Thursday, May 15, 2014

Free Will and Mocking Beliefs

Bob: I see nothing wrong with critiquing or even mocking someone's beliefs. Christianity is a belief system. That is quite different from being gay or having black skin. People can't change their ethnicity or sexual orientation. However, they can change their belief system.

VR: Doesn't this presuppose a distinction between free actions, for which we are morally responsible, and characteristics we can't change, for which we are not responsible. This seems like a distinction that New Atheists insist on collapsing, such as here?


38 comments:

Bob said...

It is true, is it not, that people do change their beliefs? Some Christians convert to other faiths or become atheists. Atheists will sometimes come to believe in God.

I think my original point is still valid whether or not one believes those changes are due to free will, fate, predestination, some chemical activity in the brain, etc.

People cannot change their sexual orientation or their ethnicity.

Victor Reppert said...

Of course I suspect that some people are somewhat "between" orientations and can go either way.

But are there some approaches to changing someone's belief that are just unethical?

Andrew W said...

"People can't change their ... sexual orientation." This statement seems to me to count as a "belief" of Bob's. Is it therefore legitimate to mock it? Would it matter if it were true or false?

Obsidian said...

People do change their orientation though. Some people say they used to be gay and I see no reason to disbelieve them any more than those atheists who say they are former Christians.

Bob said...

"Of course I suspect that some people are somewhat "between" orientations and can go either way."

No doubt. Look at Bisexuals. Human sexuality can take many forms but at root it is a strong physical desire. Speaking personally, I am a heterosexual, I find myself attracted to the opposite sex. I honestly can't imagine just being able to turn off that desire and change it to attraction to another male.


I'd agree that there are many unethical approaches to changing someone's belief.

I think mockery is justified, at least in some circumstances. That video you linked to is deserving of mockery because the students in it seem to be advocating for a return to Christian values while lying about prayer and the Bible being banned in public schools. They try and make it appear that Christians are being persecuted in America which is absurd.


oozzielionel said...

Victor, the article that you linked to argues that ALL behavior is caused, and none of it is free choices. It focuses on bad behavior. It reflects the overwhelming cultural tendency to diagnose criminal behavior as disease. Every time there is a shooting, there is a media frenzy to find a cause and shift blame away from the free will of the perpetrator. There are enough examples of clearly mentally ill people committing crimes to reinforce the idea.

Crude said...

People cannot change their sexual orientation

But they certainly can stop engaging in particular sexual acts. Which is always what has precisely been at issue.

So, apparently, mocking gays for said sex is a-okay by Bob's standard.

They try and make it appear that Christians are being persecuted in America which is absurd.

Can you believe some students had the temerity to believe they were being singled out and mocked for their beliefs in the hopes of making them lose them? We should single out and mock them for their beliefs in the hopes of making them lose them!

Hugo said...

Can we really say that beliefs are choices? When you think about it, we don't really 'choose' to believe something, we are compelled, convinced, educated, etc... but a choice? Hardly. How could we, for example, try to choose to believe that everything rotates around the Earth. It's not something that's even possible with the current knowledge we collectively possess. Yet, our ancestors really believed that.

So if we were to run into someone who still believes in geocentrism, would mockery be appropriate? For the 'content' of the belief, yes of course, but regarding the person, I don't think so. There is no point in mocking people for what they believe since they don't really choose to believe something; but the claims they believe are open to criticism and derision. In other words, it's pointless to tell someone 'you are so dumb for believing X', but it is perfectly acceptable imo to say 'X is so dumb because of A-B-C, didn't you know that?' The former is an attack on the person, the later is an attempt to convince.

Obviously, the problem is that for the most fervent religious people, their religion is intricately tied to their worldview, social circles and lifestyle in general; so it's really hard to critique and/or mock certain religious beliefs without insulting the believer. Even when trying to be ethical, it might be difficult to be, or even impossible in some case, if the religion dictates that criticism is unacceptable, for example...

oozzielionel said...

Hugo:
You have just made this Blog to the the ultimate of foolishness. If we do not choose our beliefs, our dignity is lost. We become programmed machines. Hopefully, you do not succomb to every propoganda message you hear whether in the name of education, politics, or philosophy. You are choosing what to believe every moment of every day. You have an opportunity now to choose what you believe about your ability to choose your beliefs.

Bob said...

"Can you believe some students had the temerity to believe they were being singled out and mocked for their beliefs in the hopes of making them lose them? We should single out and mock them for their beliefs in the hopes of making them lose them!"

Some students had the temerity to believe we should force non-believing students to pray and read the Bible in public school. They had the temerity to believe we should force science teachers to teach Creationism in science classes. They also had the temerity to support the view that loving gay people should be denied the privileges we extend to loving non-gay people.
That is why they are being mocked.

Bob said...

"But they certainly can stop engaging in particular sexual acts. Which is always what has precisely been at issue."

Not at all. What has been and is at issue is the treatment of homosexuals as second-class citizens: denying them the same rights privileges enjoyed by heterosexuals. Just as blacks have been treated as second-class citizens.

Hugo said...

ozzielionel said...
"Hugo:
You have just made this Blog to the the ultimate of foolishness.
"

This sentence makes no sense but I guess I am supposed to conclude that you think I am foolish, realllllly foolish. Thanks for your input.

"If we do not choose our beliefs, our dignity is lost."

Even if you were right, that our dignity is lost, that does not make your point true.

"We become programmed machines."

No. We do have the capacity to act, or not, on our beliefs. We choose what we do, to a certain extent of course. I cannot decide to go on forever without eating, but I can decide to be a vegetarian because I 'believe' that animals are sacred and should not be killed.

"Hopefully, you do not succomb to every propoganda message you hear whether in the name of education, politics, or philosophy."

Where do you get that from?

"You are choosing what to believe every moment of every day. You have an opportunity now to choose what you believe about your ability to choose your beliefs."

I understand that this is what you are arguing for but you make no case for it. So I will try to strengthen mine with a few examples:
- I don't believe that God exists.
- My sister does believe that God exists and asked me to be the godfather of her child.
- I 'chose' to accept and participated in the Catholic rituals.
- I could not possibly 'choose' to start believing, even if just for the day of the baptism.

It's very similar to taste, which we don't choose but can act upon.
- I prefer vanilla ice cream; I "believe" it tastes better.
- My wife prefers chocolate ice cream.
- When I order a sundae, I choose chocolate ice cream because I will share it with her.
- After trying multiple ice cream sundaes, my taste can slowly change over time and I might start to like chocolate better, but did I really choose to start liking chocolate better? I did choose to try it more often so in that sense I challenged my "belief" that vanilla is better, but I don't literally choose what I prefer, it's a feeling, an emotion I cannot control. My tastes buds send a signal to my brain which makes me feel better when I taste vanilla instead of chocolate.

Going back to Catholicism, which is the religion I was raised into, I did not 'choose' at any point to stop believing it. It was more of a realization, something I was convinced of. Yet, I still 'choose' to challenge my newer beliefs by reading blogs like this once, for example. I could also choose to do nothing at all. Either way, I am choosing how I act but I am not choosing 'what' I believe. I honestly do not see how I could decide what I believe in the same sense that I decide what I read, talk about or think about.

Bob said...

" If we do not choose our beliefs, our dignity is lost."

Our beliefs can and often do change over time. That fact does not entail that we choose our beliefs. If we are reasonable people we will believe things we'd rather not because of the evidence in support of that belief.

If we choose not to act on our beliefs than we are in danger of losing our dignity.

Crude said...

Bob,

Not at all. What has been and is at issue is the treatment of homosexuals as second-class citizens: denying them the same rights privileges enjoyed by heterosexuals. Just as blacks have been treated as second-class citizens.

Wonderful: provide me with the historical laws against 'being homosexual' as opposed to 'sodomy'. Show me where 'homosexuality' in that sense was outlawed. Show me where in the Bible or even the Quran it's condemned.

You won't be able to. And if you can't, then your argument, on this front, is dead in the water.

Hugo said...

Lol, oh I see Crude, that's why lesbian couples have nothing to complain about, right? Laws that prevent (or prevented) gay couples from enjoying the same benefits as heterosexual couples apply only if they perform sodomy, right? And the US is the only place in the world the matters; who cares about religious countries where you can get killed for being gay, right? Plus if you cannot prove someone perform an homosexual act, nothing can possibly happen to them, right?

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/same-sex-couples-federal-marriage-benefits-30326.html

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/24/world/africa/uganda-anti-gay-bill/?c=&page=1

http://www.gaylaxymag.com/latest-news/anti-gay-modi-stickers-ask-people-to-choose-between-cow-protection-and-gay-protection/

Bob said...

"Wonderful: provide me with the historical laws against 'being homosexual' as opposed to 'sodomy'. Show me where 'homosexuality' in that sense was outlawed. Show me where in the Bible or even the Quran it's condemned."

Considering how different our modern conception of homosexuality is compared to ancient conceptions, I see no good reason for looking for such laws.
We now know that people have basic sexual orientations. Even if a gay person is celibate throughout their life he he is still considered to be gay. Same for a straight person.
It also is recognized that homosexuality is not a deviant or sinful form of sexuality.

The laws I am concerned about are the ones prohibiting gays from marrying. They deserve the same privileges and rights as straight people. And they deserve to be protected from those who would discriminate against them.

Crude said...

Hugo,

Lol, oh I see Crude, that's why lesbian couples have nothing to complain about, right? Laws that prevent (or prevented) gay couples from enjoying the same benefits as heterosexual couples apply only if they perform sodomy, right?

Hold on, Hugo. Let's take a good look at the claim I was responding to: "People cannot change their sexual orientation or their ethnicity."

My reply is clear: but orientation isn't A) what laws were passed against, or B) what religious commandments dictated against. So 'people can't change their sexual orientation' is a non-seq. It doesn't do any work here.

By the way - heterosexuals can't marry each other either. Two straight men can't marry each other, nor can two straight women.

The rest of your response is a change of topic. I condemn the Uganda bill, and plenty of conservative evangelicals (which I am not one) condemn the bill likewise.

Bob,

We now know that people have basic sexual orientations. Even if a gay person is celibate throughout their life he he is still considered to be gay. Same for a straight person.

The Kinsey scale suggests it's not quite so simple, on those terms alone.

It also is recognized that homosexuality is not a deviant or sinful form of sexuality.

A) No, this isn't 'known'. It's argued, often poorly.
B) So, in those years prior to homosexuality being taken off the books of secular psychologists as 'deviancy', it was quite alright to actively discourage it, or regard it as a mental illness?

The laws I am concerned about are the ones prohibiting gays from marrying. They deserve the same privileges and rights as straight people.

Actually, those same laws prevent heterosexuals from marrying each other too. And before you say 'But who would want that', I'll just ask if there are any economic or legal benefits for doing so.

The point remains: if it's acceptable to mock people with religious beliefs because 'they can choose not to believe what they believe' - which not everyone here defended - then, all else being equal, it's likewise acceptable to mock people who engage in various sexual acts.

Unless you argue that it's impossible for a homosexually attracted male to refrain from sodomy, in which case you have a far nastier view of them than I do. I think they're typically normal, upstanding humans with some desires that are unfortunate. Same as most people.

Bob said...

"Unless you argue that it's impossible for a homosexually attracted male to refrain from sodomy, in which case you have a far nastier view of them than I do."

There is little question at this point that you have a rather nasty view of them. You apparently think they have to refrain from sexual activity. I think they are as justified as straight people in refraining from or engaging in sexual activity.

"The point remains: if it's acceptable to mock people with religious beliefs because 'they can choose not to believe what they believe' - which not everyone here defended - then, all else being equal, it's likewise acceptable to mock people who engage in various sexual acts."

I have never said that it is acceptable to mock beliefs because one 'can choose not to believe what they believe'. Don't put words in my mouth.
People do change their beliefs. We see that occurring often. Most of us experience it throughout our lives. The same cannot be said of sexual orientation.

Whether or not a gay person engages in sexual activity is irrelevant as far as I am concerned. It is no different than a straight person engaging in sexual activity. Sometimes it is a matter of choice. Sometimes it is not.


"I think they're typically normal, upstanding humans with some desires that are unfortunate. Same as most people."

There is nothing wrong with their desires. It is your problem that you think those desires are "unfortunate".
Most people now recognize how misguided that position is. Knowing that gays have and are being discriminated against, they are writing and enforcing laws to protect them.

It is heartening to see how rapidly this moral shift has taken place. Gay people are now able to marry legally in many states. Based on recent court decisions, I think it safe to say that it will soon be legal in all states.

Bob said...

"By the way - heterosexuals can't marry each other either. Two straight men can't marry each other, nor can two straight women."

Actually they now can in many states.

But this is pure obfuscation on your part. Two gay people that love each other just as two straight people that love each other should not be prevented from having that loving relationship recognized and protected. Gay people are entitled to the exact same legal protections and benefits that straight people receive from being married.

Pretending that such legal prohibitions are somehow acceptable because they can apply to straight people no longer fools anyone.

Crude said...

Bob,

There is little question at this point that you have a rather nasty view of them.

'Nasty view of them'? Not at all. How do you know I'm not one of them?

I expressly said, they're like anyone else - they have some urges that are good, some that are bad.

You apparently think they have to refrain from sexual activity. I think they are as justified as straight people in refraining from or engaging in sexual activity.

Not quite. I think there are some kinds of sexual activity both they and heterosexuals should refrain from.

But what does it matter, Bob? Weren't you just telling me that it's okay to mock people for acts, and that's different for mocking them for who they were? Not that I endorse mockery in general - I'm opposing you here, just showing the consequences of your view.

I have never said that it is acceptable to mock beliefs because one 'can choose not to believe what they believe'. Don't put words in my mouth.

You said: People cannot change their sexual orientation or their ethnicity.

I pointed out, that leaves 'acts' untouched - and 'acts' are all both laws and religions have typically cared about re: the same-sex attracted.

Are you going to now take the position that some broad classes of acts are beyond reproach as well?

There is nothing wrong with their desires. It is your problem that you think those desires are "unfortunate".
Most people now recognize how misguided that position is.


Most people couldn't explain what's wrong with the arguments if they tried. You seem to be one of those people. In fact, all you can do is say 'there's nothing wrong' and that's that. Where does this spring from, Bob? What morality? What view of ethics or behavior?

Actually they now can in many states.

No, not really. Marriage goes beyond the law - though I do not doubt people with esteem issues can put on tuxedos and put on a heck of a show.

But this is pure obfuscation on your part. Two gay people that love each other

Oh really? They test for love now when weddings are recorded?

There is no obfuscation. You drew a distinction between mocking someone over what they can change and what they cannot. I pointed out, this leaves acts as open to mockery in principle. You have little reply on that front.

Why is that?

By the way - would it be moral for me to mock you mercilessly for your arguments in this conversation? Would it be, if I thought it would perhaps lead you to change your mind, or at least be quiet on this front? Please - inquiring minds want to know.

amorbis said...

I think it'll be helpful to clarify something.

Crude's opposition to homosexual acts is not based in Biblical commandments, but in a type of morality called natural law morality. This morality is based on Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics, and goes essentially as follows (please correct me Crude if I err slightly in this explanation, it's been a long time since I've thought about this stuff):

1. Every entity has an "essence" or "nature" that makes it the kind of thing it is. There is an "ideal form" of every type of entity, and each individual entity approximates this ideal form to a good or bad extent. For example, a squirrel is either a "good" squirrel or a "bad" squirrel depending on how well it approximates the ideal essence or nature of a squirrel.
2. Along with an "ideal form", each entity has certain goals - or "final causes" - toward which it is directed in virtue of its form. For example, a squirrel, in virtue of its form or essence as a squirrel, is naturally "directed toward" eating nuts as one of its ends or goals. In this way, a "good" squirrel "ought" to eat nuts; if it does not, it is a "bad" or "defective" squirrel in some way.
3. As creatures with free will and intellect, humans have a moral obligation to conform to their forms or essences, and as a result, to their natural goals that they have in virtue of their forms. Natural law, then, claims that whether an act is good or bad is determined by whether it fits or conflicts with the natural "goals" toward which a human is naturally directed.

The result of this conception of morality is that homosexuality, being a deviation from the "ideal form" of a human (or living creature in general), is a kind of "defect" or "imperfection", and acting on homosexual urges is morally wrong because it conflicts with the natural "goal" of a human's (or living organism's in general) sexual organs - procreation. Any type of sexual act that conflicts with the goal of procreation is seen as morally wrong under natural law morality.

Now, I think that natural law is an incorrect theory of morality - I think the premises on which it is based are false premises, and I am sympathetic to the idea that natural law reduces itself to absurdity by claiming that a sexual act done between consenting adults can be morally wrong. But it is certainly a moral theory that needs to be dealt with by any strong supporter of gay rights who wants to refute the strongest formulation of the case against him.

Crude said...

amorbis,

Hey there. Hope all's well with you.

Actually, I've got a lot of reasons to oppose it. Wholly secular and practical reasons. Thomistic/A-T reasons. Catholic teaching. Etc. 'It's gross!' isn't one of them. I don't find any of it particular gross. Perhaps the santorum stuff, but c'mon, even LGBT people find that gross. That's why it is what it is.

But actually, I'm not even trying to defend Thomistic morality right now. Call it false for the sake of argument, at this stage. Instead, I'm after a far more specific claim.

Assuming for the sake of argument that it's wrong to mock someone for their race or their sexual orientation because such things are outside of their control (again, for the sake of argument, let's assume that's true in the latter case too), that still leaves same-sex acts completely undefended.

So either Bob will have to concede that it's totally okay to mock people who engage in those acts - or he's going to have to come up with a reason why it's wrong.

That's what I'm after here. And 'but everyone thinks it's wrong' is not a reason at all. In fact, I wonder if Bob has a reason beyond that at all. If so, he's yet to provide it.

Bob said...

"Weren't you just telling me that it's okay to mock people for acts, and that's different for mocking them for who they were? Not that I endorse mockery in general - I'm opposing you here, just showing the consequences of your view."

No. I said beliefs sometimes are deserving of mockery. A belief is not an act. You continue to put words in my mouth that I never said.


"Assuming for the sake of argument that it's wrong to mock someone for their race or their sexual orientation because such things are outside of their control(again, for the sake of argument, let's assume that's true in the latter case too), that still leaves same-sex acts completely undefended."

Again, you are distorting what I said. Sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of who a person is. Just as their ethnicity is an intrinsic part of who they are.

And you better look at my post above dated May 17, 2014 7:47 AM. I don't think our beliefs are necessarily under our control.

I'm not going to continue to waste my time trying to correct your distortions of my position. Please respond to what I have actually said, not some straw man version of it.

"So either Bob will have to concede that it's totally okay to mock people who engage in those acts - or he's going to have to come up with a reason why it's wrong."


An act of sexuality is an expression of one's sexual orientation. I don't see how you can mock one without the other.

And what would be the point? An act of sexuality between two loving gay adults is no more harmful than an act of sexuality between two straight adults. While the belief that gay couples should be denied the benefits and rights granted to straight couples is very harmful, not only to the couples and their families, but to society as a whole.

"No, not really. Marriage goes beyond the law - though I do not doubt people with esteem issues can put on tuxedos and put on a heck of a show."

Yes, really. Their marriages entitle them to the exact same benefits and rights granted to straight couples in our society. And, as is so typical of gay marriage opponents, you have to make personal slurs against gays wishing to marry. I don't get it. Even if one is opposed to gay marriage, it shouldn't be that difficult to acknowledge that the intentions of gay couples are just as worthy as those of straight couples.

Bob said...

amorbis,

Thanks for the explanation.

You wrote:
"The result of this conception of morality is that homosexuality, being a deviation from the "ideal form" of a human (or living creature in general), is a kind of "defect" or "imperfection", and acting on homosexual urges is morally wrong because it conflicts with the natural "goal" of a human's (or living organism's in general) sexual organs - procreation. Any type of sexual act that conflicts with the goal of procreation is seen as morally wrong under natural law morality."


I would agree with you that this metaphysical system is not based on Bible commandments, but it is currently being used by some Christians to provide support for those commandments. And I think most in our society would see it as a religious belief that should not be allowed to trump the civil rights of gay people.

However, it could also be used to support a more secular agenda:

Why does one assume that homosexuality is defective? Or that the only goal of sexuality is to reproduce? Can't sexual activity also be said to have the goal of expressing an ideal human's love to another human?

Bob said...

"Actually, I've got a lot of reasons to oppose it. Wholly secular and practical reasons."

So far the courts have consistently rejected the secular and practical reasons the anti-gay marriage folks have presented to defend their position.
Do you have some new reasons that haven't already been presented?

Crude said...

Bob,

No. I said beliefs sometimes are deserving of mockery. A belief is not an act. You continue to put words in my mouth that I never said.

A belief is in fact an act, but it's also besides the point. Your defense here was that it's not okay to mock, say... homosexuals because they can't change their sexuality.

But they can change what acts they engage in.

Sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of who a person is.

Hahaha, really? You must not be a materialist then.

I'm distorting nothing, and my question remains relevant.

An act of sexuality is an expression of one's sexual orientation. I don't see how you can mock one without the other.

Pretty easily. Are you telling me that anal sex is somehow hard-wired into gay men? You may want to read up about this.

Unless you want to make the argument that it's not just same-sex orientation that is 'intrinsic' to a person - which alone is going to cause you trouble if you're a materialist - but that specifics like 'desires for anal sex' are intrinsic and inviolable. In which case, it's going to be easy to demonstrate that you're all in favor of mocking and certainly criticizing some sexual acts.

And what would be the point? An act of sexuality between two loving gay adults

Oh yeah? So it's okay to mock anal sex if it happens between two people who don't love each other? Or whose act is unrelated to love?

Yes, really. Their marriages entitle them to the exact same benefits and rights granted to straight couples in our society. And, as is so typical of gay marriage opponents, you have to make personal slurs against gays wishing to marry.

No, not really. Marriage existed prior to the state, and is no more controlled by it than love is. Nor did I mock 'homosexuals', since my comment would apply even to two heterosexual males who went down that path.

Also, do you know what a 'personal slur' is? It's not the thing that gets made when you talk about a group.

And I think most in our society would see it as a religious belief

This is the only argument you've given so far for just about anything on this topic, and since it's just argumentum ad populum, it won't help you out here.

Can't sexual activity also be said to have the goal of expressing an ideal human's love to another human?

By the by, are you really suggesting 'these arguments are religious if they come to a conclusion I dislike, but if I like the conclusion they're secular now'? Seriously?

Also, sure, if you want to make that argument, go right ahead. Keep in mind that 'pleasure' and such isn't said to not be a part of sex - it's merely not the primary purpose of it, the final cause. And you'll have to do one hell of a dance to argue that the final cause of sex is pleasure, not procreation.

But as I keep saying - assume Thomism is false for the purposes of my argument here, because it's irrelevant at this stage. What's relevant is a defense of why various sex acts are immune from mockery.

Here's my favorite example: Is Doug Thomas' sexuality beyond criticism? Is it wrong to mock people who share his sexuality?

Crude said...

Bob,

So far the courts have consistently rejected the secular and practical reasons the anti-gay marriage folks have presented to defend their position.

I'm not talking about the courts here, so what relevance does this have? Let the SCOTUS unanimously conclude that sodomy is moral and pure in all its forms - nay, superior to all other acts of sexuality. It would mean exactly nothing intellectually.

Do you have some new reasons that haven't already been presented?

Oh, plenty. I think the people who have argued the cases have largely been sloppy. But that's not the concern here.

This thread is about mocking beliefs. You're in the bizarre position of thinking it's okay to mock people for beliefs, but apparently never for sexual acts.

That's going to be one hell of a thing to defend as this conversation progresses.

Bob said...

"A belief is in fact an act.."

Really? I'd be interested in seeing how you can justify that claim.


"Hahaha, really? You must not be a materialist then."

Where did I claim I was? I happen to be a Christian.

"I'm distorting nothing..."

But you have distorted my position. I have never said beliefs can be mocked because they are acts that can be changed.

This is what I said :
"Our beliefs can and often do change over time. That fact does not entail that we choose our beliefs. If we are reasonable people we will believe things we'd rather not because of the evidence in support of that belief."

And:
"It is true, is it not, that people do change their beliefs? Some Christians convert to other faiths or become atheists. Atheists will sometimes come to believe in God.

I think my original point is still valid whether or not one believes those changes are due to free will, fate, predestination, some chemical activity in the brain, etc."

Beliefs are not acts. But we can express our beliefs through our actions. Those expressions consist of actions. I really don't understand how you can confuse beliefs with actions.

If you ever start addressing what I have actually said and not some straw man version of it, I will be glad to continue this discussion.

Crude said...

Bob,

Really? I'd be interested in seeing how you can justify that claim.

Since a belief is in part - often, at least - an act of the will. You ever decide to trust someone, Bob? To take their word for something?

Where did I claim I was? I happen to be a Christian.

I didn't say otherwise. Even atheists can be non-materialist, though I don't run into those enough.

But you have distorted my position. I have never said beliefs can be mocked because they are acts that can be changed.

What you did do was single out 'the inability to change the factor' as one reason it's wrong to mock certain people. I pointed out, this leaves the act untouched. And with regards to LGB people, it's the acts that are central.

So, I ask - is mocking those acts acceptable? You said that you can't see how to mock an act without mocking the sexuality, and I provided some evidence about the gulf between the two.

Still, I wait.

Bob said...

Crude,
We seem to be going in circles. I admit that I'm having trouble understanding your reasoning.

You apparently think I believe that the mere fact something can change makes it ok to mock it. But I never said that. It is, I believe a necessary condition but it is not a sufficient condition for mockery.

I could understand your position if we were talking about mere possibility, but we are not. We are talking about what should or should not be done. It is still possilbe for one to mock a gay person despite the fact that he can't change his sexual orientation. But one should not. One reason why one should not is because he can't change his orientation. Another reason is that there is nothing wrong or sinful in being gay. Nor do I think it is any more sinful for a gay person to engage in his preferred sexual activity than it is for a straight person.
But I also believe one should not mock a person for being an atheist or a theist. Clearly that is something subject to change.

Crude said...

Bob,

You apparently think I believe that the mere fact something can change makes it ok to mock it. But I never said that. It is, I believe a necessary condition but it is not a sufficient condition for mockery.

Not at all. What I said was that you cited, put loosely, the inability of someone to change something about themselves as a reason that mockery is verboten. You cited one's race and sexual orientation as examples of such.

I'm giving you that for free, and pointing out that what is central to criticisms of LGB people are acts - not orientation, not desires, but acts. Acts were legislated against, not desires, both legally and as far as religion goes, on this front.

I mean, this gets backed up when you say:

It is still possilbe for one to mock a gay person despite the fact that he can't change his sexual orientation. But one should not. One reason why one should not is because he can't change his orientation.

Another reason is that there is nothing wrong or sinful in being gay.


So, there's two reasons. One is just repeating what I already said. The other... is just repeating what I already said. 'Being gay', as a state, isn't sinful. It is, at most, objectively disordered - having a broken leg is disordered, but sinful, it isn't.

Nor do I think it is any more sinful for a gay person to engage in his preferred sexual activity than it is for a straight person.

And now we're into a whole new area.

First, the sinfulness of engaging in one's preferred sexual activity absolutely exists in some trivial senses. Unless you're going to tell me you're a Christian who doesn't think adultery is a sin. Or premarital sex. Or... etc, etc.

Second, it's not just sinfulness we have to deal with here. Is it wrong for a man to have sex without a condom with multiple women? What if he prefers bareback sex? What if the women enjoy the thrill of risking pregnancy?

I'm willing to bet you've got a whole lot of reasonable taboos about what 'consensual sex' people engage in that they damn well should not, desires be damned.

Victor Reppert said...

On interesting question in this area is what counts as an "orientation." Are there two orientations, straight and gay, are there three, straight, day and bi, does a preference for group sex count, or a preference for multiple partners or one partner? Does bestiality and pedophilia count?

The reason I bring this us is that defense of gay relationships typically goes something like this.

1. A sexual orientation is, in many cases an unchangeable fact about a person that can't be altered by the use of free will.

2. If a person has a an orientation, then a person has a moral right to an intimate life in accordance with that orientation. Celibacy should not be morally enforced on someone.

3. If one's orientation is homosexual, and this can't be changed then one should have the right to express that orientation in an intimate relationship, and society (and the institution of marriage) should recognize this fact.

But I think few of us, apart from members of NAMBLA, would use that argument in defense of, let's say, pedophilia. It seems that if you are a pedophile, and you can't change that "orientation," given the degree of harm that that does, you are morally obligated to be celibate.

Bob said...

"Acts were legislated against, not desires, both legally and as far as religion goes, on this front."

California's Prop 8 (along with all the recent anti-gay marriage laws) was aimed at preventing gays from getting married irregardless of whether or not they engaged in any sexual acts.

I see that attempt as not only immoral but a violation of the basic civil rights granted to citizens of this country.


"And now we're into a whole new area."

Perhaps.

I think it wrong for straight and gay people to commit adultery though I don't think it should be illegal.

As to bareback sex vs. condoms, I see that as basically being up to the consenting adults.

Sex can take place in a wide variety of circumstances. Like any behavior it can be abused and misused.

One's basic sexual orientation is more than just a desire. It is an intrinsic part of who that person is.


Bob said...

"But I think few of us, apart from members of NAMBLA, would use that argument in defense of, let's say, pedophilia."

I agree. The key factor here is sexual intimacy between two consenting adults.

Crude said...

Bob,

California's Prop 8 (along with all the recent anti-gay marriage laws) was aimed at preventing gays from getting married irregardless of whether or not they engaged in any sexual acts.

And marriage traditionally has a tremendously strong link with sexual acts, so much so that it wasn't so long ago that failing to consummate a marriage would nullify that marriage.

Likewise, prop 8 doesn't prevent gays from getting married - it prevents same-sex heterosexual couples from marrying too. Nor does anyone bar gay men from marrying women, or vice versa.

I see that attempt as not only immoral but a violation of the basic civil rights granted to citizens of this country.

I'm putting this one aside for now.

I think it wrong for straight and gay people to commit adultery though I don't think it should be illegal.

I think it's wrong too. Here's another question for you: is it /unhealthy/? Does a person who, say... really gets off on sleeping with another man's wife, mentally healthy according to you? Nothing wrong there that he should change or abstain from, regardless of the legality?

As to bareback sex vs. condoms, I see that as basically being up to the consenting adults.

But is it wrong? Immoral?

I see plenty of public service efforts, some government sponsored, encouraging condom use. Do you regard that as an unwarranted intrusion into people's sex lives?

One's basic sexual orientation is more than just a desire. It is an intrinsic part of who that person is.

What's this 'basic'? See, that's squirrely to me. I provided evidence in this thread that no particular sex act is necessarily 'intrinsic' to someone same-sex oriented (and if you want to argue a desire for anal sex is intrinsic, you're making one hell of a claim.) So where does that leave us?

Bob said...

"Likewise, prop 8 doesn't prevent gays from getting married - it prevents same-sex heterosexual couples from marrying too. Nor does anyone bar gay men from marrying women, or vice versa."

The whole intent of the law was to prevent gays from marrying. That's obvious from the commercials that aired and the debates that took place prior to its passage. And it's obvious from all the legal arguments that were involved in it being overturned in court.

The fact that it also prevented straight men from marrying is completely irrelevant.

You've raised some very good questions about sexual ethics. I'm sorry but I don't really have time to get bogged down in trying to deal with them all right now.

Any future posts of mine on homosexuality are going in the new thread Victor started.

Crude said...

Bob,

The whole intent of the law was to prevent gays from marrying. That's obvious from the commercials that aired and the debates that took place prior to its passage. And it's obvious from all the legal arguments that were involved in it being overturned in court.

And it's just as obvious from the law itself that it would have prevented heterosexual same-sex couples from marrying too. This is what you need to dispute, and exactly what you're not disputing.

You've raised some very good questions about sexual ethics. I'm sorry but I don't really have time to get bogged down in trying to deal with them all right now.

Fair enough.

Crude said...

Bob,

To add - my questions about sexual ethics were not a non-seq. If you start granting that, actually, various sexual behaviors are something we should discourage even if they're between 'two consenting adults' - better yet, that some of them are just plain mentally unhealthy to have - then it turns out it's quite fine to question various sexual activities in general, popular opinion be damned.