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« True Worship: Acknowledging Authority and Power | Main | Inerrancy & Humility »

September 23, 2010


>> "They make an argument that requires no appeal to religious authority."

>> "Instead, the demands of our common human nature have shaped (however imperfectly) all our religious traditions to recognize this natural institution. As such, marriage is the type of social practice whose basic contours can be discerned by our common human reason"

Our "common human nature"?

So if someone had "uncommon human nature," why shouldn't they be allowed to get married.

The african pygmies truly have "uncommon human nature". I vote we not let them get married either.

p.s. Do I have to use his definition of "common human nature". Because I prefer to use mine.

To me, it seems like we are also asking the wrong question. Homosexuals feel unloved and rejected by society as a whole as well as the church. We have a choice in how to respond - we can ask, "How can we use power to exert force against these people to make them do what we want?" or we can ask, "What can we do to serve these people, and show them that while society has rejected them, God loves them and ascribes unsurpassed worth to them?"

I wonder which question Jesus would think is more worth asking...


You need to stop reading Kyle Mclaren.

Really, for your own good.

"The african pygmies truly have "uncommon human nature". I vote we not let them get married either."

How do you reason with someone who makes a claim such as this?

Last time I checked pygmies were human beings.

Truly ridiculous nonsense masquerading as tolerance.


How much is a genome allowed to vary from Richard's genome, before Richard says that the genome in question is no longer human.

Give me a number.

You run out of time. In a few years this will be over legally. In a few decades it will be uncontroversial.


all chicks are gay anyway

Tony, I suspect that the study you're citing has less to do with who women are attracted to, and more to do with the fact that women identify with whomever they're watching and experience what they're experiencing, to a certain extent.

I think the same thing was behind this study that found that women empathize with the pain they see others experiencing more than men do.

Projection indeed might have somethin to do with it.

Then again, I used to live above a nightclub in Thailand for a year.

And, uhmmm, you'll never convince me thats all there is to it...

George and the other smart men ask: What is marriage?

The question implies it. And the answer to the question offered by George and the other smart men explicitly says it: Marriage is REAL*. Marriage is not just what we humans subjectively decide it is.**

Furthermore, say George and the other smart men, this realism about marriage requires no claim to religious authority.

So what grounding have George and the other smart men for this realism about marriage that requires no claim to religious authority?

But wait there's more! George and the other smart men? They also profess a realism about good that requires no claim to religious authority.

Now, that would be objective good they speak of. Wouldn't it? George and the other smart men are certainly not relativists about good. Are they? So, exactly, what is the grounding for this objective good, professed by George and the other smart men, that requires no claim to religious authority?

Perhaps for the sake of completeness***, George and other the smart men also discuss the morality of REAL marriage. That wouldn't be objective morality they talk about, would it? So how do they ground this talk of objective morality that requires no claim to religious authority?


It is hard to see what might be concluded from your study. It doesn't sound like a great study to me.

But I'll offer my own fun interpretation anyway: It is the male of our line, generally, who administers punishment. It has likely been so for some time. So it makes evolutionary sense for him to feel rewarded when an evil-doer is punished.

One thing is for sure: your study which did not measure sexual arousal whereas ToNy's did. It would be just wrong to count your study for anything against ToNy's study.

And, um, ToNy's study rings true.


* and its hallmark is coitus (first time I've seen that word in a while), not some kind of tribology.

** though they make appeal to what is 'widely held' and also to our 'legal and philosophical tradtions'

*** yes, they want to make complete asses of themselves - by page 11.

If we assume Amy's theory is something like:

"Ones ability to empathize with an actor on-screen, increases the ability of the viewer to project herself into whatever stimuli said actor is currently experiencing.

Women are better able to empathize than men.

Therefor, women will have increased genital blood-flow when presented with the erotic display."


Well if this is true. We could test it.

Because if the difference is merely because of the ability to empathize, then we would expect highly empathetic men to experience increased genital blood-flow, when presented with gay porn.

So heterosexual men who are emphatic, should react the same as heterosexual women.

Moreover, heterosexual women with low empathy, should like lesbian porn less.

Would be an interesting thesis project.

I don't exactly know how it relates to post-fall Christianity... But, personally, i'd rather my tax dollars go for porn and genital studies, than wars and Obama Care.


If the empathic person witnesses the cheater being punished and there is an actual punisher in view, will he or she empathize with the punisher or the punished? Either outcome seems to exclude the theory.


Why would anyone empathize with the dude with the whip...?

i dont get it

You mean in a Billy Budd type scenario?

Dude! Mirror neurons! Are you thinking of empathy as applying only to certain feelings and not others? Don't do that. Not in this context.

It's like you are saying: Why would anyone want to be a judge?

Think this way: some punishers experience some feelings that some of those punishers find somehow rewarding. A person empathizing with such a a punisher would see the attraction.

Some people must see the attraction because people seek the roles.

A one-dimensional empathy scale just can't explain the complexity of the phenomena involved when we observe others interact.

dont understand a word you wrote

but either way, I know chicks are hot for lesbians cuz I watch the Howard Stern show everyday.


A particular attribute of maleness has relevance to the issue at hand: the high transactions costs of identifying the father of a child.

So one thing that a man wants to punish is someone else who has burdened him with the responsibility of helping bring up a child that is actually the child of the someone else. And what a man wants to prevent is denying that someone else the opportunity to parasitize him. Hence the institution of marriage and its particular requirement of fidelity. No such requirement of fidelity is required for a same-sex union since there is no fatherhood that has to be protected.

If there is no common human nature, then there are no human rights. If there is no human nature, then you have no grounds by which to say that those who reject gay marriage are "irrational," since to know how human beings ought to think is to know their final and formal causes.

You cannot say that a reasonable human person should believe "x" and then claim that there is no human nature, that is, an end or purpose to which our wills and acts should conform. "Reasonable person" is an abstraction that is either real or not. If you deny that it is real, then you can't appeal to "reasonable person."

Okay, Tony, you've had your fun. But it's obviously too easy for you to stray into inappropriateness on this topic, so since you've brought it up a couple times now, let's consider it discussed. Time to pick a new pet topic.

Richard - I had never heard of Kyle McLaren before you mentioned him... what does a hockey player have to do with this?


er...i thought the thread was about homosexuality...


Let us assume a 'human nature' exists H.

Devise a means by which you would prove which genomes have the property H.

This is an important question, because depending on how you answer, dictates which organisms are 'children of god' (like frank) and which organisms are slaves (like Africans used to be)

Well enough and right on with the human nature answer Francis, but I have to say RonH is asking the right question. He's been beat up and down on this site around the issue of grounding moralality, so he observantly sees the oportunity to either find Christians who'll agreee that God isn't necessary to ground the standard of good, or point out the hypocrisy.

This is why natural law theology and it's partner evidentialist apologetic method fails in an arena like this. In my opinion RonH has already won.


What makes you think that the genome has anything to do with being a human being?


You can use another metric for a taxonomy if you want.

Go ahead, throw one out.


The argument from maleness does not require a taxonomy.


What's the connection between "the argument from maleness" and the original post?

What do you mean for it to show anyway? Please spell it out a bit more.


The link of the argument from maleness, which is in my reply to you, to the original post, by Melinda, is in your original reply, in which you said that it is the male of our line, generally, that administers punishment.

The argument from maleness is basically this: transactions costs for males to ensure that the children they help bring up is theirs is high, so males institute heterosexual marriage, with its particular requirement of fidelity of the parties, to protect their investments in fatherhood. Since many males are in same or similar circumstances, institution of heterosexual marriage will be widespread.

But there is no outside authority that requires fathers to use the institution of heterosexual marriage, and there is no outside authority to appeal to to create obligations other than fidelity upon the parties of the marriage.

Hope this helped.


Well it helps a little. I'm still having trouble figuring out your position. I could ask a lot of questions but I'll just ask one. It's related to my too snarky comment that begins

George and the other smart men ask: What is marriage?

Do you think the paper by George & Co. has or lacks a grounding for calling marriage (or good, or morality) real?



"You can use another metric for a taxonomy if you want.

Go ahead, throw one out."

As a human being, it is my right to throw them all out. Who are you to classify me? I take exception to your usurpation of a such a position.


Yes, the paper by George & Co. has a grounding for calling marriage real.

The statement on page 2 about our "common human nature" is a bit misleading and too restrictive because the argument from maleness does not have to assume a "common human nature" about the males, other than their sharing the common attribute of being male. Also, all the males don't have to participate, so the human nature does not have to be "common" in the sense of being universal, but it is likely "common" in the sense of being frequently observed. So if I had been a co-author of the paper, I would have written "frequently encountered human nature".

[Prudish readers can skip this next part]

Furthermore, "real" marriage is found in animals other than "human". David Attenborough (I think I have the name right) has the uncanny ability to get close to wild birds. He prepared a film series "The Life of Birds". In one of the parts Attenborough describes a study of a bird (the great tit, I think) commonly found in English gardens. If a paired male observes another male having mated with his partner, he will poke the behind of his mate to make her squirt out the sperm just placed there by the alien male, then he will mate with her again for good measure.


>> "As a human being, it is my right to throw them all out"

ya this is what the pro-choice feminists argue.

that they have the right to use their own taxonomy. And hence, they don't need to listen to anyone else about how to define themselves, or the things inside them.

Are you pro-choice?

I thought you were christian

I don't think we're dealing with the same meaning of 'real' and I think my meaning is the standard one in this context.

There's something in what you say for marriage. Males that bother to help raise their young have a practical interest in knowing the actual paternity of those young. They could invent all kinds of things to that end (chastity belts, for instance).

And, they could have invented a marriage that lasts only until their kids are raised. That would serve their paternity interests just as well. Better in fact, since they'd then be free to move on to a new, still-fertile wife (assuming they've been faithful till then). But that kind of marriage would not satisfy the needs of George and Co.

You've answered only for marriage (though I'm not satisfied). What about good? What about morality? Are they real? In other words, is there an objective ground for morality that requires no claim to religious authority.



">> "As a human being, it is my right to throw them all out"

ya this is what the pro-choice feminists argue.

that they have the right to use their own taxonomy. And hence, they don't need to listen to anyone else about how to define themselves, or the things inside them.

Are you pro-choice?

I thought you were christian"

I am a Christian. I an not holding the same position as the pro-choice. I do have to listen to the one who has a proper authority in the area under discussion. So, my position is not that I have to listen to no one, but that any categorization that does not come from a proper authority and is in opposition to it, I have a right to reject on the basis that it is not within their domain to make such a determination.


I have made a case for marriage that is even stronger than that of George & Co. My argument does not call upon any religious authority, nor upon any outside authority at all, whether it be called moral or not. Marriage is a real institution and it serves a real function.

One other point I forgot to mention. Real marriage does not create any obligation in third parties. Issues such as social norms, or rights to such things as maternity or paternity leave, or health benefits, or hospital visitation rights, etc. all imply some sort of external authority. External authority is excluded from consideration by our initial assumptions, so these issues are out of court.


>> "I do have to listen to the one who has a proper authority in the area under discussion."


who is this "one"

can i have his name?


>> "Furthermore, "real" marriage is found in animals"


so is homosexuality and cross-species sex

I think this means those should be legal too.


One last try.

You said no third party obligations come from your real marriage that requires no claim to religious authority.

If not for third parties, does rm create any obligation for the husband? For the wife?

Does it do other things, this rm? Tell us what it is.

If it creates moral obligation in the husband or wife would that be a moral obligation?

Is there an objective ground for morality that requires no claim to religious authority.



">> "I do have to listen to the one who has a proper authority in the area under discussion."


who is this "one"

can i have his name?"

Take a guess.


RM creates an obligation of the parties to "forsake all others". It is an obligation in the operational sense: "If you have sexual relations with someone else you will be punished". If that is equivalent to a moral obligation, then rm implies an obligation that is moral (but not religious) and we can have morality in animals. If that is not equivalent to a moral obligation, then rm does not imply morality. In either case, rm stands.



your answer is to insert backlinks for SEO value?

don't you realize this is a "no follow" site.

I can sell you some SEO services if you like... email me.

but anyway...

twas better than most of the answers Frank Beckwith writes me at least...


"your answer is to insert backlinks for SEO value?"

Actually, I have a system issue here to do with my clipboard. I'm working it out so that it shouldn't be a problem in the future. I hope...

Look ToNy

My reasoning takes the following line. The difference between the most intelligent human being and the least, is practically insignificant. Therefore, anyone of us is equally qualified(for all intents and purposes) to make a determination of what a human being is. What we need here is a real expert. Someone who can take one apart into little pieces and then put him back together again so that he is as he was before he was disassembled. Now, if there is anyone that can do that, he is the undisputed expert on what a human being is. The rest of us are not even amateurs in comparison. It has always been the Christian contention that such an individual exists and has revealed to us what it is to be human. It seems to me that it is better to consult an expert than a shade-tree-tinkerer, which is all any of us are in this area. But then, if you are convinced that all we have is second rate experts, you are unlikely to be ever satisfied with what they come up with as the quality of their work will be obviously reflective of their shoddy work and that is assuming that you will notice the defects in the workmanship. Some folks need to have it pointed out to them.


>> "It has always been the Christian contention that such an individual exists and has revealed to us what it is to be human"


This is exactly right!

this is the only proper way to argue the abortion issue.

You must convince your irreligious opponent that god has given you a divine communique about which hunks of matter in the universe are human, and, that your god is the right one.

all other methods, like you say, second rate.

Unfortunately Louis, the folks at STR don't agree with us.

They appeal to "biology"


What do we say, in general, about using an argument we don't find convincing ourselves?

George believes in Christian natural law himself. But his article is based on a natural law that floats free of Christianity.

We hear 'secular' arguments about abortion, gay marriage, divorce, birth control, and other moral issues from people who will, the next minute, tell you there is no morality without a god.



You also hear them from people who will not, the next minute, tell you there is no morality without a god.

So what?


Sounds like the plaint of one who cannot meet the argument from maleness. Real marriage stands.

They state in the PDF that: "state neutrality on this moral question is not possible if there is any marriage law at all"

and then: "bypassing the current debate by abolishing marriage
law entirely would be imprudent in the extreme. Almost no society that has left us a trace of
itself has done without some regulation of sexual relationships."

That's it? That's their whole argument for why positive law should be used on this issue? I do indeed think same-sex unions are not marriages by definition. But, I fail to see why it's any of the state's business to ascribe to itself the power of determining what is and is not a marriage. Referring to vague historical language about societies "leaving us a trace of itself" isn't an argument.

When the state apprehends social power from it's people and sets itself up as the arbiter of societal norms, that's what opens the door for these issues anyway. And that's just how politicians want it.


What RonH is saying is that since you are making a claim that necessarily includes objective morality and truth and since you argue quite strongly that morality is possible only with a God figure, then your claim cannot stand on its own two feet without explicit religious assumptions. Therefore, you cannot in conscience claim that your RM/argument from maleness makes sense apart from a religious background.


This is the first time I've seen this counter-argument. Kudos.

On the question of history and monogamy, this is an interesting piece. One relevant quote:

In 1998 the University of Wisconsin surveyed more than a thousand societies. Of these just 186 were monogamous. Some 453 had occasional polygyny and in 588 more it was quite common. Just four featured polyandry. Some anthropologists believe that polygamy has been the norm through human history.

So if history is to be our guide, there ya go. :o)

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