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May 23, 2013

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What I find interesting is comparing accounts like these to accounts of people who lost their faith after reading the Bible. I've seen atheist blogs where people say the best way to deconvert somebody is to get them to read the whole Bible.

Reading the Bible transforms people, but sometimes it does so in opposite directions. It reminds me of the parable of the good shepherd in John 10.

The next day, alluding to that parable, he said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (v. 27). And he said, "But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep" (v. 26).

So I suspect the reason some read the Bible and come to believe while others read the Bible and stop believing is because some people belong to Jesus and some don't. Some were given to him by the Father (v. 29) and some weren't. Some are his sheep and some aren't. Some people read the Bible, and they hear the voice of their shepherd. Others don't.

Oh, here we go again. The evidentially based organization of "Clear Thinking Christianity" is (once again through Amy Hall) celebrating a conversion that, to put it kindly, was a result of "irresistible grace"

Just consider these quote:

"I went from being someone who felt that I was responsible and entitled to interrogate the Bible to someone who believed that the Bible had authority over my life and therefore had the responsibility and entitlement to interrogate me. "

Or this one:

"The Bible promised understanding after obedience, not the other way around"

Are these the words of someone convinced by the evidence?

Amy, please try to look at this from the other side. I don't suppose you believe in the theory of evolution. But what if you were to come to me and say "Oh, I'm a total 'evolutionist' now. I just realized you have to believe in evolution before you can understand it. I just had to accept the theory's authority over my life"? You'd get a funny look. I might even doubt your sincerity. Why? Because that's not the way reasonable people come to conclusions.

On another note, do any of you have enough skepticism to notice how perfect Butterfield's backstory is? Atheist, feminist, Marxist, postmodernist, liberal, lesbian, college professor. I bet she listened to NPR, too.

Hi Sam, good points and I appreciate the biblical reference. It is very appropos to this story.

Well Phillip A, I'm sympathetic to your criticism regarding how it is that men are brought to faith...not by evidence. But your emphatic statement that reasonable people dont come to conclusions that way is pure sophistry. Everyone views evidence through a presuppositional lens that draws them toward conclusions that keep their worldview somewhat above their foundations. Sophistry because non believers have to live in an incoherent world to maintain their wandering away from the pure Logic that would, if possible drive them to God.

Reasoning, even if done well, doesn't guarantee true conclusions, this is why it is important to question prior commitments-this goes for everyone. Christians enjoy a coherent worldview that is comprehensive as regards the human experience. Not saying we all reason perfectly or even well, but non Christians do not have foundations to stand on to even to argue in the first place. You might like to come around and criticize Amy, but if I were you, I'd keep my head down unless you can account for your worldview logically and demonstrate why Christians are more inept logicians than you.

I promise you that if you let logic be your bulldog, we'll be much more inclined to obey/submit to it than to someone making silly statements about what reasonable people do or dont do.

Of course good reasoning doesn't guarantee sound conclusions. However, when people come to sound conclusions, it is usually through good reasong. Valid logic is "necessary but not sufficient", in the jargon of my field (computer science).

"On another note, do any of you have enough skepticism to notice how perfect Butterfield's backstory is? Atheist, feminist, Marxist, postmodernist, liberal, lesbian, college professor. I bet she listened to NPR, too"

Hi Phillip A,

I simply took from that part of the story that the Bible can speak to anyone from any background. If Amy had made the same point but chose someone who grew up in the church, was a nominal Christian for much of their life and then had a powerful encounter with the Bible, one could brush it aside and say that they were predisposed or even "brainwashed" into believing the Bible after having grown up around it. This was simply an example of someone who had zero context for believing the Bible based on their prior lifestyle.

Darth Dutch

Phillip A

"Of course good reasoning doesn't guarantee sound conclusions."

I might be splitting hairs here, but: "Sound reasoning does guarantee sound conclusions." I think that the word "good" in your statement can make your statement ambiguous. That is to say that one can be mistaken about what is good reasoning since its definition can be subjectively influenced. However, the soundness of something is determined outside of the scope of personal opinion as it is tied to its functionality and that functionality can be tested and found to be either sound or unsound based on the test results. You might say that the word "good" that you used is more like a global variable while the word "sound" is more of a variable local to a function and is less likely to be assigned a wrong value by mistake.

Phillip A,

This is pretty unoriginal stuff. The problem is that you think you know the difference between belief and understanding as it relates to Christianity when you don’t. That’s okay, though. It shouldn’t be expected that you know the difference, or order of things, or even what the terms mean.

Let’s grant Ms. Butterfield some wiggle room on phrasing; she is after all, an English professor. For the Christian, true understanding of the faith and the relationship with God can only be truly evident for a believer. What’s so odd about this? Would you think an atheist has the same understanding of Christianity as a Christian simply because he or she has read the same Bible?

If after reading Scott Ingram’s book on the 1963 Civil Rights March, I came to the conclusion that it was all a bunch of lies did I truly understand the magnitude of what happened? Did I understand like Ingram? This isn’t a perfect example, but it is an unremarkable one. People come to Christ through Christ. Sometimes it’s through the Bible, sometimes it’s through another means. “Valid logic” remains intact.

On another note, do any of you have enough skepticism to notice how perfect Butterfield's backstory is? Atheist, feminist, Marxist, postmodernist, liberal, lesbian, college professor. I bet she listened to NPR, too.

You think that’s perfect? You should read up on Paul.

Phillip,

The evidentially based organization of "Clear Thinking Christianity" is (once again through Amy Hall) celebrating a conversion that, to put it kindly, was a result of "irresistible grace"

You say that as if there's an inconsistency, but I don't see that there is. Greg Koukl has openly admitted on the radio that apologetic arguments were not what caused him to convert to Christianity, but simply recognizing that it was true.

The way a person knows that something is true is not necessarily how they would show that it's true. For example, if you're being accused of a crime you didn't commit, you might show that you are innocent by using an alibi, but the alibi has nothing to do with how you know you're innocent.

Nobody recommends their point of view to other people without offering some reason for why people ought to accept that point of view. Apologetics is inevitable, regardless of how people came to believe. The fact that people recognize the voice of their shepherd when reading the Bible is no reason for why they shouldn't offer arguments when recommending Christianity to other people. And the fact that they give arguments for Christianity is not even an implicit denial that they themselves came to believe in Christianity apart from arguments.

So I don't see any inconsistency in an organization promoting both apologetic arguments and conversions by irresistible grace. That strikes me as being a false dichotomy anyway since God's irresistible grace can be expressed through the persuasive power of apologetic arguments. God can use any means he wants to draw people to himself.

Very well said, Sam.

Louis Kuhelj,
Alright, fine, valid reasoning doesn't guarantee sound conclusions (if you are arguing from false premises, that is).

KWM,

The problem is that you think you know the difference between belief and understanding as it relates to Christianity when you don’t. That’s okay, though. It shouldn’t be expected that you know the difference, or order of things, or even what the terms mean.

Uh-huh.
You think that's perfect? You should read up on Paul.

Alright, touché. Although we're taking Paul's word for it too. "I was totally 'breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord', you know."

Wow, that is fantastic!

We take the Bible for granted so often, especially when we've become familiar with it through the years. It really is the most powerful book on earth.

"Nobody recommends their point of view to other people without offering some reason for why people ought to accept that point of view. Apologetics is inevitable, regardless of how people came to believe."

Hi Sam, what do you make of Paul here:

"And when I came to you, brethren, 1Cr 2:1 I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
1Cr 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
1Cr 2:3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
1Cr 2:4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
1Cr 2:5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

You got me there, Brad. I stand corrected.

People don't build world views using reason alone. They have a huge emotional commitment as well, coupled with some misunderstandings of other world views, or even bad experiences with their acolytes.

Some (most?) people don't even make the effort of evaluating other world views. They just uncritically adopt the one they were raised with.

Couple that with the appearance of coherence and comprehensiveness of most world views, with the almost illogical tendency of humans to develop a fanboy attitude, and with other factors like peer pressure, herd mentality, and the lust of the flesh, and there you have it.

I haven't read Ms. Butterfield's book (though I will), but it's remarkable just for the fact that she was willing to reevaluate her core beliefs, her own world view.

And that's something you don't see often.

PhillipA

"Alright, fine, valid reasoning doesn't guarantee sound conclusions (if you are arguing from false premises, that is)."

Sound reasoning cannot be divorced from reality or it becomes a self contradiction to call it sound. Simply coming up with a good sounding syllogism hardly makes the reasoning behind it "valid" it has to be within the context of objective reality it attempts to depict. I don't know how you can tack on the word "valid" to reasoning that is in the context of an "argument from a false premise". Surely, the false quality of the premise invalidates the reasoning. I know that you are likely to think that simply because it does not break any of the rules of how one presents an argument it can be considered valid reasoning. However, that kind of evaluation transcends those rules and is under a higher set of rules dictated by the truth value of the premise. Narrowing the scope to make it seem to fit one set of rules without consideration of other rules that set is subject to, seems an inadequate approach to evaluating the validity of reasoning.

I truly appreciate Sam's various comments, so I'd like to ask for some follow-up, if I may. (Naturally, I welcome anyone's response.)

... some people belong to Jesus and some don't. Some were given to him by the Father... and some weren't. Some are his sheep and some aren't. Some people read the Bible, and they hear the voice of their shepherd. Others don't.

Given that observation:

* Would you say that a campaign for global evangelism is inappropriate?

* Would you say there is something intrinsically "wrong" with the people who don't / weren't / aren't? Are they, or are they not, equally capable of doing good deeds (consistent with what Christians view as "good"), loving their enemies, etc?

Bear in mind that the followers of some forms of Buddhism will regularly surpass any Christian when it comes to fulfilling Christ's instructions that pertain to social interaction (and Buddhism was established before Christ was born).

I'm inclined to wonder whether Rosaria Butterfield might have become a Buddhist, if she had devoted a comparable amount of time and effort to reading the foundational literature of that religion. (Of course, there would have been little or no reason for her to start reading those texts as there was for her to be reading the Bible, because the problems of discrimination against women, homosexuals, etc, have not been foisted and fostered by proponents of Buddhist doctrines.)

I wonder whether anyone might look to the research on "hostage syndrome", whereby a captive may end up fully sympathizing with her captors.

Would you say that a campaign for global evangelism is inappropriate?

No.

Would you say there is something intrinsically "wrong" with the people who don't / weren't / aren't?

People who aren't Jesus' sheep have an inability to follow Christ.

Are they, or are they not, equally capable of doing good deeds (consistent with what Christians view as "good"), loving their enemies, etc?

I think the non-elect are capable of doing most good things a Christian can do, but they can't do anything intentionally for the glory of God, they can't worship God, they can't submit to Christ's lordship, etc.

Thank you, Sam. I think the only part of your answers where I'd hope for some clarification would be this: What does "an inability to follow Christ" actually exclude from a person's life? Do you have some sense that non-Christians are lacking some sense of purpose or fulfillment or ... (whatever)? Has it occurred to you that such people might take a similar view toward Christians? (I'm talking about adherents of any/all of the alternative faiths, as well as atheists.)

As for "the non-elect ... doing most good things a Christian can do", if a Christian does x for the glory of God, and a "non-elect" does x for some other reason, do you value their respective actions differently?

Getting back to an item in the original post here, I was struck by this quotation from Rosaria:

Did I want to understand why homosexuality was a sin from God’s point of view, or did I just want to argue with Him?

Good question. Personally, I think it would be worthwhile to have a better understanding of "God's point of view" here - what is it exactly about homosexuality that makes it so bad? (I've seen the passages that say it's bad, and a number of these are simply including this behavior in with a bunch of others that are known to be bad for reasons that any atheist, agnostic or other non-Christian recognize as valid - theft, murder, etc - the in the case of homosexuality, it's frankly not clear, and I'm not aware of any clear explanation of reasons given in scripture.

How do we know for sure that it's really God inspiring these sentiments, and not the personal biases of the human authors?

Sorry about the typo and poor wording at the end of my next-to-last paragraph there - I meant to say "but in the case of homosexuality (i.e. among consenting adults), there is frankly no clear evidence of actual harm, and I'm not aware of any explicit explanation given in scripture as to why it should be judged so harshly.

What does "an inability to follow Christ" actually exclude from a person's life?

It excludes Christ from their lives.

Do you have some sense that non-Christians are lacking some sense of purpose or fulfillment or ... (whatever)?

No.

Has it occurred to you that such people might take a similar view toward Christians?

If you are asking me whether non-Christians think that Christians are lacking some sense of purpose or fulfillment, yes, it has occurred to me that a lot of non-Christians think some Christians lack fulfillment in life in the sense that they are missing out on things because of being Christians.

As for "the non-elect ... doing most good things a Christian can do", if a Christian does x for the glory of God, and a "non-elect" does x for some other reason, do you value their respective actions differently?

Yes, I think motives have a lot to do with whether an action is praiseworthy or blameworthy, and to what degree.

Personally, I think it would be worthwhile to have a better understanding of "God's point of view" here - what is it exactly about homosexuality that makes it so bad?

I'm not sure what you're asking. It's bad for us to engage in it because God forbids it, but if you're asking why God forbids it, I don't know how to answer that other than to say it's just not what he wants us to do. It seems to me that he has a right to tell us how to live our lives.

How do we know for sure that it's really God inspiring these sentiments, and not the personal biases of the human authors?

That's a great question. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of arguing, and I don't really want to go into all that detail in this post. But I'll give you the skinny on it.

First, as I argued earlier, for somebody who is one of Jesus' sheep (in the sense he intended in his parable in John 10), some people simply read the Bible and recognize the voice of their shepherd. If you're not one of his sheep, then of course you won't know that God really inspired the writings.

Second, one can make an argument that follows this basic line of reasoning:

1. Apart from any assumption of inspiration, one can make an historical argument showing that Jesus claimed to be a prophet and messiah sent from God and that he was raised from the dead.

2. You can argue that Jesus' resurrection serves as evidence that his claims about himself are true.

3. If Jesus really was a prophet and messiah sent from God, then Jesus' views about scripture were probably accurate.

4. You can argue on historical grounds that Jesus believed the old testament (and specifically the canon we have today) was inspired by God. It would follow that the old testament is inspired by God.

5. Arguing for the inspiration of the new testament is a little more tricky, but you can argue, based on the fact that the church from a very early time recognized these writings as being authoritative scripture, and the fact that Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to guide his apostles into all truth, that the new testament is inspired as well. As far as which books should be included in the canon, there were debates about that early on and criteria the early church used to determine that. I don't know a whole lot about that, but I trust, based on the consensus that seemed to exist from a pretty early time, that they got it right.

Thank you very much, Sam. I appreciate your clarity and thoughtfulness.

Regarding "God's point of view" toward homosexuality, I have gathered from discussions with other Christians that Jesus himself was never quoted as having anything to say on that topic - the few references to it in the NT are not attributed to anything that He said. They are actually judgmental (and I would say prejudicial) remarks by various disciples who are writing letters to each other, where it's simply taken for granted that gay men are evil, like murderers, and no justification is given, beyond reference to the OT.

As for the OT passages on the subject, I understand that it may be tiresome of me to bring this up, but there's no getting around the fact that the OT also has those bits about how to acquire and treat slaves, imposing the death penalty on adulterers and disobedient children, and requiring animal sacrifices in payment for transgressions, all explained in remarkable detail.

Given that these and other OT dictates are now commonly recognized as inappropriate, I submit that a similar consideration should be extended to the Biblical passages on homosexuality as well. We know more now than we did then. I honestly believe we have a greater capacity for compassion and empathy than people had back then, and we shouldn't balk at recognizing the shortcomings of those authors.

It is becoming increasingly evident to more people that sexual orientation has a genetic component: there is a spectrum of variations ranging from the unwavering heterosexual to the person who can't escape the feeling of having been born into the wrong body. For reasons made obvious by evolutionary theory, heterosexuals are and always will be vastly predominant, but there will always be percentages above zero across the spectrum, just as there are variations in skin color, hair, eyes, and the relative lengths of toes.

How can it be that a just and loving God would punish people for attributes that they did not choose to acquire?

Oh, wait... is it that part about the sins of Adam being inherited in perpetuity by the entire human race forever? If so, it still seems like homosexuals are being singled out for an extra measure of undeserved culpability. The whole notion of original sin is absurd, but doubly so as applied to homosexuals.

Regarding my question "what is it about homosexuality that makes it so bad?": The point here is that, in America at least, there must be no law that establishes religion. In effect, this means that the laws we enact cannot be grounded solely on religious doctrine. There has to be some independent, secular, objective basis for the purpose and conditions that the law implements. There are excellent reasons why this is the case. And yet, quantities of Christian groups have been campaigning vigorously for legislation that specifically discriminates against gays, and the only rationale for the effort is religious doctrine. That's a problem.

How can it be that a just and loving God would punish people for attributes that they did not choose to acquire?

I think all of our choices are determined by our desires and motivations. In fact, that's what makes us responsible for them. The more hand our own mental disposition have in bringing about our choices, the more those choices are under our control, and if there were a complete disconnect between our mental dispositions and our acts, then our acts would be accidents, and we wouldn't be responsible for them. So we are the most responsible when our choices are determined by our mental dispositions, such as our desires, motivations, inclinations, preferences, etc.

But if we had to choose our desires before we could be responsible for our actions, then we'd get into an infinite regress. Before I could choose a desire, I'd first have to have a desire to do so. But then I've have to have chosen that desire as well, which means I'd have to have an even earlier desire. The only way to stop this infinite regress is for the whole chain to begin with a desire that I did not choose. So either we are responsible for acting on desires that we did not choose or else it's impossible for anybody to be morally responsible for anything at all.

You don't need to choose your desire before you're responsible for your actions. I didn't choose to be straight. I can't help that I'm attracted to women. But that hardly excuses me from lust or adultery. In what universe is a person excused for his behavior on the basis that he wanted to do it? It seems to me that if a person's desire to do the right thing is greater than their desire to engage in the sin, then that person will resist the urge to sin and is worthy of praise. But if they only have a desire to sin and no desire to do right, or their desire to sin is greater than their desire to do right, then they will give into the sinful desire, and they are worthy of blame.

You made what seem to be a few arguments against Christian opposition to homosexuality, and although you didn't ask me any questions about it, I'm guessing you want me to respond to it. So I'll take the arguments one by one.

I. Jesus never condemned homosexuality; only his disciples did.

If the new testament is inspired by God, then this is an irrelevant observation. The writings of the apostles in the new testament are just as inspired as the words of Jesus recorded in the gospels. Also, although Jesus is not recorded as explicitly condemning homosexuality in the gospels, it is a fallacious argument from silence to assume he never did. The gospels don't exhaustively record everything Jesus ever said. Besides that, Jesus indirectly condemned homosexuality when he endorsed the Mosaic law which does condemn homosexuality.

II. The old testament has laws that people today consider inappropriate, so laws against homosexuality are also inappropriate.

This is an obvious non-sequitur. First, the fact that people today consider old testament laws inappropriate doesn't mean they are. If morality depended on culture, then morals would be relative.

Second, even if some old testament laws are inappropriate, it obviously doesn't follow that they're all inappropriate. If they're all inappropriate then laws against theft, murder, and adultery are also inappropriate.

Third, the Mosaic law was never intended to apply to anybody but those living under the government of ancient Judah and Israel. But there is a moral law that underlies the Mosaic law, and it is universal. That's why God punishes other nations for violence and child sacrifice, but he never punishes them for breaking the Sabbath or eating pork. The fact that God punished Sodom for homosexuality, and Sodom was a gentile city-state, shows that the ban on homosexuality was based on an underlying moral law that applies universally and not just to ancient Israel.

III. Homosexuals are being singled out for an extra measure of undeserved culpability.

I don't know why you think that, so I don't know how to respond. Homosexuals aren't singled out. It's just that the issue of same sex marriage is a hot button issue at the moment, so people are paying a lot of attention to it. Christians are not more singling out homosexuals than homosexuals are singling themselves out.

IV. Civil laws should not be based on religion, and the only reason Christians oppose same sex marriage is because of religious doctrine; therefore, Christians should not oppose same sex marriage in civil law.

It's not true that the only rationale Christians offer against same sex marriage is religious doctrine. Maybe it's because of the different people you and I hang out with, but hardly any of the Christians I know argue that way. Instead, they argue from the social ramifications of same sex marriage, natural teleology, the definition of marriage, the physical harm of same sex relationships, and things like that.

Excellent response Sam.

"It is becoming increasingly evident to more people that sexual orientation has a genetic component:"

and

"For reasons made obvious by evolutionary theory, heterosexuals are and always will be vastly predominant, but there will always be percentages above zero across the spectrum, just as there are variations in skin color, hair, eyes, and the relative lengths of toes."

Otto: Bare naked assertions, there is no legitimate science to support these claims. Though not politically correct, and to the contrary, most attempts to support the idea that people are born that way cannot connect this behavior to genetics.....like skin color etc..even if it became popular opinion as you seem to hope, this doesn't make it true.

This is just a test - sorry about the noise. I've been having trouble posting a reply to Brad B. Nothing showed up after two attempts.

(Since my test reply worked just now, I'll try this a third time, with a different way of citing a url... Again, my apologies for any mess I've made.)

Brad B.: Would you happen to have any references to peer-reviewed literature that would support your own equally "bare naked assertions"? What sources did you check before making your reply? I think if you were to extend your search outside the scope of Christian web sites and apologetic literature, you might find enough cases to understand that you are mistaken.

Your phrasing did strike me as odd: ...most attempts to support the idea that people are born that way cannot connect this behavior to genetics. So, you seem to be saying that some attempts to find a genetic component have succeeded in doing so. In any case, I must admit to being skeptical about the extent of your awareness and understanding of the relevant research. (More about actual research below.)

Your closing statement is also strange: ... even if it became popular opinion as you seem to hope, this doesn't make it true. I certainly agree that the popularity of an opinion can be a very poor indicator of its truth value. The whole point about scientific consensus, of course, is that it isn't based on, and does not constitute, popular opinion - it is a set of verifiable conclusions based on confirmable and replicable evidence, interpreted according to rigorous rules of critical assessment.

The scientific method entails that there will be times when the evidence and conclusions presented in one study may well disagree with a number of previous studies, creating a situation like the one you mentioned in your first statement that I quoted above. Obviously, such a situation means that more work needs to be done; in many cases, new conclusions indicated by new research will be found valid and the consensus view will shift accordingly. This method has the kind of grounding in reality that is forever unavailable to religious doctrines involving things like God's opinion on homosexuality.

Regarding the actual research that's been done, I'm not a researcher in any of the relevant fields, but I know what it means to do research, and I have web access to a university library, so I was able to find and read several relevant articles, in various journals, with evidence, in the course of a couple hours. Luckily, I also found a very nice slide presentation that appears to do a fairly thorough and thoughtful job of summarizing the relevant findings, contentions, and implications (there are even usable references to relevant literature, including the ones I found myself); I recommend it (minus the http - colon - double slash part):

prezi.com (slash) japlxpgwktza (slash) genetic-basis-of-homosexuality

Bottom line: a number of studies have found significant evidence of genetic causation for homosexuality, but researchers are still working through some of the more detailed procedural issues that affect the replicability of results. In the meantime, it would clearly be wrong to assert that homosexuality is absolutely a matter of personal choice in all cases.

Sam

Let me thank you again. I'm glad to get this quality of response. That said, I'm compelled to point out several errors in your argument. I'll address your last point (IV) first, because the problems there struck me as the most egregious.

It's not true that the only rationale Christians offer against same sex marriage is religious doctrine. ... Instead, they argue from the social ramifications of same sex marriage, natural teleology, the definition of marriage, the physical harm of same sex relationships, and things like that.

What is "natural teleology", and how does it imply that same-sex couples pose any actionable threat to society or to individuals?

As for the definition of marriage, the Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged) offers this as sense #4: "Intimate union", with initial usages attested as far back as 1420 - no one gets hurt when the usage of a word takes on an extended range of meaning, and this is not a compelling reason to deny equal rights and equal protection under the law for a minority that poses no threat.

What evidence is provided to demonstrate "the physical harm of same sex relationships"? How does this evidence stand up, in quantity or proportion, relative to the evidence of intense spousal abuse (both physical and psychological) among heterosexual couples? (My point: being in a hetero relationship is no guarantee of safety from harm; this doesn't qualify as a reason to outlaw same-sex couples.)

I'm sorry, but referring to "things like that" amounts to admitting that there's no objective, rational basis for the position being promoted.

Moving on (to III): When you say "Homosexuals aren't being singled out." I most certainly don't know why you think that. Perhaps you've seen some of the analogies drawn between the current debate on same-sex marriage, and the debate 50+ years ago on civil rights. I've seen people try to argue that the former is not at all comparable to the latter, but I've never understood how anyone can really miss (or deny) the similarities and parallels. It really is the same basic kind of dispute, between an ingrained prejudice that's taken for granted by a majority who are unaware of the damage it causes, and a desperate struggle by a nearly powerless minority to expose and put an end to the damage.

From your part II: the fact that people today consider old testament laws inappropriate doesn't mean they are. If morality depended on culture, then morals would be relative.

The issue here is not that morality, being intrinsically culture-dependent, would be relative; it's that any given culture's system of morality is incomplete and imperfect. A core of basic moral concepts are common to virtually all cultures, but there's a lot of peripheral stuff that comes and goes and varies across generations. Those cultures that have kept records of their concepts have all shown change over time, as they encountered broader ranges of experience and consequently formed broader understandings about what should be encouraged, discouraged, required or forbidden, and how various good/bad behaviors should be rewarded/punished.

The fundamental rules that are essential to collaboration remain steadily intact: murder, theft and lying are never good (though punishments for these can change in severity). If people in a culture that forbids slavery happen to look at Leviticus 19-20, they'll see a number of things to agree with. But they'll recoil at the notion that slavery is condoned, and may never understand why it should be that a man and woman must both be put to death for adultery, unless the woman happens to be a slave. (For a lustful man who possesses the means to supply guilt offerings for himself, raping slaves might seem like a fair deal.) Does that stand up as "appropriate", even though people today don't consider it to be?

Regarding your part I: If Jesus "indirectly condemned homosexuality when he endorsed the Mosaic law", then He indirectly invoked a system that makes raping slaves a relatively minor offense.

I dare say you are approaching a very dangerous position indeed when you suggest that "just because it was never recorded in the gospels doesn't mean Jesus never actually said ..."

It might be useful to consider the broader context of the NT passage in which Jesus "endorsed the Mosaic law" - I expect that his endorsement should be limited to issues pertinent to that context, and should not be overstated.

I'd like to discuss your opening paragraphs, but I think I've done enough. Again, thanks for your comments.

tried this serveral times yesterday:

Hi Otto, I will take time to check out your reference, in the mean time I want to clarify my first response to you. It is my understanding from keeping a somewhat diligent eye on the topic that biology is given dsome weight in disposing one toward same sex attraction, but no more, [or even less] than it predisposes one to any number of behaviors. When you, in your quoted statement elevated biological/genetics of ssa to that of skin color, your remarks became completely unwarranted--devoid of support. This is what I responded to.

I think there can be more said, but one thing is certain, a)mankind has a propensity to do a lot of things, b)has the natural capacity to do a lot of things, c)and even has a significant desire/lust to do a lot of things: that are not good for individuals or culture.

And, since science is illequipped to answer any question of oughtness with authority, we could, I'll grant, very likely even come to the conclusion that a very small minority of people have an immutable ssa, this doesn't mean that society should endorse the behavior as normal and good. At the same time I dont think homosexuals should be the target of ridicule.

Otto,

You originally said, "And yet, quantities of Christian groups have been campaigning vigorously for legislation that specifically discriminates against gays, and the only rationale for the effort is religious doctrine."

I corrected you by saying Christians "argue from the social ramifications of same sex marriage, natural teleology, the definition of marriage, the physical harm of same sex relationships, and things like that."

Then you responded by saying that the "problems" with my response were "most egregious." Then, to show that my response was most egregious, you attempted to point out the flaws in the various arguments I said Christians use to oppose same sex marriage.

Isn't it obvious that the egregious error is on your part rather than mine? Your response was completely irrelevant to the point I was making. The point I was making was that you were wrong to claim that religious doctrine was the only rationale Christians used to oppose same sex marriage. Whether these various other arguments were good arguments or not was completely irrelevant to my point, so your whole response suffers from irrelevance.

Your responses to my other points also suffer from egregious errors, but I'm too lazy to spell them all out for you. I hope you won't mind me bailing on the conversation now. I've answered several of your questions, and I hope that's enough.

I was just reading through this thread and wanted to comment on some of the questions and remarks that Otto Tellick made here:

"How can it be that a just and loving God would punish people for attributes that they did not choose to acquire?

Oh, wait... is it that part about the sins of Adam being inherited in perpetuity by the entire human race forever? If so, it still seems like homosexuals are being singled out for an extra measure of undeserved culpability. The whole notion of original sin is absurd, but doubly so as applied to homosexuals.

Regarding my question "what is it about homosexuality that makes it so bad?": The point here is that, in America at least, there must be no law that establishes religion. In effect, this means that the laws we enact cannot be grounded solely on religious doctrine. There has to be some independent, secular, objective basis for the purpose and conditions that the law implements. There are excellent reasons why this is the case. And yet, quantities of Christian groups have been campaigning vigorously for legislation that specifically discriminates against gays, and the only rationale for the effort is religious doctrine. That's a problem."

You tackle quite a number of issues here, including your view on original sin being an "absurd notion". Scripture tells us in Gen. 1:27-28 that man was created in the image of God--that male and female He created them. And it says that He gave a mandate to them to be fruitful and increase in number and to fill the earth and subdue it. So God had a determined plan for mankind and a determined order as well. God was Creator and head (authority) of the man, and the woman had the man's authority over her. She fell for the craftiness of Satan who got her to question what God had said, to process her thinking in a way which usurped the authority of God over Adam and Adam over herself. She then got Adam to join her in this, and the authority order which God had originated was broken, and they felt shame and they knew evil. THIS is what we all inherited from them, a rebellion against God, resulting in sin of every kind and a broken relationship with Him and with each other.

Homosexuality is one of many sins, but at its core is a rebellion against the order God designed for mankind; man, woman, family was God's idea and His plan for human beings. The perversion of that in homosexuality has and does lead to societal confusion over the God-given roles of man and woman and creates chaos and instability for children who need both father and mother to rear them. And when God's divine order is usurped, every sort of fallout occurs. God is not glorified by such willful sin, man loses sight of God's authority over him, and woman loses the authority of a man in a proper male-female relationship over her. Countless people are persuaded by the sin they encounter and develop an attitude of "it's no big deal" (because they don't know what God has said and don't care/don't believe it), and whole generations of children grow up to devalue or reject God and His created order and purpose for man. These are not minor problems! They are foundational to our existence and stability as human beings.

That's why it's a big deal. That's why it matters so much. Sin is readily accepted--it's in our fallen nature to succumb to it. The Believer who knows God and His Word, who follows His Word, does all in his power to protect that which God has ordained. It is all too clear what the consequences of abandoning His wisdom produces.

Sadly, that original sin which you scoff at has left us all wide open to all kinds of sinful attitudes and aptitudes. Every one of us struggles with something (or even lots of somethings!) But that is no reason to make those things legal or permissible. None of us asked for the propensities we have, but altering laws to make them palatable or to somehow sanitize them does not make them good things, either.

As for America not establishing a religion, the slippery slope of sinfulness opened those floodgates a long time ago. The gradual process of eliminating God from culture and public acceptance of sin has eroded the original nobility of the notion of not establishing a national religion, to the current state of condemnation of Christianity simply because we answer to God and not to men. The more we give in to sinfulness, the easier it is to dump the notion of accountability to God--and, as a nation, we have done just that. That, of course, means sin is allowed and even celebrated (as is the case with homosexuality in our culture and beyond), and people foolishly believe that by throwing off the "shackles of God's authority over them", they can be free; they are incapable of seeing that, by doing so, they are willingly binding themselves to their annihilator.

Sam: To summarize: (a) I said opponents of same-sex marriage (including proponents of legislation to ban it) have nothing but religious arguments for their position; (b) you said they have given non-religious reasons, and list some; (c) I said those "non-religious reasons" are vacuous, meaningless, and invalid (which leaves those people with only religious reasons); (d) you say my refutation of those alleged non-religious reasons is irrelevant; and finally (e) you'd rather not be bothered with trying to explain what's wrong in my objections to your claims about Jesus's position on homosexuals (given that he was never reported to have said anything on the topic *). Okay, I think we're done there.

Brad B: Thanks very much for the clarification, and please forgive the snarky tone of my earlier reply to you. I have no serious argument with your more carefully expressed opinion on the research, and I'm not seriously uncomfortable with a statement like "this doesn't mean that society should endorse the behavior as normal and good." The important thing here is: neither should society condemn the behavior as diseased or evil. It's different, it's relatively rare, it isn't intrinsically harmful, and it isn't a "problem" that needs to be "solved".

(* Footnote for Sam: Perhaps this will be taken as egregious, but I can't help wondering... what if Jesus actually had said something about homosexuals in particular, along the lines of "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone..." and his disciples simply failed to include that part in their gospels, for whatever reason - e.g. because they knew it wouldn't go over well with the populace at large, or they themselves felt that being more accepting of whores was sufficient to get the general point across so no need to mention gays, or...)

"neither should society condemn the behavior as diseased or evil. It's different, it's relatively rare, it isn't intrinsically harmful, and it isn't a "problem" that needs to be "solved"."

Hi Otto, I dont think you can lay fault at the feet of Christians for holding a line, the fact is that the activist element of the GLBT are not satisfied unless or until there is a full endorsement of their behavior. It isn't unusual to hear claims homophobia etc..when someone opposes this activism. If it "isn't a problem that neees to solved", maybe the message need to be delivered to their camp because they dont act like they have heard the news. Government btw is in the business of promoting good behavior and discouraging bad behavior, this is its God sanctioned purpose as His minister for good.

I'd like to add, Otto, that your hypothetical scenario where the gosp0el writers might include or exclude something because "they knew it wouldn't go over well with the populace at large," presupposes that these men wrote what they wanted to write and were not under the inspiration of God. This is not a concept held by mainstream Christianity.

Oops, sorry for the typo in "gospel" above!

Brad: It's axiomatic that the function of Government is (or ought to be) to promote the overall well-being of the governed, and this includes "promoting good behavior and discouraging bad behavior" among the governed; the perpetual challenge faced by Government is to establish, maintain and promote a clear understanding of how to accomplish that function, and what constitutes "good" and "bad" behavior.

That will always be work in progress, but there are axiomatic, constant components that are required. For all individuals, there must be: (1) equal protection and due process under the law, (2) freedom of expression and assembly, and (3) freedom from the imposition by government of any specific religious belief or doctrine. It's vital that we have the wherewithal to change, add or eliminate laws as we see fit over time, but if we diminish or abandon any of those three, we do so at our own peril.

Carolyn: Thanks for your comment; I think you are correct. You've identified the core of the disagreement between Christians and non-Christians (and this extends to cover the overall disagreement between any scripture-based theism and atheism, as well as between any one scripture-based religion and any other): it hinges on an essential question about the nature of the "authority" held by the authors of this or that scripture.

I haven't found any better expression of the issue than this, from "The Age of Reason", by Thomas Paine (who was a Deist):

It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication – after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

An addendum to the passage from Paine: when there's a basis for independent verification of a claim made by "revelation" (i.e. the claim is consistent with available, accessible evidence), then the attribution to divine inspiration becomes superfluous.

I know that one of the "strong" arguments for Christianity involves the "corroboration" among a number of different "witnesses", recorded "separately" in the various canonical gospels. These various authors were all members of a close-knit team, and their various supernatural claims (sometimes reported consistently, sometimes not) have never been corroborated by anyone outside the team, let alone by any extant physical evidence.

In any case, whether these authors were engaged in cooperative deception, communal delusion, or actual recall of events that in fact subverted or violated natural laws, it remains a fallacy to treat all of their various pronouncements as inerrant. Likewise, there's no reason to fully trust any given translation from original sources into any other language as inerrant, in terms of being fully accurate and successful in conveying the full intent of the original authors.

Carolyn: I should apologize for any confusion - my previous response to you were specifically in reference to your brief second comment. Regarding your first longer comment (thanks for that as well):

In order to accept the interpretation you've given for account in Genesis (which, I have to say, is just one among a virtually unlimited range of distinct interpretations that could be drawn, with many different sets of implications), one has to reject the information that is available to us through the study of evolution. That information has quite a lot of value: it can contribute significantly to our understanding of ourselves and our situation, and this improved understanding can lead to practical, sustainable, and compassionate improvements in how we live. Most importantly, it can be verified through observation, and can even lead to predictions that are reasonably accurate and useful.

A better understanding of homo- and hetero-sexual behaviors among related species will help us to adopt a sensible and just treatment of these behaviors among humans. But as we continue our progress in that more rigorous, empirical form of learning, we should recognize that those among us who happen to be homosexual also happen to be good people in other aspects of their lives: as family members, as neighbors, as coworkers, soldiers, teachers, politicians, tax payers, etc, sexual orientation doesn't really impact the ability to conduct life the way everyone else does, with the sole exception of deciding who one chooses to share one's bed.

(Minor nit-pick correction: ... those among us who happen to be homosexual also happen to be normal people in other aspects of life..." i.e. no more or less inclined to be good than anyone else.)

@Otto Tellick

First off,I appreciate the straight-forward manner of your posts and the way you present your comments. It's refreshing to be able to dialog with someone of an opposing view who remains calm and conversant.

My first response, to the statement by Thomas Paine which you posted, is that his remarks may have some merit in the secular sense but they cannot be applied in the same sense to revelation in Scripture. The Word of God is unlike any other book or communication; it is a living, active communication to us from God which constantly instructs, reveals, encourages, chastises, and builds us as Believers, but its intent remains fixed and unchanged. It is personal and it can be general at the same time. Its truths transcend time, popular opinion, and political correctness. It IS a "first communication" of the most profound sort, delivered by God.

Your point about the corroboration of witnesses outside the circle of the "team" fails to grasp the heart of the spiritual scenario; it doesn't NEED the corroboration of anyone else. God, in His wisdom, made sure that those who needed to be there and witness the truth of Christ were there. Their testimony is true, regardless of what the secular world views as unscientific. The truths of God have been imparted to those whom God has called to salvation, and the "obstacle" of lacking "extant physical evidence" did not deter God from revealing what He wanted to reveal to those whom He desired.

Your comment on inerrancy is another example of mistaking Scripture to be just another history book. It is inerrant because God is inerrant and His Word is who He is. The writers were divinely inspired to write what He conveyed.

Yes, you've got the evolution part of things correct. Either the world came into existence (and mankind as well) the way God said it did, or He is a liar. It's obvious that as an evolutionist and atheist you find this stance too incredible for words-- and that's fine. You feel that there is much to be learned and appropriated through adhering to evolution, especially in terms of learning more about ourselves, our world, and improved ways of living. The same can be said of adhering to the Word of God, but in Scripture we learn about the author of all of it all and His relationship with us as well. And, yes, His "authority" is without equal.

Your next comment addressed how "a better understanding of homo- and hetero-sexual behaviors among related species will help us adopt a sensible and just treatment of these behaviors among humans." Once again, the disparity between those who live to honor God by obeying His Word, and those who have no use for God, is obvious. Believers do not need to grow into a new, progressive understanding of the world's definitions of right and wrong; Scripture has already made those things clear. Secularists will always see their newest "understanding" of something as the pinnacle of evolved learning and will always decry the "unenlightened adherence" of the Believers to God's Word as backward and out of touch.

You wrote:

"But as we continue our progress in that more rigorous, empirical form of learning, we should recognize that those among us who happen to be homosexual also happen to be good people in other aspects of their lives: as family members, as neighbors, as coworkers, soldiers, teachers, politicians, tax payers, etc, sexual orientation doesn't really impact the ability to conduct life the way everyone else does, with the sole exception of deciding who one chooses to share one's bed."

You see your way of thinking as more rigorous
and evolved because it paves the way to accepting things as neutral which Believers know to be wrong. The "sole exception" which you refer to in the last sentence, and which the homosexual community so clearly wants to see accepted as neutral, is an open manifestation of rejection of God, His plan for mankind, and His Word. It's inevitable that there will be resistance to it.

All of that being said, Believers are not exempt from treating all people with kindness and respect, regardless of their personal opinions. Civility must be exercised in order to maintain stability, and differences can certainly be discussed and examined in a free society. We, who hold to the authority of God, look only to Him to guide our thoughts and our hearts and to glorify Him with our lives; He has all things in His grip and will use all things to work together for His purposes.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this!

Carolyn

“….there are axiomatic, constant components that are required. For all individuals, there must be: (1) equal protection and due process under the law, (2) freedom of expression and assembly, and (3) freedom from the imposition by government of any specific religious belief or doctrine…”


I have yet to see any naturalist offer us a naturalistic bedrock which can support these as some sort of innate ought in the universe as a whole much less where our species in particular is concerned. On what grounds does he mean to place the weight of these assertions? He simply foists these definitions into the arena of “Good” despite the fact that naturalism’s necessary presuppositions ultimately fail to provide him with any immutable oughts. Is slaughter “bad? Is oppression “bad”? On what grounds per natural selection? Why should the fantasy about good and evil inside the skull of some religious person not trump the fantasy of good and evil inside the skull of some non-religious person? Or why not vice-versa? Are good and evil Necessary, Immutable Truths which precede, and outlast, our irrationally conditioned psychic phosphorescence enslaved to aimless photon fluxes bubbling up through our neuron’s lipid bi-layers?


The naturalist simply foists the notion that there are “rights” or “equality” (there are of course such things in Love’s, that is to say, in God’s created world) yet he does not show us how naturalism’s first principles provide grounds for him to make these assertions. The male’s itches and drives and tendencies to so misuse, so abuse the female counterpart have been, and still are being, highly valued by natural selection and in many behavior-sets we see these tendencies actually increasing in frequency on the world stage: as such, it seems the honest naturalist would define these as “good” and thus contradict these groundless assertions described above.


C.S. Lewis’ description of all notions of good and evil being enslaved to irrationally conditioned psychic phosphorescence tells us why naturalism’s “I-Feels” stand atop irrational bedrocks grounding those various I-Feel’s, or, those fantasies. Our various Fantasies inside our neurons is the ceiling beneath which the naturalist must work. The naturalist has given us no natural explanation to counter Lewis’ description of thoughts, feelings, itches, appetites, and so on as utterly enslaved to physical systems; he simply continues to bemoan this description without coming forth with a reason for us to believe it is invalid.


The naturalist has given us no reason to believe that our gametes use “rational” appeals to mutate. He has given us no reason to believe that wind and weather us “rational” appeals to defend, to value, and to maintain those males who are conditioned to abuse their female counterparts. He has not shown us how it is that these itches in the male have come from some other mechanism other than natural selection. Natural selection is (and he has yet to show us otherwise) wholly an irrational process which values only self-perpetuation at any cost. We gently, but purposefully, described the appetites which exist because of this irrational process pushing the increasing frequency of, say, some ugly behavior-set like sex-trafficking, but the naturalist has yet to speak toward these appetites and their value on the world stage of survival where the genome is concerned in naturalism’s presuppositions. Perhaps that is because he cannot find a reason that is consistent within his own terms and presuppositions by which to denounce such drives, itches, and appetites?


Some naturalists (Otto in particular) seem to fall back to the obvious as proof of the untenable there within naturalism with statements like, “Learning entails the ability to store memories of past experience” and “there is such a thing as "social communication"” and so on. Well, yes, it seems we agree on these occurrences. But merely making observations about such things cannot bring the naturalist’s regress to some better place other than the love-less, life-less, and irrational bedrock which swallows up whole all of his statements. To borrow from Brad B, “Your view seems to attempt a descriptive accounting as though observing proves authority. When there is no anchor---something you need for binding and unchanging moral rules, you have no authority to compel obedience. Morals……are self evident prescriptive oughts that rule over social behavior, they cannot be mutually dependent [on culture]. Unless your view allows for changing standards and are okay with it, you are incoherent within your system. If you are okay with changing standards, you have no supportive authority to judge any behavior as good or bad.”


Otto: Are you willing to embrace changing standards?


That animals do more than kill each other is quite a hook to hang all your hope for love’s value on. And a bit of an unsophisticated, or unfruitful, hook at that as it is inconsistent in just so many other itches, drives, and appetites. On your own terms “good” must embrace all the “ugly” stuff too, Otto, but we have yet to hear you call those “ugly” things which are, right before our eyes, benefiting life and survival, “good”. You seem to transcend the genome in your definitions, in your need to move towards love. And, again, you keep foisting that life’s proliferation is “good”. Yet you give us no reason, no innate law to appeal to other than a sort of “I-Feel” within your own set of preferred definitions by which to base this on. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big Bang. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which would be, should life one day end (a highly probable scenario), insulted by such life-less-ness once it comes about. You just keep appealing to “what happens is good” but then you refuse to be consistent on these terms when there is no life at all, or when “ugly” itches and drives are being, quite obviously, valued by natural selection on the world stage.


You are not consistent at all in your definitions and seem unable to stay within them. Nor do you give us any reason to think your definitions weigh in on life-less-ness or on “ugly” behavior-sets in any way at all where the universe as a whole is concerned.


You noted, “We know the survival of predators depends on prey, and it's silly to suggest that "The naturalist appeals to love among species though the evidence of slaughter irrefutably contradicts him."”


Perhaps then I need to detract my prior assumption on your belief in “good” as somehow above the genome’s embrace of current-day slaughter. Perhaps you really do believe that such slaughter is, also, “good”. Well, those itches, drives, and appetites, as ugly as they are, are certainly valued by natural selection, and are thus, by that definition, “Good”.


I see nothing in your presuppositions which allows you to assert your initial premises of equal treatment, and so on. Of course, we are all infinitely valuable, and equally so, but such a statement demands a set of first principles which your naturalism just cannot give to you, to me, or to anyone at all.

Otto,

On Scripture:

Where scripture is concerned we find provided for us, those who hold that God-Is-Love, something which naturalism cannot provide to us. That provision is a Whole-Show rooted in Unity Amid Diversity, E Pluribus Unum found quite easily in the Whole-Show’s description of various end-points found within Love’s Singular-Us there inside of the Triune God, and all with Actual-Volition between Real-Persons fully intact in all directions both within God and within Mankind made in Love’s Image. Contrary to those necessary conclusions which naturalism must cough up and swallow, eventually, we find that Love is Immutable and Everlasting and not mutable and temporary. It is both our First and out Last. Now, all your references thus far to scripture are to some verse or chapter without the context of the Whole-Show revealed in the entire story Love is telling. Forgive the weak humor, but, if we take text out of context we are left with only the con. As I noted in my reference to January’s thread at January 14, 2013, "Understanding the Creation Account in Genesis (Video)" I find no difficulty with the Genesis account; your both/and references to man being made both before and after this or that is a misrepresentation, as demonstrated in January’s reference.

Whether young earth or old earth, I find chunks of tenable constructs in both directions and as such I am not “bothered” by either. At least not as bothered as you repeatedly seem to be. But we as Christians know that such things cannot possibly separate us from Love Himself nor from one another. I find myself in a lean toward an old earth as I sway in the wind and Time is, in philosophy, a funny thing and such does not bother me where God’s clock is concerned. "Nouns and Verbs, and even Adjectives and Adverbs precede Time” seems to have confused you. Or bothered you. Well, it is simple really as it is a reference to what both naturalists and theists agree on: that “something” was “there” before the Big Bang. The notion of a static state does not make null and void the fact that “something” (Noun) was (prior to the Big Bang) “being” (Verb) and all of that was occurring without Time. “I am sitting perfectly still in this chair.” Noun. Verb. Static. And so on and so on. Thus we do not need Time to account for Things-Happening. Scripture told us this of Actual Actuality, which it calls Word (Love Himself), long ago. Now, this is all quite obvious and I am a bit confused as to why you seem to disagree with this; unless of course you hold that there was NO-thing there, and in fact everything truly did come out of NO-thing at all. No thing. No Immaterial Laws. No Material Uncaused Cause. No ANY-thing. Well, if that is the case I am afraid we disagree.

Your pathology (insistence despite better knowledge) to refuse to take scripture on Love’s Whole-Show is revealed yet again by this statement you made, ““if one part of the Bible tells us God is jealous and vengeful, and another part says he is good….”

Well, I already described your insistence on taking a chapter or two here and there and trying to look at the Whole-Show in isolated sections rather than as the Whole-Show Love is telling us. Yes, vengeance against evil is a good thing. Yes, love’s jealousy for the beloved is one of the vectors which demands such justice. You won’t demand justice if your child is raped? Of course, love’s jealousy also leads Love to embrace the Beloved even should she, the Beloved, be the very one doing the evil: thus Grace. And so we see that vengeance, love, love’s jealousy for its beloved, justice, mercy, and grace are all linked quite easily in a Singular-Whole. If you cannot see this even in our own fallen version of love, then I have nothing more to offer you. We’ve already been over this tendency of yours to misrepresent via verse-and-chapter isolation though. It’s like the Law of Moses -- if you take it outside of the whole-show it just goes no-where. But, of course, that is exactly where God said it would lead: that terrible taskmaster bleeds, and bleeds endlessly, into terrible frustration and terrible pain. You can ignore this next sentence, as it must be constructed out of multiple verses and multiple chapters and as such cannot be told in any concise fashion: The pain of Love’s destruction by the Self’s Volition which leads to that fierce imprisonment within the Eternally Isolated Self is rescued by Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self as Love forever pours Him-Self out for His Beloved. The interior vectors which comprise Power’s Will towards Love’s begetting of yet more Love is simply that which Love does, and so on forever.

You continued to misread with this, “various end-points which Christianity offers.... was incoherent”

That is because you want to insist that Scripture (or Christianity) is either ALL man-focused, or, it is ALL God-focused. Again, your odd insistence of taking a verse or two, a chapter or two, rather than Love’s Whole-Show, is forcing you to invent a story which just no Christian at all is telling. Scripture itself points us towards marriage as a pattern as to how God, how Love, how this reality we awake to find ourselves in, actually works. If you cannot see in marriage that which is innately husband-focused, that which is innately wife-focused, and that which is innately We-focused (that singular-We which is the “Us” of husband and wife, of This-That, of Self-Other) then I will have to await your experience of such a wonder, such a beauty of Love and its Beloved. The end points of scripture all lead to those patterns. Love Himself tells us of God focused “issues” and actions by both God and Man; of Man focused “issues” and actions by both God and Man; and, the third endpoint: God-In-Man, or, Man-In-God “issues” as the Singular-We of Love’s embrace there within Love’s innate “Self”, innate “Other”, and innate and singular “We” are finally, fully, begotten there in our Final Good, our Final Felicity, our Soul’s Bliss: Love.

As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood, of Mind, and thus of Ontology and of Epistemology all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's necessarily triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus Actual Actuality, and is thus, ultimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.


Carolyn,

Sorry about the response lag... I appreciate and share your opinion about the dialog. Thank you.

Let's see if I understand your response to Paine: you're asserting that you've personally received (and continue to receive) direct revelation yourself from a supernatural entity (or entities?), which you identify as the living Jesus Christ (or the Trinity?), and it's plainly clear to you that the being(s) in direct communication with you must be the one(s) at the core of the Bible. On the basis of your own personal receipt of direct revelation, you feel you must regard that book as inerrant.

If that's not accurate, please feel free to clarify, but if you don't claim your own receipt of direct revelation, then your own assertion of Biblical inerrancy is not sustainable. The essence of Paine's point is: either you are getting information directly from the particular supernatural being(s), or else your belief in Biblical inerrancy is founded entirely on taking some other human's word for it. And in the latter case, did that person get direct revelation, or were they also just taking some other human's word for it? (In Paine's view, it doesn't really matter how they arrived at their belief; what matters is how you arrived at yours.)

Of course, even if you do claim personal receipt of some revelation that "proves" biblical inerrancy for you, that still remains a purely subjective event, and there's no good reason why other people should simply accept your assertion, without considering the likelihood that you've fallen victim to one or more of the known pitfalls of subjective experience: wishful thinking, misperception, misconstrual, over-active imagination, delusion, or some form of neurological disorder. To firmly establish truth, you need evidence beyond your own say-so, and beyond the say-so of others (including the humans who wrote the scriptures).

Apart from working out the accountability (epistemology) for claims of inerrancy, there's the harder question of what the claims are actually worth: what does "inerrant" really mean? How does it come about that two (or ten or ninety) distinct denominations claim to work from the same source texts, claim that the texts are inerrant, and yet arrive at mutually incompatible sets of rules for living, and argue interminably about the 'implementation details' of afterlife? Can text be called "inerrant" when it contains an extent of vagueness and ambiguity that yields such fragmentation among divergent interpretations?

Carolyn,

Regarding this part of your May 29 reply - you said:

You see your way of thinking as more rigorous and evolved because it paves the way to accepting things as neutral which Believers know to be wrong.

This "knowledge" that the Believers have about the "wrongness" of homosexual behavior is entirely on a par with "knowledge" about the "wrongness" of inter-racial, inter-ethnic and inter-faith marriages. I expect there are Believers who still hold to these articles of faith as well.

The naturalist perspective should be preferable, because it allows us the ability to overcome the prejudice and bigotry that stem from our innate tendency to fear the unfamiliar, and that are all too often ingrained in the religious training that forms part of our essential social bonding.


Hi, scbrownlhrm.

I see I can count on you for voluminous replies. I'll only address your first one (not the one "On Scripture"):

In reference to my three "axiomatic, constant components" for good government, you started with this:

I have yet to see any naturalist offer us a naturalistic bedrock which can support these as some sort of innate ought in the universe as a whole

Your first mistake is that you are trying to extend to universal scale something that pertains only to humanity. There may be planets where life has emerged along lines similar to earth; given that possibility, it's not unreasonable to think there may be other species comprising sentient individuals that behave collaboratively and have concerns about the governance of their social groups comparable to our own. But that's highly speculative, and will be relevant only if we physically encounter an alien species fitting that description.

Then you continue your hyperbole, going off the rails with: "... much less where our species in particular is concerned."

If you don't understand why a government, in order to be "good", must respect and protect the rights and freedoms of individuals (even as it enforces punishments for violations of its laws), and must not impose any specific religious doctrine on its citizens (because its rules and actions must be based on secular consensus and objectivity), then you have missed all the essential points that were made so blatantly clear by the framers of the U.S. Constitution. If you're U.S. citizen, you should have learned this already (unless you haven't finished high school yet - I think this is typically covered in 12th grade).

I nearly laughed out loud when I saw this one:

Our various Fantasies inside our neurons is the ceiling beneath which the naturalist must work.

A Theist such as yourself accusing naturalists of working from "Fanasies"!? That is hilarious. Maybe you should submit a paper describing your own understanding of ethics to a suitable peer-reviewed scientific journal (e.g. one that focuses on sociology, psychology, economics, or even ethics). You'll get some clear guidance that way about the difference between a well-founded explanation and a fantasy.

I see you're bringing up your notion of "psychic phosphorescence" again (as you did in an earlier thread), which is somehow related to the work of C.S.Lewis (reference? If it's in "Mere Christianity", give me a page number or chapter - I think I have a copy). I don't know whether you're misrepresenting his argument, but your own explanation isn't making sense:

The naturalist has given us no natural explanation to counter Lewis’ description of thoughts, feelings, itches, appetites, and so on as utterly enslaved to physical systems

Thoughts, feelings, etc, are intrinsically bound to physical systems. If Lewis said that, he was not disagreeing with naturalists. If he said thoughts, feelings, etc have some existence outside of physical systems, he was making stuff up, and had no basis for doing so.

The naturalist has given us no reason to believe that our gametes use “rational” appeals to mutate.

No one would suggest that rationality is an attribute of gametes. Mutation is a natural outcome of a purely biochemical process, having no relationship to any sort of consciousness or intention. If Lewis said anything like what you said, he was crazier than I thought.

You asked if I'm willing to embrace changing standards. Are you referring to changes like: "Then: slavery was allowed. Now: slavery is forbidden." or "Then: homosexuality was punished. Now: homosexuality is not punished." or "Then: Catholics killed Protestants as heretics and Protestants killed Catholics as usurpers. Now: Catholics and Protestants don't kill each other."

If that's what you're asking about, then YES, I do embrace changing standards, when it's clear that the change yields a net reduction in suffering in the broadest relevant scope. Changes that lead to a net increase in suffering, such as "Then: Jews lived among us. Now: We kill all Jews." can be rejected on purely secular, rational, natural grounds.

Your use of Brad B's statements was very helpful - let's look at that again:

Your view seems to attempt a descriptive accounting as though observing proves authority. When there is no anchor - something you need for binding and unchanging moral rules, you have no authority to compel obedience. Morals ... cannot be mutually dependent [on culture]. Unless your view allows for changing standards and are okay with it, you are incoherent within your system. If you are okay with changing standards, you have no supportive authority to judge any behavior as good or bad.”

Observing does not prove authority. It establishes the difference between what works and what fails, what helps and what hinders. True and valid authority comes with a correct understanding of reality, and of what will ultimately support your own best interest when you properly understand the dependency you have on others (not just other people in your family, or in your community or in your nation, but all other people, and other species - fauna and flora - as well).

The theistic appeal to a divine authority is merely a deflection. The asserted deity doesn't actually exercise authority. People assume, or accept the claim, that things happen to them and laws apply to them because that is how the deity is exercising authority, but every such claim is based on a mythical story, or a bare assertion.

Most of us have outgrown the primitive tendency to see natural disasters as punishments by God. We know that illnesses are not caused by demons - at least, we've learned how to successfully combat such "demons" using vaccines, antibiotics, and surgery when necessary.

Regarding laws and ethical behavior, if the members of a social group decide that murder, theft and lying among themselves is okay, that group does not survive (some individuals will outlast others, but only as individuals - the group ceases to exist). The groups that survive are the ones whose rules are conducive to collaboration - the broader the scope of collaboration they endorse, the more they prosper. It really is that simple, and you don't need supernatural endowments to explain it.

There has been a long-standing and pernicious trend, especially among the Abrahamic faiths, to attribute the "authority" of social rules to an all-powerful, divine, unseeable, eternal being: if you break the rules, you answer to Him. But in actual fact, the rules, like the very languages we speak, are man-made; they are a form of social communication. All authority resides among us, whether we want to admit it or not.

So the question becomes: how should we make sure that we are really doing the "right" thing? The secularist/naturalist view is: let's make sure we get some relevant evidence on that, and not rely solely on ancient texts whose contents are incomplete, imperfect, and all too often misinterpreted.

Otto,


“why a government, in order to be "good", must respect”


Once again, Otto, you have given no basis for “good” which is consistent within your own naturalistic definitions. Why is DIS-respect “bad”? Life’s proliferation? But this is not, within naturalistic constraints, defendable. You seem to transcend the genome in your definitions, in your need to move towards love. And, again, you keep foisting that life’s proliferation is “good”. Yet you give us no reason, no innate law to appeal to other than a sort of “I-Feel” within your own set of preferred definitions by which to base this on. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big Bang. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which would be, should life one day end (a highly probable scenario), insulted by such life-less-ness once it comes about. You just keep appealing to “what happens is good” but then you refuse to be consistent on these terms when there is no life at all, or when “ugly” itches and drives are being, quite obviously, valued by natural selection on the world stage.


I see nothing in your presuppositions which allows you to assert your premises of equal treatment, equal worth, and so on. Of course, we are all infinitely valuable, and equally so, but such a statement demands a set of first principles which your naturalism just cannot give to you, to me, or to anyone at all.

You simply foist these definitions into the arena of “Good” despite the fact that naturalism’s necessary presuppositions ultimately fail to provide us with any immutable oughts. Is slaughter “bad? Is oppression “bad”? On what grounds per natural selection? Why should the fantasy about good and evil inside the skull of some religious person not trump the fantasy of good and evil inside the skull of some non-religious person? Or why not vice-versa? Are good and evil Necessary, Immutable Truths which precede, and outlast, our irrationally conditioned psychic phosphorescence enslaved to aimless photon fluxes bubbling up through our neuron’s lipid bi-layers?


You fain an attempt to answer these questions, yet you never really do.

“Thoughts, feelings, etc, are intrinsically bound to physical systems”. I’m glad you finally realize this. And I’m glad we agree that nature does not use “reason” in its selection process. This is why naturalism must embrace this notion: "You can't, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with anyone if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties and all of the “worth” both of the person and of the character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by blind forces constraining aimless reverberations of photons, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from a deterministic dance to blind, indifferent genes. You can't go on getting very serious pleasure from music, or displeasure from Injustice, if you know and remember that their air of significance are both pure illusion, that you like the one, or dislike the other, only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like the one or dislike the other." (C.S. Lewis paraphrased)


Reason itself, Consciousness itself, Love itself, Value itself, Whim itself all die a necessary death as they are forever enslaved to irrationally constrained photon fluxes by naturalism’s necessary presuppositions.


“Are you referring to changes like: "Then: slavery was allowed. Now: slavery is forbidden”


Once again, you cherry-pick chapters without looking at the Whole-Show Love is telling. In Christ we find no distinction of worth where male or female, slave or free, are found, and so on, and so on. You really seem opposed to view how it is your own worldview fails to give you the very things you seek to value here, Otto. Now, naturalism is not here providing us with “universal equality”, yet you want us to believe in such a thing? How odd, Otto, since you really do not believe this is anything more than blind psychic phosphorescence. And again, “survival”? On what grounds? What law was insulted by life-less-ness? Well, you can’t show us such a law. And where Scripture is concerned, since you chose to ignore that post: We’ve already been over this tendency of yours to misrepresent via verse-and-chapter isolation though. The Old Testament has no intention of “fixing the human condition” yet you seem to say it should have. Love made Flesh is quite another story where Innate Worth and Innate Equality is concerned, and those are logically present and yet even in The-Now we find that the Final-Good is yet to come, and its pattern is Love. Yet you still try to cherry-pick chapters and verses? But why, Otto? The Law of Moses just takes us to pain; if you take it outside of the whole-show it just goes no-where. But, of course, that is exactly where God said it would lead: that terrible taskmaster bleeds, and bleeds endlessly, into terrible frustration and terrible pain. Even in the New Testament we find out condition is not yet complete as we are still laced all through with all sorts of Love-Less-Ness.


You seem to think human equality, and innate worth which transcends our whim exists. You will need to give a reason here, Otto, to believe that naturalism can provide this.

Until you do theism provides what your naturalism cannot provide and you simply foist the notion that there are “rights” or “equality” (there are of course such things in Love’s, that is to say, in God’s created world) yet you do not show us how naturalism’s first principles provide grounds for us to make these assertions. Some cruel sexual patterns are actually increasing in frequency upon the world stage, Otto.


“If you are okay with changing standards, you have no supportive authority to judge any behavior as good or bad.”


You seem to agree, and yet you continue to assume that good and bad is defined by what “works” and then you just foist “pain” (or survival?) into this arena while ignoring that you have yet to give us reasons to think such definitions are sustainable on naturalistic grounds.


“fauna and flora”


Survival again….and again…. You just keep foisting your whim into the arena. Over and over and all without ever showing us a reason that naturalism can sustains this. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big Bang. You have yet to show us a moral-ought which would be, should life one day end (a highly probable scenario), insulted by such life-less-ness once it comes about. You just keep appealing to “what happens is good” but then you refuse to be consistent on these terms when there is no life at all, and, when “ugly” itches and drives are being, quite obviously, valued by natural selection on the world stage.


What moral-ought which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big Bang? What moral-ought will be, should life one day end (a highly probable scenario), insulted by such life-less-ness once it comes about?


As the final regress of Consciousness, of Love, of Personhood, of Mind, and thus of Ontology and of Epistemology all, within the framework of "God Is Love", find the end of all regresses there within Word which is Himself Love amid Personhood's necessarily triune topography of I and You and We, such is the end of all of Logic's appeals, all of Love's tasted Truths. Love here is thus Actual Actuality, and is thus, ultimately, the highest ethic, the final regress.


scbrownlhrm:

Once again, Otto, you have given no basis for “good” which is consistent within your own naturalistic definitions.

Once again, you have failed or refused to see the obvious. Indeed, there is so much that you are claiming not to see, and I frankly don't understand your blindness. It is becoming increasingly pointless for me to try to respond to you.

What you refer to as "my whim" is really just my attempt to summarize the daily observables of reality, which are available to all as evidence that supports the naturalist perspective.

I suppose you believe that the behavior we refer to as "empathy" is something that cannot exist without your invisible, omni-everything deity. That's pathetic. Empathy exists; it is observable, even measurable; it is a natural outcome of the evolutionary development that has yielded a sentient, self-aware, socially-organized species; it accounts for and clearly explains, in purely natural terms, the "immutable ought" that you keep harping about as you try to pretend that something validates your supernatural belief in a kind of magic that trumps reality and coherence - oh Blessed Delusion of Faith!

As I said in that other thread, go ahead and enjoy your 'show', but don't expect that your description of it will make sense to anyone else, let alone convince anyone that it's tenable. It isn't.

Sorry, scbrownlhrm - I must confess to having only skimmed your (typically lengthy) remarks before posting my previous reply. As a result, I had missed this part, which deserves some attention:

Some cruel sexual patterns are actually increasing in frequency upon the world stage

That's the kind of claim that is supposed to be based on evidence. Do you happen to have any references in peer-reviewed literature to support it? My question is: can you back that up with observed evidence? My concern is: Did you just make that up, or perhaps misinterpret some evidence, in the hope of having something bad that you can associate with atheism?

I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for turning this thread into a "not safe for work" minefield of salacious details, but it would be helpful to have a little more clarity on what the phrase "cruel sexual patterns" refers to.

Are you talking about prostitution rings that operate like slave markets, or about men who abuse their wives and girlfriends? What do these things have to do with the differences between perspectives of naturalists vs. theists? What has any religion (or Christianity in particular) done over the last few thousand years to make the situation "better"?

Oh, I know: Christ specifically demonstrated the wisdom of showing mercy toward a prostitute. I'll grant that this was a major, remarkable and laudable breakthrough, since it countered the previous religious "wisdom" that prostitutes should be stoned to death. (Oh, but then Christ said that he was not changing the old laws at all. Well, I guess a follower of Christ could go either way on this point, then. Which way do you go, scbrownlhrm?)

If you want to say that Christianity really has (or would, or could) help solve this problem that you say is increasing, this again is a matter that needs evidence to back up your claim.

If you want to say something like 'The people who cause this problem will suffer an eternity in Hell (unless they accept Jesus),' well, I'm sorry, but that really does not help to solve or reduce the problem.

My apologies again, scbrownlhrm - I'll try to be brief (but will probably fail). There was one paragraph of yours that captured the crux of your problem with notable clarity (for the most part); I'll break it down:

You simply foist these definitions into the arena of “Good” despite the fact that naturalism’s necessary presuppositions ultimately fail to provide us with any immutable oughts.

I addressed "immutable oughts" in my previous reply (cf. "empathy").

Is slaughter “bad? Is oppression “bad”? On what grounds per natural selection?

Natural selection per se has no connection to this use of the labels "good" and "bad". It lacks intention and valuation. These values arise solely, entirely within a given species' capacity for awareness. As this awareness emerges, it affects behavior and becomes part of the environment in which natural selection operates on that species.

If members of the given species form predominant habits that favor slaughter and oppression, the nature of these behaviors (as they affect members of the species) will make their overall prosperity and survival less likely. In order to adopt alternative behaviors that promote rather than threaten survival, any number of distinct factors may contribute, including (without limitation):

- the development of emotional attachment (affection) among individuals;
- the ability to form a "theory of mind", allowing one individual to understand, anticipate, and empathize with the thoughts, feelings and actions of other individuals;
- the formation of social organization that includes explicit rules of conduct, rewards for compliance, and punishments for violation.

It is the members of the species themselves who bring these things about. Their fallibility is constantly evident in how these things get implemented - even (or especially) when they say their rules are given to them by a god.

There is always a risk of regress, but so far the predominant trend over the millennia has been overall improvement, as evidenced by the swelling population. If our species falls into a serious regress now, the death toll will be staggering, but natural selection won't be affected: many niches will be opened up for new species to adapt into, and life will go on with few if any humans around to take part in the process. If we pass completely from the scene, it'll be up to some other species to expand its own awareness, form its own valuations of "good" and "bad", and try to beat the odds that are set by natural selection.

Why should the fantasy about good and evil inside the skull of some religious person not trump the fantasy of good and evil inside the skull of some non-religious person? Or why not vice-versa?

One view will trump the other when we clearly identify the predictions or entailments that distinguish one from the other, and we then find clear evidence, accessible and observable to anyone who looks, supporting the predictions of one and refuting those of the other.

Are good and evil Necessary, Immutable Truths which precede, and outlast, our irrationally conditioned psychic [babble babble...]

No, good and evil are not Necessary, Immutable Truths which precede or outlast us. They are things pertaining solely to us and to the societies and cultures we form; they are things for us to figure out as we learn more about what works and what fails. We are able to figure these things out because, despite the complexity of our surroundings, and despite the fallibility of our senses, thoughts and language, reality is consistent, and when we work hard enough at it, we can get a consistent picture of how reality works.

If you're looking for Necessary, Immutable Truths that transcend the human condition, turn to mathematics, and to its various applications in physics, chemistry, biology and statistics. That is the kind of Truth we can rely on with proven confidence.

Otto,


“Empathy exists; it is observable, even measurable; it is a natural outcome of the evolutionary development”

And so too with a myriad of other rather cruel sexual behavior-sets in human beings which we find increasing in frequency upon the world stage.

Thus, it seems by the naturalists definitions, both are “good” for both are benefiting the proliferation of the genome.

“Safe-for-work” indeed; you can research prostitution, and worse, sex-trafficking, and worse still, sex-slavery, yourself, Otto. Such things certainly are not new to natural selection’s valued itch-sets, though, are they Otto? Perhaps you think they are new? But, we need not stop at these crimes against Personhood, though. No. We need not stop there at all. The list goes on, Otto, though you’ve yet to embrace the empirical in these matters. The various forms of slaughter yet embraced by the evolutionary process, which yet impugn the genome’s self-ish-ness, reek of love-less-ness.

And this is the startling and disturbing inconsistency in all your appeals to “good”, Otto. I have yet to hear you value what natural selection values. You transcend what your own philosophy can provide you with. In an odd way it’s funny, because first the Atheist will shake his fist at God and cry, “There is too much pain and slaughter in the world for God to exist”, and, then, with the next breath shout, “There is too much unity, painlessness, and slaughter-free-ness in the world for God to exist”.

Comical.

“No, good and evil are not Necessary, Immutable Truths which precede or outlast us”

I think this is really the only point I’ve been waiting for you to embrace, Otto. Life-Less-Ness, back then, prior to the Big-Bang, and, also, in our future, weighs in with no innate insult against anything at all in any part of your philosophy. Life is not innately “good” (except in our fantasies) and, therefore, as a necessary conclusion from that truth, things which perpetuate life are also thus not innately good, and, therefore, as a necessary conclusion from that truth, all your appeals to such things as “good” are, ultimately, baseless, that is to say, fantasy at best. It is (your appeals are) the fantasy of psychic phosphorescence which you yourself seemed to have conceded is wholly enslaved and determined (and irrational), or at least you have not yet provided a reason for us to believe otherwise. The itches which drive you to shout of life, “Tis-good! Tis-good!” simply swim amid and among and bubble into and out of existence amid and among the itches which drive the male to so abuse, so misuse, his female counter part, to take life, to slaughter, to embrace, to help, to take, to harm, and so on ad infinitum into the abyss of a regress which ends in life-less-ness for all itches are ultimately equal where Good and Evil are concerned and are born out of an irrational and lifeless substrate, continue on for moment or two in our irrational and lifeless fantasies, and ultimately bubble up one last time as the glow of psychic phosphorescence fades into non-existence.


Proliferation of life as “good” dies the death of a mere fantasy bubbling up inside the lipid bi-layers of irrationally conditioned neurons, just like the itch of the male to so abuse, so misuse his female counter part. Both serve the perpetuation of the genome quite will. For now at least. There is no innate moral distinction at all anywhere for us to lay our finger on, for as your philosophy concedes, “No, good an evil are not Necessary, Immutable Truths which precede or outlast us”.

It is true after all: there is no moral-ought which was insulted by life-less-ness prior to the Big Bang, and, there is no moral-ought which is, right now, insulted by the taking-of-life, for life-less-ness is not an innate crime in this universe, except should it violate the fantasy of some monkey or human or lizard as they yet prey upon their own species and other species outside, and, also, there is no moral-ought which will be, should life one day end on this planet we call Earth (an alarmingly highly probable scenario), insulted by such life-less-ness once it comes about. And, yet, Otto, you just keep blindly appealing to “what happens is good” all the while pretending the fantasy is a good fantasy, and, all the while hiding your face in the sand refusing to be consistent on these terms when your are faced with no life at all or when you are faced with the myriad of ugly itches which are being, quite obviously, valued by natural selection upon the world stage.

I’ve seen nothing in anything you’ve written which provides us with any notion of innate value to human life in general or Personhood in particular, and this by your own concession. I’ve seen nothing in what you’ve written which provides us with Love as our necessarily final ethic, our necessary end of all regresses, and this by your own concession. Love is a momentary fantasy soon to die the death which all fantasies in this universe must, ultimately, die. It, Love, does not precede the irrational itches of irrational psychic phosphorescence nor does it outlast them, and this by your own concession.


And yet you go on and on about the goodness of love, Otto.

Your entire philosophy is a walking contradiction. All your philosophy betrays and rejects ultimately your passion for love’s innate oughtness, and yet you cling blindly to your philosophy, all the while struggling to believe the fantasy, “Love-Ought!” It seems one fantasy really is out-living all your other fantasies, Otto, and its name is love, and this by your own concessions embedded within all your posts here.


Ultimate Reality is Love. That is to say, God is Love. We shake our fist at the skies above our heads and shout “Love-Ought!” and therein by our own clenched fist testify of an ultimate Truth which we cannot, despite our atheism, escape.

scbrownlhrm,

Do you have a reference to back up your claim that "cruel sexual behavior-sets in human beings [are] increasing in frequency upon the world stage"? Do you have a more clear definition of what behaviors you're referring to? I ask because others, with carefully examined evidence, are saying that the opposite is true - and they actually do have evidence! (You don't.)

Your phrasing suggests that you count empathy among these "cruel behaviors". Maybe that helps to explain why your "dialog" here is proving more and more futile - your usage is so unconventional that it ends up destroying meaningful discourse, because you use words to mean the opposite of their conventional definitions - "empathy" is "cruelty" in your logic.

In the increasingly rare points where you seem to speak coherently, you attribute assertions to me that have nothing to do with my stated position, to the extent that you're again being nonsensical.

So God is Love - that's totally cool, can't argue with that! And God created the whole Universe (and us, too) - sure, how else could it have happened? And we're cruel, and the universe is cruel, and ... um, well, God is Love! Love is Cruel! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Bliss! Wow, what a show!

Enough.

Otto,

I can't seem to post at all here.... I'll try again later...... If this comes through...

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