Monday, December 19, 2016

Why allow same sex marriage or mixed race marriage?

Assuming atheism, I see no good argument against miscegenation laws. Jefferson said that we were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, and if we have no creator, then there are no inalienable rights. A right exists just in case there is a moral fact that requiring those with the biggest guns from exercise power over those lacking the biggest guns. However, if atheism, (or at least materialistic atheism) is true, then there are no such moral facts, and there is no obligation on the people with the biggest guns from disallowing mixed marriages if they so prefer. Thus, if the government under Trump wants to make America great again by making America white again, and part of that operation is to prevent mixed marriages in order to maintain racial purity, there is no moral fact that obligates them not to do so. Similarly if the people with the biggest guns like gay people then they will give them marriage licenses, and if not then not.

On the other hand, if there is a God, then God may have revealed to us the basis of the doctrine of human equality, then that is another matter. The concept of race has no basis in Scripture, and there is no religious reason at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition for treating people of different races differently and preventing intermarriage. The only ethnic identity God seems to care about in the Bible is the lineage of Israel, and the lineage of David, and in Judaism and Christianity that is best defined in terms of a special mission, not a special privilege. There was concern about intermarriage for fear of the Jewish people falling into idolatry, but that is not an issue for miscegenation. 

On the other hand, in that context, we have to ask whether God intends for same-sex couples to marry.

43 comments:

Jimmy S. M. said...

(moved my reply over to this post)

Assuming Christianity, how do moral facts stop the people with the biggest guns from doing what they want? Why didn't moral facts stop Stalin, for example?

Mr. Green said...

Dr. Reppert asks: Is the case for human equality religious?

No; it depends, as noted, on creation being divinely ordered, but that doesn't make it relgiion. Morality, like everything else, can only be grounded in God, but not everything is religious. I wouldn't even say that human equality is a "doctrine", or "revealed" — other than being revealed in human nature itself. That is, the equality men share is just that of having a common human nature; and if we are mere accidents of history, there is no "nature", no way that a human being is supposed to be, or that we have to respect. If natures are not created, then there is no basis for calling the able-bodied man healthy or the sick and crippled unhealthy… after all, the sick and the lame are just as much the result of a chain of physical events as the hale.

Of course, since there is then such a thing as human nature, not only do certain rights — and responsibilities — follow from that, but certain things are ruled out when they go against human nature. We are not arbitrary piles of atoms, so institutions like marriage cannot be arbitrarily made-up arrangements. Marriage is a familial union, and since by nature different "races" can easily produce offspring, but pairs of the same sex cannot, then the natural basis of a right to marry applies to one but not the other.

(As for Stalin, the existence of morals, and living up to them are two different things. Because human nature includes free will, we can violate natural law. But the materialist cannot say, "What Stalin did was wrong", he can only say, "he did it".)

Aron Zavaro said...

Even if atheists couldn't give a moral argument against miscegenation laws, they could still give pragmatic ones. These laws encourage and sustain racism, and racism leads to a variety of undesirable outcomes (fear, hate, violence, etc.). And racist laws like these are premised on a number of factually false assumptions, and there is a strong pragmatic interest in having our laws be premised on true assumptions. So even if there are no moral facts, there are still reasons to prefer some laws over others.

Victor Reppert said...

Racist laws are simply based on the desires of those with the biggest guns to sustain power and reap the advantages of treating some as inferiors. Sure, it might not be better for society as a whole, but they ask "what's in it for me." And there is no moral fact to tell them they shouldn't.

Dave Duffy said...

"Trump wants to make America great again by making America white again"

There is one political party that has always been for a race neutral America. It's Trump's party. The other party has been either racist or race obsessed. Race neutral is the the right position.

"if the people with the biggest guns like gay people then they will give them marriage licenses, and if not then not."

I don't understand this point, but I note there is no mention of President Obama having the biggest gun for the last eight years, while Trump was mentioned in the preceding point.

"there is no religious reason at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition for treating people of different races differently"

If this is the standard, then there is only one party for Christians

Gyan said...

I ask again, where is the doctrine of human equality spelled out in Bible or Christianity?
Jefferson is either a Christian prophet or philosopher. His inalienable rights are deism at best.

Joe Hinman said...

what possible objection could there be other than racialism to mixed race marriage?


On Metacrocks blog nswer arguments from Secular outpost agaisnt my view of God

Is God Toxicity itself?

jdhuey said...

"Racist laws are simply based on the desires of those with the biggest guns to sustain power and reap the advantages of treating some as inferiors."

Perhaps that is the underlying motivation but that does not preclude the racists from using God as a justification:

- God put the different races on different continents to prevent intermixing.

- God has made the different races different colors so intermixing would go against God's intent.

- The White race was chosen by God to bring Christianity to the rest of the world because White is Good so to intermarry is corrupt our color and our fitness to carry out God's plan.

I have heard those three arguments (along with others) come from the pulpit when I was I child.


There is a psychological theory that states that when one wrongs another party or group then there is a tendency to intensely hate the wronged party. This strikes me as a much more likely source for the racist laws than any desire for power and advantage.

jdhuey said...

"Assuming atheism, I see no good argument against miscegenation laws."

This says far more about how your religious beliefs affect your thinking than it does about atheism's relationship with racism. Pick up just about any secular Humanist book and they will discuss at some point the ethical arguments against racism.

Mr. Green said...

Gyan: I ask again, where is the doctrine of human equality spelled out in Bible or Christianity?

Well, if "all men are created equal" simply means "all men are equally human", then that is of course true, and follows from our being created human. As Victor points out, without a creator, "human nature" is at best a convenient fiction; but since human nature is something real, a base level of morality follows. Different kinds of equality may or may not apply depending on circumstances; being equal in substance obviously does not mean being equal in accidents.

Jo F said...

Gyan: I ask again, where is the doctrine of human equality spelled out in Bible or Christianity?

It's easier to draw the implication of equality between all people from various passages of scripture and theological doctrines--however, there are many verses that are explicit on this matter. Here are a few I found:

Romans 2:11 "For God does not show favoritism."

Proverbs 22:2 "Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all."

James 2:8-9 "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers."

Malachi 2:10 "Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?"

Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

Genesis 1:27 "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

Jo F said...

Jimmy S. M. "Assuming Christianity, how do moral facts stop the people with the biggest guns from doing what they want? Why didn't moral facts stop Stalin, for example?"

Why would you expect the objectivity of Christian morality to involve the forcible defeat of Stalin? They do not aspire to, of course. Now, that's aside from the fact that God will exact judgement upon such people according to His moral law.

David Brightly said...

I'm not clear what the argument here is. Is it,

1. A modus tollens argument against atheism: If atheism is true there can be no moral facts; there are moral facts; ergo atheism is false?

2. If atheism is true there can be no moral facts. If there are no moral facts there is no principled way of arguing against racist legislation. This would be a bad thing. Ergo atheism is false?

3. There are moral facts but it's sadly the case that sometimes they can only be established by violence, eg, the US and English civil wars, and others?

Jimmy S. M. said...

Jo-
Vic says if there's no moral facts, the people with the biggest guns will do what they want. I'm saying the people with the biggest guns do what they want, so the moral facts don't seem to do anything, even if they do in fact exist.

Jo F said...

Dear Jimmy S. M.,
I'm writing to inform you that Dr. Vic was saying that, on atheism, morality is defined by those with the greatest brute-force power to exact their own subjective opinion of what it should be on others. This could play out between two nations, for example--America V China, where one society's conception of morality must compete with another's if there is a conflict. I.e. If China thought it best to murder their own children, we'd be trying to save them and perhaps would end in war.

If that's the case, then morality is defined by brute force. But since when is brute force our only means for determining truth? Oh, right--on atheism, that's what happens.

Best regards,
Jo F

jdhuey said...

Definition of sanctimonious

1: hypocritically pious or devout (a sanctimonious moralist)


Can you say 'sanctimonious'? I just knew you could.

B. Prokop said...

jdhuey,

Who are you accusing of hypocrisy? And on what grounds (i.e., evidence)?

Victor Reppert said...

1. A modus tollens argument against atheism: If atheism is true there can be no moral facts; there are moral facts; ergo atheism is false?

2. If atheism is true there can be no moral facts. If there are no moral facts there is no principled way of arguing against racist legislation. This would be a bad thing. Ergo atheism is false?

3. There are moral facts but it's sadly the case that sometimes they can only be established by violence, eg, the US and English civil wars, and others?

None of these. Here is the claim I am trying to counter, people who say something like this:

Christianity is false, of course, but that isn't the worst of it. If it were a benign false belief, that would be one thing. But it isn't. Look at how its hurts those poor people who happen to have been born gay. They are not treated as equals and granted the right to same-sex marriage, largely because Christians have said that their relationships, which hurt no one, violate their antiquated religious dogmas.

It is almost as if they think, by opposing gay marriage, Christians are flying in the face of a moral fact. But when push comes to shove, they seem perfectly willing to admit that their position is incompatible with the existence of moral facts. This seems contradictory.

oozzielionel said...

The claim has many moral assertions worth challenging.
1) Christianity is false
2) Christianity seeks to hurt gays.
3) Gays are born that way.
4) Marriage is a right that extends to ssm
5) Denying ss marriage is denying a civil right
6) Denying ss marriage is denying equality
7) Homosexual relationships hurt no one
8) The objection to SSM is a religious dogma where dogma is a derogatory term
9) Because Christianity is old, it is antiquated in a derogatory sense.

jdhuey said...

"Who are you accusing of hypocrisy? And on what grounds (i.e., evidence)?"

No one specifically, but more along the lines of 'if the shoe fits...'.

The hypocrisy is that given the predilection of theocracies to use force to enforce their version of the many different 'absolute objective' moralities, then implying that a secular morality is more inclined to use force is indeed sanctimonious.

jdhuey said...

"...they seem perfectly willing to admit that their position is incompatible with the existence of moral facts. This seems contradictory."


This argument depends on how you define 'moral facts'. If you define it as a moral statement that is not only 'true' but is also 'true' for for all times and all places and is is in some sense 'true' even if there are no people around then yes, those moral 'facts' simply don't exist. What does exist is our individual and collective value judgements. Now if you define 'moral facts' to be the generalized statement of those judgements deemed sound then there is no contradiction.

The statement:
"...by opposing gay marriage, Christians are flying in the face of a moral fact."

is just simply true. And the fact that the religious moralities (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.) all cause unjustifiable harm to individuals and to their societies shows that religions are not only false but definitely not benign.

jdhuey said...

Numbers 1 through 9: Yep, Yep (in effect if not intent), Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep.

Next topic?

jdhuey said...

To be fair, there is one circumstance where a religious morality has a distinct advantage and that is where there is a general breakdown of order. I'm thinking of places like the mining camps of the old west (tamed by the presence of women and churches) or the taming of the early middle age knights (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_and_Truce_of_God). In these cases, force and violence is countered, not by force or by reasoned logic, but by threats of supernatural retribution.

David Brightly said...

Over the last five decades the moral climate in the West around sexuality and especially homosexuality has changed greatly. Many younger people now find their moral sentiments offended by some traditional Christian teachings. So much the worse for Christianity they will say. But their attitude is not expressed in the language of 'moral fact', which is rather a philosophical term of art. Whether this attitude conceals an inconsistent position with regard to moral facts will depend on how the term is to be understood, or indeed whether it is accepted at all. Disregarding the more postmodern elements who couldn't care less about consistency as long as their political aims are achieved, I would have thought that there could be some conception of moral fact that was consistent with atheism. Or are atheists who recognise moral obligations deluding themselves?

Victor Reppert said...

Would they say, or would they not, that their own moral perspectives with respect to homosexuality are correct, and those of Christians are not? If they say yes, then they believe in moral facts, in the sense I have in mind. If not, then what is their point, that they don't like the Christian viewpoint? Well fine, as the Louvin Brothers would say, "Others find pleasure in things I despise, I like the Christian life."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so72VdB8KVA

If not, in virtue of what is it true that their moral perspective is correct and those of Christians is wrong?

jdhuey said...

"Would they say, or would they not, that their own moral perspectives with respect to homosexuality are correct, and those of Christians are not?"

Some Christians, not all.

I am not sure 'correct/incorrect' is the best way to categorize moral perspectves. Perhaps better/worse is more useful.

To forbid same sex marriage would prevent millions of people from achieving greater happiness. The idea that ssm somehow hurts others is bogus. The only hurt is self inflected.

SteveK said...

Jdhuey
"Pick up just about any secular Humanist book and they will discuss at some point the ethical arguments against racism."

Opinions scribbled down in various books don't change the fact that the OP is correct. Your humanist books change nothing.

Victor Reppert said...

Changing from correct/incorrect to better/worse changes nothing. Better for whom, and from whose perspective? A world in which I receive a million dollars for every blog post is better for me than the actual world. But so what?

jdhuey said...

At this point, I just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. We can pick up the arguing next week.

Chris said...

Switching back to the subject of race. Is the intention/ aim of preserving the existence of a particular race, racism?

David Brightly said...

Would they say, or would they not, that their own moral perspectives with respect to homosexuality are correct, and those of Christians are not?

Yes, I think they would say so. Their condemnations of those who think otherwise are full of moral righteousness. But this isn't the righteousness of adherence to rules coded in language and handed down through the generations. Rather, it's convergence to the social norm. These people now find themselves in the moral majority though they conform only to an authority of the heart which they find reflected in Hollywood and the mainstream media. When was there last a novel or film that compellingly presented exclusively Christian virtues? It's as if we in the West have all become sufficiently rich and leisured to fall into a kind of Rousseauvian romanticism. It's this new nexus of shared social attitudes that constitutes 'moral fact'.

oozzielionel said...

Chris:
Yes, seeking to preserving a specific race would be racism. It is similar to seeking to advance one's country is nationalism.

Chris said...

Oozz,

It seems to me that racial group identity is regarded as legitimate by the standards of our culture. But, if a group identity is accepted as a legitimate one, wouldn't that, by definition, justify the intentional preservation of said group? And if that is so, would that justify "racism"?

oozzielionel said...

The preservation of a group implies an attack. Maybe a racist attack?

Chris said...

I have always regarded myself as "classically" liberal, therefore, I have naturally recoiled from "race talk". Nevertheless, this subject may not be as simple as many people seem to think.

"The preservation of a group implies an attack"

I am not sure I follow you. Group identity is inherently hostile to other groups?

jdhuey said...

"Changing from correct/incorrect to better/worse changes nothing."

Seems to me that there is a profound difference between a strict dichotomy and a gradation. A shade of gray is lighter or darker from a different shade of gray but it never black or white.


"Better for whom,..."

People in general, Society, Gay people, relatives of Gay people, friends of Gay people, people in the wedding business, people that get happiness from others finding happiness, etc.

"...and from whose perspective?"

From anyone's perspective except those whose happiness depends on other people not being happy.


"A world in which I receive a million dollars for every blog post is better for me than the actual world. But so what?"

Then you are doing the world a great service by writing those posts. Assuming the market forces are not being perverted then you would be producing something of great worth and the world would be poorer with out those posts.

oozzielionel said...

Chris,
The stated need to "preserve" implies a threat. The group seeking to "preserve" could be judged as racist if its efforts of preservation are focused at another group. I was suggesting that racism is already interjected if that group feels threatened in the first place. I did not intend to suggest that this is a universal situation. I was only trying to understand the scenario.

There may be a universal principle that groups tend to gather according to common characteristics and separate on differences. The condemnation of racism is intended to diminish the separating tendency of racial differences.

Chris said...

Ooozz,

Ok, I see what you are saying. What I have been exploring is whether or not any of the factions within the so called "alt right" have good arguments. One of the big issues that has surfaced is the nature of the relationship between the culture of a given civilization and race. If it can be established that there is significant relationship, do race-based arguments with the aim of preserving a particular culture have some justification?

Chris said...

Sorry- Oozz.

oozzielionel said...

Chris:
Cultural preservation is certainly a value in our culture. There are some still-not-contacted groups in the Amazon. Arial photos of a group recently hit the news. Some want to preserve their culture by protecting them from outside contact. I don't think race enters into it although they are certainly homogeneous. I am not convinced that preserving their culture is a primary value. Contact needs to be careful due to all the possible negative possibilities.

I do not think it is justified to conflate race and culture. Different races can be part of the same culture. Also a race can be represented in many cultures.

Shackleman said...

Given atheism, what's the point of marriage at all, regardless if we're talking about interracial, same sex, multi-sex, or polygamous marriage? Why *do* atheists get "married"?

For that matter, why does *anyone* who is not deeply devoted to the religious reasons for marriage do it?

(Disclaimer: I am bi-racial, former militant atheist, former liberal, former Democrat, conservative, Christian, married twice, and divorced once...ask me anything :-)



Chris said...

Oozz,

"I do not think it is justified to conflate race and culture."

That is true, but not necessarily true. In many cases, race and culture do ramify on one another. For example, I don't think it would controversial to claim that Jewish culture and Jewish civilization are inseparable from the Jewish ethnicity or that Japanese culture and civilization is inseparable from the Japanese ethnicity.

"I am not convinced that preserving their culture is a primary value."

Ok. But, if preserving culture is not a primary value, this amounts to a rejection of all values because culture is the transmitter of value.









oozzielionel said...

Chris:

You are correct to identify "Japanese" and "Jewish" not as races but ethnicity. "Jewish" is more complex because it also denotes a religion. Religion would be one of the components of the culture. Even though race and culture may coincide when geographic or other factors isolate a group, they are still separate characteristics as evidenced when members of the group differentiate. Culture is not inseparable from ethnicity.

Some would value of preserving the culture of an untouched Amazon tribe. Contact with outsiders to the tribe is feared as destructive to that autonomous culture. I would value contact with the tribe to inform them about Christ. Some would see missionary activity as destructive. I see it as helpful. I do not hold preservation of that culture as the primary value.