Thursday, May 09, 2013

More on atheism and reproduction

Here. 

Therefore, the empirical irony remains: The more Atheism is flourishing numerically, the more Religion(s) are winning out evolutionarily.

If there's a God, he seems to sport a certain sense of humour...

HT: Bob Prokop

93 comments:

B. Prokop said...

I sent this article Victor's way, because I've done quite a bit of thinking about this phenomenon. Having lived about 10 years of my life in Europe, I can see the weirdly precise correspondence between religious faith and fertility. Setting aside all issues of truth or falsity of how one views the world, the bald fact is that the deeper a society's religious convictions, the more it reproduces itself.

I won't even argue that Europe is losing its faith - it is. And it is also simultaneously committing continental suicide. The birthrate among the most "post-Christian" ethnicities in Europe today is catastrophically below replacement rate. Ironically, the Islamic immigrants to the continent, with their strong religious faith, are (in the horribly racist phrase) "multiplying like rabbits". (I recall the English used to use that slur against the Catholic Irish in the last century). Be that as it may, this is precisely why so many people in Europe fear an Islamization of their continent in the near future. (If that does indeed happen, they have no one to blame but themselves.)

Papalinton like to hold up Japan as a model atheist society. Let's grant him that for now. But it is also facing a demographic apocalypse. Given current (non)replacement birthrates in those islands, Japan will cease to exist as an ethnic entity within a generation or two.

Again, this is in no way an argument for the truth or otherwise of religious faith, but its time atheists face up to the undeniable fact that they face certain extinction within a generation or two. Only two likely alternatives are open to them:

1. A Christian revival takes place in the Western World, and Western Civilization as we know it survives, or

2. Current trends continue, and their children can live under the coming New Islamic Caliphate. I think they will find that society far less tolerant of their worldview than the current one.

B. Prokop said...

Typo: that should read, "Papalinton likes to"

Crude said...

but its time atheists face up to the undeniable fact that they face certain extinction within a generation or two.

That's a bit strong, isn't it?

Anyway, I'll throw a little fuel on this particular fire.

Susan Blackmore (Dennett's protege, I've heard her called) a while back wrote that she no longer believes religion is a mind virus. She cites the demographic trends of religious believers as one of a number of reasons she changed her mind on this.

Now, that's all well and good. But here's the catch.

Let's say the idea of 'mind viruses' is taken seriously. What prompted Blackmore to change her mind was largely comparative data - seeing how religious populations and individuals perform compared to atheist/irreligious populations and individuals.

What she doesn't seem to have considered is that the very same data would add credence to the argument that atheism is a virus of the mind.

Hal said...

Bob,
"Again, this is in no way an argument for the truth or otherwise of religious faith, but its time atheists face up to the undeniable fact that they face certain extinction within a generation or two. Only two likely alternatives are open to them:

1. A Christian revival takes place in the Western World, and Western Civilization as we know it survives, or

2. Current trends continue, and their children can live under the coming New Islamic Caliphate. I think they will find that society far less tolerant of their worldview than the current one."

This is just silly. Are you trying to scare us non-believers, Bob?

In any case as a non-theist I see no reason to participate in such Islamophobia. I really see no substantial difference between Islam or Christianity or Judaism. It is fine with me if the dominant form of theism in Europe or America is the Islamic one.

B. Prokop said...

It's not Islamophobia - not at all. I'm just asking atheists to take a good hard honest objective (they like that stuff, don't they?) look at what they want the world to look like for their children (that is, if they buck the trend and actually have any). 'Cause there ain't no bright atheist future in the cards!

The way things look at the moment, the two alternatives I laid out are the only ones that look the least bit likely. So just ask yourself, which one do you like better?

And you're fooling yourself if you think there's no difference, Hal. Be honest just this once. Imagine yourself today in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, and your internet postings became public knowledge. Just how leniently do you think you'll be treated?

Gee, here I am looking out for the welfare of atheists, and I get no respect!

im-skeptical said...

There is a strong three-way correlation: poverty-religiosity-population growth. I wouldn't be too proud of that, Bob. Despite all that, atheism continues to increase as a fraction of the overall population, especially in those countries that are better off economically.

Hal said...

Bob,
"The way things look at the moment, the two alternatives I laid out are the only ones that look the least bit likely. So just ask yourself, which one do you like better?"

I already told you: I see absolutely no reason to prefer one faith system over another.

Why should I fear Islam or Judaism any more than Christianity?

I'm puzzled, I would have thought you'd be a little more tolerant toward those of other faiths.


B. Prokop said...

Hal, I'm calling bullshit on you.

You remind me of those "useful idiots" during the Soviet era who claimed there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the capitalist west and the communist east. Ask them which they'd prefer to live under, and they responded exactly as you are here. And this despite the fact that everyone, and I mean everyone, to include the useful idiots themselves (A historical term, so don't take it as an insult - look it up. It's even on Wikipedia.) knew damn well that it was precisely people such as they who would be the first to fall under the meatgrinder.

And you yourself know damn well that your life as a vocal atheist would indeed be nasty, brutish, and short under an Islamic regime. You'd be (at the very least) locked up immediately for blaspheming the prophet, or some such nonsense.

So don't play offended tolerant liberal who just wants to coexist with me - I know you don't mean one single word of it.

Victor Reppert said...

No difference between Islam and Christianity? I don't hate Islam at all, and I think some good things have come from it, but their position doesn't really allow them to accept any separation of church and state. And this is serious, because if you want to run a democracy, you have to allow religious minorities to be tolerated. Islam was founded when it became the State in Mecca, and it's very hard to interpret Islam in a way that gives up the aspiration to make the Qu'ran the law book. Contrast this with Christianity, who in its formative period had no political power, and the theory of government expounded in its founding documents was "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." I'm not saying Christians didn't try to use government to advance Christianity, and the results are depressing. After the Thirty Years War in Europe, (which killed 1/3 of the population of Europe), Christians said "whoops" and started allowing governments to protect the rights of religious minorities. That option, however, seems to me to be closed to Muslims. The American colonies were founded by the losers of the religious conflicts of Europe, including Bob's state of Maryland, which, if you look at the name, you will figure out pretty easily that it was founded by Catholics. Going to a system of democratic government, and the religious toleration that comes with it, involves the idea that government shouldn't promote any religion in particular, and shouldn't suppress any. That is why so many Jews ended up in America, and that is how atheists got the freedom from religion that they value so highly, as well they should. As I indicated earlier, I don't care for the Religious Right at all, but what they will do is nothing compared to what Muslims would do if they got control of the government.

im-skeptical said...

Christians have had their blasphemy laws, too. In fact, the tables seem to have turned from the historical norm, where Muslims have traditionally been more tolerant of other faiths than Christians have.

Hal said...

Bob,
"Hal, I'm calling bullshit on you."

Actually I think the bullshit is coming from you. Along with the Islamophobia.

I do fear any theocracy. Given what we know of history, I see no reason to prefer a Christian theocracy over an Islamic one or a Jewish one. They all stink as far as I am concerned.

Fortunately we live in a secular, multi-cultural society in America and Europe. And the Muslims in our society seem to fit in as well as Christians or Hindus or Jews or any other theistically minded people do.

It is only the loonies in any of those religions that we need to fear.



Victor Reppert said...

I'm not saying Christians haven't been intolerant. I'm saying there is nothing in Christianity that requires them to be.

Hal said...

Victor,
You are being very selective in your historical overview.

We are quite fortunate to be living in a secular society in which everyone's religious beliefs are respected.

Fundamentalism of any variety is going to be a threat to those secular, democratic values we so cherish.

Hal said...

Victor,
"I'm saying there is nothing in Christianity that requires them to be."

It all depends on how Christians interpret their sacred texts. There are plenty of verses in the old and new testaments that can be used to justify not only intolerant but violent behavior.


I'm not attacking Christianity. But from my perspective I don't see it being superior or better than Islam or Judaism.

B. Prokop said...

"I see no reason to prefer a Christian theocracy over an Islamic one or a Jewish one."

But that's not your choice here. You know very well that there's zero chance of a Christian theocracy being established anywhere in the world today. On the other hand, you'll need all your fingers and most of your toes to count the existing Islamic theocracies around the world as we speak.

And I'm also very intrigued by your now repeated mention of a "Jewish theocracy"... do I smell a whiff of anti-Zionism here? Perhaps more than a touch of the ol' antisemitism? Don't care much for the State of Israel? I certainly hope not, and please correct me if I'm reading too much into your rather disturbing references.

Crude said...

Regarding whether Islam and Christianity are similar, Penn Gilette disagrees.

Saying all religions are basically the same is a little like saying all "secular" governments are the same. There's a big difference between the broadly deistic American "secular" state and atheist states like North Korea.

In fact, if anything, it looks like atheist-secular states are worse than full-blown theocracies.

Karl Grant said...

There is a strong three-way correlation: poverty-religiosity-population growth. I wouldn't be too proud of that, Bob. Despite all that, atheism continues to increase as a fraction of the overall population, especially in those countries that are better off economically.

So, poor people are stupid or mentally inferior in some way? And "all rich sons of bitches are doing it therefore it is right" sounds suspiciously like the bandwagon fallacy.

Crude said...

There are plenty of verses in the old and new testaments that can be used to justify not only intolerant but violent behavior.

Alright, I'm game. Let's see the 'plenty of verses in the new testament' that can be used to justify both intolerant and violent behavior. I think your best bet is going to be Matthew 10:34, and that's going to be a letdown to say the least.

Crude said...

Karl,

So, poor people are stupid or mentally inferior in some way?

I'm sure we'll next hear about the racial distribution of religious people. Too many shades of brown for the white atheist to tolerate, you know.

Victor Reppert said...

The "secular" society" was set up by religious minorities, largely to protect themselves in case they became minorities. It was not the result of "secularists" in the sense of nonbelievers. The people who secularized Western democracies were dedicated Christians.

B. Prokop said...

Thanks, Crude, for beating me to that. I'll agree that the OT can be rather bloody at times (but even then, those passages are more than outweighed by others such as Isaiah 19:24-25), but the New Testament is about as pacifistic as one can get. You really need to strain to bend anything toward a violent interpretation.

Not that it can't be done! I recall with amusement learning that Medieval knights took Jesus's warning that "He that lives by the sword shall die by the sword" as a promise (i.e., that they would die an honorable death in battle).

Hal said...

Bob,
"On the other hand, you'll need all your fingers and most of your toes to count the existing Islamic theocracies around the world as we speak."


So? How does that justify your Islamophobia directed toward the Muslims living in Europe or America?

B. Prokop said...

And we've all seen just how tolerant the atheists are when they actually do gain political power. (Oh, I know, I know... Lenin and Stalin weren't True Scotsmen, er, atheists. Yeah, yeah.)

Karl Grant said...

Crude,

I'm sure we'll next hear about the racial distribution of religious people. Too many shades of brown for the white atheist to tolerate, you know.

That's probably coming considering how the majority of the New Atheists tend to be arrogant elitists. And considering how the atheist movement is predominately white and male...yeah that's coming.

B. Prokop said...

Moi? Islamophobic? I fear no Muslim. The worst that would happen to me (as a "person of the book") is I'd have to become a Dhimmi and pay extra taxes.

It's you guys that need to fear. I guarantee you, there would be no atheists tolerated!

Hal said...

Victor,
"The people who secularized Western democracies were dedicated Christians."

Again, you are being very selective in your interpretation of history.

In any case it is irrelevant who was involved. I'm not trying to use the fact that we live in a secular society as a criticism of any religion. If you think I am, you have misunderstood me.

I am finding it interesting that so many of the theists here find another theistic system to be so threatening.

Hal said...

Bob,
"It's you guys that need to fear. I guarantee you, there would be no atheists tolerated!"

I see no reason to fear. I would vote for a Muslim for President as readily as I would a Catholic if he represented my political views.

Crude said...

I would vote for a Muslim for President

If you voted for Obama, you already did!

(Haha, no, he's not Muslim. But what the hell, this conversation's already shot. Let's dump gas on the fire.)

Dan Gillson said...

... Crude wins by a landslide. (I originally posted this comment under my wife's G+ account. She'd be displeased to find me commenting under her name!)

B. Prokop said...

I agree, Crude. And it's my fault! I never dreamed that my reference to a possible Islamic future would be met with such a knee-jerk reflex response as "Yer all Islamophobists" (as though that were actually an argument).

The problem is, Islam had little to do with my main point, which was: In no case could the atheists look forward to some rosy godless paradise just a generation or two away. They're always going to abstain from reproducing as a group - I'm not talking about individuals here, and one or another faith group will fill the vacuum. Christian, Islamic, Mormon, whatever... it's just not going to be atheists.

Crude said...

Bob,

The usual counter-reply would be that even if this is true (and evidence is that it is), they can count on those born Catholic or Muslim or such to fall away from the faith. Of course, taking that line would make it clear that atheists are highly parasitic on religious groups, even if the reasoning worked.

I'm more of the mind that it's generally unwise to try and predict the future going on 20, 30, 50 years.

Karl Grant said...

Crude,

I'm more of the mind that it's generally unwise to try and predict the future going on 20, 30, 50 years.

Amen to that, now if you will excuse me I have to strap on my jetpack and head to the local dinner to sample a rich selection of food pills and than head to Food Lion to pick up some Coors Soylent Green.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

As an atheist, it seems I have chosen to join a group that will breed itself into oblivion, with birth rates below replacement level, regardless of whether there are rabbit-breeding religious people or not.

But according to Bob atheists are obliged to make a decision as to which of the two religions atheists should side with to hold hands on the road to self-inflicted extinction. The essence of Bob's question is for atheists to decide which religion is the lesser of two evils.

Asking to chose which religion we would be willing to side with is really a question of pace or rate. asking atheists whether they want to travel down the slow road to extinction [pick the benevolent christians] or the fast lane [pick malignant Islam] to extinction.

The issue seems moot to me. Perhaps it is better for all atheists to get off the planet when they can and let the competing religions have at it to bring on the apocalypse they so desperately look towards to fulfill prophecy. This will either be by a religious thumb on nuclear buttons or by competitively breeding themselves unsustainably to Armageddon. Either way, atheists won't be a party to the annihilation.

Buried deep within the very fabric of the religious impulse is the seed of its own destruction. This seems to me to be a very reasonable proposition to make, given the evidence Bob has provided us and the tenor and content of the comment discussion about religious belief on this thread.

im-skeptical said...

"You know very well that there's zero chance of a Christian theocracy being established anywhere in the world today."

http://www.debate.org/opinions/does-religion-have-too-much-influence-within-the-u-s-government

B. Prokop said...

skep,

If you imagine that the US today is anything near to being a theocracy, then you probably also think a rain puddle in my driveway is the equivalent of the Pacific Ocean, or a firecracker is no different than a nuclear blast!

Keep some perspective, man!

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"Keep some perspective, man!"

That's exactly what I'm trying to do. Who was saying just the other day that if atheists had a chance they use the law to force their beliefs on everyone? Well, that's not happening, and there is no effort underway to make it happen. But there of millions of religious Americans who would do that if they could. And they have lobbying groups, and they put up candidates for office, and some of those candidates are in office. So yes, let's have a little perspective.

Crude said...

Who was saying just the other day that if atheists had a chance they use the law to force their beliefs on everyone? Well, that's not happening, and there is no effort underway to make it happen.

Sure there is. The fact that they tend to have remarkably little success at the moment, and are currently quite restrained in practice doesn't mean that no such efforts are underway. Really, the track record for atheists gaining considerable political power and then respecting religious freedom (among other things) is, uh... let's call it lacking.

But there of millions of religious Americans who would do that if they could. And they have lobbying groups, and they put up candidates for office, and some of those candidates are in office.

What there are are millions of religious Americans who... *gasp*... disagree with you.

How dare religious people form lobbying groups, or support candidates they like, or even vote? Bastards, every last one of them. Religious people having any sort of political power is the very definition, my good man. And worse, they tend to be so... so *brown*.

Clearly, to preserve democracy, we have to outlaw religious indoctrination. Again.

Crude said...

Very definition of theocracy, that is. ;)

im-skeptical said...

"Sure there is. The fact that they tend to have remarkably little success at the moment, and are currently quite restrained in practice doesn't mean that no such efforts are underway. Really, the track record for atheists gaining considerable political power and then respecting religious freedom (among other things) is, uh... let's call it lacking."

Prove it. What evidence do you have of the growing political power of atheists? What lobbying organizations do they have? how many candidates have they placed in office?

B. Prokop said...

" What lobbying organizations do they have?"

Here's one: http://ffrf.org/

They're about as aggressive and in-your-face as it gets.

Crude said...

Prove it. What evidence do you have of the growing political power of atheists?

Where did I say they had 'growing political power'? I said when they've gained power in the past it wasn't very pretty. And it wasn't.

What lobbying organizations do they have?

Boom.

Boom.

Boom.

Shit, that was easy.

how many candidates have they placed in office?

How the fuck does anyone 'place in office' any candidate other than voting for them?

And do you understand that 'lack of success' != 'lack of desire'? Abortion laws in the US are extraordinarily liberal compared to most of the rest of the world. Well shit, clearly pro-lifers have no political power or any desires to limit abortion.

oozzielionel said...

@im-skeptical
Your link posed the question, "Does religion have too much influence within the US government?" does not address theocracy. Influence is different from total control. Theocracy is control by church leaders. The US system invites influence from virtually anyone (felons lose their right to influence). It seems un-American to complain that any person or group has "too much" influence. We have the right to complain, but we need to be careful not to try to limit influence. That can cut both ways.

We should expect that a locality, region, or even the nation will from time to time be under the heavy influence of one group or another. Politics is all about influence. In those times, it is important to protect minority rights.

Currently, religious ideology still has influence. It will be increasingly important to remember to defend the right of the religious to engage in the political debate.

ingx24 said...

I noticed that almost everyone who commented on that "Does religion have too much influence in the U.S. Government" article blamed religion for opposition to abortion. As if the ONLY reason you could possibly oppose abortion is because of religious dogma.

How is abortion a religious issue at all? It seems pretty straightforwardly to be an issue about whether aborting a fetus constitutes killing a human being or not.

B. Prokop said...

ingx24,

I'm with you on that one, with one big caveat. I don't think "science" can ever give a definitive answer on the personhood of the fetus. It can tell you what's there, but personhood is not something one can observe or verify. That determination requires a philosophical or religious outlook.

And to complicate matters, "religion" does not speak with one voice on this. I understand that Judaism does not confer personhood on a fetus until relatively late in development. From a Catholic perspective, its always fascinating to me is that no less than St. Thomas Aquinas opined that God endowed the developing fetus with a soul after its physical development was complete (and you can't get more orthodox than Aquinas).

As for myself, I unabashedly go with my gut on this one. I don't need scientific or philosophical proofs to support what just seems right. I know, I know... terribly illogical (or even irrational) of me, but there it is.

im-skeptical said...

oozielionel,

Good point. I don't complain about the fact that religious groups have influence in politics as long as they don't try to cram their religion down my throat by law. I get burned up by religious people constantly complaining about how atheists are taking over, or how they would impose their beliefs by law, when clearly the influence of atheists in politics is FAR less than that of various religious groups.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"I don't think "science" can ever give a definitive answer on the personhood of the fetus."

I'm with you on that. Because personhood is a matter of definition, not science. The law has traditionally defined it as beginning at birth. For that matter, the bible seems to agree with that too. It indicates that life begins with a breath in Genesis.

oozzielionel said...

" I don't complain about the fact that religious groups have influence in politics as long as they don't try to cram their religion down my throat by law."

Sorry, but the definition of influence in politics is creating laws. If religious people are involved in politics, their opinion is informed by their religion. They are (by definition) trying to enforce their opinion through law. How can it be any other way?

You could try to make certain issues "off limits" to religious considerations, but then you are disenfranchising religious people from those issues. This brings up the whole "right privacy" issue. As the sphere of issues that fall under a "right of privacy" grows or shrinks, there are more areas that become off limits or are brought into play. The sphere of privacy for sexual behavior has been increasing. Less sexual behavior is governed by law than in the past. At the same time, parental rights are decreasing. I suspect that these spheres will remain fluid in the future. It is possible for a counter sexual revolution (although it is hard to imagine at this time). I wonder if there is a possible future where atheists champion chastity?

im-skeptical said...

oozzielionel,

"They are (by definition) trying to enforce their opinion through law. How can it be any other way?"

The constitution of the United States of America. It guarantees freedom of religion to all of us. That means one religious group doesn't have the right to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else by law or by any other means.

B. Prokop said...

"That means one religious group doesn't have the right to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else by law or by any other means."

Loaded language, there, skep. Loaded language. You should know better than that by now.

Because you are dead, dead wrong here, and any constitutional lawyer would tell you the same. It all hinges on the word "impose". ALL laws are in one way or another an imposition of one person's will over another. The speed limit on the road next to my house is 30 mph. (I happen to think it should be 25, but that's a different discussion.) The fact is (proven by their behavior) that many drivers seem to think that number should be far higher. But no, the legal limit of 30 is imposed on these reckless maniacs.. uh, excuse me, I meant differently-thinking drivers by others who want that limit, and have managed to make it into law.

You're probably thinking of the First Amendment here. Well. Let's look at it: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (emphasis added). It appears to me that it is you who wish to toss aside the guarantees of the constitution by denying to religious people, or to people who form their values from their faith, meaningful participation in US civic affairs.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Not so loaded as you seem to think. You go ahead and practice your religion to your heart's delight. Just don't try to force me to abide by YOUR religious beliefs. The only controversy is what we would say constitutes imposition of beliefs on others. Some seem to think that if some practice is legal under the law but not acceptable under your religion, that is am imposition on you. But that's entirely different from making something illegal because it's not acceptable under your religion but still acceptable to others who don't share your religion.

Crude said...

I'm with you on that. Because personhood is a matter of definition, not science. The law has traditionally defined it as beginning at birth.

Oh boy.

Let's run with the ludicrous claim that "law has traditionally defined personhood as beginning at birth", and ignore how controversial this is at every angle.

It is beyond dispute that law, traditionally, has defined marriage as taking place between one man and one woman.

If tradition rules, gay marriage is done.

If tradition can be upended, gay marriage is possible - and so is giving a new definition of the beginning of personhood (say, at the moment of conception).

Take your pick.

For that matter, the bible seems to agree with that too.

Again, ignoring just how wrong you are...

So, you're saying that imposing, by law, a view that the Bible espouses is not a religious imposition of law?

Just don't try to force me to abide by YOUR religious beliefs.

Like you won't force anyone to recognize a gay couple as a gay couple, and you won't force people to pay for contraception or abortion with their income, directly or indirectly?

Gotta think things through more, Skep.

oozzielionel said...

Let's assume that religion informs a person's ethical code. This ethical code would inform what acts should be illegal. There is at least a subset of activities that are unethical that are and should be illegal. We could then replace the term "religion" in your sentence with this subset of a person's ethical positions.

"But that's entirely different from making something illegal because it's not acceptable under your (religion) ethical system but still acceptable to others who don't share your (religion) ethical system."

Now we are talking nonsense.

In the US, it is not only acceptable, it is encouraged for individuals to participate in law making by influencing those laws. Laws then impose those values on everyone. There can be no freedom from others affecting us by their beliefs and values as long as we value the free exercise of those beliefs and values. In the broad sense of beliefs and values, atheists enjoy the free exercise of religion also.

im-skeptical said...

"Now we are talking nonsense."

Well, we disagree. In my mind, there are two very different circumstances. If something is legal but not acceptable in your religion, you don't have to do it. That's no imposition on you. An the mere fact that others do it may seem disagreeable to you, but that's too bad - it's the price we pay for freedom. On the other hand, if you seek to make something illegal because it's against your religion, you are imposing your beliefs on others, forcing them to comply by law. Freedom suffers when religion is used as the basis for imposing laws.

Mike Darus said...

"On the other hand, if you seek to make something illegal because it's against your religion, you are imposing your beliefs on others, forcing them to comply by law. Freedom suffers when religion is used as the basis for imposing laws."

So if I decide to engage in the legislative process because I perceive an injustice that can be mitigated by legislation, I can do that unless my perception of injustice is informed by my religious beliefs? These are some stifling handcuffs. If I am serious about my religious beliefs, those beliefs should color my positions on social issues. It sounds like anyone with religious beliefs is disqualified from any participation in the legal process. the only exception would be someone who could compartmentalize their religious beliefs from ever informing their opinions on social issues.

If I follow your suggestion, I become a second-class citizen. I should have my voting rights revoked and be forbidden to speak on any social issue. My opinions are disqualified due to religious influence.

im-skeptical said...

Mike darus,

You misunderstand what I'm saying. I expect lawmakers to legislate in accordance with their conscience and beliefs. but I also expect them to have the intelligence to distinguish between that which is for the benefit of society and that which is dictated by religion but isn't so universally accepted as being generally beneficial for all.

Of course, there's lots of room for debate about those things. But that's not my point. Gay marriage might serve as an illustrative case. Many religious people would argue that it's detrimental to society, and they would ban it by law. However, a rational analysis of the issue would probably reveal that their beliefs are based on religion much more than any empirical evidence. The harm to society they perceive is more imaginary than real. So the basis for this kind of law is simply religious, and it imposes restrictions on the freedom of people who don't share those religious convictions.

B. Prokop said...

"So the basis for this kind of law is simply religious"

No, it isn't. We place all kinds of restrictions on marriage, and put them into law. You cannot by law marry your parent, or your child, or (in most states) your first cousin. You cannot marry two people at the same time. A prohibition against marrying a person of the same sex is no different than any of those others.

Are you advocating legalized incest? Or polygamy?

im-skeptical said...

"Are you advocating legalized incest? Or polygamy?"

Are you serious? There are real reasons for prohibiting incest. My guess is that those reasons form the basis for the religious prohibition in the first place. (Many religious laws or rules of ethics are based on long-standing human societal norms.) As for polygamy, is that a religious-based prohibition? I certainly see no evidence of that in the bible, and many modern-day religious people would agree.

B. Prokop said...

"Are you serious?"

I am dead serious. If you wish to remove all legal prohibition against same-sex marriage, why are you not in favor of removing the other bans as well?

Please give me a coherent, rational argument as to how one prohibition can be removed without removing the others as well.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

As I said, laws ideally should be based on what's good for society. Incest is demonstrably harmful. (Or do you take issue with that?) That's why it undoubtedly was taboo long before religion came along. Polygamy has not been seen as harmful for most of history. I think you could make some arguments about how it might be harmful in modern society, but I don't hold an opinion one way or the other (without further deliberation) as to whether it should be illegal.

B. Prokop said...

Fair answer, skep. I happen to think that polygamy is inherently harmful to women, and needs to be legally prohibited. A good book on this subject is Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I grew up in Arizona, so I have some fair amount of experience with Mormonism, and I think this book is a pretty fair treatment of the evils of polygamy.

Crude said...

As I said, laws ideally should be based on what's good for society. Incest is demonstrably harmful.

Alright: a 54 year old man has sexual relations with his 25 year old son.

Demonstrate the harm. In fact, define 'harm'.

im-skeptical said...

In general, the offspring of incestuous relations suffer genetic damage. That's what I was referring to. That's why it has been illegal throughout history.

Crude said...

In general, the offspring of incestuous relations suffer genetic damage. That's what I was referring to. That's why it has been illegal throughout history.

Alright. Putting aside your grasp of history for the moment...

Homosexual incestuous relations, and heterosexual incestuous relations that don't result in offspring - that's great, right? A-OK, this should be totally legal?

B. Prokop said...

I happen to think that bringing up incest and polygamy is fair game in this debate. My own brother (whom I love dearly) accuses me of being prejudiced, not because I am opposed to same-sex marriage (I am officially apathetic), but rather because I don't actively campaign for it. (See? It's not good enough to be neutral on the issue. You must be positively for it.) When I bring up polygamy, I am shouted down with "Slippery slope, slippery slope!" as though that were some sort of argument.

But when I ask for a good reason to be in favor of same-sex marriage, all I am ever told is "Why would you want to prohibit two people who love each other from getting married?" But in that case, why should one prohibit a mother and son from marrying if they love each other? Or if a man loves three women, why should we stop them?

See? Some slopes actually are slippery.

ingx24 said...

I'd be interested in seeing a good argument against gay marriage that didn't depend on religion or Aristotelian metaphysics. To this day I haven't seen one.

Crude said...

I'd be interested in seeing a good argument against gay marriage that didn't depend on religion or Aristotelian metaphysics. To this day I haven't seen one.

I haven't seen an argument for gay marriage that didn't itself ultimately reduce to metaphysics of one form or another. In fact, people seem to rarely rely on arguments over near pure emoting on this topic, among others.

Bob just said that if we're going to have gay marriage, let's legalize polygamy and incestuous relationships while we're at it. Polygamy seems to have already been conceded. Incestuous relationships have had one criticism granted - genetically inferior offspring. But this doesn't apply with homosexual relationships, or when contraception is used.

It will be interesting to see if much of an argument is put up in response, or if it's just conceded that yes, incest is okay too. Let's see how many eggs can be put into this particular basket.

im-skeptical said...

"See? Some slopes actually are slippery."

I haven't taken a stand on some of these things, either. Like polygamy. It's something I haven't given enough thought to. Here's what I do think: If there is a good case that something is harmful to society, then I would agree that it should be illegal. If that case can't be made, I couldn't support it being made illegal. Religious beliefs may or may not correspond to rational arguments, but don't constitute justification on their own.

Crude said...

I haven't taken a stand on some of these things, either.

Just so we're clear, the whole 'homosexual incest and heterosexual incest that does not produce offspring' thing is precisely what you're in the dark about here, right?

im-skeptical said...

"in the dark about..."

Well if you want to put it that way. There has been much debate and discussion about homosexual marriage. And I never heard any rational argument against it. That might not be that case for other kinds of relationships that people find 'icky'. Let the arguments begin.

Crude said...

Well if you want to put it that way.

Alright. Followup question.

A couple are looking for someone to babysit their kids. They have name X referred to them, and they decide to ask around to see if X would be fit. They find out that X is either agnostic or supportive of same-sex homosexual incest, or heterosexual incest when there's no offspring.

Would the couple be justified in saying "Yeah, we're not leaving our kids with X, he's a complete fucking creep"?

Hypothetically speaking.

Karl Grant said...

In general, the offspring of incestuous relations suffer genetic damage. That's what I was referring to. That's why it has been illegal throughout history.

Okay, we can officially add history to subjects you don't know much about. Let see, I know of at least one, Egyptian Pharaoh who married his half-sister, in fact this kind of thing was common in Egypt before the Muslim conquests. Oh, and Ancient Greek law allowed marriages between brother and sister if they had different mothers. And Inca rulers married their sisters. And...

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

"Alright. Followup question ...."

So now you're trying to say I don't have a problem with child rapists? Piss off.

Crude said...

So now you're trying to say I don't have a problem with child rapists?

I said nothing about rapists, Skep. I asked about being agnostic of or approving of same-sex incest, or heterosexual incest that produces no offspring. 'Rape' was mentioned exactly nowhere.

Or are you saying that someone who approves of those views can be reasonably suspected of condoning child rape?

B. Prokop said...

... and Crude scores a three-pointer from the half-court. Nothin' but net!

Papalinton said...

We must not forget the most important social outcome that has occurred in recent times is the setting aside of discrimination against homosexuality that was a pillar of misbegotten christian morality. The practice of homophobic discrimination under the guise of exercising one's religious freedom has been correctly and rightly voted down. No longer is it acceptable, legally and morally, to discriminate against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation, under any pretense of religious freedom.

Im-skeptical is being subjected to the brunt of this residual anger by a pack of blood-baying god-botherers wanting desperately to vent their spleen for losing this perrogative, by corralling him, intent on driving him into the dry gulch of off-topic incest and rape.

Everyone knows and understands that incest under any circumstance is rejected by society, on the basis of genuine genetic problems with progeny in the first instance, and the asymmetry of the power and authority relationship between parent and child in the case of incest. It is a given that the adult is fully responsible for not entering into any relationship of a sexual nature with a child, be it father and son or mother and son.

So cut the crap, crude. Exhibit some modicum of civil decency toward your fellow man.
Bob, the only slope that is slippery is the theological dung pile on which christian morality is built. In the matter of homosexuality, society has spoken both jesus and followers and non-believers. Period.

Let's come back to the humanity and humility of Dr John Shelby Spong:
Point 12. "All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination."

B. Prokop said...

What, me? Homophobic?

Paps, you ought to know better by now. I fear no man!

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton's latest posting is extremely interesting. Note that at 3:42 PM yesterday, I wrote, "I am officially apathetic [regarding same-sex marriage]". I wouldn't lift a finger either for or against it.

So, where does this neutral stand get me with Paps? It gets me here:

"homophobic discrimination"

"a pack of blood-baying god-botherers wanting desperately to vent their spleen"
(this is how Paps describes neutrality!)

"theological dung pile"

"society has spoken"
So the rest of us had better fall in line quick-step! No dissent... heck, no neutrality, allowed! You must obey!!!

Please, Papalinton, pleae-e-e-ease, supply me with quotes on this issue from me that fit the description of "blood-baying god-botherers wanting desperately to vent their spleen". Please show me the slightest theological argument or justification I made in favor of my views. Just one? Where is it?

Hmmm... now just who here most closely resembles a blood-baying person desperately venting his spleen? Any takers here?

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"See? Some slopes actually are slippery."

The nub of the argument is that the SSM supporters have no *principled* reason to allow "marriage" for homossexuals but not in other situations; this is not a slippery slope argument but a reductio ad absurdum.

Of course, if the argument is correct (as it is) and they have in fact no principled reason, then knowing human nature, it is a good bet what scandalizes SSM supporters today, will be questioned tomorrow ("what is the harm?") and accepted in the day after tomorrow and anyone who is against will eventually be seen as a bigot. Same old, same old.

But to repeat myself, the "slippery slope" -- and I should add that utilitarians and consequentialists, as many (most??) SSM supporters tend to be, have forfeit the right to complain about "slippery slope" -- is logically consequent on the reductio.

Papalinton said...

It's not about you Bob. It's about the institution you enable to continue to exercise homophobia on the grounds of religious freedom. And while you personally would have voted for gay marriages, there are many others that would have voted down the legislation according to the homophobic position of the Church.

You say,""society has spoken" So the rest of us had better fall in line quick-step! No dissent... heck, no neutrality, allowed! You must obey!!!.
That society is not a mobocracy, Bob. That vote would not have carried without the tremendous support of many Christians who think as I do that the time of religious hokum about homosexuality is well and truly O.V.E.R.

About the blood-baying hounds, you were not one of those I was thinking. However I do think you are an enabler of those that subscribe to the extremes of homophobia on the basis of their religious indoctrination.

B. Prokop said...

"And while you personally would have voted for gay marriages"

I voted against them last election here in Maryland. Not out of "homophobia", not out of "theology", but out of support for the status quo in a complete absence of any convincing argument to change things.

B. Prokop said...

"However I do think you are an enabler"

This is rich, coming from the person who supports, who indeed applauds, the tactics of the truly vile and genuinely homophobic so-called Westboro Baptist Church. You, Papalinton, have zero credibility when it comes to talking about enabling evil.

Crude said...

Bob,

Lemme help you out there.

You, Papalinton, have zero credibility.

There we go. More compact, yet every bit as true.

To comment on something you said - the idea that 'theology' has historically been the only driving force behind criticisms of same-sex sexual attraction is absurd, by the way. Whether right or wrong, same-sex sexual attraction was classified as a mental illness into the 1970s - and that's just in the US.

Wait, wait, I'm sure the excuses are a-comin'. The APA was run by the Black Pope.

Papalinton said...

"I voted against them last election here in Maryland. Not out of "homophobia", not out of "theology", but out of support for the status quo in a complete absence of any convincing argument to change things."

Of course not, Bob. Of course not. It was all about the status quo. You just keep on telling yourself that. You might convince yourself and someone else of that one day. In the meantime the status quo has moved on leaving Catholic homophobia in the dust.

Papalinton said...

"This is rich, coming from the person who supports, who indeed applauds, the tactics of the truly vile and genuinely homophobic so-called Westboro Baptist Church."

The truth is the Catholic magisterium is closer to the WBC on the matter of religious-inspired homophobia than me. Period.

B. Prokop said...

It's all about the "means", Papalinton. All about the means.

You self-righteously condemn the activities of the self-styled WBC on the grounds of their purpose (their "ends" as it were), whilst approving those identical activities when engaged in by persons whose ends you approve of.

Do you not see the danger here? (Not to mention to complete double standard?)

As the saying goes, "The ends don't justify the means". Now why is that? Because in the End of Ends, all we have are our means. Our means are our ends. We are what we do.

That was one of the big points of Christ's Sermon on the Mount. There was little mention of ends there, but rather of how we should act in the Here and Now. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, or a time, or something you can point at. It is how you act.

By your continued refusal to disassociate yourself from individuals whose actions are indistinguishable from the WBC, you place yourself on their level. And you cannot claim some hypothetically higher purpose as a defense.

B. Prokop said...

And on another topic, how in the world can opposition to same sex marriage possibly be considered "homophobia"? It doesn't follow.

I do not approve of marriage between a parent and their child. I assume you do not as well. Does that therefore make the two of us "parentophobic" or "childophobic"? Of course not!

Papalinton said...

Bob
"By your continued refusal to disassociate yourself from individuals whose actions are indistinguishable from the WBC, you place yourself on their level."

But i do Bob. It is not me that keeps associating me with the WBC. I repudiate them and their tactics. It is your assessment that filming a church service is akin to disrupting a funeral service of a serving military person or hating 'fags', not me.

And admit it Bob, church services have been filmed on innumerable occasions. Let's face it. The objection by the priest was not the filming per se, but he did not want to be filmed reading out a homophobic message that had been prepared by two monsignors that he had been instructed to read out to the parishioners.

Bob, try hard to keep it in perspective.
So I'm not sure what your beef is about. There is so much evidence of Catholic inspired homophobia.

The following: "What you don’t frequently hear about is the possibility of “anti-gay indoctrination.” On Thursday, however, several videos surfaced of Fr. John Hollowell, Chaplain of Indianapolis’ Cardinal Ritter High School, spouting a stream of homophobic and offensive falsehoods about same-sex marriage and gay people in general to a classroom full of students.
In the six videos spanning over two hours of anti-gay lecturing, Hollowell calls homosexual acts “an abomination,” advocates for ex-gay therapy, and rails against same-sex adoption and marriage by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism and prostitution."
HERE ARE THE SIX VIDEOS.

And another under the heading: "Pope Benedict Takes Anti-Gay Marriage To New Level In Christmas Speech On Family Values". See HERE.

And another. A news report titled: "Catholic church urges pupils to sign anti-gay marriage petition". See HERE.









B. Prokop said...

So then, you are saying that both you and I are parentophobic and childophobic, because we are not in favor of their marrying each other? That's what I must conclude from your posting.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

What's particularly ironic about your knee-jerk recourse to hate-filled language and name-calling, is that you're dealing here (with me) with a person who's actually open to changing his mind on this particular issue (which, to tell the truth, I care not the tiniest bit about). How could that be done?

Well, for starters, I need to hear a rational argument in favor of permitting same sex marriages that cannot also be used to justify polygamy and incest. I have yet to hear/read such an argument. Not once. Do you have one? If so, let's hear it.

That is the number one reason why I voted against the measure on last November's ballot. It had nothing whatsoever with what I thought (or didn't think) about same sex marriage. I read the proposed law quite carefully, and with no effort at all could find any number of ways that it could be taken as a defense of both of polygamy and incest. And if I could do that, imagine what a lawyer could make of it!!!

But as long as you continue to engage in calling anyone who disagrees with you various "names", you'll get nowhere with me.

Crude said...

Bob,

It should go without saying, but maybe it will help to hear someone hear it.

No, you are not homophobic. Not by a freaking longshot. Your response in this case was entirely rational. Indeed, that's precisely what terrifies some people.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

"No, you are not homophobic. Not by a freaking longshot. Your response in this case was entirely rational. Indeed, that's precisely what terrifies some people."

Says one christian homophobic enabler to the other. :o)