’s lofty place” in the scheme of things. Says Rudwick (a true historian, mind you), would that these liars and naysayers read the philosophical issues the Church faced at the time and understand ALSO that in Christian theology that Earth was NEVER a particularly noble place to be its “fallen state”. The OPPOSITE was thought by the Church, as the outer rings of space were the Heavenly Realm and at the center of things much closer to home was Hell itself—the exact opposite of what is commonly assumed about the alleged Copernican battle with the Church. The Church actually had little to say about most of this, and the quotes and asides assembled to foster evidence of an “attack on science” combed out by unscrupulous men like Boorstien and Andrew Dickson White are probably apocryphal at best. So much for what the public schools and even college level “profs” on religion drill into skulls. Not reliable, Chico. Bronowski should have known better than to hand wave all this–but then, things wouldn’t be so complicated and we’d have a history more difficult to lie about to the kiddies when things got sorted out. But then that’s the pitch of modern public education. Keeping things neat and simple and Politically Correct for secularism. Which is another issue altogether. Bronowsi joins the other characters mentioned here who now get to slurp on the seismoid Panda wrist bone and call it a thumb.”

  43. Ilíon Says:

    done did

  44. Ilíon Says:

    Let’s go through this Rich fellow’s intellectual dishonesty again, just in case the casual reader is having trouble grasping the blindingly obvious:

    Feyd: … I hope you’ll excuse me for saying that Im not so sure same sex erotic behaviour is really a sin. … but my conscience clearly tells me it would be unfair for God to make people only attracted to their own gender and then deny them the joy of sex. … Christ was silent on homosexuality, but His tolerance towards prostitutes and lack of fidelity in spite of scripture suggests he might be equally tolerant of gays.

    Ilíon: Jesus was forgiving of prostitues … who sought forgiveness. But he condoned neither whoring nor whore-mongering.

    Furthermore, no one is born “gay.” And even if they were, so what?

    I was born with an amazing temper (I must have been! for all my family are stubborn and have hot tempers). Is it unjust for God to “deny [me]the joys” of expressing my temper?

    Rich: Support or retract.

    [the foolish demand is being made that I simply must accept it as my obligation to "convince" this Rich fellow that "no one is born “gay.”" (the quote-marks around 'convince' are because it is impossible to convince intellectually dishonest persons of anything they don't wish to admit is true) ]

    Ilíon: Isn’t this fellow an absolute riot!?

    [the allusion here is to the absurdity of his demand in this context -- the allusion is to what is spelled out in my next statement about the dishonest content of this Rich fellow's foolish postings]

    Rich: I see you can’t support your claim, Ilion, just like all the other claims you’ve made, that are document elsewhere.

    Do you think people choose teh_gay or maybe catch teh_gay?

    Ilíon: What a blatantly intellectually dishonest person this Rich is (that can be put into Anglo-Saxon if the reader is having difficulty understanding it).

    Rich is a fellow who waves around, as though it were a magic talisman, the truism that “one can’t prove a (universal) negative” — when it suits him. And, when it suits him to ignore that “principle” … well, as always, his “principles” are quite fungible.

    [a different post to Feyd, continuing the theme of the utter inadequacy of the "I was born this way" rationalization of bad and/or sinful behavior patterns]
    Ilíon: I have identical twin sisters – which means that they have the same genetics.

    One is an alcoholic, the other is not.

    They both *chose* to be or to not be enslaved to alcohol.

    Rich: You woefully misunderstand genetics, Illion. They are templates that give propensities. Nurture AND Nature. An incidence of homosexuality is natural. Natural is what nature does:

    Ilíon: Ah! *Now* I get it! What Rich is claiming is that no one is born “gay.”

    Rich: No, you don’t get “it”. “It” being a subset of many things that you don’t get, which are catalogued elsewhere. People don’t choose to be gay, if that’s what you think. First, sexuality is a continuum, and whilst you can be close to either end, you can also be a centrist. The fact that a subset of the population chooses same sex partners is natural. From a rational view point I can see nothing wrong with it and those who oppose it or follow some unsubstantiated fairytale from antiquity that says these are bad people who should be stoned are in my opinion reprehensible in the same way that Sharia is reprehensible.

    PS. IF YOU DISAGREE YOU’RE GAY.

    Notice, once again, just as in his prior post — this intellectually dishonest Rich fellow is *admitting* [though this time partially couching it in questionable scientistic assertions] that “no one is born “gay.”” while simultaneously asserting that I am wrong (factually and morally) when I say that “no one is born “gay.”

    Persons such as this Rich fellow often engage in that little two-step.

    Also, notice, this intellectually dishonest Rich fellow is *admitting* that human beings *chose* to do what they do: “The fact that a subset of the population chooses same sex partners is natural.” (Also, one does wonder what magic this Rich fellow seems to imagine inheres to “the natural.”)

  45. Samuel Skinner Says:

    First off, I can’t comment on the gayness, because I can’t tell the sides from each other. The arguements are unclear. For the record my stance towards gay people is the same as my stance towards everyone else.

    I’m going to have to argue with your rosey view of the church. First of it is arguable that the US is the best country in the world. Other, more secular countries have higher charity rates, higher standard of living and less inequality. They vary from nations like France with 8 weeks vacation and a 10% unemployment rate, Sweden, considered one of the best places on Earth and Japan, with a slightly nutty society and the largest life expectancy on Earth.
    The thing the US unquestionally provides is the military muscle- however given the fact that the atheist countries are also either small, or were hit by WW2 it is hard to tell if there if there is causation.

    As for the good stuff about the church- yeah, it is a myth about them believing the Earth is flat. However the fact there is a flat earther society today doesn’t help. And although the tale of Galileo is not as unflattering to the church as potrayed it is worth remembering that a previous astronomer was burnt to death in 1600 for heretical beliefs, Fillipo Bruno. It is arguable exactly what he was condemned to death for as the records were lost, but it does add a whole other reason why people like Galileo didn’t renounce their faith. There is also the bad things the church has championed. The crusades in Palestine, the witch hunts, the inquisition, the trafficing of human being in the triangle trade (officialy condoned by the church), rejection of birth control, the crusades in France, the crusades in Lithuania, the purges of dissenting groups like the Templars, the justification of genocide against the indians, the justification of colonization, etc. This, by the way is only the Catholic Church.

    I’m not going to go into the philosophy of science. Well, except the comment about Dawkins. Dawkins isn’t wading into theology- Dawkins is attacking the underlying assumption for theology. No other subject requires that you assume its subject matter exists for you take get a degree in it- all the other sciences are based on evidence. Heck, even philosophy has to have a basis in reality. The fact is there is no evidence for the existance of a god, much less the Christian one. In every other field of science, they may not take an outsider seriously, but if he gets completely of the wall results, people will examine the evidence (see cold fusion). Objecting that someone is an outsider or isn’t versed in the field, simply implies they don’t understand it, not that their criticism are invalid.

  46. Rich Says:

    You seem to think that homosexuality is an act, not an orientation.

    WRONG.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality

    By that logic, celebates would be asexual.

    You are conflating the choosing of a partner, which we all hopefully do with the choosing of a sexuality, which none of us do. Schoolboy error, but then again it is you.

    Thanks.

    Now please look at your ‘intellectual honesty’ claims and apply them here:

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=14;t=5340;st=30#entry90001

    Proof of God. Seawater as fuel. Physician, heal thyself!

  47. Rich Says:

    Okay – I’m on moderation. I’m done here – shame on you, though.

  48. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    There is also the bad things the church has championed. The crusades in Palestine, the witch hunts, the inquisition, the trafficing of human being in the triangle trade (officialy condoned by the church), rejection of birth control, the crusades in France, the crusades in Lithuania, the purges of dissenting groups like the Templars, the justification of genocide against the indians, the justification of colonization, etc. This, by the way is only the Catholic Church.

    I/m quite sure BR has better analysis on all this from history. But it can also be shown that when you re-attach the VAST swaths of historical context including the political and social side of this, you have more the hell of humanity than something God would advocate.

    Christ never rode in triumph over the downtrodden or advocated human subjugation.

    That is a neat human invention.

    AS far as the Crusades, there WAS an element there that was more defensive than offensive.

    Unless perhaps you’d like to see clitoral mutilation come to Europe or sing the praises of ALLAH thrice a day. Charles Martel and many others including the Crusaders preserved what we call Europe for later generations. The Crusades was NOT just about the Holy Land. It was a last stand against Arabian incursions into Europe

    Elsewhere for the secualist Euro argument, the ultimate laugh as I reminded Rich is that they might go extinct.

    The ultimate in Darwinian judgement, mind you. They will find that nothing in this wretched world is free–not cradle to grave health care, sumptious goodies and welfare handouts, or whatever the latest pitch.

    You can’t do it all. You can’t have civilizations where the only individual responsibility is the vaugery of socialism and happy fun time and sumptious vacation packages on the backs of those who work harder. Or a philosophy that says all you need to do in life is sit in front of the TV and eat ice cream and the government will care for you.

    Like Ayn Rand once said.

    The somehow of socialism generally means “someone else’s time and effort and energy and money”

  49. ptet Says:

    Sorry Wakefield, your… Erm… Wordiness… Makes it too tiring to speak to you. And you seem to have some ludicrous baggage about what you think I think which is just too much to wade through. Lord knows what that means about the baggage you have about what you think you believe. But I’ll keep an eye out for you, and I’m sure we can get along somewhere else some other time.

  50. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Yeah I know:

    I try and keep it to Panda’s Bum level of discourse, like when they got huffy a bout a post due to a bad spelling:

    So for now I”ll let the stat crunchers do the talking.

    Here is a handy update on that widely brandished “PAUL” study–whom it turns out is worse even than you think I am. He has lots of words too, but the problem is he spun his wheels:

    http://www.verumserum.com/?p=25

    See also: http://www.verumserum.com/?p=120

    Then there is George Gallup, the internationally respected researcher, who has already shown the positive effects of religion on society.

    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-10-061-r
    Or, if you are more inclined to go with institutionally based researchers try this:

    From the Princeton Religion Research Center, we get the following conclusions about the close connection between religion and individual/ social health.

    1. Religious feelings have spurred much of the volunteerism in our nation. Members of a church or synagogue, as revealed in a Gallup Poll, tend to be much more involved in charitable activity than non-members.

    2. Seventy-four percent of adults say religion in their homes has strengthened family relationships, while 82 percent say that religion was important in their homes when they were growing up.

    3. Eight in ten Americans report that religious beliefs help them to respect and assist other people.

    4. While only 4 percent say their beliefs have little or no effect on their lives, 63 percent state that their beliefs KEEP THEM FROM DOING THINGS THEY KNOW THEY SHOULD NOT DO. (My emphasis)

    Again, from the report:

    “In sum, the religious liberty most Americans cherish and celebrate has enabled religion to flourish in many forms and to become a profound shaper of the American character.”

    Your probably absolutely correct, PTET.

    All things happen in a vacuum, including history. Thus there is no need to look behind secularist or atheist claims like yours, and we’ll just take you from here on out at face value, even when you’re wrong.

    No point in causing people to read more often. Lord knows the education establishment thinks coloring books are just fine for that. Or for that matter, a coloring book definition of Christian history.

    Many thanks.

  51. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Well, PTET, I apologize to you and all the other participants on that other post.

    I was quoting from what I said over on Panda’s Bum, but since my instincts are good and tell me it is highly unlikely that you would go there, I posted here also.

    Just trying to provide context here for the Skinner claim among others that either Christianity is opposed to science or Christianity necesitates some kind of brutal treatment and thoughtlessness to these kinds of issues.

    AS to baggage about what I think you think, I was merely pointing out the APPEARANCE of some kinds of arguments that miss context.

    That was the whole bruha about rape and sex. IN other words just because contextually they are similar in appearance does not mean that contextually they are the same in intentionality or meaning for both participants.

    You might be surprised at how by analogy many people are taken aback by that magical word context. Thus the confusion about God’s will in murder vs. killing (not the same), eating of some foods for some cultures, ordinances in habits, vs eternal rules like prohibition against adultery.
    ETC.

    Many apologies.

    –SWT

  52. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    BR in your article you said, in part, regarding the Middle Way for homosexuals:

    Atheism offers no guarantee of this, and its conception of humanity as a mere automaton whose notions of morality are merely the products of an evolutionary history designed to ensure the propagation of genetic material actually weakens this. Thus, while traditional Christian morality rejects homosexual, its concern for the person as a transcendental subject, made in the image of God, may offer to protect gays as well as heterosexuals from the dehumanisation inherent in a purely atheistic, mechanistic view of humanity.

    But I’ve found much tolerance for homosexual proclivities among those atheists I’ve met or conversed with. Not willing to call them liars just yet or holding an abiding anger at gays, do you really think there is some latent danger outside the “image of God” zone–ie a secular soceity–that seeing all the impending pro-gay legislation could EVER endanger homosexuals’ rights?

  53. Ilíon Says:

    … or sing the praises of ALLAH thrice a day.

    It’s five, isn’t it? And ass-up? … Which is to say, in a posture of subjugation and humiliation?

  54. Ilíon Says:

    Sorry Wakefield, your… Erm… Wordiness… Makes it too tiring to speak to you.

    Yeah I know:

    I try and keep it to Panda’s Bum level of discourse, …

    I call it “Panda’s Thugs.” ;)

  55. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    YES

    FIVE—in the direction of Mecca.

  56. Jason Failes Says:

    “the ideal set for us by the Lord”
    I don’t know what country you live in, or who your Lord is, but most of us on the internet are from democratic western countries, and care far more about determining and acting on ethical principles, rather than imitating local royalty, regardless of how laudable their standards are. Either understand your audience and make your references more global, or make it clear what country you’re from, who this Lord is, and give links or examples of his stellar behavior.

    Kidding aside: Wow, way too long for so few valid points.

    It’s strange the way religious people always seem to presume just what atheists as a group believe. First of all, there is almost nothing that atheists as a group believe, as there is no doctrine, just one’s own conclusions based on evidence.

    Secondly, there was almost nothing in your diatribe about atheist thinking that I recognized (and I’m at least a 3rd generation atheist; If we thought like that, I would recognize it from someone in my family).

    Basically, your whole argument is a compilation of straw man arguments, gross mischaracterizations of and theistic prejudices against atheism, long-outdated beliefs (who thinks Freud speaks for the modern state of atheist thought; indeed to quote someone who presented an idea before the last centuary of findings on homosexuality completely ignores the empirical core of all rational atheists), quote-mining, awful logic, unsupported assumptions, and conflating culture with atheism (ok, so a culture is macho, and because it’s not directly religious, it’s atheism’s fault…what?)

    Returning to the core of atheism, although I recognize that this blog is little more than an echo chamber for like-minded people, I must point out that to claim that a stance is atheistic, you must show that there is a fact-based reason for such a stance. A large number of atheists will not develop nor keep an idea that is not based in fact. There are no such facts for bias towards homosexuals. Period.

  57. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    First of all, there is almost nothing that atheists as a group believe, as there is no doctrine, just one’s own conclusions based on evidence.

    With some noted exceptions, there are some tendencies to regard government as the answer to social ills, political leanings to the Left, and notions about sexuality that are permissive almost to laughable levels. Not to mention the a-priori assumption that science speaks for all arenas of life and politically correct leanings and assumptions about human nature in social concerns. Then of course we don’t have to mine quotes to find out the hatred that most educrats here in the US think or regard to Christian schooling and how public education should ONLY be undergirded by government and the tendency to use this as the anvil to smash faith.

  58. Jason Failes Says:

    “to regard government as the answer to social ills”
    What? No. My irony meter just exploded. Did you really just write that with a straight face? Oh yes, it’s the atheists who do that…

    “political leanings to the Left”
    Only in the US and other countries where the Right has become hopelessly intertwined with evangelicalism. Classical policy-based conservatism (rather than social conservatism) can earn an atheist’s support as easily as a liberal candidate.

    “notions about sexuality that are permissive almost to laughable levels.”
    What, that sex between any two consenting adults is no one else’s business (except in cases where a monogamous relationship has been violated)? Yeah, that’s laughable…

    “the a-priori assumption that science speaks for all arenas of life”
    What? Again, strange and unclear. Science is an empirical and quantitative method for studying phenomenon, any phenomenon. Science is progressive and studies whatever is observable. It is not political, it just happens to support ideas that pass an empirical reality check over those that do not. I often point out that if Christianity were true, science would point right to it: Our DNA lineage would trace back to an eight person bottleneck around the time of a geology detected a global flood. Radiometric dating would give no dates older than 10 000 years. Christians would be immune to poison (Mark 16 or 18), and would literally be able to move mountains with prayer. All observable stars would be the same age, etc. Indeed, science would point directly to any true religion and any true religion would not have to develop an adversarial stance to science in order to survive.

    As for “all arenas of life” do you mean the origin of life or its purpose? As for the origin, yes, there is as of date no comprehensive theory of life’s origin, but we are suffering under a glut of findings and possibilities not a winnowing down to “god did it”. Amino acids and other organic molecules are common in space and on other planets. Self-replicating molecules are also common. Mineral substrates that may have provided physical scaffolding for the development of more complex molecules are too numerous to study easily. There are years of work to be done, all of it interesting, and all of it indicating a naturalistic origin of life (although not proving it by any measure yet)

    If you mean the purpose of life, that is just plain wrong. Science is descriptive (explains and predicts), not prescriptive (tells us what we should do). Science is useful insofar as once a consensus is reached (ex, let’s maintain the climate at its current mean temperature), scientific analysis allows a quantitative analysis of various options to choose the best path for achieving said goal (ex, regulation of carbon dioxide and other radiant-energy-trapping gases). This false reasoning is most often seen in the context of the evolution “debate”. Evolution no more means that we should cull those we see as “less fit” ( a stupid concept since “fit” means fit between organism and environment, not some ubermensch ideal) than gravity means we should push people off tall cliffs.

    “Then of course we don’t have to mine quotes to find out the hatred that most educrats here in the US think or regard to Christian schooling and how public education should ONLY be undergirded by government and the tendency to use this as the anvil to smash faith.”
    This does not even make sense. School boards in the US are elected, with often detrimental results, but elected nonetheless. Homeschooling your kids (no matter how anti-factual that schooling may be) is completely legal. Public schools simply have an obligation to present factual materials only. Sorry that your religion is counterfactual, but that is your religion’s problem, not reality’s.

  59. Ilíon Says:

    Ah! Yet another member of the “herd of independent thinkers.”

  60. Umlud Says:

    Ah! Yet another member of the “herd of dependent thinkers.”

  61. uncle noel Says:

    Wakefield:
    Right. Christians never use the government to enforce Christian will. And the 80+% Christian majority suffers discrimination. Not Homosexuals.
    No one who works in public education attempts to “smash faith”. Our schools are welcoming to those of all faiths. Athiests are the only folks who are disciminated against by being forced to say “..one nation under God…”

    Good government can help, bad government can hurt. Atheists are more likely to be pragmatic and objectve. Some of our founding fathers were Deists and Unitarians; indistinguishable from atheists in how their beliefs inform their decisions.

  62. Mark Williams Says:

    With some noted exceptions, there are some tendencies to regard government as the answer to social ills, political leanings to the Left[...]

    Your description so far describes most American Catholics better than the atheists I know.

    [...], and notions about sexuality that are permissive almost to laughable levels.

    I don’t know what notions of sexuality you’re referring to here, but without any other information, I won’t accept an assessment of their laughability from someone who gets his sexual morality from an ancient book he purports is divine. Laughability is in the eye of the beholder.

    Not to mention the a-priori assumption that science speaks for all arenas of life and politically correct leanings and assumptions about human nature in social concerns.

    Now you’re going off the deep end. I can only assume that by “politically correct” you mean “secular stuff I don’t agree with”; I find atheists value reason too much to stay beholden to ideas they can’t defend intellectually, just because they’re pressured to conform to them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be atheists in the United States, that’s for sure.

    Then of course we don’t have to mine quotes to find out the hatred that most educrats here in the US think or regard to Christian schooling and how public education should ONLY be undergirded by government and the tendency to use this as the anvil to smash faith.

    Well, I think that’s paranoia. I’m not denying that atheists take a dim view of religiously inspired teaching, and of course atheists believe that Christians are in error to believe in god. But then, Christians think atheists are in error, so there’s no special atheist animosity there. My view is that secular public education is the only reasonable solution in a country that allows free exercise of any religion. And if secular education is all it takes to smash faith, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that the faith is misplaced, that it can be derailed by a few objective facts. But in any case, I and most other atheists I know are staunch supporters of religious freedom as a universal principle. If we can “smash your faith” by convincing you with reasonable arguments, then fine, but we’re not waging a religious war. Unlike a significant contingent of American Christians, I might add.

  63. beastrabban Says:

    Hi guys – thanks for keeping the discussion going while I was busy. However, to clear up a few points:

    Firstly, it does seem to me that Dawkins is trying to promote some kind of common cause with gays. In his published comments and in the God Delusion he stresses that in America, atheists are distrusted even more than gays, and I’ve come across a lot of atheist polemics since then that argues that Judaeo-Christian religion is evil, because the Mosaic Law outlaws homosexuality. Now this is just my subjective impression, but it does appear that Dawkins’ comments have given weight to atheist polemic in this department.

    Now I’ll try and explain what I was trying to do with the article. Firstly, I don’t doubt that you’re right, Feyd, and that most atheist do have a positive attitude towards gays, or are more tolerant in that direction than most religious people. However, this is a product very much of the ‘zeitgeist’, and the cultural climate can change.

    My point is not that atheism is inherently hostile to gays – it’s that it ultimately offers no protection because of its rejection of objective morality in favour of subjectivism or societal or evolutionary explanations. The problem with these is that ultimately, if society is the ground of morality, then it’s no more objective than personal opinion. As for evolutionary explanations, they don’t justify morality. There is a difference between what occurs in nature, and what is morally permissible.

    Now I’ve come across a number of different explanations for homosexuality, from the genetic to the Freudian psychological. I’ve no doubt that some are genetically predetermined to homosexuality. I’ve also got the impression that often it’s a mixture of genetic determination and personal upbringing. The cultural climate also has an effect. In some parts of the world where the status of women is extremely low, such as in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is a very strong homosexual culture despite it’s prohibition in Islam. I also understand that there was an article a few years ago in New Scientist that suggested that homosexuality was acquired from the mother as a defence against excessive child-bearing. Apparently when women have a lot of children, the metabolism acts to prevent further child-bearing and its threat to the mother’s health by reducing her sexuality. This, the article argued, can be passed on to her children so that they’re born without any innate sexuality. Their sexuality is thus the product of their upbringing. Now I haven’t read the article, and I’m not a doctor or human biologist, so I can’t make any judgements on how true it is. In 1999 New Scientist also published an article claiming that homosexuality may be caused by abnormal levels of testosterone in the womb.
    I think it’s also fair to say that apart from those who are naturally gay, there are some who experiment with it as part of cultural fashions.

    These explanations, whether they’re right or wrong, on their own don’t actually make any moral statement about homosexuality one way or another, though clearly they should inform moral judgments about it. That depends on the philosophical attitude towards sexuality taken by society, an attitude that may well be influenced by other factors.

    Now for the comments about the Nazis being Christians. No, they weren’t. Hitler’s hatred of Christianity is very well documented, as well as his plans for the elimination of Christianity after the Nazis won the War. I’ve blogged on this before. Now Hitler wasn’t an atheist – he was a Spinozan pantheist. Nevertheless, he wanted the extermination of Christianity because of its perceived irrationality and basis in Judaism.

    As for the comments about Freud, yeah, I know very well Freud’s been discredited. My point for mentioning Freud wasn’t to argue that atheists are all Freudians and so hate homosexuals, but simply to point out that the positive view many, perhaps most atheists have of homosexuals is recent, that other atheist ideologies have, and may again, view homosexuality as an aberration to be eradicated.

    As for you finding the above article offensive, PTET, I can understand why. But perhaps that’s the wrong attitude. My point is not that atheists do hate gays, but that atheism itself cannot guarantee their better treatment without making certain assumptions that go beyond a materialist description of humanity.

  64. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    What, that sex between any two consenting adults is no one else’s business (except in cases where a monogamous relationship has been violated)? Yeah, that’s laughable…

    If you and your sister are both adults–would it then be ok to have sex with her–or is that too some funddy duddy thingy leftover from evangelical Chistianity?

    There is a reason for context and purity in relations among the married and the unmarried alike. Might want to investigate that.

    While a point in overkill–most morals we have today do derive in part from religion, whether that is like or not is beside the point. From a purely mechanistic or Darwinian point of view then, beyond the health of the genes, the skies the limit in what we can do, including murder. Peter Singer for one takes the tack that in point of fact the main problem for progressive atheists hoping for a better tomorrow (which belies the lie that athiests have no agenda per se as a group) is that there are TOO MANY morals getting inthe way of human progress.

    Elsehere, if it is merely a response to “evangelic right” that causes most atheists to drift leftwards, then this is completely and utterly irrational a response.

    It didn’t pull in the libertarians or Ayn Rand, so it is rather ODD that most athiests sites I’ve vistited are haters of capitalism and individualism (exept when the issue is sex–naturally…., sex for athiests = salvation) and economics of freedom and instead drift to empty suits and empty skirts in the media creations like Hillary Clinton and wonder boy Barak Obama and related chuckleheads.

    I’ve quoted the main movers and shaker in athiesm–particularly those involved in “forging new realities” in the dismal train wreck often referred to as “public education”—and to a person they cling to one side of a peculiar fence when it comes to human freedom outside the narrow confines of the lubricant and condom gallery of Castro Street in San Francisco.

    Maybe I;’ll post it again here sometime. Rather hateful especialy of notions of school choice and homeschooling and all notions of authority that point away from government nannystatism and central planning.

    ANd yet they claim elsewhere to be so smart.

  65. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Homeschooling your kids (no matter how anti-factual that schooling may be) is completely legal.

    The NEA has tried for years to reach Germany’s model–and the advocacy of much of the rest of Europe–in making this ILLEGAL..

    They don’t have the clout yet—but this is not for lack of will or trying.

  66. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    This does not even make sense. School boards in the US are elected, with often detrimental results, but elected

    Only becuase you’re not on the receiving end of certain invasive ideas about parental rights.

    Election–smection. The real movers and shakers in these realms are NEVER elected. Except at the higher eschelons by their own members.

    WOW.

  67. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Christians would be immune to poison (Mark 16 or 18), and would literally be able to move mountains with prayer.

    Those are allegories–and the bit about poisen means in context those for whom God had specific missions that would not be thwarted by certain attempts on life. It is not indicative of drinking poison to prove some point.

    One might as well jump off a cliff—which Satan tempted Christ with and was rebuffed and warned not to put God to a foolish test, etc.

    Once again athiests mine their own gems without rehashing the fact that after 100 years of using HL Menken type arguments they never gain traction.

    This is like the “foundations of the earth” mess purported to prove the world is flat–which in fact no Christian ever believed and like the 4 cardinal direction which are listed by the jews as “corners of the earth”are allegorical–yet all we hear are

    “Christians used to think the earth was flat”

  68. Umlud Says:

    This is like the “foundations of the earth” mess purported to prove the world is flat–which in fact no Christian ever believed

    I’m sorry. Are you now speaking for all Christians throughout time, or only the Christians with worldviews agreeing with your statement?

  69. Bruce Says:

    My point for mentioning Freud wasn’t to argue that atheists are all Freudians and so hate homosexuals, but simply to point out that the positive view many, perhaps most atheists have of homosexuals is recent, that other atheist ideologies have, and may again, view homosexuality as an aberration to be eradicated.

    Atheists have a “positive” view of homosexuals??? That doesn’t make sense. Why would our views be “positive” (or negative for that matter) toward something that doesn’t need a moral judgement?

    Most atheists don’t really care if someone is gay. We are neutral on the subject. Being gay doesn’t automatically give you bonus points. But being a decent human being does. Your sexual orientation defines who you like to have sex with, that’s it. Contrary to what some of you may have heard, it is not a “lifestyle”.

    So if some people have a “negative” view of gay people and insist on treating it as a “lifestyle” then that’s their problem and they obviously need to be enlightened. But don’t try to drag us atheists into your twisted world view, because we do not share it.

  70. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    AS I wrote to an aquaintence recently, in part, these (below) are the real movers and shakers in public education here in the States. And NO–they DON”T like homeschooling. These are the ones—and not the countryfried hicks who sit on school boards–who have the authority and voice to put the punch in what they advocate and have teachers listen. After all my sister is one of them. And they alone are what she reads about for advocacy and social goals Visit the NEA website and see this milkwater marxism also…:

    “TOM:

    The real problem comes in when you have this combined with organizations that CLAIM to “merely” be defending “science.” The National Science Foundation here in the States claims this, as do dozens of other outfits and tax exempt clubs that have “science” in the letterhead or local citizens councils (so they say) like the South Carolinians for Science Education, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and so forth. What is interesting, as pointed out by writers like Dinesh D’Souza, for example, is that in all this worry and froth over “failure to teach REAL science” in the public schools and how our schools are failing us and religious types get in the way of this, there is something mission. Actually several things. First, a look at just what certain kinds of science are showing results. Second, why are other nations making better use of their resources? Third, you NEVER hear in all this “science” jabber any such thing as a lawsuit to a public school about the meaning of tectonic plate movement, photosynthesis, or the ACLU getting upset over the mishandling of Boyle’s Law or Issues in Entropy and meanings for the Universe. Yet ask a high school student about any of these or Einstein’s famous equation and you’ll likely get little response outside the science team. Yet no lawsuits. Two reasons, says Dinesh. One, education is not the actually goal here. And certainly little about science is what spills beer at the biology conventions. It IS ABOUT Darwinian evolution being taught.

    ONLY—-that aspect of science. Second, and more importantly, the issue is not so much inculcation of ideas even on this but a way to “mitigate” superstitious “belief” and “supposition”, which is exactly how religion is seen by these Enlightenment wizards of public education advocacy. Thus for example, Richard Lewontin, science will establish itself as the only access to reality and source of Truth. All else is mush and gush. Says he “The objective of science education is NOT to provide the public with knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of. Rather, it is the problem of getting them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, science, as the only begetter of truth.”

    The issue is clear. For the defenders of Darwinism, no less than for the critics, religion, not education per se, is THE PROBLEM, to be overcome.

    Paul Blanchard, long held in esteem as one of the “pioneers” of public education here in the US and a leading member of the Humanist’s association, proudly boasts of education’s accomplishment. Singular, it seems. Says he ..“we might not be able to teach Johnny to read or write or count to 10, but by god, we’ve got him for at least 16 years of his life in the (public schools) and that tends to mitigate against superstitious belief.” John Dewey, famous educator, John Dunphy, Supreme Court judge Oliver Wendell Holmes (who once said he saw no difference in the moral attributes of a human being versus a baboon), and Darwinian attorney who helped formulate “positive law” Clarence Darrow of the nonsensical circus Scopes Trial fame (which was also a setup and media fake, BTW), made similar statements up and down his career path of empathy for murderous predators and that fact that all morals are relative. And we don’t mean your sister.

    Educrat warrrior Richard Rorty also made similar noises and hopes, per him, that those “fundamentalist” kids entering into college could be turned around in opposition to what mom and dad thought at home and disdains this “quaint notion” that our kids are ours to teach. For Rorty, college will finish the job missed in high school in turning kids to his side of secularism: Rorty notes that students are fortunate to have had people like him around “under the benevolent “Herrshaft” of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents…we are going to go right on trying to discredit (the parents) in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable.”

    Helen Calderone, as well as Margaret Sanger in her day, (who was, like Peter Singer, big on infanticide and sterilization and sex as the noble path to human salvation) tells us that public education and specifically the ethics of new sex and other orgasmic discoveries (which she says the orgasm is the divine and ultimate goal of human development) asks “what kind of person are we to evolve” and proudly answers that the new “sexual human” should be forcible removed from the negative influences of parents and church and other “oppressions” that teach people to keep their pants zipped until marriage. For Calderone, orgasm is akin to a religious experience and is the prime directive and thus ultimate goal for the human race.

    To achieve this, the public schools will be the force, the “anvil” on which (per Sanger), the “rotting corpse of Christianity will finally be crushed and swept away.” Sanger’s views on racism and euthanasia and eugenics are not often heard today. Nor her hatred of “unfit” classes of human “debris”, nor her addiction to Demerol and her promiscuious sex life with multiple “voluntary partners”, as she called them. Nor much about her committed Darwinian ethics that included removing undesirables from the earth including those who found comfort in spirituality and not just those of us not qualified to go to Cambridge or Harvard or had too many rugrats to feed at the tenement housing. But now that Planned Parenthood and other spin-offs and brainchilds she began or inspired are in full swing and teach the kiddies that cucumbers are just as good as real men, who cares? As you know by now Richard Dawkins takes no prisoners. In the UK it seems he’s issued a set of DVDs called Growing Up in the Universe, based on his Royal Institution Lectures of children. The lectures promote (per one reviewer) “Dawkins secular and naturalistic PHILOSOPHY for life.” Popular brain researcher and fellow Darwinian spear carrier Daniel Dennett picks up and urges that the schools finish the job by promoting the idea of religion as a purely materialistic brain phenomenon. Says Dennett, parents just need to step aside here. Privacy, legal norms, and freedoms we take for granted now are passé in the New Liberation: “some children are raised in such an ideological prison that they willingly become their own jailers…forbidding themselves any contact with the liberating ideas that might well change their minds….the fault lies with the parents who raised them. Parents don’t literally own their children the way slave-owners once owned slaves, but rather are their stewards and guardians and ought to be held accountable by outsiders for their guardianship, which does imply that outsiders have a right to interfere.

    Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey argued in a recent lecture that just as Amnesty International works to liberate political prisoners around the world, secular teachers and professors should work to free the kiddies from the “damaging influence” of their parents’ religious instruction. “Parents have no god-given license to enculturate their children in whatever ways the personally choose; no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.

    Dawkins’ notion of domestic tranquility and parental rights? Similar but more aggressive even than Rorty’s:

    Isn’t it always a form of child abuse (sic) to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought about?

    Noting that the Constitutional provisions of the freedom of religion and the privacy of the home and childrearing have upper limits he just can’t tolerate, Dawkins follows up by adding that “how much do we regard children as being the ‘property’ of their parents? It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in ? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?”

    Strong language of the use of force. Not to be outdone (and guess who can match even this), Christopher Hitchens writes “How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith?” One wonders if Hitchens might be a mite damaged in some degree or another. He concludes that “If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the ‘age of reason’(sic), we would be living in a quite different world.”

    I’m quite sure he’s right. More than he knows. Noted biologist E.O. Wilson wants educators to make sure the kids know from here on out that the brain is the product of evolution only and that “free moral choice is an illusion……if religion….can be systematically analyzed and explained as a product of the brain’s evolution, its power as an external source of morality will be gone forever.” A prospect no doubt he finds exhilarating. Physicist Stephen Weinberg, popularly quoted favorably in many physics textbooks and covered for nifty quotes, says “I personally feel that the teaching of modern science is corrosive of religious belief, and I’m all for that……if scientists can destroy the influence of religion on young people, then I think it may be the most important contribution that we can make.”

    There went all the claims to scientific neutrality. They just leaped (or more likely got knocked) out the window of the lab.

    Carolyn Porco, a researcher at the Space Science Institute in Colorado, at a 2006 conference on science and religion said “ We should let the success of the religious FORMULA guide us…..Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome and even comforting than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know

    In a “libertarian” magazine called Reason, Jonathan Rauch applauds a development he calls “apatheism” which he defines as a “disinclination to care all that much about one’s own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people’s” Rauch argues that many self-proclaimed Christians today are really apatheists. It is not a lapse, he says, but rather “an achievement” worth a gold start and he hopes the entire culture will soon follow suit.

    Dennet for his part does throw a bone to believers. A gnawed one. And a snide one at that.

    He says that like other extinct ritual and culture now enshrined in museums or species confined to zoos now that their world has been bulldozed, religious people should have their churches removed OR turned into repositories–akin to zoos–for the amusement, entertainment and “enlightenment” of non-believers, the so-called BRIGHTS, the rational materialists who can “handle the world with science and not superstition.” Note the word “amusement”, and not “reverence” or “respect.” On Cosmic Log, a site I visit once in a blue moon, one poster chimed in to say religion should be destroyed as it hinders embryonic research that could have saved his grandpa. This is worse than untrue, as in reality it is the ADULT stem cells, not the embryonic ones, doing all the heavy lifting in research, though you never hear of this and to mention Adult stem cells in the media you’d think we were talking unicorns and elves. But, yes, Virginia, there REALLY IS such a thing as ASCs. Others mocked the “Christer types” who are “always getting in the way” and of course George Bush is the new incarnation of the Devil for not allowing forced Federal funding (though private is allowed) for stem cell research if using human zygotes. On and on it goes. The irony here is overwhelming and almost funny if not so dangerous. Dennet’s bone (and bones of contention, for that matter) would be somewhat more meaningful if this were true honor of the great strides and respect showed to such that Christianity made to science (indeed, as the Soul of Science suggests, the VERY backbone) and development from animism and primitivism to the modern world’s encoding of law and justice and reason.”

  71. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    I often point out that if Christianity were true, science would point right to it: Our DNA lineage would trace back to an eight person bottleneck around the time of a geology detected a global flood. Radiometric dating would give no dates older than 10 000 years. Christians would be immune to poison (Mark 16 or 18), and would literally be able to move mountains with prayer. All observable stars would be the same age, etc. Indeed, science would point directly to any true religion and any true religion would not have to develop an adversarial stance to science in order to survive.

    Many things happen to such junctions to where it might be difficult to assess certain histories. There is wide debate today on the human genome’s origins. ditto for the constant attempt at circumventing the Big Bang and other “consensus” material that nontheless is getting bad reportage due to its implication as having possible theological associations.
    Interesting that at this point even the “FACT” of the Big Bang is getting rewritten to accommodate a priori notions about leaving the “G” question out of the equation. This is a noble attempt but one that is philsophically based nontheless and even atheistic philosophers of science like Michael Ruse say we must use “provisional” atheism in science EVEN IF our ultimate facts turn out to be not so factual after all….So God cannot be part of the science equation by very definition. How convenient. And stultifying. Even if…….

    As for “all arenas of life” do you mean the origin of life or its purpose? As for the origin, yes, there is as of date no comprehensive theory of life’s origin, but we are suffering under a glut of findings and possibilities not a winnowing down to “god did it”. Amino acids and other organic molecules are common in space and on other planets. Self-replicating molecules are also common. Mineral substrates that may have provided physical scaffolding for the development of more complex molecules are too numerous to study easily. There are years of work to be done, all of it interesting, and all of it indicating a naturalistic origin of life (although not proving it by any measure yet)

    You MUST think me stupid.

    Yes, Virginia–the attempt is made by many darwinists to create a template for not just “ultimate origins” questions but daily life morals also—else Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett and William Provine would not spend time and money travelling the nation giving speechs on how life must now be viewed and how the old mores must be cast out like yesterday’s laundry and how even society and politics will be altered via darwianian thought due to our new understanding or mortality and grabbing the gusto here on earth, or having it socially planned. Beyond this, Dawkins and CO are passionately political AND Politicaly Correct

    If you mean the purpose of life, that is just plain wrong. Science is descriptive (explains and predicts), not prescriptive (tells us what we should do).

    BULL…. More than one science writer and researcher has laid claim to the “facts of the matter” dictating certain kinds of social and even economic policy and now politics. One wonders if anyhone reads SCIENCE or SciAm anymore.. The books on this are legion in number and the names for advocacy would fill 50 blackboards…When Michael Chricton once warned that science and politics make a suspect mix, he had his head taken off, figuratively, for this one stray comment….
    Science is useful insofar as once a consensus is reached (ex, let’s maintain the climate at its current mean temperature), scientific analysis allows a quantitative analysis of various options to choose the best path for achieving said goal (ex, regulation of carbon dioxide and other radiant-energy-trapping gases).

    a warmer world might be needed, and in point of fact the increased vapour in the air and Co2 might actually promote plant growth. Unless of course we think that millions starting each year is fine and dandy an idea. Global warming will remove beachfront property from old golf doffers at most…

    This false reasoning is most often seen in the context of the evolution “debate”. Evolution no more means that we should cull those we see as “less fit” ( a stupid concept since “fit” means fit between organism and environment, not some ubermensch ideal) than gravity means we should push people off tall cliffs.

    Not all darwinists are euqenicists, but Peter Singer’s and Margaret Sangers (in her time) all go their ummmph from these kinds of ideas. As did Darwin himself and Earnst Haekel. Theh problem with darwinian and/or athiestic thought and all unconstrained visions is not that they automatically prmote deleterious ideas but that once proposed, there is no way to falsify such nonsense from a moral point of view

  72. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Meant to add about Singer and Sanger and Darwin and Haekel:

    Sorta like this:

    Not all Darwinists are eugenists, but all euegenists get their gumption from Darwin.

    Sorta like not all guns are rifles. But all rifles are guns.

  73. Mark Williams Says:

    beastrabban wrote:

    My point is not that atheism is inherently hostile to gays – it’s that it ultimately offers no protection because of its rejection of objective morality in favour of subjectivism or societal or evolutionary explanations. The problem with these is that ultimately, if society is the ground of morality, then it’s no more objective than personal opinion. As for evolutionary explanations, they don’t justify morality. There is a difference between what occurs in nature, and what is morally permissible.

    I think the main problem with this argument is that a belief system does not guarantee adherence to any particular behavior by its believers, in practice.

    I don’t speak for all atheists, but here is the foundation to my values as they apply to homosexuality:

    First, any law I would want society to enforce has to be one that, had I been born as anyone else, I would perceive as just. This is a formulation of the Golden Rule.

    Second, individuals should be free to do what they want, to the extent that it does not interfere with others doing the same.

    Third, all people are born equal, in the sense of the Declaration of Independence. Atheism has nothing to say on this subject, in my opinion.

    The Golden Rule has been around a long time; it certainly predates Christianity. Its moral truth is widely recognized. I would call it universal, based on empirical evidence.

    I think atheists would have to agree with the second idea, if they also believe the third. To argue against it would be to say that there is a higher moral authority, either supernatural or natural. Atheists would reject the supernatural case by definition. And the natural case, where some person or group would act as the higher moral authority, conflicts with the Golden Rule (again, if we accept that all people are born equal.)

    So atheism would guarantee protection of gay rights, given that society agrees on the importance of basic democratic ideals. If we take away that given, no one’s rights are guaranteed; the protection of rights is completely at the discretion of whoever is in power.

    But to claim that a theistic religion could do better than atheism in this case would require two conditions: first, that the religion protected the rights of homosexuals (which Christianity, Islam and Judaism do not), and second, that those in power would scrupulously adhere to their religion’s moral dictates; this doesn’t pass the giggle test, and history certainly doesn’t bear it out.

    If you want to hypothesize a gay-friendly Christianity, in the setting of a non-democratic society, where the people in power do not exploit that power but instead are pure, uncorrputed vassals of God, go right ahead, but to me it sounds like Unitarian heaven, not the real world we live in.

  74. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Anti factual homeschooling?

    Wow–I LOVE that one. I missed that one before.

    And yet they outperform their peers in all tests at all levels on any given day of the week! The comparison is not even funny. Well, actually, like most government programs public schools are a wreck in both planning an d implementation.

    Teachocracy is about class management and “proper” socialization–not learning. Your claim is easily falsefied thusly. Numerous studies indicate more than strongly that teacher certification and money have little to do with education.

    Like Mark Twain once said, “my poor momma wanted to get me an education. Unfortunately, she sent me to school instead.”

    Intersting your take on legality too. There was a time when this attitude could land you in jail, and yet homeschooling was historically the way most learning of many scientists and engineers and social activists alike took place before the wild philosophies of the 19th century overturned this.

    Someone once asked me OK smartie pants, show me a monument to homeschooling leaders of note in history.

    I showed them a picture of Mount Rushmore and of course the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, et al.

    No bette rwayto get PC notions, the latest fasions in sociology, and promiscuous sex lessons from teachers and peers alike than to herd them into a warehouse full of social engineers armed with notions more than faccts. Except maybe the math teacher. But then, the presentation of that is not scoring points for the USA compared to other nations either…..

    In fact, when I get a break I’ll be having a blog of my own on this from a noted researcher from SciAm who utterly demolishes this “public domain” notion of having the kiddies learn in the destructive horizontally-aligned peer method of public schooling, as a side note to his insights on the child brain development in the West.

  75. Positive Liberty » Homosexuality, Atheism, & Theism Says:

    [...] Brayton points to a long post by this blogger about atheism and homosexuality which he terms staggeringly stupid. Aside from being long winded (I [...]

  76. Samuel Skinner Says:

    I’d comment, but you guys moved into homeschooling. I don’t know much about it- so I won’t comment, except to say that this is completely off topic. To sum up the who thing- yep the US left can be idiotic and statist. However it would be nice if in the states if we had a choice between that and the openly nutty republicans. They have a man in the primaries whose statements are literally treason (Hucklebee- he wants to replace the constitution and essentially reverse its meaning, intent and purpose). But back to the matter at had.
    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/02/a_fiskityourself_challenge.php
    These people take a look at your arguement and try to pick it apart. They succed.

  77. Jason Failes Says:

    Wakefield wrote:

    “Not all Darwinists are eugenists, but all euegenists get their gumption from Darwin.”

    Yeah, that’s because Darwin had a time-travel machine and introduced eugenics to the ancient Spartans.

    Leaving now, this is pointless: I will voluntarily go to hell for all eternity just for the company.

  78. beastrabban Says:

    Jason, no-one’s denying that the Spartans practised eugenics. However, eugenics was firmly against Christian morality and condemned by the Church, and modern eugenics is a product of Darwinism. So, all modern eugenicist are indeed Darwinists, no matter what you personally would like to believe.

  79. beastrabban Says:

    Sam, regarding the link to Science blogs, nowhere could I find any evidence that they had refuted my comments. Rather, it seemed to consisted of Brayton telling everyone that it was ‘monumentally stupid’ and with the various other commentators on there agreeing and telling everyone that I was either using straw-manning atheism or didn’t understand it. Some of what they said was actually funny, though definitely unintentionally so. Especially the statements from Kehrsam that I had ‘only a passing knowledge of history or philosophy’. Heh heh.

    Mark Williams – thanks for the comment about the Golden Rule. The problem with that is that Kant assumed that it applied to conscious, rational creatures. He excluded animals. Now certain strands of atheism deny consciousness, such as that espoused by the Behaviourists, and latterly Daniel C. Dennett and Sue Blackmore. But if mind doesn’t exist, and humans are not consciousness as they suggest, then there is no reason for the Golden Rule to apply to them. In fact, Kant’s Golden Rule really is part of his transcendental philosophy, so by adhering to it means an acceptance that empiricism and subjectivism are incomplete as theories of virtue.

  80. Ilíon Says:

    Jason Failes:… Leaving now, this is pointless: I will voluntarily go to hell for all eternity just for the company.

    Indeed, it is your voluntary choice to go to hell.

    But I rather doubt you’ll find any company there … ‘company’ as you use it here — conviviality, friendship, fellow-feeling — depends upon love. But there is no love in hell.

    What you are voluntarily choosing for yourself is utter and bitter lonelines.

  81. cognitive dissident Says:

    BeastRabban’s essay is fractally wrong, and a complete fisking of it would be akin to “walk[ing] around the edge of the Mandelbrot set in finite time.” While I don’t have an eternity to spend debunking it, here are several errors that deserve rebuttal:

    “One of the most noticeable features of recent atheist polemic is its deliberate appeal to the gay community.”

    Really? Name one “atheist polemic” that has made such a “deliberate appeal to the gay community.” That’s OK…I’ll wait. (I say this with a fair amount of confidence, having read numerous recent atheist books—Comte-Sponville, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Onfray, and Stenger, to name a few—that featured no LGBT appeals of more than incidental significance. If I have overlooked any, please let me know.)

    “…atheism, as a rejection of theism and its values, does not necessarily lead to a more tolerant or positive attitude towards gays.”

    Atheism—or, to be more precise, its close cousin humanism—does indeed reject the “values” of theism: blind obedience, unquestioned dogmatism, the cult of personality and demagoguery that enables religious cults to thrive, the theistic demand that church and state be merged, and the demotion of unbelievers and other “sinners” to second-class citizenship.

    BR then takes a bizarre detour into nihilism, whose relationship to either atheism or homosexuality is tenuous at best. Perhaps nihilism is another of “the postmodern philosophies that have become fashionable in recent years.” Which philosophies does he believe are fashionable? Neo-conservatism? The militia movement? Scientology? Moonies? Raelians? David Koresh? Jim Jones? Aum Shinrikyo? Freethought is on the rise, especially among the younger generations, but it is hardly “fashionable.”

    “Dawkins’ revised commandment, ‘You shall enjoy your sexuality, as long as you don’t harm others,’…was all very wishy-washy.”

    Is that “wishy-washy” in comparison to Mill’s utilitarian principle? The Declaration’s statement of natural rights? Kant’s categorical imperative? I suppose that it seems “wishy-washy” in relation to forceful and direct statements such as this: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

    “…the tolerance Dawkins was advocating may be totally rejected in favour of intolerance and persecution.”

    On what basis would tolerance be rejected? Without harm—or without a religion that claimed an offense against a supernatural deity—where would the justification for “intolerance and persecution” arise?

    “…many atheist ideologies themselves have been hostile to homosexuality”

    When attempting to support this claim, BR lists three examples: the first is “Freudianism” and the other two are the “vehemently antichristian totalitarian regimes of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.” His supposition that “many” equals three is specious enough, but only one of his examples is an ideology: Freudianism; the other two are specific regimes, not ideologies. (This reduces his claim of “many” to one, and I don’t even need to mention that the allegedly “vehemently antichristian” Nazis were actually very Christian…they were, however, vehemently anti-Semitic.) BR also misses the important fact that atheism was merely incidental to his two remaining “many” examples. The combination of totalitarianism and anti-gay bigotry is, however, quite common among right-wing religious fundamentalists (of both the Islamist and Christianist varieties) and central to their sexist and patriarchal dogma.

    “…there are many things that occur in nature that human society rightly condemns and prohibits. Science may explain the origin of homosexuality, but it still requires a philosophical justification through moral theory.”

    No, your theistic condemnations of and prohibitions against homosexuality (not to mention masturbation, sodomy, and premarital sex) require justification…which has been severely lacking. Neither homosexuality nor any other sexual activity between consenting adults need justify itself to you.

    “Christian moral attitudes…towards the unborn may also protect those who could be suspected of growing up gay”

    They might be protected until they actually grow up to be gay. Then, at least from your viewpoint, they deserve temporal mistreatment and—when their deaths end the ill effects of your disapproval—eternal torture at the hands of your “loving” god.

  82. Mark Williams Says:

    beastrabban said:

    Mark Williams – thanks for the comment about the Golden Rule. The problem with that is that Kant assumed that it applied to conscious, rational creatures. He excluded animals. Now certain strands of atheism deny consciousness,[...]

    Beastrabban, this is an example of what people mean when they say you’re straw-manning atheism. Being an atheist doesn’t require that you believe that humans aren’t conscious, rational creatures (or at least, that they are not _capable_ of rational thought). It doesn’t require you to be a nihilist. And so forth. You’re trying to make atheism guilty by association with certain people and ideas. This is like judging Christianity by the actions and ideas of certain Christians. Making Christianity look bad this way would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

  83. Jon Rowe Says:

    “Indeed, it is your voluntary choice to go to hell.”

    This is provably untrue. I’m accepting your premise that you must be some type of orthodox Trinitarian Christian (I don’t know if you are Catholic or evangelical) in order to be saved. Hence Mormons qua Mormons go to Hell; Muslims qua Muslims go to Hell; Jehovah’s Witness qua JWs go to Hell. When all of them die, they do so convinced as much as you are that they are “choosing” to be with God. Indeed, though I think their religion is utterly misguided, those 19 highjackers who crashed those planes into the WTC gave far more objective evidence than you probably ever will that they choose to be with the God for eternity. They just made a big theological error. And, if your religion is true, men go to Hell, not out of voluntary choice, but for making theological errors.

  84. Ilíon Says:

    Actually, it does … that is, if the hypothetical ‘atheist’ were logically consistent.

  85. beastrabban Says:

    Beastrabban, this is an example of what people mean when they say you’re straw-manning atheism. Being an atheist doesn’t require that you believe that humans aren’t conscious, rational creatures (or at least, that they are not _capable_ of rational thought). It doesn’t require you to be a nihilist.

    Yeah, I’m aware that most atheist do believe in consciousness and aren’t Nihilists. However, there are tendencies in atheism that have implications for the rejection of consciousness and for Nihilism. Stating this isn’t necessarily straw-manning atheism. Remember, I’m not trying to show that atheists are necessarily anti-gay, but that it cannot guarantee acceptance of homosexuals.

    This is like judging Christianity by the actions and ideas of certain Christians. Making Christianity look bad this way would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

    I know what you mean, but it’s actually much harder than you consider. Of this list of Christianity’s supposed crimes Sam Skinner submitted, all of them are far more complex than is supposed.

  86. beastrabban Says:

    Cognitive Dissident, let’s go through your reply:

    Really? Name one “atheist polemic” that has made such a “deliberate appeal to the gay community.” That’s OK…I’ll wait. (I say this with a fair amount of confidence, having read numerous recent atheist books—Comte-Sponville, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Onfray, and Stenger, to name a few—that featured no LGBT appeals of more than incidental significance.

    Now this statement seems to be an admission that Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens and co nevertheless have incidentally made appeals to the gay community. Now I didn’t say that the appeal was blatant, extended, or whatever, only that it was there.

    Which philosophies does he believe are fashionable? Neo-conservatism? The militia movement? Scientology? Moonies? Raelians? David Koresh? Jim Jones? Aum Shinrikyo? Freethought is on the rise, especially among the younger generations, but it is hardly “fashionable.”

    Sorry, this seems to be a bit muddled. You seem to assume that if I consider Nihilism fashionable, then I must consider any or all of the above. But in point of fact, I have come across expressions of Nihilism by members of the gay community in the press, as I’ve said, in the columns devoted to current opinion or trends. So, my comment still stands.

    Now let’s turn to the comments about Dawkins’ statement about sexuality being ‘wishy-washy’. Now these weren’t mine – they Rod Liddle’s, and I said so. If you watched the programme, you’d find that Dawkins agreed. Kant, Mill etc didn’t come into it. Regarding Utilitarianism, one of the problems with it is that ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’ can lead to injustice. If the greatest number decide that homosexuality is evil, for example, and gays should be punished, then by that maxim punishing gays for being homosexual is morally right.

    On what basis would tolerance be rejected? Without harm—or without a religion that claimed an offense against a supernatural deity—where would the justification for “intolerance and persecution” arise?

    This really is just rhetoric. As I said, in the 19th century scientists did find naturalistic explanations for why homosexuality was evil, so you don’t need religion to persecute gays.

    .” His supposition that “many” equals three is specious enough, but only one of his examples is an ideology: Freudianism; the other two are specific regimes, not ideologies. (This reduces his claim of “many” to one, and I don’t even need to mention that the allegedly “vehemently antichristian” Nazis were actually very Christian…they were, however, vehemently anti-Semitic.)

    Firstly, Nazism and Communism were ideologies long before they were regimes. Marxism may be different from ‘Communism’, but Communism, or Marxist-Leninism, was an ideology. The various pronouncements by its leaders were articulated as ‘theses’, for example. Hostility to homosexuals may not have been an integral part of that ideology, but nevertheless it found a place within it.

    As for the Nazis being fervent Christians, this is a very tired old canard. As I said, Hitler hated Christianity. Read his Table Talk .

    No, your theistic condemnations of and prohibitions against homosexuality (not to mention masturbation, sodomy, and premarital sex) require justification…which has been severely lacking. Neither homosexuality nor any other sexual activity between consenting adults need justify itself to you.

    This is just a rant, an assertion without any supporting argument. The problem is, correct expressions of sexuality are always framed within a moral theory. In his Laws , for example, Plato discusses the problem of homosexuality as part of a general discussion of the problem of correct procreation, which also includes subjects like incest.

    Then, at least from your viewpoint, they deserve temporal mistreatment and—when their deaths end the ill effects of your disapproval—eternal torture at the hands of your “loving” god.

    You’re imputing something to me that I never said. I said that homosexuality departed from the divinely mandated ideal. I did not say it merited punishment. Now in point of fact, I don’t believe in persecuting nor prosecuting gays. In fact, I stated that I didn’t want them to be persecuted. So you seem to be suggesting that I’m in favour of something that I’m not.

    Now let’s go back to your comments about Leviticus. Yes, it’s there. However, there is no particular stress on homosexuality in the early Church. It was preached against as part of a general attitude that sex should only be within marriage, but as far as I know, there was no persecution of gays within the early church. The most you get is a comment by one of the Church fathers to close the doors to stop pederasts looking in at the boys. Even in the Middle Ages, while there is a lot of preaching against it, there are very few prosecutions. Now there are two ways of looking at this: either everyone was far more straight than usual; or it was well hidden; or it wasn’t necessarily much of an issue. None of these are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    As for gays going to hell – I don’t know if they do or not. I make no judgment on it, except that a lot of the gays I know are probably better blokes than me, and I would suspect that they would still merit a reward in heaven for their virtues, regardless of their sexuality.

  87. Mark Williams Says:

    Yeah, I’m aware that most atheist do believe in consciousness and aren’t Nihilists. However, there are tendencies in atheism that have implications for the rejection of consciousness and for Nihilism[...]

    It sounds like you want to imply, “if atheists were completely consistent, they would deny consciousness and be nihilists,” but some sort of honesty is keeping you from venturing beyond your vague, equivocating statement. In an essay apparently unconstrained by concerns about brevity, you might have tried to demonstrate a real, necessary causal link from atheism to nihilism, since so much of your argument hinges on it, but you didn’t. I think it’s because you realize that position is indefensible.

    You’re lumping a lot of non-theistic ideas together and saying that, because they’re non-theistic, they all imply and are implied by each other. I think this device works well only if your audience is theistic and and feels threatened by any idea that runs counter to their faith.

    I know what you mean, but it’s actually much harder than you consider. Of this list of Christianity’s supposed crimes Sam Skinner submitted, all of them are far more complex than is supposed.

    If you’re going to defend the horrors of the Inquisition (for example) perpetrated by Christians by appealing to the “complexity” of the situation, you’ve said all that needs to be said about Christian moral relativism.

  88. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Mark – in actual fact, you’re right: I do think there are element in atheism, which, if consistently applied do lead to a rejection of consciousness and Nihilism. And no, that’s not indefensible at all. It is, after all, the conclusion some atheists came to when they embraced Nihilism after all.

    As for the Inquisition, actually, I wasn’t going to defend it at all. I was thinking far more of the Crusades, which were initially a response to an appeal for help by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Palaeologus, if I remember correctly, after he had lost 2/3 of his territory in Anatolia to the Turks after the Battle of Manzikert. The Crusades were largely a response to the massive territorial expansion of Islam by jihad in a process of expansion that had seen Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa conquered, the Arabs overthrow and conquer the Visigoths in Spain, expansion into Provence and Saracen raiding into Rome. After the loss of the Holy Land, further crusades were preached as the Turks expanded into the Balkans and even got as far as the walls of Vienna in the 17th century.

  89. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Jason I might also mention, contras uncle noel, that there is no such animal in the public schools as “just the facts, ma’am.

    The public schools are repositories of all manner of values inculcation–and they proudly boast of this in fact.

    This is value–not facts. Semisoft Marxism light masking as “objective learning” is laughable at the best.

    Public schools in the USA teach that government nannies know best for central planning and that the only individualism that is valid is sexual promiscuity.

    But yes that is off topic at the moment, as is the fact that Mike Huckabee is NOT in fact getting the “evangelical” vote (whomever they are) so much as the proponents of the Fair Tax.

    Which is in fact more fair than the current labryinthic code.

    And Jason, brother—as to Darwin’s intentions and time machines!

    Nice one!

    Excepting that one would guess at the results of some ideas or actions.

    While certainly one cannot be held liable for all eternity for one accident or commission, one also does not need a time machine or a Vegas bet to understand that 10,000 years from now people might still get gravey ill or die if I pour carbon tetrachloride into storm drains all over the city.

    –Wake

    Thanks.

  90. Mark Williams Says:

    Hi Mark – in actual fact, you’re right: I do think there are element in atheism, which, if consistently applied do lead to a rejection of consciousness and Nihilism. And no, that’s not indefensible at all. It is, after all, the conclusion some atheists came to when they embraced Nihilism after all.

    Good for you for coming out and saying it, finally. As you yourself admit though, most atheists don’t make this leap. You still have not proved a causal connection here; you’ve simply stated it.

    [...] was thinking far more of the Crusades [...]

    The Crusades being a completely defensive reaction doesn’t ring true for me, but it’s been a long time since I read anything about it, so I won’t try to refute what you said. I’ll only say: even if we allow that the Crusades were completely defensive, what would Jesus say about the behavior of the Crusaders? I seem to remember something about turning the other cheek, not the slaughtering of innocents.

    All dogmas have this same failing: when you can convince believers that their religion itself is under threat (often, no convincing is needed; the religious seem prone to seeing themselves as constantly threatened and embattled), then any means are justified to address the “threat”, no matter whether they are moral by the standards of the religion. This includes torture and unjustified killing (the latter I do remember being a feature of Crusader warfare). This is by no means limited to Christianity, and not even just to religion; only a religious zeal is necessary. Of course, the Quran and the Bible both have the virtue of containing conflicting moral precepts. When it’s inconvenient to read that “Jesus says X”, just read “[insert Old Testament book here] says Y”.

    But, we’re off on a tangent here. I don’t think you seriously think that we can judge a belief system by the behavior of its professed believers, right?

  91. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Wakefield:
    Right. Christians never use the government to enforce Christian will. And the 80+% Christian majority suffers discrimination. Not Homosexuals.

    Other than abortion issues, and Sunday liquor sales, and the totally ineffective embryonic stem cells, very few remnants of this are still around or have hope of effectiveness.

    This is not to say it never happened or won’t again, but the Christian cultural influence you seem to think flourishes in what is provisionally a secular society that is more promiscuis every year and rife with media coverage of mockery of faith, is way overblown.

    And yes, the ACLU and other organization have the state goal of going after even PRIVATE organizations to try and quell Christian theology and force acceptance of other views that don’t suit their fancy.

  92. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Mark said, in part:

    I don’t think you seriously think that we can judge a belief system by the behavior of its professed believers, right?

    Not sure if you’re being smart here, but it would seem that that standard is used on professing Christians somewhere in the zone of about 100% of the time when some failing takes place, moral or even otherwise.

    As to the other stuff:

    I find atheists value reason too much to stay beholden to ideas they can’t defend intellectually, just because they’re pressured to conform to them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be atheists in the United States, that’s for sure.

    That’s hilarious. Tip your waitress on the way out, folks–we’ll be here all night!! While I certainly can’t paint with a broad brush about all atheists’ beliefs, there is wide disparity in reason and advocacy. Many times more often than not they hold ideas that have more to do with ideological fashion statements meant to impress people are yet are patently absurd.

    PCism, or this fawning notion that all cultures are equal or that certain actions and facts need to be dispensed with in order to hold the peace or not offend certain groups, rarely uses what you would call “reason”, unless by “reason” you mean making sure that feelings don’t get hurt feelings. True, you’re not afraid of offending Christians, but no less than a day ago I perused the ugly comments over at PTET’s vulgar site and found Muslim atrocities being compared to Christian teachings on faith, and the Fair Tax being the brainchild of right winger Christians (none of the above has any veracity). My experience is that what is fashionable and PC is also generally far removed from simply this notion of “just secular”. There’s a difference.

    Some secular ideas are fine and in fact needed.

    Others, like those invasive notions of Dawkins, Hitchens, EO Wilson, John Dewey, John Dunphy, Eugenie Scott, William Provine, Peter Singer and Pianka and Sanger, were (or are now) horribly destructive, unscientific in justification, or have social and ideological agendas that claim the mantle of hard science but have something else in mind.
    PCism is not based on reason. It is based on ideology. And as you know, that is a beast of another color.

    Hardly “reason” to this end.

    One does have to wonder why after years and years and years and ten thousand studies about HOW and WHY the public schools are failing us, the mission is to create this system of economic dependency and the real head scratcher is that outside of Ayn Rand, Eric Hoffer, HL Mencken, and perhaps Robert Heinlein, few agnostics and atheists I know or have read about in the public eye have anything other than this fawning and fatuous notion of using the Pub. schools to create a type of cosseted poverty, or at least dependency of the commonweal on government services, or this notion that government is our salvation.

    As to this “smash faith” notion you mockingly say is unintentional and just the “facts” matter, THIS is part of the reason I brought up homeschooling again, also since another poster said it is “perfectly legal” to homeschool (not exactly the case, though…) It took ten years and pitched legal battles with powerful opponents and some handcuffs and jail time and much Senatorial prodding my state and some active lawyers to get this legal. While your take on this is that it is unintentional (though you admire the results, no doubt), the issue is not so much the “frailty” of Christian thought you presume ( I am an adult, for one thing, far removed from the stupidity of public schooling), but the vulnerability of children to fatuous and idiotic notions in sociology, economics, religion, and other areas where the current secular crazes are not quite as factual and solidly based in history or facts as you might like to think.

    It is one thing to claim “logic” alone “smashes” faith. If this were so, then men and apologist sites like Verum and BeastRabban would not even bother posting a clearly reasoned style on matters of faith. It is quite another thing to use the force of money and law to have kids march to the beat of the common socialist drummer in the classroom and (as I showed above) be forced to listen to their parents mocked.

    Like Horace Mann (another Educrat who thought only government could teach) said, children are wax, adults are steel, and less malleable.” Remember also that is not my term. It is Margaret Sangers and John Dewey’s choice word.

    Did you not believe me? Do you not think those men and women in the “Educrat” establishment are serious? What other evidence must I produce for you other than their own words?

    Kids are more vulnerable to the fatuous secular notions and nanny-statism purposely being drilled into skulls. Theologians are not afraid of the rather silly teachers and administrators who preach shopworn arguments in social studies class about how only government or semisocialism or “free” healthcare (paid…how?????) is a “right” or that you have a right to sumptuous goodies for just sitting on your bum eating cake in front of the tele. I’d mention more about how public education fosters notions of servitude to government and dependency and class victimization values. But that is another issue.

    But there is another thorn here. It is not just about persuasion. It is dishonest to say that education giving “just the facts” in getting rid of religion is just the “natural outcome” of some uncontrollable/unguidabe mystery force. Hardly. What the above people advocate is forcing parents to take heed and step aside. Or else. This is not YET encoded into law but it is only a matter of time before that changes also. It is already in the works. This is why the NEA and other teacher’s unions snarl at homeschooling, try to circumvent its legality and harass homeschooling parents, and make up all manner of provisions,accusations, and rules and even guidelines for study. In all of the NEA conventions they loudly proclaim their continuing struggle to outlaw homeschooling and make up garbage about “proper socialization” issues that are even repudiated by their own research and studies by groups as various as Scientific American and performance research papers in this area put out by various county levels of inquirey. (quite the opposite is true, homeschoolers are modeled on adult guidance, not the garbage of cohorts in horizontal socialization and are typically more mature and better learned than their public school peers). Thus for example in the People’s Revolutionary Republic of California pending legislation would force homeschool texts to mention the positive attributes of the gay lifestyle to 4-year-olds. In Palm Beach County (Florida), the public schools are having 6th graders participate in Condom Day and lessons on “fisting” and your getting your “first time.” And I ask myself: Ummm—the SIXTH grade??

    The very fact that there even exists a host of legal firms dedicated to protecting these rights is in itself indicative of the goals the education establishment has. It’s just that unlike most of Europe, these jackals have no European Union to appeal to or make court cases out of as did Germany when that nation basically outlawed homeschooling, arguing that the common good is not served by what parents think. What an amazing statement the court had. Here in America the latest court ruling on such matters said, in part, that:

    (paraphrasing the legalese) “….it has not come to this court’s notice that (despite many parental shortcomings in whatever litany of complaints or malfeasance in the arena of either childcare or education), that a public intrusion into those traditional and historic rights is warranted or needed for some other stated goal for society. The court recognizes that while exceptions are well noted in abuse, we do not feel that most parents have anything other than the best interests of their children in mind and they are the best examples of socialization and imparting of values.”

    Cliff’s Notes’ Version: Force is the OPPOSITE of Reason and Logic.

    The use of force in politics or socialization is especially odious and not generally a good recipe for domestic tranquility. Now then, what about the quotes I provided earlier is not recognizable as force when taxpaying citizens, Christians among them, are forced by law to send the kids to schools that hammer them with socialistic and PC notions and other alleged “facts of the matter”? I bring this up because it is not just a matter of prosytilization and teaching. Rather, the people I mentioned are not interested in gentle persuasion with the kids but often like Hitchens and Dawkins wish ALSO to go beyond the schoolhouse and make sure parents are not allowed to “inculcate” certain ideas to their kids. That is not Reason. It is force.

    Force and reason mix together no better than water and cooking oil.

    The “Educrats” who specialize (by their own admission) in socialization more than “facts of the matter” not only have the stated goals I mention for getting rid of religion (as the Paul Blanchard quote demonstrates) but THAT, not facts, is their M.O. They admit this in their private moments when they think no one is paying attention and honor this code. But Constitutionally they don’t have this right. I promise you there are dedicated atheists who seek to change these provisions by law district by district where they can. No nation is bulletproof from oppressive use of force.

    Imagine the attitude of this antiquated monopolist taken to other products. Should government provide free cars, TVs, computers, houses, radios, or free food and clothing just because someone says “gosh–what a nice idea!” ? After all: These have social utility also! What about having a lack of choices in these products? Good idea? Monopolies–any type–are never a good idea. Why would one the MOST important area of a person’s life be monopolized thusly? Public education is the idiot brainchild of 19th century social busybodies who thought that mass education was naturally good for the mass production and industrial age ethics of that era.

    That time is long past. For more on these largely unexamined PC notions of “equality of results” and “all cultures are equal” and “social planning is key!” that pass for “logic” and “reason”, you might take a gander at a gay, atheist, leftist writer by the name of William Henry III, (In Defense Of Elitism) who mentions in his critique on the crap of American culture just who the movers and shakers are with the garbage notions in academia at all levels that never get challenged in public, but nevertheless are sorely lacking in logical reckonings. In a world where Muslims are given wide birth for their notions and where the Archbishop of Canterbury all but admits that Sharia Law must now be inevitable in Britain, where Canada is punishing preachers even in the confines of their own churches who speak against homosexuality even in original context, where in Sweden they get imprisoned for such, you might take a second look at some ideas. Hopefully.

    You might also take a peek at Neal Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death for a look at how even the most secular societies with input from both commercial and government sales pitches are ludicrous in this appeal to “reason” where none exists, or for that matter Ruggerio’s Nonsense is Destroying America. While there is disagreement in some of their conclusions, they offer, like the Beast, a more dispassionate analysis of all these alleged “factoids” and just-so claims made about everything form culture and science to the finer points of mangled statistics. As George Feyerberand once asked “how do ‘facts’ interpret themselves in a vacuum”? Indeed naturally they cannot. All is poured through the lens of public reaction, like American Idol, and processed and filtered much in the same way blue cheese is. Neither media outlets nor scientific journals exist with impartiality in their findings.

    Beast mentioned Daniel Dennett: One of the best examples of a self-proclaimed proprietor of facts about the human mind’s putatively physical origins, he too once plainly admitted that there is no such creature as science that is value free, simply scientific ideas that come on board the plane of public opinion with an array of presumptive “carry on baggage”.

  93. Mark Williams Says:

    Wakefield,

    Not sure if you’re being smart here, but it would seem that that standard [judging a belief system by the behavior of its professed believers] is used on professing Christians somewhere in the zone of about 100% of the time when some failing takes place, moral or even otherwise.

    The behavior, good or bad, of professed adherents to a belief system can tell us nothing about whether those beliefs are correct. However, it does tell us that it is a mistake to expect that holding to any given set of beliefs will result in any particular social result, positive or negative. To bring this back to bear on Beastrabban’s essay: If we want to guarantee fair treatment for a minority group, the best we can hope for is a government that is constructed to make this at least possible, and in particular one that can be defended against encroachment by a tyrannical majority that is bent against the minority group. I think it’s fair to say that Christianity fits the bill of such a majority in the United States, whereas Atheism is neither a majority nor does it address itself at all to the issue sexual orientation. If we really care about guaranteeing fair treatment for homosexuals, we should make sure that the guarantee of individual liberty remains strong, and we should guard against the influence of specifically religious beliefs on our laws.

    That’s hilarious. Tip your waitress on the way out, folks–we’ll be here all night!! While I certainly can’t paint with a broad brush about all atheists’ beliefs, there is wide disparity in reason and advocacy. Many times more often than not they hold ideas that have more to do with ideological fashion statements meant to impress people are yet are patently absurd.

    I won’t try to argue that there can’t be atheists who adopt that label and others out of some desire to conform to a group, though I don’t know of any. However, I do know plenty of people who affiliate with a religion that way. This is partly because there are more religious people than non-religious people in this country, but I think it’s mostly because the proselytizing religions exert a tremendously strong force towards conformance. They have to, in order to win the competition for converts against their rivals. In any case, since you recognize that not all atheists can be painted with a broad brush, hopefully you will agree that any apparent connection between atheism and patently absurd “PC” ideas is the common association with the people you are referring to, and not anything having to do with atheism itself. If not, please tell me what patently absurd ideas you think are intrinsically connected with atheism.

    PCism, or this fawning notion that all cultures are equal or that certain actions and facts need to be dispensed with in order to hold the peace or not offend certain groups, rarely uses what you would call “reason”, unless by “reason” you mean making sure that feelings don’t get hurt feelings. True, you’re not afraid of offending Christians, but no less than a day ago I perused the ugly comments over at PTET’s vulgar site and found Muslim atrocities being compared to Christian teachings on faith, and the Fair Tax being the brainchild of right winger Christians (none of the above has any veracity). My experience is that what is fashionable and PC is also generally far removed from simply this notion of “just secular”. There’s a difference.

    I agree with you completely. I believe in free expression, and I think it’s a huge mistake to withhold criticism of any bad idea, no matter whether it’s Christian, Islamic, or other. Specifically, I find modern Islam’s intolerance of criticism barbaric, both in its violent expression and in its very existence. I know I don’t have to tell you, though, that if we turn the clock back a few hundred years, we find that same absolute, violent intolerance to criticism in the Christian world. This is *not* to excuse Islam. I’ve never seen the PTET site, so I don’t know what Christian faith teachings you’re talking about. I will say though that I want the freedom to live without being constrained by religious morality, and whether it’s Christians, Muslims, or someone else doing the constraining, I don’t care; it’s all bad to me, if I don’t choose it.

    I support home schooling. From everything I hear, it is a more effective way to educate kids, but given the very low teacher/student ratio alone that’s really no surprise. On the other hand, I believe education should be available to everyone, and not every family has the ability, financial or otherwise, to home school their kids. (One of my sisters home-schools her daughter.)

    Society also has an interest in helping to create citizens who are capable of participating meaningfully in democracy, and have the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue happiness and be productive members of society. Unfortunately, public schools don’t do this well at all, in my opinion, but this is the ideal we should be aiming for.

    So to those ends, the government has a legitimate interest in ensuring that certain crucial things are part of the curriculum. The major conflicts that have arisen relate to the teaching of evolution, prayer, and sex education. My views are: evolution is science, period, so it needs to be part of the curriculum. Prayer is OK as long as kids aren’t coerced in any way into doing it, and it’s not perceived as having the government’s sanction. I think sex education is a good idea. The last time I checked, parents who objected could opt their children out of sex ed; I assume it’s still that way, but maybe I’m wrong about that.

    Public schools need to serve all kids, so they need to impart important skills and knowledge, while avoiding indoctrination. I’ll just throw in here that I agree that “fisting” is not an important thing to teach kids in public school. I have a son who went to public school until his freshman year of high school, and I have always kept involved and interested in his education. I can vouch for several cases of mediocre teachers, but no “socialist indoctrination”. If this is really a problem in public schools, then count me as a comrade in your fight against it.

    As far as teaching “positive aspects of the gay lifestyle” goes, I think I know the books you’re referring to, and that’s a very slanted description of them. It sounds to me like you’re objecting to the teaching of the *fact* of homosexuality to kids. But the belief that homosexuality is wrong is a religious viewpoint, and so it should not hold sway in deciding what is taught in public school. There is nothing preventing parents from augmenting the school’s “happy, well-adjusted homosexual couples exist” message (which is factual), with “Christianity teaches us that homosexual behavior is a sin”.

    Granted, children may experience some cognitive dissonance, especially the smart ones: why would God outlaw certain kids of love? But instead of denying the reality of committed homosexual relationships that by any non-Biblical measure are as happy and healthy as heterosexual ones, religious parents should simply say to their kids: there are things that seem good/right that are actually bad/wrong according to God, and vice versa, no matter what your eyes or your reason may tell you. It’s no good for you to argue that what they’re exposed to at school will influence them unduly, because they will be *constantly* confronted with reasons to doubt God, in and out of school. So the earlier their kids get that precept ingrained into their heads, the easier it will be to indoctrinate them.

    So, why do religious parents have an aversion to this obvious solution? Because the parents haven’t quite come to terms with that aspect of their belief system themselves. They want to believe that everything their religion tells them is good is evidently good, and what it tells them is bad is evidently bad. They are wishing for their children what they would wish for themselves: an existence without doubt, without the constant tests of their religious faith. And, this is the same reason some religious people want to see religious law become civil law: less cognitive dissonance. They don’t have to be constantly confronted with real-life cases of “sin” leading to virtuous things, and the only ways they can change this reality are by punishing the sinners themselves, or by outlawing the sin altogether.

    So much of what you wrote doesn’t seem directed at me; maybe it’s in response to other messages in this thread. I’ll end by noting that while I don’t think that society has a better approach to teaching values to children than to leave it to the parents, it *does* have a better way of teaching children facts and skills, and that is through a regulated system of education. Where facts and religious views conflict, the religious will have to suck it up, as they’ve always had to do; it’s comes with the territory of being part of a faith. Apart from facts, where preference to certain (non-universal) values is given in teaching, whether it’s socialism, capitalism, Christianity or Atheism, it’s wrong, and we should guard against it happening.

  94. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Well as Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have both said (and being black, are very in tune with the failings expecially of the inner city public schools, which certainly are a travesty), if government wanted to TRULY have a vested interest in a better society and workforce (both are the key arguments anyhow) then why not just turn over scholarship money and grants and vouchers to those parents especially among the poor who could go to an alternative type school. It need not even be religious. Having said that people who’ve never even heard of Mary send their kids to Catholic schools in my area and have never so much as set foot in Mass. The issue is quality, and to that end parents can and often will pull out all the stops for education.

    As to From everything I hear, it is a more effective way to educate kids, but given the very low teacher/student ratio alone that’s really no surprise.

    While surely there is some theoretical upper limit to ratios and effective instruction, this level is not shown by any study to be an effective measure. This apparently is one of those handy “factoids” that primarily serves to justify the hiring of …..yes….more teachers. There is probably some kernal of truth in this but it is difficult to quantify for large averages of children.

    As to all the rest, remember what I said in that the “facts of the matter” would be fine as just that.

    Rarely is this the case. Social advocacy and other interactions are often what we see now even at the grade school level. The whole bruha over socialization among peers is now known to be mostly myth anyhow. In fact you’ll notice that the more common NEA arguments for public schooling usually hinge not so much on “facts” and “teaching” of facts that pertain to the commonweal or common society but rather “proper interpretation” and “socialization” of those facts.

    And as to opting “out” of certain kinds of instruction that many parents feel the kids are either unprepared for or contrary to the values taught at home, this depends on the district. In the ritzy areas of town where the tax base is nice, this might not be an issue or parents are of the type in the community with a larger voice. In the poorer areas–like many other areas of life, unfortunately–you might get the shaft. A lawsuit has been filed in some areas over presentations about sex that got students and parents caught offguard.

    I say caught with your pants down, and not too much hyperbole here, but still…..

  95. Ilíon Says:

    I say caught with your pants down, and not too much hyperbole here, but still…..

    [runs from room; hides]

  96. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    SKINNER SAID, in part:

    And although the tale of Galileo is not as unflattering to the church as potrayed it is worth remembering that a previous astronomer was burnt to death in 1600 for heretical beliefs, Fillipo Bruno. It is arguable exactly what he was condemned to death for as the records were lost, but it does add a whole other reason why people like Galileo didn’t renounce their faith. There is also the bad things the church has championed. The crusades in Palestine, the witch hunts, the inquisition, the trafficing of human being in the triangle trade (officialy condoned by the church), rejection of birth control, the crusades in France, the crusades in Lithuania, the purges of dissenting groups like the Templars, the justification of genocide against the indians, the justification of colonization, etc. This, by the way is only the Catholic Church.

    Perhaps you refer to Giordano Bruno? He was burned at the stake for heresy due to offering a pagan semi-quasi-mystic Hermetic religion based on an alleged Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus. The records are not lost–only badly interpreted. While I am not proffering that burning people is a nice thing to do, let’s at least clear up the webs here with some machete work of truth.

    Bruno was a travelling mystic–a magus, who, while he did have some notions about Copernican theory and talked about those to his “followers”, did not use this familiarity with Copernicus to make vast swaths of discoveries into “science” and end up as a martyr as some claim, but rather his passing aquaintance with Copernicanism he used to bolster the superiority of hermetic thought. Historian Hugh Kearney said that Bruno actually transformed Copernican thought into a religious doctrine.

    I’m not going to go into the philosophy of science. Well, except the comment about Dawkins. Dawkins isn’t wading into theology- Dawkins is attacking the underlying assumption for theology. No other subject requires that you assume its subject matter exists for you take get a degree in it- all the other sciences are based on evidence.

    It would be far more helpful if Dawkins understoon a few things hither and thither. It is one thing to proclaim there is no God. That’s an old trick and Dawkins is neither the first, nor the most creative arguer (far from it), nor the most insightful. If he thinks the whole Big Enchelada came from lukewarm primodial gas, I don’t presume to take his position away or pester him. However, his usual tack is the 1-9 ratio for his “evidences”

    1/10 of his time is on the scientific evidence he feels is not outlined well enough in a non-scientific book of Scripture, which he thinks is therefore a flaw. The Bible is about spiritual, not scientific dimensions, after all. Leaving that trick aside, he moves very MUCH into theology and feels more comfortable here than a goose in pond water. The trouble is, as BR has poitned out, he has such a coloring book knowledge of this that his arguments would not beguile a 6 year old.

    Not sure what you mean–I can take it as a given that if I yearn to get a degree by discussing plate tectonics, while I might have some alternative idea about how the earth moves or base a dissertation on new discoveries of the thickness of the mantle, surely a degree is not forthcoming if I loudly proclaim either ahead of time or in front of a peer reivewe board that I think that the Earth is really just a giant hydroponics tank to hold pretty flowers.

    All ideas and most all degrees in whatever, come with some kind of underlying assertion.

    As to all the rest, from the Cognitive Diss. Flailes, and the others pointed to the alleged Science Blogs (which true science writers like Michael Fumento have ripped apart for all their global warming and avian flu panic and chicken littling…) it seems BR won this round on statements alone.

    Or presentation, if nothing else. Certainly from the S.B. I found no contraindication that BR was wrong. They had some nerve over there in their handy commentary section saying that BR had no historical or philosophical knowledge of the “gay” issue and religion and atheism in history. I guess they felt that saying this was darn good enough over at ….”science blogs…..”

  97. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    BR said, in part, in response to Cog Dis.

    Now let’s go back to your comments about Leviticus. Yes, it’s there. However, there is no particular stress on homosexuality in the early Church. It was preached against as part of a general attitude that sex should only be within marriage, but as far as I know, there was no persecution of gays within the early church.

    Mosaic Law had a much stricter framework before Christ superceded it. And God told them it was due the hardness of their hearts and to warn them about copying their pagan neighbors. No, there are no clear records of gays being persecuted in the early Church.

    Having said this, laws meant to dissuade certain behaviors and then get modified to be more forgiving or basically all but mention the topic are not necessarily indicative of approval.

    El Salvador once executed drunk drivers. And not just if you killed someone while driving drunk.

    This seems a bit astonishing and a type of overkill. Literally.

    But drunk driving is still not a social positive.

    PTET never got around to understanding any of this kind of insight.

  98. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for those comments, Wakefield. I really don’t know much about Giordano Bruni, except that he wasn’t executed for being a Copernican but for pantheism and magic. Skinner’s list of the supposed horrors perpetrated by the Roman Catholic church actually don’t surprise me. I got the impression that they’re the standard material going round secular circles on the web. I’ve tackled the Wendish Crusades and slavery, and intend to tackle the Crusades and the witch persecutions before too long. There seems to be a whole secular mythology that has grown up around those two particularly that needs challenging.

    One of the irate posters from Science Blogs took me to task for stating that homosexuality was a lifestyle. Now I stand by what I said. Yes, homosexuality as a sexual orientation does not entail the adoption of any particular lifestyle or stance to society. However, there is a recognisable gay milieu that does have its own folklore and mores, including dress, parlance and humour. See Robert A. Georges and Michael Owen, Folkloristics: An Introduction (Bloomington, Indiana University Press 1995), pp. 218-220. Now while I don’t doubt that gays aren’t necessarily any more promiscuous than heterosexuals, the image given of gay sexuality by novelists such as Edmund White is one of reckless hedonism. So there is a part of the gay milieu that is, or was, very hedonistic.

    Away from the issue of the gay lifestyle, I noted that the same Science Blog commentator also mentioned John Steward Mill as an example of Humanist morality. Now it’s obviously true that Mill’s one of the great figures of Western philosophy, who made major contributions to the philosophy of science and political theory, particularly his advocacy of individual liberty. However, he does present some problems for atheists.

    I’ve noticed that there’s a marked tendency amongst atheists to describe themselves as empiricists, meaning they believe only what can be proved by experiment. Mill, however, did not describe himself as an empiricist, and actually opposed some of their views. Mill was not certainly not an opponent of gathering information through experience, but considered empiricism on its own, without the process of scientific induction, seriously fallible. ‘That is why ‘empiricism’ in Mill’s mouth, is so often a term of abuse; he uses it in such phrases as ‘bad generalization or empiricism’, ‘direct induction usually no better than empiricism’. he himself, he always insists, is an ‘experimentalist’, not an ‘empiricist’ – he left empricism to Macaulay.’ – John Passmore, One Hundred Years of Philosophy (Harmondsworth, Penguin 1957), p. 25. Also, despite being a religious sceptic, though not sharing his father’s bitter hatred of Christianity, he still felt there was a place for the religious sanction of morality. ‘Our fundamental duty, Mill thought, is to fight for good and against evil: the belief that in this conflict we are ‘cooperating with the unseen being to whom we owe all that is enjoyable in life’ has value for Mill, in so far as it helps to sustain us in this struggle. The Religion of Humanity, the REligion of Duty, which Comte envisaged cannot but be lent support, Mill wrote, by ‘supernatural hopes in the degree and kind to which what I have called rational scepticism does not refuse to sanction them.” Passmore, One Hundred Years of Philosophy , p. 34. So while he isn’t religious, he approves of the religious sanction for morality, within rational boundaries. One can add here that for the majority of theologians down the centuries, religious morality had a rational foundation so his rationalistic objections to certain religious moral views could be matched by opposing rational arguments.

  99. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    I got the impression that they’re the standard material going round secular circles on the web. I’ve tackled the Wendish Crusades and slavery, and intend to tackle the Crusades and the witch persecutions before too long. There seems to be a whole secular mythology that has grown up around those two particularly that needs challenging.

    Yeah–its standard fare. A site called Psycho Dave and Adult Christianity have the added bonus of showing their readers with all manner of piccadillos and nonsense about preachers and evangelists getting into trouble with the law or their marriages or teenaged tarts. Yet by the same reckoning from Miss Poppy and Dave there are no absolute morals in the first place. People love the notion of hypocrisy to use as a blunt weapon.

    Well as far as all this, and added to this the notion that atheists WILL often (most often) descibe themselves as the natural empiricists of the world, this does present more thorns. I know you’ve mentioned Harris once and a while and I meant to have a follow up about him that I was going to have you review. But I think you’ll see that this tack they often take that using the Crusades and burnings as evidence that Christianity is not more moral than any other creed works against them.

    As for Mill, you are correct. While not religious in the traditional sense, I think that like de Tocqueville he had a wide appreciattion of the positive contributions that faith can make for the development of society.

    Its funny some groups will claim someone as their own. for exmaple Lincoln or Jefferson, but will quickly disavow the black sheep in the clan like Stalin and Mao and other “bold” thinkers like Sartre who step outside the zone of morals they also say does not even exist in the first place, even as they critique the bad guys of Christiandom.

    More on this later, perhaps.

    Harris is an interesting chap and so wanted your input on him also.

    AS to Science Blogs–sounds like they are not sure of where to even begin, much less finish up..

  100. beastrabban Says:

    That’s interesting, Wakefield. I’d be very interested indeed to read your views on Sam Harris. I have to say I’m not impressed with him, as he comes across as very intolerant, even if he is more open to parapsychology than Dawkins or Dennett. As for Science Blogs , the impression I had was that they’re not interested in science so much as defending Naturalism, which they’ve confused with science.

    Regarding Psycho Dave and Adult Christianity, unfortunately this stuff has been around since the 17th century. There have been academic studies of pornography in the period from the 16th to the 18th century that noted that a lot of the stuff produced then consisted of attacks on the church and clergy as a way of attacking clerical authority. Yeah, there’s a double standard there, though it seems to come from some individuals’ complete inability to believe that others are capable of high moral standards and can act and speak with moral authority.

  101. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    I don’t have the direct source for this — I got it from what someone named Tom Paine whose blog I dislike but nontheless he enjoys bantering with me on stuff like this.

    Sam Harris replies to charges of atheism’s culpability with terror and war:

    Finally, there’s this notion that atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in the 20th century. … It is amazing how many people think that the crimes of Hitler and Pol Pot and Mao were the result of atheism. The truth is that this is a total misconstrual of what went on in those societies, and of the psychological and social forces that allow people to follow their dear leader over the brink. The problem with Fascism and communism was not that they were too critical of religion. The problem is they’re too much like religions; these are utterly dogmatic systems of thought. I recently had a debate with Rick Warren in the pages of Newsweek, and he suggested that North Korea was a model atheist society and that any atheist with the courage of his convictions should want to move there. The truth is North Korea is organized exactly like a faith based cult, centered on the worship of Kim Jong-il. The North Koreans apparently believe that the shipments of food aid that they receive from us, to keep them from starving to death, are actually devotional offerings to Kim Jong-il. Is too little faith really the problem with North Korea? Is too much skeptical inquiry, what is wrong here?

    Now Beast for my part on this, I’ll tell you my initial impression here:

    I agree with evolution buff but blaster of Dawkins nontheless for being sloppy, Allen Orr, who said that such arguments are contradictory when it comes to some of these cats saying that they get to disavow all bad things atheist regimes have done. Dinesh D’Souza says much the same thing, and I’ll be doing a book review on one of his latest books around the same time (I HOPE!) when I feel better and do the brain post also. just have too much on the plate. Long story short, Dinesh says basically that you can’t have it both ways.

    You can’t say that deviations from the norm due to ANY reason–cults of personality, politics, evil revolutionary histories, allegations of literal insanity (not likely), and other socio-economic explanations for evil behavior are not proof of any thing for atheism and YET hold that all deviations in Christians who fall short (AMONG those who ARE truly Christians, as we don’t know this all to be the case for all “Christian murderers”) are evidence of the moral failings of Christianity.

    Christianity proposes a way of salvation–not human perfection. The latter was not promised. The Church is the holding tank or repository of the sinners, not just the saints. Harris is saying that a religious type “cult of personality” is the reason you have North Korea’s nutcase who dresses like Bea Arthur in camo gear proclaim himself godlike, etc. Or that Stalin was literally insance, Mao was a cult of personality as well.

    I don’t buy it. You CANNOT remove the dynamism from human personality anymore than dynamic acting from good car salesmen or Congress or Parliement or other areas of human contact that require status and presentation. This is impossible.

    Harris is proposing that humans lose human presentation and chicanery from presentation of ideas. Those who’re dynamic are “religious” he seems to say. Based on culture, society, whatnot.

    Atheism is thus non-falsifiable when it comes to being seen as a superior way of seeing moral issues. Point out a flaw, and they can disavow anything.

    Would they accept a situation as falsification if a famous research scientist (say, Dawkins!) leaves his office one day and shoots thousands dead on campus?

    No. That would be an abberation only! And since atheism proposes no world view or viewpoint according to its adherents, who’s to say what is right or wrong and who’s to say this guy it therefore “one of ours”?

    Atheists are quick to say that atheism, per se means nothing, as it is a void, a null set, empty, and proposes no moral absolutes nor any moral code other than feel good stuff about nature and being nice to people. This can be done with a bumber sticker or fortune cookie. OK, so they claim you can’t assume the encoding of anything in athiesm. SO you might end up back where you started in morals. To Harris this is a blessing, it seems, since they can’t be held to some standards. YET he finds certain actions odious. WHY?

    We don’t know. Athiests DO claim that they alone are in tune with Reason and Science and that TTHESE realms are the only true arbitars of peace and justice, however they define this while claiming there are no trancendent moral codes. Stalin defies this, but then they disavow him completely as a revolutionary train wreck no one could have guessed at outside the context of the hell of old Russia, which I’m sure he blames on Orthodox Christianity.
    So it goes…..

    D’Souza points out some other unfortunate things about Harris, such as his (Harris’s) refusal to see the political and social context of the Crusades and witch burnings, the latter being vastly overestimated while still horrific.

  102. Mark Williams Says:

    Wakefield, I can’t help but think that you are purposefully missing Harris’ point. The key term to understand in the text you quoted is “utterly dogmatic systems of thought”. I don’t think Harris is trying to have it both ways here at all. He is claiming that religions are examples of “utterly dogmatic systems of thought”, as were Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao’s totalitarian thought models. To refute Harris, you need to demonstrate at least one of the following:

    a) Christianity is not a dogmatic system of thought.
    b) Atheism is a dogmatic system of thought, or leads inexorably to other systems of thought that are dogmatic.

    You will have a hard time convincing anyone of (a). I would love to see a good argument from you for (b), but I doubt you have one.

    To Harris this [atheism proposes no moral absolutes nor any moral code] is a blessing, it seems, since they can’t be held to some standards. YET he finds certain actions odious. WHY?

    It is truly frightening to me that you can’t fathom the answer to your own question. Being an atheist doesn’t mean that you can’t be held to standards. Everyone is held to standards by their own selves and by everyone else. It means that you do not believe there is a god holding you to any standards, and that you do not accept the authority of standards whose claim to validity is their appearance in some purportedly holy text.

    The reason that Harris doubtless finds certain actions odious is that they offend his sense of morality. And where is his sense of morality derived from? The answer is firstly, not atheism! hard as that might be for you to understand, having your theology so closely coupled your sense of morals. Secondly, it comes from all that “nature and being nice to people” stuff you casually dismiss; fleshed out with the use of reason, it makes as adequate a moral code as any religious one, without all the nonsense and hateful parts to boot. Finally, where do those nice impulses come from? I really hope I don’t need to answer that question for you, but just in case: most people have just got ‘em, Wakefield. I’m even willing to bet you’re one of them, even if you’ve been brainwashed into thinking you’re not.

  103. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for posting this up, Wakefield.

    In a way, I actually agree with what Harris said about Fascist and Communist regimes. They have been described as political religions because of the intensely eschatological, salvefic quality they had and deliberately cultivated. In the case of Kim Il Jong, when he died one of the eulogies declared that all nature was in morning for him. That’s clearly far beyond any strictly Naturalist conception of nature.

    However, Dinesh D’Souza’s right about the atheist double standard involved. Religious horrors like the Inquisition and the witch hunts also present problems for the atheist, as these derive from fundamental flaws within humanity as much as within any particular ideology. Jeffery Burton Russell, in his excellent history of witchcraft, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, Cornell University Press 1972) in his chapter ‘Witchcraft and the Medieval Mind’ draws on a number of relevant disciplines to explain the rise of the witch hunts. These include psychology, sociology and anthropology. He remarks that they were the result of a sense of crisis, dislocation and threat caused by rapid social change, and political, economic and social crises like the wars and the massive carnage caused by the Black Death in the 14th century. The sociologists investigating the contemporary Satanism scare have said much the same thing: they’re the results of internal crises within society. These forces have effects far beyond the religious sphere. Writers on witchcraft and the witch hunts have pointed to the obvious parallels to McCarthyite America and Stalinist Russia. Paul Tillich remarked that corruption in the Church was explained, not by religion itself being corrupt, but through the corruption of human nature, a corruption that naturally affects human institutions, including odiously and tragically, the Church. This does not, however, detract from God’s truth or the goodness of His revelation.

    Now religion recognises that humanity is corrupt, and Russell makes the point that the history of witchcraft poses a real problem for theories of progress. At the beginning of the Middle Ages there was real scepticism about the existence of witches and the torture was illegal. The capitulary issued for the government of Saxony by the Frankish king, Charlemagne, from 775-790 decreed the death penalty for any man, deluded by the Devil, who believed that a woman was a witch and so burned her to death. As for torture, it was explicitly condemned by the early Church and was not part of the legal codes of the Germanic kingdoms that succeeded Rome. It appeared in the 12th century, however, with the revival of Roman Law, the same revival of the classical legal heritage that eventually led to the creation of the modern constitutional state. In this instance, an advancement in learning also had the effect of legalising torture and assisting in the creation of horror and institutionalised brutality.

    I get the impression, however, that Harris and the other militant atheists somehow still believe in human perfectibility and that if only the right secular system or ideology were found, then all would be well. It’s close to the mind set of St. Just or Buonnaroti during the French revolution, and their belief that once the fundamental laws of human conduct and behaviour were found, then the perfect society could be created. Now one can clearly improve society – the fact that over the centuries science, health care, and education have improved immensely is a case in point, and in that sense there has been progress. But it’s not synonymous with atheism or rationalism, and in the case of Stalin or the Nazis, they had rationales for their atrocities which were considered entirely rational and scientific by their supporters.

    So, I would entirely agree with D’Souza in that there is an atheist double standard going on there. I intend to write a blog post about witchcraft and the witch trials in due course, as this needs to be tackled. A lot of the rubbish talked about the medieval witch hunts comes from 19th century liberal historians, like Henry Charles Lea, who had particular axes to grind against the Roman Catholic Church and the Inquisition. Now I’m definitely not a fan of the Inquisition, but they had peculiar notions of medieval peasant society and didn’t take into account real, human evil amongst ordinary people, preferring to see it instead in the institution of the Church.

    As for Harris, I got the distinct impression that he really, really doesn’t know anything about history, but just recycles popular, liberal myths about the Middle Ages.

  104. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Mr. Williams: I have an answser to the question, of course.

    This is a rhetorical question of the same variety when someone sends me the usual old tripe about “God would not allow crocodiles to exist if he were moral, as I knew someone who lost a child on the shores of the Nile” type argumentation. The world is a lousy place, my bank account is low. People get into trouble and messy divorce cases and drink too much. Some jerk backed into my car.

    Thus…….God does not exist!

    In other words, by what standard does this person, or Harris, or anyone declare that certain actions are immoral or not to be allowed? No doubt a political agenda or ideology or something he picked up from somebody much like shoes pick up leftoever chewing gum. Some of us strive for something a little more transcendent. Else the critique is limited to ….well…perceptions about ideology or some other temperal goals that look more like what the self wants than the common good. This is my trouble with the so called “libertarians”, btw. The other side of the spectrum has socialism where your whole life is mortgaged by others by default of just breathing oxygen. You are “owed” something. Why? Just….because….

    I can turn this around from a truly consistent naturalist point of view and declare that while some things are UNPLEASANT, this is not the same as immoral per se.

    Being an atheist doesn’t mean that you can’t be held to standards. Everyone is held to standards by their own selves and by everyone else. It means that you do not believe there is a god holding you to any standards, and that you do not accept the authority of standards whose claim to validity is their appearance in some purportedly holy text.


    NO doubt. Otherwise he couldn’t sell books and get honoraria for speaking engagements. It is never enough for him to say on the one hand atheism means nothing per se and is a void. 2+0 always equals 2. You start with other cultural inputs, declare they evolved from nothingness in the Cosmos and the whole ball of wax means nothing for eternal values, and then you end up where you started. Why then add the zed?

    Because he, like Poppy Dixon, has some point to make. He gets to disavow every ugly act done in the name of “scientific atheism” at his leisure and the hundreds of millions of human being turned into worm gourmet in the Age of Science (which is what marxists called themselves in honor of this progressive age of man.) Of course we always say “well I for one would NEVER do X”.

    Of course not. Everyone alive today claims a moral or set of moral precepts superior to Uncle Joe. It must be pointed out that leading intellectuals of the time, including even US senators and famous writers accused anyone who had doubts about the moral and scientific progress of marxism and the needs of the society to ……well….”dispatch” certain “exploitive” individuals as a “counterrevolutionary” and also a “reactionary” and “pining for the age of the czars.”

    Don’t be so smug. Harris was born to late to jump into this cesspit. I have no doubts that for all the hard Left’s jibber jabber about science and progress and other mantras it is historical that many of them fell face first for Uncle Joe (Stalin), the man who had to use “merely unpleasant” means to (in the words of a modern day sympathist who taught at GSU) whip the masses into the Industrial Age.

    No elsewhere you seem to be right. Atheism is a void. A nothing. It means nothing and leads to nothing and in the words of Stephen Jay Gould all other ethical input has to come from culture.

    But Harris and some of his contemporaries don’t feel QUITE this way. They feel that since atheism, like her sister doctrines of environmentalism and marxism, must make SOME kind of moral stand if nothing else than to just punch holes in the ideas of others.

    To refute Harris, you need to demonstrate at least one of the following:

    a) Christianity is not a dogmatic system of thought.
    b) Atheism is a dogmatic system of thought, or leads inexorably to other systems of thought that are dogmatic.

    This is like telling me that the requirements for homeownerships dictate that I disavow such before signing a contract. This makes no sense to begin with. And atheism’s loosy-goosyness is exactly the problem.

    The only “dogma” of Christianity are the foundational principles of salvation via grace. There is no large solidity on other issues up to and including attendence, charity, some sexual mores, societal or political participation, worship style, advocay in society at large. All these are either unsettled or controversial. If by dogma you mean are there certain rules expected? Well, one might as well say that traffic lights are dogmatic in their insistence on stopping in heavy traffic.

    All cultures, secular or otherwise, moral sausion or Oliver Wendal Holmes style pragmatic positivism, have elements that are “dogmatic” if you means rules to live by and govern. Even the libertarians realize you can’t be free to have it all or do it all or do all things to or for other people. Not only is this physically impossible, it is immoral and even psychotic to deny.
    Complete freedom would create numerous metaphysical and other kinds of emergencies for commonweal.

    The point with Harris is that he can’t claim the kettle is always blacker than midnight and no moral progress is made in faith or any other system when he belongs to a non-realm and can only use recycled visions from his youth or from culture to make those claims. On the one hand he seems to try and indicate that while saying that atheism makes no moral claims on people, its alleged penchant paying obiesance to science and reason make it superior to other allegiances. Baloney. Like marxism, atheism’s convenient appropriate of certain terms is just homage to a particular age. Nothing more. And unfortunately even IF true, science alone is not indicative of how to answer morals questions.

    It is technically possible for me to kill someone from 300 yards using the latest innovations in gun manufacture.

    This said, I could now be a good shot.

    This is not the same as saying I’m therefore a good PERSON.

  105. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Secondly, it comes from all that “nature and being nice to people” stuff you casually dismiss; fleshed out with the use of reason, it makes as adequate a moral code as any religious one, without all the nonsense and hateful parts to boot. Finally, where do those nice impulses come from? I really hope I don’t need to answer that question for you, but just in case: most people have just got ‘em, Wakefield. I’m even willing to bet you’re one of them, even if you’ve been brainwashed into thinking you’re not.

    That’s just bumper sticker horsemess. Easy does it. And it is interesting to note that most of the kinds of punks who’d put those Be Nice to People things on their bumpers are some of the most foul people to walk the earth, usually with a chip planted firmly on shoulder for one reason or another.

    Else, not sure of the “hateful” parts of faith that so offends you.

    Are you…I don’t know…..pining away for adultery or something? Think murder has its grand moments if someone is giving you the blues?

    ACDC had a song about that, after all.

    Not sure of the “adequate moral code” here. Seems based on what I see in the news it is neither adequte nor some kind of code. Most people default to themselves. One of the most horrific betrayals of justice where money and power and lawyers told the cops to knick off (or paid them off) after the suspicious drunken death of a teen here in the Atlanta area was performed by members of the community sheltering their little princes and princesses from the day of reckoning and using all manner of coverups was done by people long considered the “movers and shakers” in high society and people “admired” at work and home.

    Moral codes? These high cotton men told the cops to get out of dodge.
    Now of course, nobody knows anything. Druken party? Fight later on?
    My teen daughter accidentally ramming a car but cleaning up the evidence?

    Why–where on earth did you hear that, officer (investigator).

    Get lost, or nasty things will happen to your career.

    Morals adequate indeed.

    Just for what purpose is the question.

    I was born at night, Mark. Not last night.

  106. Mark Williams Says:

    Wakefield asked:

    In other words, by what standard does this person, or Harris, or anyone declare that certain actions are immoral or not to be allowed? No doubt a political agenda or ideology or something he picked up from somebody much like shoes pick up leftoever chewing gum. Some of us strive for something a little more transcendent.

    With respect to “not allowed”, most of us start with “you should be allowed to do what you want, as long as you don’t interfere with someone else’s right to do the same”. With respect to morality, most of us start with the Golden Rule. Call these dirty pieces of chewing gum if you want; I think these ideas are triumphs of human reason. If you mean, “not allowed by some transcendent entity”, then of course atheists say there is no such.

    Don’t be so smug. Harris was born to late to jump into this cesspit. I have no doubts that for all the hard Left’s jibber jabber about science and progress and other mantras it is historical that many of them fell face first for Uncle Joe (Stalin), the man who had to use “merely unpleasant” means to (in the words of a modern day sympathist who taught at GSU) whip the masses into the Industrial Age.

    First of all, please don’t bother with the anecdotal references (e.g. the “modern day sympathist who taught at GSU”)… they make your already long posts even longer, and add nothing to your arguments. Individuals do, say and think all kinds of nonsense, and most of it has no bearing whatsoever on what is true.

    Hopefully I made it clear that I don’t disagree that atheists as well as the religious are susceptible to being swept up in a dogmatic fervor. I would only add religions come pre-packaged with certain ideas that lend themselves to divisiveness and hatred of the “other”. In the absence of religion, people have to come up with these ideas separately. And they do, unfortunately. But my claim is that atheism alone isn’t enough to produce these ideas. You need to add other ideas with some moral valence to concoct them. I think you’re putting words into Harris’ mouth, but I don’t have my copy of his book right now.

    No elsewhere you seem to be right. Atheism is a void. A nothing. It means nothing and leads to nothing [...]

    Well, it leads you a step closer to the truth. (obligatory)

    I said:

    To refute Harris, you need to demonstrate at least one of the following:

    a) Christianity is not a dogmatic system of thought.
    b) Atheism is a dogmatic system of thought, or leads inexorably to other systems of thought that are dogmatic.

    Wakefield replied:

    This is like telling me that the requirements for homeownerships dictate that I disavow such before signing a contract. This makes no sense to begin with. And atheism’s loosy-goosyness is exactly the problem.

    I honestly can’t make heads or tails of your response here. I’m sure it’s because we disagree about Harris’ intentions, so I’ll just leave it.

    The only “dogma” of Christianity are the foundational principles of salvation via grace. There is no large solidity on other issues up to and including attendence, charity, some sexual mores, societal or political participation, worship style, advocay in society at large. All these are either unsettled or controversial. If by dogma you mean are there certain rules expected? Well, one might as well say that traffic lights are dogmatic in their insistence on stopping in heavy traffic.

    What Christian dogma is depends on which Christians you ask, but really, it’s very disingenuous of you to make this statement. The modern common denoninator of Christianity doesn’t describe Christianity as it is practiced by most Christians, either in the past or today, so the point is a complete non-sequiteur. When Harris refers to religious dogma, he is not talking about the common denominator; he’s talking about religion as it has been actually practiced historically, and as it is practiced today by some very large subgroups of Christians.

    But if you insist on putting forward the minimalist, salvation-only Christian as the religion’s proper representative for the purposes of this argument, you have the problem of… a Christian with no absolute morals, only the belief that he/she is absolutely forgiven by God for anything at all. What is stopping these Christians from gunning down hapless innocents at 300 yards with their modern weapons? (??)

    All cultures, secular or otherwise, moral sausion or Oliver Wendal Holmes style pragmatic positivism, have elements that are “dogmatic” if you means rules to live by and govern. Even the libertarians realize you can’t be free to have it all or do it all or do all things to or for other people. Not only is this physically impossible, it is immoral and even psychotic to deny.

    Agreed. I think Harris is placing the emphasis on the connotation of rigidity in the word “dogma”, rigidity to the point of failing to balance some point of belief with one’s other moral beliefs. For example, the rigidity of the belief that every idea opposed to your belief system must be the work of Satan, and since Satan is evil by definition, you will torture and kill unbelievers, even though Jesus says that’s bad.

    The point with Harris is that he can’t claim the kettle is always blacker than midnight and no moral progress is made in faith or any other system when he belongs to a non-realm and can only use recycled visions from his youth or from culture to make those claims. On the one hand he seems to try and indicate that while saying that atheism makes no moral claims on people, its alleged penchant paying obiesance to science and reason make it superior to other allegiances. Baloney. Like marxism, atheism’s convenient appropriate of certain terms is just homage to a particular age. Nothing more. And unfortunately even IF true, science alone is not indicative of how to answer morals questions.

    I lent out my copy of Harris’ book, so I don’t have it to look at, but this doesn’t sound right. I think Harris would argue that there are logical reasons to take the atheistic stance (I’m sure you’re familiar with them all). If by “certain terms” you mean reason and science, I assert that these are no mere fashion trends. Reason goes back a good long ways, and science is just reason’s marriage to the recognition that to use our physical senses to make determinations about reality must be our authoritative method. (A method which, by the way, Christians use every time they use their eyes to consult the words of a bible written on a physical page in a physical book.) As for your disdainful attitude towards Harris’ recycled moral values, let me point out that your religious beliefs are recycled from your culture, too.

    That’s just bumper sticker horsemess. Easy does it. And it is interesting to note that most of the kinds of punks who’d put those Be Nice to People things on their bumpers are some of the most foul people to walk the earth, usually with a chip planted firmly on shoulder for one reason or another.

    Wow, an ad hominem retort and a baseless denigration and generalization of the poor bumper sticker people… you’ve outdone yourself. My apologies if I got carried away, and sorry to persist, but I’ll put it to you again directly: do you not have any moral impulses at all that you didn’t need to learn through religious instruction?

    As to my use of the word “hateful”, that was a tactical error. We all know that Christianity is all about love, and even when it sounds like hate to our wicked secular ears, like in Leviticus 20:13, it’s not really hate, it’s just the unfathomable love of god. I know you know the other examples better than I do. (If you’re a Christian who rejects these immoral bible passages, then I applaud your moral sense, but there are many Christians who would say you are in error.)

    Are you…I don’t know…..pining away for adultery or something? Think murder has its grand moments if someone is giving you the blues?

    Adultery and murder are against my moral code. No god required!

    Not sure of the “adequate moral code” here. Seems based on what I see in the news it is neither adequte nor some kind of code. Most people default to themselves.

    Well, maybe you should watch less TV news, so you get a less slanted impression of humanity. TV does go in for the sensational stuff. And I’m sorry, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that non-Christians are over-represented in murders, rapes, or adultery. See: United States versus any relatively godless European country.

    Morals adequate indeed.

    Just for what purpose is the question.

    re: implicated “movers and shakers”: Power corrupts; it always has and it always will, and religion will not stop it. Indeed, religion seems to be a favorite tool of the powerful.

  107. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Greetings, Mr. Williams:

    Adultery and murder are against my moral code. No god required!


    Wow–not even sure where to begin in deconstructing this. I’ll pick something.

    One reason you might find my posts “so long” (although modern culture has found a way to limit attention spans for some), is I don’t take the abuse of terms and language so easily. I don’t get made at much. But the abuse of language especially in the age of PC dictates that I respond by breaking down certain autopilot assumptions of terms like “hate speech” removing them from their cozy enclaves, and then also removing the auro of other verbaige. This takes time.

    Let’s start with the above—Now, you can claim no God needed. Glad you chose that example. Cuz its a bad one. Most cultures frown on this, indeed.

    But not all! There are some culture that eat chicken, some people. Some admonish purity and sanction marriage, other don’t give a rip. How then do you choose? There is no giant obelisk flaoting in space that says–conveniently–”behold, here is how things are to be done!”

    Other than the 10 commandments or the Codes of Hammarabi, this is simply not the case. LIttle else is written in stone. But much is in the hearts.

    More on that later. Because these automatic assumptions about terms like “hate” (which I suspect is a pressure group, or other politically motivated term of Orwell-speak more than reality) and others need to be placed back in true context. I’ll be posting some things that are truly unpleasant as some examples on how politics and PCism and current fads fail us. Atheism is wrong on morals exactly as it IS a blank slate. You can claim to be moral but in reality it is personal input. Sounds good, right?

    Ah yes, but the problem is that someone ELSE’s take on things might be perfectly horrid to you and yet consistently you can say nothing to dissuade them..

    And YET–at some point all societies have to find SOME way of drawing a line in the sand. How then do we establish that the Wapamingo tribe that eats human flesh is inferior to OUR notions of humanity? Well………………………………

    We can’t.

    Not if by “demonstrate” we mean to say that something eternal or transcendent or common is what separates us from them in morals. Science and reason alone cannot accomplish that. More on that later, perhaps.

    As far as the media, well what can I say? The news is the news. I don’t see much of it, but if parts and bits from random chance brings this information to me WITHOUT having to troll and scan for such info, then society wise at least in the United States things are pretty damned rotten.
    You’ll excuse my french here. Don’t know if you’re a brit or a yank like me. However, the rumors are true that for a variety for some commonly not talked about reasons my nation is THE most violent on earth excepting perhaps Brazil.

    You can say religion is a “tool” of the powerful in ages past, but in a mostly provisionally secular society this notion is not creditable.
    My larger point was that “adequate” morals no more solve problems of the commonweal any more than other things like politics and legal norms do–as you so amply pointed out from the famous “power corrupts” motif saying. True. And this in fact lends credulity to my notion that “morals” in a secular society apart from religion tend to sublimate merely into whatever powerful or fasionable people happen to say at any given time.

    So if morals “evolved” from some “emergent” property of primordial muck, the muck is not good enough and we certainly NEED something more eternal or transcendent to guide us past the power plays and the money and the corruption you mention. N’est pas?

    (that was better French)

    As atheist biologist and lecturur du jour likes to say—science has shown us that the human brain has evolved for efficiency and survival—NOT for morals and truth. There’s a difference. Thus some outside source would seem to be indicated for a “prescription” for moral reasoning.

    As to non-Christians being “over” represented in crime, this is not typically labelled so I don’t know. But I’ll go with Leonard Peikoff’s suggestion that the United States is what he calls “provisionally atheistic” and that while there is lots of God-chatter, this is not necessarily indicative of faith. For all provisional purporses, the nation as a whole, and one assumes the criminal element also, probably takes a more secular view on getting certain deeds done.

    AS to the hate passages in the Bible–not sure what is meant unless of course you are defaulting to the old standby of fame about homosexuality. Of which the Bible speaks also of heterosexual sins (of which there are MORE!) and does not disproportionately pick on gays any more than adulterers and men who mess with pre-pubescent girls.

    dig?

    There are many sexual sins. Most of them dealing with the tempts of the flesh regarding the opposite sex. The harsh punishment you see was rescinded by Christ in any case. Our nation does not stone people to death for this any more than it stones people to death for having sex before marriage–which was also a punishment under mosaic law. The latter of which some of us are guilty far more often even in the Christian community than is commonly acknowledged. In secular society with all the flash and flesh and imagery it is most likely uncommon for most brides to see a man in the buff for the first time on her wedding night. Mosaic law was harsh due the requirements of THAT society’s special relation to God and as a warning not to duplicate the habits of her neighbors. Conservative or traditional Christianity believes that marriage is the symbol of God’s relation to the church and so it condemns certain acts the same as it does all sexual impurity as violating this pact with God and corrupting the purpose of marriage. It is not about “hate” any more than I “hate” the couple down the street from us who live together but are not exactly wearing wedding bands. I have no plans to stone them. But I see no reason my approval is needed. I will speak my mind in the most pleasant way possible now that the lady has sent her son from a previous marriage to Florida so she can play house with this other bloke.

  108. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PS–I doubt any Christian would say I’m in error about the “hate” thing.

    Nothing comes to mind there anyhow. They’ll point out what I have. Those passages have a different social context. In El Salvador they used to execute for merely drunk driving. Over the top? YES.

    Having said that, does this by inverse mean that drunk driving is therefore good since the application of punishment is different?

    NO..

    There is a difference between MORALS, on the one hand, and the APPLICATION of those morals, on the other hand.

  109. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    he’s talking about religion as it has been actually practiced historically, and as it is practiced today by some very large subgroups of Christians.

    Possibly. But so what? The Chuch promises a pathway to possible salvation, not perfection or lack of error in judgement.

    Harris can’t have this cake and eat all of it too. What blarney to say “as practiced” for religion but on the OTHER hand he has the PERFECTED notion of atheism only paying obeisence to some noble idea of reason and science as he defines them. The reality, as even atheists like Allen Orr have pointed out in a ripping of Dawkins, is that rarely is this the case. As Daniel Dennet himself has pointed out, no friend of faith, science and reason are not value free assumption but often board the bus along with their own sets of assumption-laden baggage.

    Harris is making a double standard that is impossible to even hold for a moment without disintigration. He has created a non-falsifiable notion that cannot be undone or cause concern even if Dr. Dawkins is caught in bed with a living girl or a dead boy or eats human livers for dinner.

    All Harris has to do in his comfy perch is just declare like LIttle Boy Blue—-”what a good boy am I”–and for him that’s good enough for an entire ideology.

    As Michael Ruse plainly admitted however (as I posted earlier) , there is no such thing as “value free” atheism—and since atheism IS an ideology and many of its proprietors are making its sales pitch louder and louder, at SOME point they’ll have to stop this stuff about “MY PERSONAL MORALS” and demonstrate its superiority in making a better society.

  110. Mark Williams Says:

    Mr. Tolbert:

    I’m not sure what it was about my use of “hate” that set off your PC speech detector. Maybe I put the word too close to my criticism of the stoning of gays (whom, as everyone knows, to treat as human beings is a strictly PC concept)… is that what pulled your string? I would like to be charitable enough to think your reaction is only the kind of autopilot, knee-jerk kind you rightly disapprove of in other people. I stand by my assertion that “hateful” is a good description of supporting the idea that gays, or anyone else, should be stoned to death for any reason, but especially behavior that doesn’t harm anyone else. This is not being Orwellian or politically correct. Now, you may say that you’ve never known true love until you’ve stoned sinners to death in god’s name, but I beg to differ: this is stretching the “love the sinner, hate the sin” maxim past the merely dubious all the way to moral bankruptcy. One might call it “religiously-correct”. I’ll wager that people stone other people not reluctantly, out of sense of religious duty, but with the zeal of those who, with the full permission of their god and tribe, have been allowed to completely unleash their id. Maybe “evil”, and not “hate”, is the correct word for it.

    I would like to defend Harris better here, but I need his book to do that, so until I have it back I’ll have to put my part of this part of the conversation on hold.

    But I will point out what I think are serious inconsistencies and errors in your view on what morals are, where they come from, and how they intersect with religion.

    Previously, you pointed out that the only thing all Christians have in common is their belief in salvation — that other points of belief, including ones that bear on moral behavior, are in dispute among Christians. It is untenable then to claim that Christianity is any less “loosey-goosey” than atheism, if in this general sense it can’t even prescribe moral rules, let alone guarantee their practice. You must recognize this, so I imagine you have in mind a particular version of Christianity and associated moral precepts. You should lay your cards on the table so we can at least discuss the religious moral precepts you think make religion superior to atheism.

    Mosaic law was harsh due the requirements of THAT society’s special relation to God and as a warning not to duplicate the habits of her neighbors.

    So, religious morals are transcendent until the next messiah comes along?

    Yours is a recent retrospective judgment by most modern Christians. I think that it is a healthy one, but let’s not pretend it follows unavoidably from the bible as a whole. Whether, and by how much, Christians should be held subject to Mosaic law has been an issue of contention from the beginning of Christianity. To some degree it still is, though more moderate views such as yours are much more common today. Why is that? Because views on this and other issues of proper Christian morals have co-evolved with the values of societies. Slavery and interracial marriage are two other examples. In the United States, the original attitudes on and moral justifications for these issues were very definitely rooted in scripture; the genesis of their eventual abolition was in the minds and hearts of both Christians and non-Christians. Although the Christians in that mix very likely saw their views as being defensible on their religion’s terms, it’s demonstrably false that the bible is unequivocal on those subjects. If the bible as a whole (old and new testaments) were unambiguous, there would be no argument among Christians about what it says, and the majority view of what it says would not change over time.

    So when you and Beastrabban claim that religion gives us a stable, transcendent set of moral values to ensure a healthy society, I reply that this is plainly not the case. To the extent they are ambiguous enough to produce a whole spectrum of religious opinion, and to the extent they are susceptible to societal influence, they are neither stable nor transcendent. And to the extent the claim holds at all (the prohibition against murder, for example), the moral values appear to be universal and in no need of religion’s imprimatur.

    As for cannibalism, re-read your old testament; granted, it’s usually god’s punishment for breaking a rule, but then so is stoning; both, to god, were apparently once indispensable rules for an orderly society. So much for the value of religion’s absolute, transcendent morals to society.

    Ah yes, but the problem is that someone ELSE’s take on things might be perfectly horrid to you and yet consistently you can say nothing to dissuade them..

    Absolutely not. While I believe that people should be allowed to do what they want, it’s only to the extent that they don’t infringe on the rights of others to do the same. I can and do stand up for rules I think are important to society. It’s no good for you to say, “well, you might, but an atheist doesn’t have to”, because (a) as you pointed out, there is no moral common denominator among Christians, and (b) just because someone is an atheist doesn’t mean that they will have no moral values; they get them the way everyone else does, from their upbringing and society, from whatever innate tendencies they have, and, when they’re old enough, from their own investigations. As the example of slavery in America shows, society’s morals are not determined by religion; social values and religious values are connected in a feedback loop. If one of them has primacy, it isn’t religion.

    Finally, I would like to point out one clear negative social consequence of Christianity. If my sins are forgiven, on the condition only that I truly repent them, and I believe I will enjoy everlasting life once I die, what is to stop me from behaving in the most heinous, sociopathic ways, if I’m inclined to act that way? At least an atheist who behaves like this has an incentive to continue to live, and so might pause before doing something he could be killed for. A Christian can be immoral and say to himself, “as long as I repent, it doesn’t really matter what the earthly consequences are, because everlasting life is infinitely longer than a mortal life.” I am pleased to say that most Christians I know aren’t like this, but I am sorry to say that I’ve known a few who are… and they are the ones who strictly interpret the bible and know it backwards and forwards. I find this very interesting, and disturbing.

    Don’t know if you’re a brit or a yank like me. However, the rumors are true that for a variety for some commonly not talked about reasons my nation is THE most violent on earth excepting perhaps Brazil.

    I don’t know what explanations for American’s relatively high crime rate you’re holding to your chest. I’m sure that whatever they are, they can explain the fact that it’s been that way for at least 100 years, and that it suddenly took a noticeable drop around 1993. (I’m a yank.)

    You can say religion is a “tool” of the powerful in ages past, but in a mostly provisionally secular society this notion is not creditable.

    Can you say “televangelist”/”megachurch pastor”? True, in a democratic age the mechanism of amassing power and wealth through religion is somewhat different than it was in the Middle Ages, but the use of this tool is still very alive and well.

    My larger point was that “adequate” morals no more solve problems of the commonweal any more than other things like politics and legal norms do–as you so amply pointed out from the famous “power corrupts” motif saying. True. And this in fact lends credulity to my notion that “morals” in a secular society apart from religion tend to sublimate merely into whatever powerful or fasionable people happen to say at any given time.

    So if morals “evolved” from some “emergent” property of primordial muck, the muck is not good enough and we certainly NEED something more eternal or transcendent to guide us past the power plays and the money and the corruption you mention. N’est pas?

    Just to recap: so-called religious morals have that same tendency to move with the currents, as evidenced by the indisputable fact that the majority view of what Christian morality has changed a lot over the last 2000 years. And I’m not even talking about the powerful here: take ten of today’s upright, knowledgeable Christians and transport them back a few hundred years and compare them to ten upright, knowledgeable Christians there. Compare their moral values. You will see countless major differences that have bearing on the shape of society. Slavery, race, a woman’s proper station in marriage and in society, treatment of “heretics”, and on and on.

    As atheist biologist and lecturur du jour likes to say—science has shown us that the human brain has evolved for efficiency and survival—NOT for morals and truth. There’s a difference. Thus some outside source would seem to be indicated for a “prescription” for moral reasoning.

    I don’t see what morals must necessarily derive specifically from religion, and not a non-supernatural framework of thought, that are indispensable to a healthy, functioning society. If you can tell me what these are, maybe we can discuss from there. And again, non-universal morals associated with religion have proved to be very changeable.

    There is a difference between MORALS, on the one hand, and the APPLICATION of those morals, on the other hand.

    “Drunk drivers should be punished with jail”, as a moral position, is completely different than “Drunk drivers should be killed.” Both positions say drunk driving is wrong, but that doesn’t make them simply different applications of the same moral. Really, you have a tension between two morals: “drunk driving is wrong”, and “killing is wrong”, and the real moral choice is to decide how to reconcile the two ideas. In this particular case, having a dominant rule of “killing is wrong”, such as you have in Christianity, is helpful, because it leads you directly to the correct moral decision. But, other cases are tougher. If I can kill someone to save two other people, is that moral? Ten other people? Ten million other people?

    I said:

    he’s talking about religion as it has been actually practiced historically, and as it is practiced today by some very large subgroups of Christians.

    You replied:

    Possibly. But so what? The Chuch promises a pathway to possible salvation, not perfection or lack of error in judgement.

    Now who’s trying to have it both ways? On the one hand, you say that Christianity’s transcendent morals are what makes it a superior choice for a stable society. On the other hand, you’re saying that Christianity doesn’t promise moral behavior in society. Be consistent!

    As Michael Ruse plainly admitted however (as I posted earlier) , there is no such thing as “value free” atheism—and since atheism IS an ideology and many of its proprietors are making its sales pitch louder and louder, at SOME point they’ll have to stop this stuff about “MY PERSONAL MORALS” and demonstrate its superiority in making a better society.

    Show me ONE moral value that is incompatible with atheism but necessary to society’s well-being.

  111. Wakiefield Tolbert Says:

    So, religious morals are transcendent until the next messiah comes along?

    This is getting tiresome, and at some point I will have to invoke the dead spirit of Noah Webster to explain this magical word called “context”

    As with your other confusions, you confuse context, for example MURDER vs. mere KILLING, with one VARIETY of context vs. the issue of the fact that while some TREATMENTS of issues are harsh, their RETRACTION OF THE TREATMENT or punishment is NOT indicative of the moral claim being made.

    NO–I told you and I told you and I told you and I told you and now this is rather tiresome. But I shall tell again. Moral law is NOT the same thing as the APPLICATION of law. Mosaic law was a special situation for the Jewish people to show they needed to demonstrate a separation from other people. this is not to say that the retraction of a moral law means that therefore we say now in confidence adultery is fine and dandy in its own right.

    Yours is a recent retrospective judgment by most modern Christians.

    false–as with murder vs. killing and other “situation ethic” treatments, the early Church fathers knew and understood context of these passages and were quite aware, I assure you, that Mosaic law was no more for europe in their day than it is for our society in ours. And even IF “until the next messiah comes along” is the context (which it is not) about “moral laws” (which it is not), and since the real issue was APPLICATION being suspended, not the morals themselves, this would be limited also, as in Christianity there is only ONE Messiah–not multiple.

    Now beyond this, the fact that some people want to remain PC or “HIP” or “with it” and make sure that in their mind’s eye they don’t get critiqued by others and want to be seen as current, there ARE, admittedly, many churches that try and liberalized things to stay “mod” with the times.

    But this is little more than social convention and means nothing about morals per se.

  112. Wakiefield Tolbert Says:

    A Christian can be immoral and say to himself, “as long as I repent, it doesn’t really matter what the earthly consequences are, because everlasting life is infinitely longer than a mortal life.”

    Glad you recognized that the possibility of any such thought is not necessarily the probability of something.

    “Faith without works is dead”

    –St James

  113. Wakiefield Tolbert Says:

    You have the same pitfalls as JOR on this “hate speech” crappola–and for the same reasons though he denies them. And that is of all the reasons Mosaic law was enacted, the “gay” issue was only one of dozens of laws. Just one. And yet it gets the most attention, probably due in no small part to the reading of angst from today’s secular leftist preachiness on words and manipulation of english due to pressure group ideology and politics.

    It even extends to modern laws in a secular state and paints with a rather broad brush. It would seem this charge of “hate” applies only to one group–and one group only. When in fact Mosaic law addresses more than one topic (I promise you). It’s just that adultery does not have its own political forum. Except maybe Hollywood. But that is not their main focus. Just a habit, it seems. But I warned JOR that in legal norms the Left has the cards now, and PCism is alive and well and thus the agendas that have this hypersensitivity to people they think even hold the POTENTIAL to “bash” gays, for example. Mr. Skinner thought homeschooling was “perfectly legal.” Woe be unto his notions of the word “legal.”
    And to this effort I even consulted someone who knows the law. A lawyer. Just to be sure. It seems the paranoia about what Christian parents think about certain moral claims now irritates gays to the exent that in Californication, err, California, the law is being rewritten under the guise of “new standards”–which also has the double effect of providing new sources of revenue to the teachers’ unions.

    Wire reports are now detailing that in California homeschooling has now been declared illegal UNLESS “special certification” requirements are met–which of course few parents have time to get an advanced degree or its correspondence course equivalency in order to continue. I consulted with a lawyer about this and it seems that while homeschooling in California has always been tenuous at best (as it has in all states) in this particular People Revoloutionary Republic it seems some of this influence to “crack down” is about curricula that liberal pressure groups feel should be part of this certification “process”–in other words not enough info about “Heather needs two Mommies” variety and other left wing spice. The State has had a difficult time controlling the materials used in homeschooling in what are generally religious environments, so the back door method of shutting them down is the tack apparently taken here.

    Elsewere:

    On the one hand, you say that Christianity’s transcendent morals are what makes it a superior choice for a stable society. On the other hand, you’re saying that Christianity doesn’t promise moral behavior in society. Be consistent!

    Not exactly. It does not supply PERFECTION. Much of europe and America was built on Christian foundations since western civilization was and then English common law–so this would be far from the truth to claim that Christianity provided no notion of moral society. However imperfect in some applications (and seeing that perfection of human spirit is not attainable to earth bound creatures), it civilized a very barbaric Continent that hitherto had acted like naked hooting savages.

    So, yes, even today it supplies a more consistent, objective moral framework higher than the mere notions of PCness that passes for morals in the contradictory minds of men like Harris and Dawkins who are merely following the fashionable currents of society. But morals–to be moral for all–have to be based on something BEYOND the sujective desires of self and pleasure and what seems right at the moment. And that’s all they have. What this means is that when all is boiled away morals for them is merely who has the power and the glory and thus morals are what powerful and fasionable people happen to say they are at any particular time. Notice the contradiction here, in that some, like Peter Singer have said the REAL problem for HIS brand of atheism (also showing it is not a morally consistent code) is that while he agrees with SOME of his cohorts like Dawkins, the REAL ISSUE for HIM is that Christianity provides TOO MUCH morals and has TOO MANY rules. He would like to see for example the right to abort after a child is born (infanticide) and opinines that Suzan Smith is not a murderess for killing her two toddler sons in a lake in Greenville South Carolina due to the “bio necessity” of her lack of parenting resources.

    Loosey goosey indeed. As BR points out, while there are ceremonial differences and differences in application, few in Christendom would use studies in genetics to say that a child killing woman needs to be sprung from the slammer. This is but one of numerous examples. While not all atheists surely think this, the point here is that as Jean Paul Sartre pointed out, the issue is not how good some are–it is that no such definitionaly solidity can be found. Thus for example Jean Paul was consistent. He said–quite correctly–that if all standards are just matters of opinion and subject to subjective reasoning, morals are therefore just irrational notions in the first place. He pointed out that in true, CONSISTENT atheist thought, you can’t place blame on others, make judgements, or make morals claims at all the all of society needs to stick to. And yet we draw lines every day, rigth? And not based on our own all the time either.

    Thus for example Sartre said the Nuremburg trials were a hoax. The rest of the planet did not have the right, he said, to judge the Nazis. How could they? Well……from the point of view of a consistent atheism, he DOES have a point. How? If morals are just subjective statements based in turn on subjective feelings, its true we have no case. The only thing we could say is that the Nazis were MORE UNPLEASANT than the tactics used by the ALLIES. That, from a CONSISTENT atheist point of view, is about all the cards we have to bandy about. From a subjective point of view, at least we can say that Sartre is correct about this. If no objective moral standard exists, then we can no more hold the Nazis liable for anything than we can for the fact that some animals enjoy eating others. A subjective label is not morals. It is just name calling. Even if couched in moral “language”, like the ever more common label of “hate speech”, which I see now (as another common example) has been applied to people concerned over illegal immigration wrecking our economy and taking advantage of good will and deceptive hiring practices among lazy construction industry owners. The charge, that effectively shuts down thinking on the issue, casts aside legit concerns over immigration policy, numbers, health care and social services, etc, just labels all such worriers as “hating the Latino peoples!”

    The same with homosexuality and other sexual issues that societwide can cause numerous sociological problems–”hate speech”

    Meanwhile, in the liberal press and centers of power, motherhood and family and home values are denigrated and belittled, feminists tell us fathers are not necessary to a child’s psychological well-being, warehousing the kids in daycare is a “wonderful” thing, and homeschooling is called “tyranny” and made illegal in some states due to pressure group politics worried that little Suzy won’t grow up learning about Heather having two mommies and that the closet Heather ever got to having a father was a turkey baster looking instrument that donated sperm cells from some college kid.

  114. Mark Williams Says:

    Oh dear. You are very confused and ill-informed. Read this and then get back to me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_in_Christianity. And you think Mosaic law was dead in the Christian west? Read a book.

    As with your other confusions, you confuse context, for example MURDER vs. mere KILLING, with one VARIETY of context vs. the issue of the fact that while some TREATMENTS of issues are harsh, their RETRACTION OF THE TREATMENT or punishment is NOT indicative of the moral claim being made.

    It looks like your caps lock key is going on the fritz… I’d have that looked at.

    You have not answered my argument at all. Calling it “confused” is not the same as showing why.

    The manner of punishment has a moral valence. You can’t say that mere disapproval of homosexuality is the same moral stance as saying that homosexuals should be stoned. To clear things up for you, I will summon the spirit of Noah Webster:

    moral: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical [moral judgments] b: expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior [a moral poem] c: conforming to a standard of right behavior d: sanctioned by or operative on one’s conscience or ethical judgment [a moral obligation] e: capable of right and wrong action [a moral agent]

    Do you see how this applies not only to behavior, but punishment? Punishment is behavior too! Do you think there are no right and wrong punishments?

    Now beyond this, the fact that some people want to remain PC or “HIP” or “with it” and make sure that in their mind’s eye they don’t get critiqued by others and want to be seen as current, there ARE, admittedly, many churches that try and liberalized things to stay “mod” with the times.

    The abolishionist and women’s rights movements looked dangerously un-Christian and “hip” in their time. Take some of your own advice: “don’t be so smug.” Your view of what proper Christian morals are would be much different if you were living in any other decade.

    “Faith without works is dead”
    –St James

    I’m relieved you think so. But does faith without works still get you salvation? Some Christians think so, and that’s my point.

    re: the gay stuff, I was only pointing it out as one example. I know the old testament is riddled with extreme punishments for all sorts of things. I said explicitly that my conception of stoning to death as hate doesn’t only apply to gays.

    Wire reports are now detailing that in California homeschooling has now been declared illegal UNLESS “special certification” requirements are met–which of course few parents have time to get an advanced degree or its correspondence course equivalency in order to continue.[...]

    We insist on minimum training requirements for teachers, don’t we? Why is it unreasonable to insist that parents who homeschool their kids have some minimum level of training as well? You see conspiracies everywhere.

    But morals–to be moral for all–have to be based on something BEYOND the sujective desires of self and pleasure and what seems right at the moment. And that’s all they have. What this means is that when all is boiled away morals for them is merely who has the power and the glory and thus morals are what powerful and fasionable people happen to say they are at any particular time.

    You just go on beating that straw man.

    If no objective moral standard exists, then we can no more hold the Nazis liable for anything than we can for the fact that some animals enjoy eating others.

    There is disagreement among and within religions, including Christianity, about what the proper objective moral standards are. And, your statement is false. Our moral standards may ultimately be subjective, in the sense that there’s no higher power dictating them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold the Nazis accountable for abrogating them. It doesn’t make them any less correct. Now, resting the authority of my moral values on ideas, and their perpetuation and improvement on the nourishment of a free marketplace of ideas, is rather fragile, isn’t it? Yes, it is, but it is no more fragile than vouchsafing them with religion, which is itself changeable (as believed and practiced, which is what counts in the real world, not today’s theory on what the religion means to one subset of believers) and what is more, resists or is even immune to change in the face of better ideas.

    re: charges of “hate speech” shutting down thinking on issues, I agree that this is a problem. But, to take your example of illegal immigration, pointing out that some anti-immigrant sentiments are fueled by intrinsic hate of foreigners is valid, and to dismiss this point as merely “hate speech” is itself just name-calling that serves to shut down reasonable debate.

    The same with homosexuality and other sexual issues that societwide can cause numerous sociological problems[...]

    Yes, we’ve seen that homosexuality can cause melodramatic hand-wringing, the dehumanizing of homosexuals, and fear-mongering among self-righteous types. What is the cure?

  115. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    I’m relieved you think so. But does faith without works still get you salvation? Some Christians think so, and that’s my point.

    It dosen’t matter in the short term, as there are also legal norms and moral and other consequences to both example and character that fall upon people who would REALLY go out of their way to be nasty. Which is sort of the point of this whole discussion, come to think of it. Now to the issue itself, there are differences of opinion about this. But if your worry is that some comfy seat awaiting the great airliner to heaven allows a free flow of horror to be unleashed? I find little evidence of that. And St. Paul even speaks of this in the book of Romans.

    To modern society only Hollywood to my knowledge thinks that Christians stone girls to death for lack of chastity. Of course shows like LA Law, Cold Case, and the very loopy but entertaining Boston Public have had much myrth about these and other allegations that are false but nontheless the lurid myths about Christians living behind compounds guarded by German Shepards spending the day skinning and gutting poor minority children is always entertaining. But false nontheless. I’ll provide some humor on that allegation momentarily, since you seem to think that pockets of Christians somewhere in the woods or in the shadows secrety pine away to kill gays, for example.

    Now–to the manners issue: The manner of punishment is always context. Yes, it is behavior, but its application and moral context depends on whom you’re dealing with.

    Example: In the military getting up late will get YOU in trouble as well as your entire company. The context of this is that in a team environment and in harm’s way you have to move fast and co-operate, etc. You are in hot water in a a variety of ways.

    Thus for example it is never good to stay up too late, and be a sleepyhead in the morning and drag along, but we don’t get Sarge to smack the kids upside the head and make them do 300 pushups along with their brothers and sisis for this infraction.

    Mosaic law was instituted at a time when Israel was under constant attack, needed to pay attention to replacement and expansion birthrates, and had some members copycating the immoral practices of their amalakite neighbors, etc. Emergency (lifeboat” ethics cannot be comparied to situations where it is perceived there is no metaphysical emergency.

    As to immigration–this is a slim pickings for the charge of racism. If businesses really thought that Latinos are not worth the paycheck for the efforts more often than they do, they’d turn them away more often and the whole issue would have disapeared. We have some very real issues here. This is a nation–not a parking lot with goody bags for all visiters and what’s the term……”world citizens.” Whatever. But the sad truth is, regardless of empathy for their plight, we have both a problem here on a number of fronts and some uncomfortable issues that need settlling–and I might add that much of Europe would not tolerate this. Certainly Australia would tell them to just knick off. They make sure of WHO you are and WHAT you’re doing when you arrive on their shores and you better be able to demonstrate your contribution to that society before your feet leave the plane or boat or you’ll be talking to the authorities, who’ll promptly place you back on the place with a free ticket back whence you came.

    AS to the other–yet again–the real handwringing and worrywarting is something a little different than what you might think”

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2007/10/do-christians-stone-unchaste-girls-to.html

    I think you need to go over and read BR’s column on Harris. That might put a bulb over your head as to the contradictions in atheistic thinking.

    Our moral standards may ultimately be subjective, in the sense that there’s no higher power dictating them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold the Nazis accountable for abrogating them. It doesn’t make them any less correct. Now, resting the authority of my moral values on ideas, and their perpetuation and improvement on the nourishment of a free marketplace of ideas, is rather fragile, isn’t it?

    This merely means that we were the victors, get to reset the rules dial, and have the power to do so. Subjectivity is subjectivty, whether done by individuals or nation-states or just powerful people with lots of money who hire warp velocity shyster lawyers who know how to squeeze value out of all commas and “buts”. From a purely materialist point of view we only hold the Nazis accountable merely because we CAN and also because they were horrifyingly annoying. One could make the economic claim that war does not make business other than tanks and planes prosper and even at that the effect is limited, so from a pragmatic point of view the Nazi ideology is bad for economics. But that’s just pragmatism in that London can’t flourish under V-2 attacks. Sartre never said that the Nazis were in the right or that what they did was pleasant to behold. He merely pointed out that if you see the history of the West as panoramic we have no rights to judge them and little room to speak. There is no such animal as “rights” and “morals” in nature. From a material point of view even if we view these notions as “emergent” properties, they are still just physical manifestations of what is most efficient. And like the aforementioned Singer said, the human brain was not built by mother nature for “truth” and “morals”–it was built for mere effifiency. Period. That’s it.

    So yeah–that’s more fragile than an egg.

  116. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    The abolishionist and women’s rights movements looked dangerously un-Christian and “hip” in their time.

    First of all, I think BR has done an excellent job–perhaps one of the best–in detailing how many if not most of the early advocates of abolition were Christians and while some in the South might have used passages to support slavery, he demonstrates why this is wrong.

    Men in the South ALSO used the United States very own LEGAL documentation and moral statements of the Founding Documents like the Constitution (!) to support slavery. And indeed they had a thin case. I’m not getting into the minutia about this. That’s for the libertarians to hash out. Licoln’s cynical but politically effective ploys and lies about his intentions about ‘saving the republic” led to a war which put the whole Constitutional issue to rest. Long story shortened.

    The point? You can use ANY document or set of documents to pick and taste ala a Persian bazaar to customize your arguments.

    The abollitionists used the arguements about human freedom as seen in Christ and knew the context of Old Testement slavery was its MENTION–not God’s advocacy. See BR’s commentary for more on this: There’s a difference.

    As to female sufferage, while the jury is still out on whether the Obama surge due to fainting and swooning women and the adovacy of (“you GO girlfriend!”) Oprah Winfrey is a good thing or not, on a serious note it IS instructive to see that while many of the early feminists were challenging societal norms at the time (like in that famous play The Doll House), they were not the type we have today: that are outrageously anti-male, amazingly vulgar (see http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2008/03/v-day-until-vulgar-whorishness-stops.html)

    anti-masculine, nor did they to a person advocate abortion (Elizabeth Cady Stanton said it was an “abomination” of an idea), nor did they (like Gloria Steinem, before she reverse gears and decided she needed a man after all and got MARRIED), say that children don’t need parents, being a ward of the State is just fine, fathers are not necessarily, and having forced public education to shove certain ideologies down people’s gullets is fine. The early feminists and vote getters didn’t advocate that men are unnessesary except as sperm donors and that government makes a wonderful father for children. Today that claim is common. And as Charles Murray demonstrated makes a mess of the welfare roles when we say paternity is an optional “lifestyle” choice.

    Feminists today go beyond Stanton. She never denigrated fatherhood, the home (as did Simone de Bouvier), homemaking, having children rather than corporate America, nor said that auto-erotic comical fantasies are a dandy way to demonstrate male meanness and end up making the very same kinds of ugly statements about the objectification of the female body more typically known from teenaged boys bathroom scribblings. Unlike what Ensler and some other noodleheads might think, the Bible highlights females in numerous positive ways. We need to be careful not to confuse this with Victorian notions that often get falsely labelled as “Christian” in outlook simply because that age often referred to Christian teachings from time to time for justifications on some social structure.

  117. Porkysda Says:

    The inclination of homosexuals to become athiests is not to seek refuge from religious intolerance but is, in my opinion, a realization that religion – in making its fallacious and hateful case against homosexuals, is not fit to accord one’s life by. I imagine that it’s really no different from others who reject theism, but their own sexual orientation provides for them a concrete example and living contradiction to what is presented as the absolute truth.

    Btw, while I skimmed most of your essay, I noticed quite a few inaccuracies. For example, it still cites Freud’s theories on homosexuality as an illness as case of hostility towards homosexual people – this was proven wrong more than 30 years ago when homosexuality was defined through scientific research to not be an illness.

  118. Marcelo De Souza Says:

    This “Wakefield Tolbert” thing is an IGNORANT.
    I’m gay and it was not my fucking choice. Why would anyone choose to be gay in a world full of ignorants like you? To be treated like shit? Excluded from society as if we have some sort of disease? When did you choose to be straight? Were you given the choice? Because I wasn’t. I’m attracted to men since I was a child. I didn’t choose that. I didn’t wake up one day and decided I was going to be gay. Don’t talk such shit if you don’t know about it. As a “good Christian” you claim to be, just have tolerance and acceptance in your heart. Don’t be judgemental and intolerant cause you’re more likely to go to “hell” than I am for just being myself. Homophobia is disgusting and it’s probably a “sin”.

  119. Dean Says:

    I have never seen so many assertions, bias and blatant lies in a post such as this one. I’m beginning to have doubts in my own experience with you Christians and your pathetic attempts to justify your delusions.

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