Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Debunking the wrong answer

I noticed John Loftus objecting to my comments by, typically, bringing up Scandanavian countries. However, PL's point is relevant here, that strong secularization tends to move a country toward underpopulation, which makes it difficult for them to avoid a Muslim majority. And, I would also have to make the note that the secularization of those countries took place with very little of the religion-bashing typical of new atheism. If religion dies within a culture, I think it is more likely to die of neglect than anything else.

There is a sense in which writing books like the God Delusion and running websites like Debunking Christianity is a self-defeating enterprise. What you are saying by doing that is that God and Christianity are so important that someone needs to take lots of time and effort attacking it. I know they don't intend to leave this message, but that is still the effect. These people spend a lot of time and energy on what they don't believe, in debunking the wrong answer. If it's really worth the time and energy to criticize something, then there are rules, such as the principle of charity, that have to be followed. If not, then you are better off pursuing the right answer than attacking the wrong answer.

55 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Interesting comment, Victor. I have several times noted the remarkable interest atheists seem to have in lurking around and commenting on religious (and especially Christian) websites. Kind of blows a giant hole in the "not collecting stamps" notion. I am not a stamp collector, and you don't see me (or any other non stamp collector) hanging around philatelic websites.

If nothing else, the time and effort persons like the self-styled im-skeptical spend in commenting on the subject prove just how important a role religion plays in their lives, even while they deny its validity.

And as for people like Loftus, the fact that they've dedicated practically their entire lives to the subject speaks volumes about what they deep inside believe matters in this world, no matter how much they attempt to deny it.

Jezu ufam tobie!

John Moore said...

Religion certainly plays an important role in my life - and I need to work hard to make that stop. Politics is the most obvious area. Do you really want Huckabee or Carson as the U.S. president? Or will you argue that religion has nothing to do with their insane right-wing policies? Personally I also care very much about education and scientific research. Do you think religion promotes good education and encourages science? I don't. Then there's the whole area of human rights, which religious people through the ages have very often opposed. So anyway, these are some of the big reasons why New Atheists like me are active politically and in online social media.

It's ironic that these social issues have little to do with core religious doctrines. That's why I often predict for my religious friends that the New Atheism would go quiet and fade away if only the religious people would focus on their own spiritual life in their families and communities instead of focusing on political and legal campaigns. Most New Atheists care little about your metaphysical beliefs - as long as you don't try to impose them on everyone else.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "I noticed John Loftus objecting to my comments by, typically, bringing up Scandanavian countries."

Perhaps the problem is that you typically ignore the fact that Scandinavian countries pose a real problem to your theory about societies that don't take religion seriously. Your posts remind me a lot of someone complaining that people keep on brining up elephants every time you write another post about there not being any elephants.

VR: "However, PL's point is relevant here, that strong secularization tends to move a country toward underpopulation, which makes it difficult for them to avoid a Muslim majority."

Or a catholic majority. Or Hindu. Or mormons. Or any other group of people who belong to a religion (and I think this is all of them) that propagate by indoctrinating the young, and insisting that their followers propagate a lot more young. But there are ways to avoid a religious majority -- outlaw religion. Is that what you're promoting?

VR: "And, I would also have to make the note that the secularization of those countries took place with very little of the religion-bashing typical of new atheism. If religion dies within a culture, I think it is more likely to die of neglect than anything else."

Or maybe Scandinavians just are unusually sensible. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/28/us/28beliefs.html )

There are different kinds of religious believers. I would suggest that the kind of bashing you decry is more a symptom of American religious incalcitrance and stubbornness than it is a function of the movment in the U.S. When someone keeps on revisiting the same thing, over and over and over (as you do by ignoring the fact that Scandinavian countries function very well without god-bothering), then maybe bashing and ridicule are the symptom, not the cause.

VR: "There is a sense in which writing books like the God Delusion and running websites like Debunking Christianity is a self-defeating enterprise. What you are saying by doing that is that God and Christianity are so important that someone needs to take lots of time and effort attacking it."

Right. And this is why it's self-defeating to counter any invidious set of beliefs, like imperialism, fascism, communism, and islamism. Why did we ever bother taking a lot of time and effort to attack those things. If only our predecessors were filled with your wisdom.

Crude said...

Do you think religion promotes good education and encourages science? I don't.

Atheist ideologies have suppressed more science than religion could ever hope to. Modern science was itself conceived of in an overwhelmingly Christian frame, and among the greeks, in a theistic one.

But I suppose if one feels strongly enough about a topic, evidence is not required.

Then there's the whole area of human rights, which religious people through the ages have very often opposed.

Except for the massive work they done promoting them - indeed, the very idea of human rights originates in a distinctly Christian, and religious, framework. Meanwhile, the atheist track record of human rights leaves much to be desired, what with the piles of bodies and all.

Regarding the Scandinavian countries, here's something people tend to forget. From the wikipedia entry on religion in Denmark:

Of all the religions in Denmark, the most prominent is Christianity in the form of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (Dansk Folkekirke), the state religion. Hence, Denmark is a non-secular state as there is a clear link between the church and the state with a Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs. However, pockets of virtually all faiths can be found among the population. The second largest faith is Islam, due to immigration since 1980. In general, however, Danes feel themselves as secular, and church attendance is generally low.[1] This impression contrasts with the fact that an average of 78.4% of Danes are members of the church, paying around 1% of their salary voluntarily. In addition, the state finances the Folkekirke, meaning that any tax payer in Denmark, even those who are not members of the Folkekirke, contributes to its maintenance.

So, look at that. One of the scandinavian countries people love to bring up as an example of the power of secularism... is not even a secular country. It's an irreligious place, but to call it 'atheist' is wishful thinking.

Indeed, look at the polls:

According to a Eurobarometer Poll conducted in 2010,[2] 28% of Danish citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", 47% responded that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 24% responded that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force". Another poll, carried out in 2008, found that 25% of Danes believe Jesus is the son of God, and 18% believe he is the saviour of the world.[3]

While a vast majority of Danes are technically agnostic or atheist, few choose to identify as such.


So, 75% believe in a God or 'some sort of spirit or life force'. Only 24% of the country disavows either.

The scandinavian countries are complicated places, but again - to say 'Oh, they're atheist' is just wishful thinking. They are irreligious, but the irreligious aren't automatically atheist. They seem to be largely non-reflective deistic/paganish sorts.

David Brightly said...

Oh dear. Now we have Team Unbelief paranoia.

Honestly John. Religious people down the ages have often opposed human rights? Weren't they invented in 1948?

And Cal, why, by implication, do you think religious belief is invidious, so that it needs be opposed?

invidious

* (of an action or situation) likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others.
"she'd put herself in an invidious position"
synonyms: unpleasant, awkward, difficult, undesirable, unenviable
"I didn't want to put her in an invidious position"
antonyms: pleasant, desirable

* (of a comparison or distinction) unfairly discriminating; unjust.
"it seems invidious to make special mention of one aspect of his work"
synonyms: unfair, unjust, prejudicial, discriminatory, iniquitous, weighted, one-sided, offensive, objectionable, deleterious, detrimental, unwarranted
"an invidious comparison"
antonyms: fair

Origin: early 17th century: from Latin invidiosus, from invidia (see envy).

Victor, I think you are seeing this from a purely philosophical point of view (first on your tagline). For effective inquiry certain rules must indeed be followed. But there are authors, website owners, and commenters who see things primarily politically (third). God and Christianity are important to them not because they contain ideas that might be true, but because they sometimes determine their believers' political stances and it's these stances that have to be opposed or espoused.

Cal Metzger said...

Brightly: "And Cal, why, by implication, do you think religious belief is invidious, so that it needs be opposed?"

I was referring to religious fundamentalists (among whom the Islamists are the most dangerous modern day example) -- but that includes the sectarians, the evangelicals, the zealots, etc. These are the types who would commonly like to deny, for example, equality before the law to those who don't share their set of silly beliefs or are simply outside their group, etc. And these fundamentalists primarily encourage a kind of groupishness that privileges (unjustly) belonging to that group and excludes others who are (arbitrarily) excluded from that membership.

So I wasn't implying; I am stating that these things should be opposed.

Legion of Logic said...

"When someone keeps on revisiting the same thing, over and over and over (as you do by ignoring the fact that Scandinavian countries function very well without god-bothering), then maybe bashing and ridicule are the symptom, not the cause."

Oh the irony.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: ""When someone keeps on revisiting the same thing, over and over and over (as you do by ignoring the fact that Scandinavian countries function very well without god-bothering), then maybe bashing and ridicule are the symptom, not the cause."

Legion: "Oh the irony."

Yeah, I don't think you understand my comment. Imagine my surprise.

David Brightly said...

Bear with me Cal. If I seem obtuse it's because unless I've had my head in the sand for the past several decades we don't seem to have these culture wars in the UK and I'm wondering what's different about the US. Can you give me some examples of these sectarians, etc, who want to deny equality before the law to outsiders?

Cal Metzger said...

@Brightly, in the U.S. examples are religious fundamentalists who oppose giving gays the legal rights enjoyed by those adults who decide to marry because they say their religion is opposed to it. 40 years ago, the same types would say that those who appeared of mixed race shouldn't be allowed to marry because god separated the races for a reason, etc. 150 years ago that those who were enslaved deserved it because god made them inferior, etc. There are significant swathes of the U.S. population (principally in the less-educated and less affluent south) who cling to the notion that their idiosyncratic interpretation of the bible should be thrust on the rest of the population -- installing a monument to the 10 commandments at the courthouse, adding christian symbols to government buildings, etc. They are inserting an ahistorical and un-American view that citizenship is contingent on affirming Christian beliefs.

Cal Metzger said...

@Brightly, it appears that this article gives an immediate overview:

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/23/christian_fundamentalists_plot_against_the_constitution_what_kim_daviss_newly_unearthed_emails_reveal/

steve said...

Case in point:

http://swedenreport.org/2015/06/02/goodbye-sweden/

David Brightly said...

Does the 'denial of equality before the law' boil down to the prior legal distinction between same sex and opposite sex couples? I'm sure you can see that this issue doesn't have to be framed solely in terms of equal rights for individuals. But in any case, the 'liberal' (for want of a word) view has prevailed on this and Ms Davis has gone to jail for failing as a public servant to observe the law. That's as it should be. With regard to religious displays on government property this review suggests that at the Supreme Court level honours are pretty even with narrow decisions. So the Constitution seems to be working. Some people on both sides of this dispute appear to feel under existential threat, but I just don't see it. How do a few monuments amount to 'thrusting an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible on the rest of the population', or 'asserting a view that citizenship is contingent on affirming Christian beliefs'? The latter inference is quite unjustified in my view.

Cal Metzger said...

Brightly: "With regard to religious displays on government property this review suggests that at the Supreme Court level honours are pretty even with narrow decisions. So the Constitution seems to be working."

Regarding the Supreme Court the Holly Lobby decision is worrisome -- you should look it up if you aren't aware of it.

But not all religious intrusions on government reach the Supreme Court level -- typically, they occur in town government meetings, state courthouses, that sort of thing. So, pointing to an instance where the Supreme court has upheld the Constitution doesn't mean that some part of government somewhere isn't allowing or facing a violation of the 1st Amendment. This is all pretty much day-in-the-life stuff in the U.S., especially in more religious regions.

Brightly: "Some people on both sides of this dispute appear to feel under existential threat, but I just don't see it."

I agree that I don't see how Christians in the U.S. could consider themselves under existential threat. The only explanation I have is that people seem to get more riled up over loss of privilege than they do over loss of rights. But it does offend me as a non-believer seeing that my government has "In God We Trust" imprinted on our money, supplanting the much more inclusive and historically accurate "E Pluribus Unum" as our de facto national motto. And it does offend me that schools ask our children to pronounce that we are "under god" as they recite our pledge of allegiance, and that so many school holidays and events solemnize religious rituals into what should be a religion-free zone.

Brightly: "How do a few monuments amount to 'thrusting an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible on the rest of the population', or 'asserting a view that citizenship is contingent on affirming Christian beliefs'? The latter inference is quite unjustified in my view."

When the monument is of the 10 commandments, and it's on a public courthouse, then I think we can be safe in saying that the courthouse is privileging a Christian view over other religious and non-religious views. The way we can test this is by placing a similar -sized monument beside it memorializing Sharia law and seeing if any inferences drawn will be equally unjustified. I'm guessing that will not be the case.






David Brightly said...

What do you mean by 'inserting a view that citizenship is contingent on affirming Christian beliefs'? Implying that non-Christians are second-class citizens and cannot expect equal treatment under the law unless they convert? Surely not.

Every courtroom in England displays the Royal coat of arms bearing the words ‘Dieu et mon droit’ and ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’. Nobody thinks this privileges religion over unbelief, monarchy over republicanism, or, for that matter, French over English. It merely tells us something about British history and nationhood.

I think you are just rubbing up against history. The US was founded by people seeking religious freedoms in more authoritarian times. The country has always been Christian and that explains the school holidays. What is threatening about this and the other instances of 'ceremonial deism' that you can't live with them? (Though I daresay my own ancestors demonstrated outside the church with placards demanding 'Give us back our Yule!')

Cal Metzger said...

Brightly: "What do you mean by 'inserting a view that citizenship is contingent on affirming Christian beliefs'? Implying that non-Christians are second-class citizens and cannot expect equal treatment under the law unless they convert? Surely not."

I said that some portion of the population espouses this view. I see that Ben Carson recently said the same last week -- that a Muslim's beliefs should disqualify them from being President. You act as if religious considerations are not active elements in our political discussion. To deny this makes you seem, well, ignorant.

Listen, if someone wants to make their religious beliefs public, then I am all for considering them. What I am not for is demanding that I make a public declaration concerning religion in any way whatsoever, and that is what some (primarily Christian, but they could in the future be Muslim or Hindu or whatever) have lobbied for and sometimes effected here. Again, I refer you to our money -- In God We Trust was first stamped on our currency in the 1950's, almost 200 years after our Constitution assiduously refrained from referring to god even one time.

Brightly: "The country has always been Christian and that explains the school holidays."

Don't lecture me on my country, or history. The government of the United States has never "been Christian." The government of the United States has always been secular. Yes, many of its citizens and elected officials have been religious, but don't confuse a government with its servants.

What explains the school holidays is the majority of the citizens have historically been Christian. Recently, the New York City schools added Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (muslim holidays) to the list of official holidays that it observes. Does that mean that the New York City school are now Muslim?

B. Prokop said...

"our Constitution assiduously refrained from referring to god even one time"

But it did, Cal. It did. Right here:

"Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth." (emphasis added)

Cal Metzger said...

@Bob, I meant the word "god."

And the use of "in the year of our Lord" is a temporal convention that, well, dates the document in time.

But imagine my surprise that you'd like to pretend that the word "god" is somehow to be found in our Constitution, or pretend that putting a time stamp on the document amounts to endorsing Yawheh, and that you would also refrain from affirming that our Constitution is about as thoroughly a secular document as there could be.

B. Prokop said...

So just Who do you think the writers were referring to when they used the word "Lord"?

Surely not some European noble! The Revolution kind of threw all that out. No "pretending" here. (Maybe some on your end, though.)

Cal Metzger said...

@Bob, they were referring to the anno domini system in which they dated their document. In this case, the dating system is based on the purported birth of Jesus.

This is like the late Romans dating based on the purported founding of Rome, etc. If you're gong to date by years, then it's customary to have a starting year.

If documents are going to be dated, they need to have a dating system. If you think that using the most common dating system available to the likely readers of a document is an endorsement that its readers should all worship a bronze aged, Jewish god who was three parts and impregnated a virgin and then killed himself so he could forgive his prior creations from doing what they were created to do and, well, whatever. That's quite a thin broth you're serving is all I'm saying.

B. Prokop said...

"bronze age"

Like 99.9 percent of ignorant atheists, you love to throw about the term "bronze age" as an insult. What you never seem to realize is that the Bronze Age lasted from approximately 3300 BC to at the very latest 1200 BC. Hmm... And the Hebrew Scriptures were written when? Oh, sometime between 700 BC and maybe 100 BC. So even the earliest Jewish writings about God date to no less than 500 years after the end of the Bronze Age. That's roughly the time separating us from Columbus's voyages to the New World.

And this doesn't even address the issue of why we should consider simply dating something an insult. The Epic of Gilgamesh is indisputably a product of the Bronze Age, yet it is more profound than virtually any literary product produced today. The same goes for the Rollright Stones in Britain. I've spent many an hour there (at least 30) in deep contemplation, and I can assure you there is more wisdom in those simple stones than in the entirety of today's internet.

As C.S. Lewis would say, you are guilty of chronological snobbery.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

Ah, the argument from tendentious description. Yawn.

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "As C.S. Lewis would say, you are guilty of chronological snobbery."

Says the man typing on the internet with instant access to the world's recorded information, living in a peaceful society where he can expect to live into his late '70's and die of a geriatric disease, who can eat what and whenever he wants, and could fly away to Britain in hours in order to ponder some stones at his leisure.

Unlike you I acknowledge and am grateful for the privileged chronological status in which we now reside. You seem not so impressed for reasons that I can't imagine.

B. Prokop said...

The most amusing (and simultaneously the saddest) thing about people like Cal is they make a huge deal about the Constitution supposedly not including the word "God" in its text (although it demonstrably mentions "our Lord"), but without a qualm they will cheerfully find all sorts of things in it, about which the Constitution is equally silent - such as marriage and abortion.

No, I'll take that back. It's not equally silent - it's even more silent. The Constitution at least mentions religion (as in not prohibiting the free exercise thereof), while there is not one single, solitary reference to marriage in the document. Yet Justice Kennedy (and people like Cal) can find all sorts of "rights" concerning the institution in parts of the Constitution which say nothing whatsoever about it. Same goes for abortion.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

@B. Prokop, the Constituion is a living document -- meaning it is always being interpreted, and meaning that it can be amended and added to. That's what all those judicial decisions do, and that's what those pesky amendments are for.

Brokop: "No, I'll take that back. It's not equally silent - it's even more silent."

Not really. It specifically calls out -- to prohibit -- the establishment of a theocracy. That's not silence -- that's prohibition.

Regarding rights like marriage, marriage is a legal agreement. You seem unaware of the 14th amendment, and what it covers. I refer you to it.

B. Prokop said...

" I refer you to [the14th Amendment]."

I will assume you are referring to this: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Hmm... Let's see now. So we're talking "equal protection" here, right? OK, I'll bite. Prior to Obergfell, everybody in the US was equally free to marry a person of the opposite sex, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, value of their assets, social status, or whatever other qualifier you might care to mention. They were also equally not free to marry their mother, father, sister, brother, person of the same sex, or to have multiple partners. Now that's "equal protection" in its purest form - the same for everybody. No discrimination whatsoever. All are treated alike.

There is nothing in the 14th Amendment that justifies what the Supreme Court did in Obergfell.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "There is nothing in the 14th Amendment that justifies what the Supreme Court did in Obergfell."

Actually, it's all in how you frame the question, Bobaroo.

Prior to Obergell, consenting adults of the same sex were denied the benefits of marriage that were offered to consenting adults of the opposite sex.

Fixed it for you. Just like the Supreme Court did.

B. Prokop said...

Not at all, Cal. Homosexuals had perfectly equal access to the same benefits as any other citizen. They chose not to take advantage of them.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Okay, Bob. Just as mixed race couples had the same rights to marry someone else of the same race. Same rights as everyone else. Nothing to see here.

A fact is that I used to believe the same thing about marriage as you did. But I couldn't find any reason to deny equal protection, so I changed my mind.

I wonder what it could be that prevents you from changing your mind? I wonder....



B. Prokop said...

Ahh.. I was waiting for you to bring up the ol' false analogy of interracial marriage. It's funny how whenever a proponent of same-sex so-called marriage realizes he's losing the argument, he'll immediately change the subject to a completely different topic - one in which he knows he'll find convenient agreement.

News flash, Cal. The issue of interracial marriage is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. A marriage between the races in the Bad Ol' Days was still regarded as a marriage - just one not approved of. It took no redefinition of the institution to make interracial marriage legal.

The two issues are not even apples and oranges. They're more like apples and bicycles. If that's how you're going to "reason", then it ought to be equally appropriate for me to say something like "Same-sex marriage ought to be illegal because you shouldn't park next to a fire hydrant." The relevance is about the same.

"But I couldn't find any reason to deny equal protection"

That's because no one was being denied equal protection. (See my comment from 7:19 AM, so I won't have to repeat myself.)

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Bob: "A marriage between the races in the Bad Ol' Days was still regarded as a marriage - just one not approved of."

No. It wasn't "not approved of" -- it was a crime. And anti-miscegnation laws forbade the marriages from taking place in those states in which they were enacted. Let that soak in. Try and get your head around that fact, and what you are defending.

If you were white and married a black person in Virginia prior to 1967, both of you could be sentenced to jail. And that is what happened to the couple referred to in Loving v. Virginia.

Bob: "That's because no one was being denied equal protection. (See my comment from 7:19 AM, so I won't have to repeat myself.)"

Yeah, you just don't understand the law (or basic human fairness). The fact that you don't understand the law is that you are on the wrong side of it, as evidenced by the numerous state courts, and the Supremem Court, who ruled on it exactly as I have described.

I don't mind your whining. I mind you're being so wrong, in a black is white kind of way.

B. Prokop said...

"No. It wasn't "not approved of" -- it was a crime." etc., etc.

Yes indeed. But my point remains unrefuted - indeed unchallenged. It was still a marriage, criminal or not. No redefinition required. Whole 'nother ball o' wax. And still totally irrelevant to the issue at hand.

"on the wrong side of it, as evidenced by the numerous state courts, and the Supreme Court"

That's OK with me. As a Christian, I expect to be on what the World labels "the wrong side".

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11)

"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)

And many other places. In fact, when I find myself too much in sync with the World, that's when I start examining my conscience to see where I have gone wrong.

And as for the Supreme Court having any credibility as being some sort of arbiter as to what constitutes "basic human fairness", don't make me laugh. Have you forgotten about Dred Scott? Or Roe v. Wade? Or Citizens United? Or Kelo v. City of New London? The batting average of the Supreme Court wouldn't get any of them out of the minors, and probably not into even them.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "But my point remains unrefuted - indeed unchallenged. It was still a marriage, criminal or not."

Your point isn't even a point. A marriage -- the only marriage we are talking about -- is the sanctioned, government one. That is the right, the law, the decision. You seem to want to pretend that we are not talking about the law. If we are not talking about the law, you have no point.

Prokop: "Oh, he had a license to drive in the state, just not one that was allowed, approved, or that enabled him to drive without facing criminal prosecution from the state." That is the point. The law. Do you understand that?

Prokop: "That's OK with me. As a Christian, I expect to be on what the World labels "the wrong side".

This is also what bigots say, and people who are wrong about history, and wrong about science, and, well, wrong about everything. The problem for you is that all of those people who were wrong about those things ended up being still wrong. They died, and they weren't just proven wrong. They were forgotten.

Prokop: ""Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11)"

Ha. You are basically accusing me of evil and uttering falsehoods against you. Name one. You cannot. And that doesn't bode well for your character, and your imagined persecution. But as a Christian, I am sure you are used to imagining persecution. (Yes, that was an insult. Note that it follows your insult, above.)

Prokop: "And many other places. In fact, when I find myself too much in sync with the World, that's when I start examining my conscience to see where I have gone wrong."

How pious you must be. Let me pull up a chair and learn some more things from your humble wisdom. Is the humble brag the first thing we should adopt before embracing sanctimony, or is that a flourish we add after more study?

Prokop: "And as for the Supreme Court having any credibility as being some sort of arbiter as to what constitutes "basic human fairness", don't make me laugh. Have you forgotten about Dred Scott? Or Roe v. Wade? Or Citizens United? Or Kelo v. City of New London? The batting average of the Supreme Court wouldn't get any of them out of the minors, and probably not into even them."

Which is why I didn't cite the Supreme Court alone. I cited the fact that numerous state courts all resolved the legal issue in an identical fashion. In fact, the overwhelming majority of high courts have all come to the same conclusion. Which is why I find your "legal analysis" to be so laughable. If only what all these judges, with their tens and tens of thousands of legal training and constitutional analysis, knew about your assessment of the 14th amendment.

But as you said above, you are used to being wrong. And when you are, rather than learn from it, you determine that you're on the right track!






B. Prokop said...

"You seem to want to pretend that we are not talking about the law."

No pretending involved. I am not talking about the law. Marriage is what it is, no matter what some government says. Government does not define words, and it certainly has no authority to redefine human institutions as old as time itself. It may call a dog a cat, and may even enforce its faux "definition" by legal sanction, fines, loss of income and livelihood, and even imprisonment, but none of that is going to turn a dog into a cat.

"You are basically accusing me of evil and uttering falsehoods against you. Name one."

You just did - bigot.

"or is that a flourish we add after more study?"

Yes, only after much study... many years of it.

" If only all these judges ... knew about your assessment of the 14th amendment."

I quite agree. If only.

"But as you said above, you are used to being wrong."

No, what I'm used to is being called wrong. And by far better people than you - Ilion, for example.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "No pretending involved. I am not talking about the law."

Oh.

Prokop: "Marriage is what it is, no matter what some government says."

Soo, the government doesn't get to define marriage? Let me guess who does. Does it rhyme with Schmob Brokop? Because I'll bet it does. And so, as Monty Python would say, Now we see the autocracy inherent in the system. Don't let the people decide what should constitute marriage, give it to Bob, who will try to usurp common goals for his preferences based on a selective interpretation of whatever documents he decides to admit. What a system!

Prokop: "Government does not define words, and it certainly has no authority to redefine human institutions as old as time itself."

Do you know what's shorthand for "human institutions"? Government. And government is in fact the only power that has the authority to change its institutions. You have a knack for finding black in your sentences, and proclaiming it white.

Prokop: "It may call a dog a cat, and may even enforce its faux "definition" by legal sanction, fines, loss of income and livelihood, and even imprisonment, but none of that is going to turn a dog into a cat."

Democratic governments screw up (all the time). They are the worst, as the saying goes, except for all the others.

What's laughable is that you get your nose so out of joint about the fact that equality before the law entailiing same sex marriage that you find yourself making an argument that would make any Islamist proud.

Housekeeping:

Me: "You are basically accusing me of evil and uttering falsehoods against you. Name one."
Prokop: "You just did - bigot."

I pointed out that what you said was like something bigots say AFTER I asked for an example of me accusing you of evil and uttering falsehoods against you. Your little imagined "gotcha" moment reveals the dishonesty inherent in your commentary -- given an invitation to back up your little persecution complex with, you know, a prior instances of my accusing you of evil and uttering falsehoods against you, you point to a time after your complaint and pretend that that justifies your prior misrepresentation. This is like sucker-punching someone and then justifying it by pointing out that after the sucker punch the other person fought back.

Lazy and dishonest and now disdainful of democracy. That's quite a picture you're painting for Christian thinking here.

David Brightly said...

Cal, If you think my stating the premises of a somewhat enthymemetic argument is lecturing then I apologise. But you are being sensitive. And this is part of a very general problem. There are people on the wings of both the belief/unbelief and the conservative/liberal divides that make inflammatory statements. Sometimes they express attitudes that we might think are totalitarian, as we discussed in an earlier thread. Such attitudes will never get a foothold in the minds of the middling majority who wish to live and let live and pursue their happiness. Except that extreme statements on one wing can drive sensible people on the other wing, out of fear, into the arms of their own extremists. Or they begin to see thin ends of wedges pointing at them. This can shrink the middle. At its worst this can lead a polity to civil war. It's a kind of Prisoner's Dilemma. The best result comes through cooperation but the temptation is to defect. Every time we encounter something we think inflammatory we have to decide whether to respond to it or let it pass. Perhaps I worry too much about the shrinking middle but I think it often best to let things go. Especially on internet social media, where you never have to say you're sorry.

Cal Metzger said...

Brightly: "Every time we encounter something we think inflammatory we have to decide whether to respond to it or let it pass. Perhaps I worry too much about the shrinking middle but I think it often best to let things go. Especially on internet social media, where you never have to say you're sorry."

I often agree with this sentiment. And I am not always so sensitive (and belligerent) online as I have been here. But I reserve the right to use the tool I see appropriate, and on this blog I see too much of a hoity-toity faux intellectualism that is best combated, I think, by cutting to the chase.

Brightly: "Cal, If you think my stating the premises of a somewhat enthymemetic argument is lecturing then I apologise. But you are being sensitive."

You might be right. But also maybe you are being insensitive. I wonder if your distance from the U.S., and the constant incursions offered by religious fundamentalists here, means that you don't think the threat as seriously as I do. Here, high school biology teachers have to tip-toe around what they will be teaching in high school during parent open house night because they know that religious members of the audience have been taught in their churches to object to administrators about the teaching of evolution, etc.

And I do object to your premise, for the reasons that I pointed out -- the fact that it was hidden prior doesn't make it any less objectionable to me. Do you still think that you are correct -- that the United States is a Christian nation first and a secular one second, and that school holidays are the appropriate measure to use for appraising this standard?

B. Prokop said...

"Don't let the people decide what should constitute marriage"

I'm glad you brought this up, because that's exactly what five unelected justices did, when they overstepped their authority and short circuited the democratic political process, deciding by naked judicial fiat how the institution should be defined.

It's a shame that Justice Kennedy did not listen to his own words, when he said "Marriage [as the union of man and woman] has been with us for millennia. And it's very difficult for the court to say, oh well, we know better."

Or Justice Breyer (who unaccountably sided with the 5-4 majority) when he said, "marriage [understood as the union of man and woman] has been the law everywhere for thousands of years ..., and suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don't want to do it to change what marriage is?" (my emphasis)

So just who exactly is not allowing the people to decide? Hmm...?

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

@Bob, if you think the Supreme court is not affected by what people think and how elections are decided then you are deceiving yourself.

If you think that the population of the U.S. doesn't overwhelmingly support extending equal rights to same sex couples wishing to marry then you are deceiving yourself.

And if you think that majority rule is how we resolve individual rights then you are unaware or have forgotten that we are a constitutional democracy.

A lot of sound and fury from a guy who doesn't like his republic is what you sound like to me.

B. Prokop said...

"a guy who doesn't like his republic"

No, I am indifferent to it. I realize (unlike you, it seems) that all human governments are ephemeral, and what they demand from their citizenry (or their subjects) is never anything more than a fallible human construct. A Supreme Court decision is certainly no arbiter of Truth, else why would (in this particular case) four Justices say the other five were (if they had been unsparingly honest in their dissents) basically off their rockers.

Obergfell is, along with Roe v. Wade, a perfect example of judicial overreach and legal incoherence. It ignores what the Constitution does say, and imagines out of whole cloth what Justice Kennedy believes it ought to have said. The decision is not only a travesty of injustice, it is unintelligible. And unconstutional (or, perhaps, a-constitutional).

Oh, and by the way, the sound and fury appear to be all from your side. You're just frustrated and amazed that this issue is not going to "poof" go away simply because five unelected people said it should. This is going to become the next generation's Pro-life Movement. It may take decades to turn things around, but it will never go away. You may be able to suppress the Truth for a season, as they did in the Soviet Union, but in Good Time the oppressors will crumble (they always do) and Truth will once again emerge unscathed into the light.

Jezu ufam tobie! (And I am confident in ultimate victory, because I really do mean that!)

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Obergfell is, along with Roe v. Wade, a perfect example of judicial overreach and legal incoherence. It ignores what the Constitution does say, and imagines out of whole cloth what Justice Kennedy believes it ought to have said."

You keep on saying that you disagree with the court ruling, but you have made no defense whatsoever of how you could reconcile this with equal protection (and what equal protection means -- not what it seems you imagine it means). You appear to be just another dilettante who has made no serious study of Constitutional interpretation -- including the inescapable fact that all law must be interpreted.

Prokop: "You may be able to suppress the Truth for a season, as they did in the Soviet Union, but in Good Time the oppressors will crumble (they always do) and Truth will once again emerge unscathed into the light."

M'kay. Because Christians like yourself are so well known for their solid grasp of reality and the unerring accuracy of their predictions.

Matthew 24:34: "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

B. Prokop said...

"but you have made no defense whatsoever of how you could reconcile this with equal protection"

Of course I have, at October 29, 2015 7:19 AM. Your only response to this so far has been an attempt to change the subject.

Matthew 24:34: "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

Exactly so. And that's just what happened, precisely as predicted.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Bob: "Hmm... Let's see now. So we're talking "equal protection" here, right? OK, I'll bite. Prior to Obergfell, everybody in the US was equally free to marry a person of the opposite sex, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, value of their assets, social status, or whatever other qualifier you might care to mention. They were also equally not free to marry their mother, father, sister, brother, person of the same sex, or to have multiple partners. Now that's "equal protection" in its purest form - the same for everybody. No discrimination whatsoever. All are treated alike."

Yes, and you ignore the fact that I pointed out that you a) don't seem to understand what "equal protection" means under the 14th Amendment. You see, legal terms have careful definitions that don't always perfectly align with common usage. In this case, equal protection comes into play in this way: "Generally, the question of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in an activity yet denies other individuals the same right."

Rather than research your apparent ignorance, which I tried to point out to you, you decided to lazily repeat yourself.

Really, there's no other word for what you said above -- it's just lazy. Lazy that you haven't even bothered to acquaint yourself with how the 14th Amendment is applied, to whom, and when. Instead, you bluster in with your, "Well, I'll just look at these words and pronounce my decision about what they mean." It would be funnier, I suppose, if you weren't so apparently impressed with yourself.

B. Prokop said...

"yet denies other individuals the same right"

And just who exactly had been this same right? Do I need to repeat myself yet again? All were treated precisely the same.

You can't answer that, can you? Because you know that there is no discrimination when everyone is treated equally.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "And just who exactly had been this same right?"

Sentence sense write much?

Prokop: "Do I need to repeat myself yet again?"

Um, I think you do when your question doesn't make sense. I'm just not sure how to respond about "who exactly had been this same right?

Calm down. Collect your thoughts. Maybe actually read about the 14th amendment, from a real book on Constitutional Interpretation, for at least a couple of hours.

Prokop: "You can't answer that, can you?"

Nope. Because your question makes no sense. I would suggest you stop badgering me when the problem is that it appears you are not even taking the time make sense.

Prokop: "Because you know that there is no discrimination when everyone is treated equally."

Now that at least is readable. But it's not really true, as the sad history of school segregation showed us, and it's not really true in the sense that you have mis-identified who the Supreme Court same sex marriage ruling has identified as deserving equality (hint: it's not just heterosexual couples), and what the right is that they were being denied.

B. Prokop said...

Sorry, left out the word "denied". Comes from too much wordsmithing, I guess.

Should have read, " "And just who exactly had been denied this same right?"

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "And just who exactly had been denied this same right?"

The right to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage granted to consenting adults?

The gays.

After all this bluster, was that really your question?

B. Prokop said...

"After all this bluster, was that really your question?"

But exactly. They were never denied that right. Marriage, being the life-long monogamous union of a man a woman, was always open to everyone. Equally to all. Homosexuals had the exact same right to marry as anyone else. There was never any need to redefine the institution.

Now, it they wished to participate in some other kind of relationship that wasn't (and still isn't) marriage, they were always free to do so. But unless it's a man and a woman, it ain't marriage! (Unless you're one of those people who want to call a dog a cat.)

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "But exactly. [Two people of the same sex] were never denied that right [to marry a person of the opposite sex]"

This is vapid stuff. As I pointed out upthread, and you (falsely) stated was irrelevant, this same argument could be used to defend miscegenation laws. That is precisely the problem for your line of reasoning here, and I can see why it makes you uncomfortable.

Your argument: "[Two people of the different races] were never denied that right [to marry a person of the same race]"

By your "logic" here, no one of mixed race was ever denied the right to marry by state laws prohibiting mixed marriages and criminalizing such arrangements (ha!). And you think that this same argument is what applies to those of the same sex who want access to the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples. The gays aren't being denied rights by not being allowed to commit to the same relationship and enjoy the benefits that heterosexual couples get -- they just have to not be gay! There's no arbitrariness here, no unfairness, just the same old bigotry we've always enjoyed. Because, tradition!

Prokop: "But unless it's a man and a woman, it ain't marriage! (Unless you're one of those people who want to call a dog a cat.)"

I don't care what you call it. This argument has nothing whatsoever to do with what marriage is called. It has everything to do with your inability to justify withholding state benefits to a class of people for no justifiable reason other than that's your Christian tradition. (As if Christians were somehow the first to invent marriage, and as if Christians wouldn't be the first to claim persecution should the state withhold benefits from their unions as it once did to couples of mixed race and gender.)

B. Prokop said...

"I can see why it makes you uncomfortable"

Projection, Cal. It makes me not the least bit uncomfortable. On the Discomfort Scale, it measures zero point zero. It is simply irrelevant - an attempt to change the subject. If you wish to discuss same sex "marriage", then discuss it. Don't try to deflect the discussion onto a totally unrelated topic.

"This argument has nothing whatsoever to do with what marriage is called.

Au contraire, it has everything to do with it. In fact, definition is close to the heart of the matter.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Bob: "It is simply irrelevant - an attempt to change the subject. If you wish to discuss same sex "marriage", then discuss it. Don't try to deflect the discussion onto a totally unrelated topic."

'mkay.

"totally unrelated topic"
"ol' false analogy"
"a completely different topic"
"completely irrelevant to the topic at hand"
"The two issues are not even apples and oranges. They're more like apples and bicycles."
"Same-sex marriage ought to be illegal because you shouldn't park next to a fire hydrant." The relevance is about the same."

These are just some of the words you use to avoid the most apt analogy to the issue of whether or not the state should withhold marriage benefits from a class of people. That's a lot of protesting for what anyone would agree bears a striking similarity to a government withholding equal rights to a class of people for reasons that can't be justified.

Projection on my part? Um, I don't see how it could be. Those are all your barrage of denials, trying to head off or avoid by fiat your having to provide excuses for what is a rather uncomfortable, similar precedent.

Squirm much?



B. Prokop said...

"rather uncomfortable"

I say again, I am not the least bit uncomfortable with your attempts to change the subject - merely annoyed by them.

It'd be rather boring for you and me to discuss the entirely unrelated topic of mixed race marriage, since we seem to have zero disagreement on the topic. That alone ought to clue you in to the fact that the two issues are completely unrelated.

That's why (despite your evident discomfort with the fact) definition is at the heart of the matter here. For a marriage between a man of one race and a woman of a different race is still a marriage, and no one, even the people who bitterly opposed such marriages, ever disputed that. But a union between two persons of the same sex is not - never was, never will be. So protest all you want, claiming the argument "has nothing whatsoever to do with what marriage is called" - it has everything to do with it.

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "It'd be rather boring for you and me to discuss the entirely unrelated topic of mixed race marriage..."

Unrelated?

In the case of mixed race marriages, the state stipulates that some kind of people (those of mixed race) cannot legally marry and enjoy the benefits of marriage, and then, by force of law and public opinion amends its laws.

In the case of same sex marriages, the state stipulates that some kind of people (those of the same sex) cannot legally marry and enjoy the benefits of marriage, and then, by force of law and public opinion amends its laws.

I see. Completely unrelated. Nothing to see here, nothing at all.

Don't make us laugh. Your denial just seems you make hopelessly out of touch.

Prokop: "That's why (despite your evident discomfort with the fact) definition is at the heart of the matter here."

I'm not uncomfortable with any definition of marriage. As I said earlier, I don't care what you call a union between two people -- I care about equality before the law (and basic human fairness). What part of that are you having trouble with accepting?

Prokop: "For a marriage between a man of one race and a woman of a different race is still a marriage, and no one, even the people who bitterly opposed such marriages, ever disputed that."

Except those states that adopted anti-miscegenation laws. They disputed that. Do you you know how they argued for the legality of their anti-miscegenation laws? With words like these (from the Rocky Mountain NC Telegram, 1963):

"The theory on which the constitutionality of these state statutes have [sic] been sustained is they constitute a prohibition against both races alike and confer no special privileges on either. "

Sound familiar? Doesn't that sound exactly like the argument you have been trying to make here for the length of this thread? You must be so proud. I even wonder if you are aware of how you are parroting the reasoning of the anti-miscegenation apologists, and to what extent you have been influenced by their (poor) thinking.

And as to your false assertion that a marriage between a mixed race couple was still considered a marriage at the time, you are wrong. In the Bob Prokop hallmark, black is white, way. From the same article from the NC Telegram:

"It is a criminal offense in North Carolina for a person with the prohibited degree of Negro ancestry to marry a white person. It is also a criminal offense for a register of deeds to issue to the parties a license or for a minister or justice of the peace to marry them, if he knows they are within the prohibited degree. The marriage is utterly null and void, and if they cohabit they may be indicted on a criminal charge of fornication."

I think I'm done with you here. I don't think you have much credibility left on this topic, and I'm getting pretty bored with your blind assertions. If you have something new to say, now would be the time I'd try that out.



David Brightly said...

You're right, I have no experience of daily life in the US. Teachers everywhere need to be able to offer some justification for what they teach. An easy way out is to say, Well, it's in the syllabus. Take it up with the School Board/Education Authority. In the Sciences you can say, People cleverer than me (and by implication, you too) have worked this stuff out. It all fits together beautifully. I think your child should have a chance to learn about it. Irritating to have to go through all this, perhaps, but is it threatening? Are Christian parents going to pull a gun on you/demonstrate outside your house/sabotage your promotion/...?

I'd say that the US has historically been a Christian country but with explicitly secular principles embodied in its constitution, and that its people celebrated traditional Christian festivals explains the timing of the school holidays.

Cal Metzger said...

Brightly: "In the Sciences you can say, People cleverer than me (and by implication, you too) have worked this stuff out."

You have obviously never encountered an evolution denier. When a scientific fact or theory contradicts a religious belief, then pointing out the scientific process that undermines that religious belief reliably does nothing to change that believer's mind. Do you seriously think it does? People don't argue against scientific facts with scientific arguments; they argue against scientific facts by referring to their intuitions and superstitions. If you think otherwise then I doubt you have spent much time discussing these things with the religious.

Brightly: "I think your child should have a chance to learn about it."

I would estimate that a majority of those in the U.S. who withdraw to home-schooling and private schools do so in order to avoid having their children come to question their parents' religious beliefs. Suggesting that it would be good for the religious to have their children have to confront the contradictions between science and religious beliefs is a sure-fire way to divert more children away from the public schools.

Brightly: "Irritating to have to go through all this, perhaps, but is it threatening?"

It might be only irritating if it worked as you imagine. It doesn't, and so it is more than worrisome.

Brightly: "Are Christian parents going to pull a gun on you/demonstrate outside your house/sabotage your promotion/...?"

Let's see. The U.S. is a violent gun culture, so I don't take the threat of a person shooting me lightly. I don't expect to be murdered for standing up for science and rationality, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone who was already deranged saw my rabble-rousing as something which could be dealt with by intimidation and violence.

Where I drive to work, I drive by Christian protestors outside Planned Parenthood, creating a hostile environment for women who enter the building. Not too far from my home, about 15 years ago, a doctor who performed abortions was shot while standing in his kitchen by a Christian Anti-Abortionist, and he died in front of his wife and child.

I keep my skepticism to myself in the workplace because it would definitely hurt me with most of my clients and others I work with. Some work environments in the U.S. are openly hostile to non-belief, including the U.S. military.