The Love Atheists Have For Gay Folks

I’ve been spending way too much time chilling with the jolly old atheists. Anyways, they’re pretty fantastic at calling out Christians for their cruelty to the gay community. So I made them all a picture.

Also, As Tall as Lions have a sweet song and it sounds pretty atheistic so I thought I’d share.

YouTube Preview Image

  • Dude

    Boom, roasted.

    • Dudette

      I wish I can like this response!

      • Patrick

        You can¢

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000329541440 Christopherson Cortes

    good shit.

  • http://thecatholicsciencegeek.blogspot.com/ The Catholic Science Geek

    GENIUS! Thank you for posting this!

  • http://tonyescobar.org/ Tony Escobar

    Wow, well done!

  • YouCanCallMeSir

    Lemme check… yup. I still love you.

  • http://andrewensley.com/ Andrew

    The atheist beaming morality out of his face made me literally lol

    • Cal-J

      I have to wonder how that would translate to memedom, though. “I’ma firin’ mah morals?”

  • Dudette

    EPIC WIN! Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1073993554 Michael Hogan

    Very good read. And that is coming from a non-catholic! I am however not an atheist either. If more people of ANY belief actually were able to put thoughts together as clever and creative as this there wouldn’t be as much of a problem for different people to get along and understand each other!

    I enjoy creative, clever, well put together things such as this. Good read =)

    • Sara

      I think it’s termed “good philosophy”. :)

  • Tom

    Very good, Marc. Especially the line about fundamentalist Facebook friends.

  • Napermom

    You really are a rare talent!

  • Angela Pea

    Bravo!

  • Aaron Suddjian

    In response to the hypothetical argument between the atheist and the trollfaic-Catholic: I’d like to point out that from an evolutionary standpoint, life is better than death because any evolution to the contrary will die. Giving life the highest value is the only possible way to survive. Every living organism necessarily puts life first.

    • Your Enthymeme

      You’re jumping from an ‘is’ statement that describes how a species describes to an ‘ought’ statement that survival is an objective good.

      “life is better than death because any evolution to the contrary will die. ”

      Circular!

      • Your Enthymeme

        Gah, ‘how a species survives’.

    • Thom

      But still, why is it better to survive than to not-survive? Why does existence have more inherent value than non-existence?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=108200002 Elliot Michael Plaisance

        Especially since we’re just a tiny speck in the cosmos!

        • Human

          That is totally meaningless…..

    • Liz

      Furthermore, suicide is a result of DISordered, dysfunctional thinking, often with a tangible medical basis. Not simply because an organism decides not to live.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Gjernes/1400126950 Christian Gjernes

        Or that death is better than life?

        You’re avoiding the question. Why is life “more good” than death?

    • http://thecatholicsciencegeek.blogspot.com/ The Catholic Science Geek

      That’s not necessarily the case…because it it were…then why the telomere shrinkage as we age? Why do cells have a hayflick number? All organisms are born with the necessary mechanisms already in place for an eventual death. From the evolutionary standpoint, it isn’t necessarily about life being better than death…the importance lies with the survival of a particular combination of genes in generations to com. Why else would the male praying mantis mate with a female preying mantis if the chances of survival are slim to none?

      This, of course, leads to a HUGE philosophical question of…if all of this energy is being invested for the sole sake of ensuring that my genes survive into the next generation…and I die anyway…what’s the point of it all? Why waste all the energy in the first place? A purely evolutionary standpoint just can’t answer that one…

    • Lauren G.

      I’m really not interested in a long debate or anything, but I’ll just say:

      Why is it bad if we die? Why is it good that we survive?

      • Alexandra

        Because life is all we have and we enjoy it. That actually makes more sense in a purely secular argument than a theistic one. Dying isn’t so bad if you’re a theist becuase there’s eternal life to be had somewhere else. Survival is automatically better in an atheistic world view because there is nothing besides life to be had.

        You have to start from some assumption, and the assumption here is that life is preferable to death, which is something that all healthy humans can agree on.

        • Tom

          Oh, of course everyone can agree that life is preferable to death. The question is: Why is this so? We agree that life is preferable to death. Ok, great. But why is this true?

          Actually, your argument that a secular life is better is flawed, particularly because Christian history refutes it. Yes, Christians believe in life eternal. But it is BECAUSE we believe in life eternal that we value life in THIS world so much.
          If this were not the case, if Christians didn’t actually value this life because we knew we would have eternal life, then we would expect that Christians would do nothing in this life. They wouldn’t feed the poor, give to the needy, preach the Good News, live a Christ-like life. But, as history plainly shows, this is exactly what they have done. As C.S. Lewis said: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

          Note, however, that this doesn’t invalidate the secular argument: it is equally valid to value this life if you believe this is the only one you have. I’m simply saying that if your proposition is true, if dying shouldn’t be a problem for Christians because we believe in eternal life, then we should expect Christians to make all due haste towards the afterlife, and not do anything for life here on Earth. But, the exact opposite is true.

          • Alexandra

            It doesn’t matter why it’s true, it just is. Healthy humans want to live and flourish, why it is so doesn’t change the fact that it is true.

          • Tom

            “it just is.”

            Pardon my prodding on this issue, but doesn’t that seem just a tad like a Christian assertion that something is moral “because God says so, it just is”?

            I’m not saying it’s not a true assumption. On the contrary, I’m glad we can agree on the the existence of transcendent moral truths.

            Perhaps the question I should be asking is: Where does one get the assumption that humans want to live and flourish? As Marc said in his post, the existence of such an assumption points to a lawgiver, i.e. God. If you do not believe in said God, then your task becomes to prove where your morality comes from. This includes such an assumption (“it just is”) that “Healthy humans want to live and flourish”.

          • Alexandra

            I don’t see where a god is a good explanation for the fact that we feel an innate sense of what is moral. Evolution explains why we feel an innate sense of what is moral.

            We know that we exist, and we have an innate sense of morality, we can explain through evolution why we feel this innate sense of morality. There is no necessity for a supernatural explanation.

            This gets down to the question of why do we exist, really, and that’s not the question at hand. Right now we’re talking about where does morality come from.

          • MC88

            The question of why we exist is intimately bound up with the question of where morality comes from. If we exist for something beyond this human life – Beatitude – then voila, Christian morality. Does atheism (or more specifically, do you) have an answer to the question of why we exist (what the *point* is)? If so, what morality arises from that, and why?

          • Alexandra

            No, I don’t personally have an answer for why we exist. I bet there’s atheist philosophers that have thought about it.

            It’s a difficult question, and ultimately the answer to it is unrelated to my life. I know I exist, I know there’s reason to doubt that. Why I exist? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I’ll never be able to answer that and neither can theism, frankly. We exist because God made us, but why does God exist?

            I’ve never heard a compelling argument for a god, and definitely not the Abrahamic God, so I’m not concerned that perhaps I’m missing the answer that is God. God fills the gap of why we exist, but that doesn’t mean that it is the correct way to fill that gap.

          • john

            “We exist because God made us, but why does God exist?”

            That question uniquely does not apply to God, because His essence IS Existence; pure, simple and unqualified. He just IS, “I am, Who am.” All other existence is merely a limited reflection of the God’s existence. If intelligence exists in reality, then God already possesses this by nature. Existence is not existence without expression. His self knowledge is so completely expressed as to be the second person of the blessed Trinity, and the outpoured love which relates the Supreme thinker and his Supreme thought generates a third co-equal person, the Spirit. Three persons in One Supreme simple Being. The Trinity is deep insight into the very nature of Existence.

          • john

            So you assert that the foundation of truth is “it just is”. When Moses asked God His name, God’s reply was “I am, Who Am.” Ironically “it just is” is impersonally saying “I am, Who Am”, thus invoking God as the foundation of Truth.

        • AttentionDeficitCatholic

          “Because life is all we have and we enjoy it.” Just out of curiosity, are you insinuating that if life ceases to be enjoyable, then suicide is a legitimate (and moreover, healthy and natural) course of action? The assumption which you later make, “that life is preferable to death, which is something that all healthy humans can agree on,” seems to indicate otherwise, but it does not exactly follow rank and file with your initial claim (unless you wish to elaborate?).

          As to your claim that “Dying isn’t so bad if you’re a theist becuase there’s eternal life to be had somewhere else,” while this is certainly true for Christianity (and other religions I’m sure), note that the concept of a happy afterlife is actually not a very prominent fixture of religion historically, and has only recently become widespread because of the influence of Christianity for the last 2000 years.

          • Alexandra

            Yes I think so, if life becomes so miserable that there is no more flourishing to be had, suicide is a reasonable option. But it’s clearly complicated and many things have to be weighed.

            It’s not an entirely foreign concept, we euthanize animals when we have determined that their ability to flourish has ended. We consider it moral to do that mercy killing of our pets, I believe it extends to us as well.

          • musiciangirl591

            tell that to anyone who’s had a loved one commit suicide…

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Gjernes/1400126950 Christian Gjernes

            Than life itself has no intrinsic value? That means murder means nothing aside from robbing experience.

          • Deven_Kale

            Just to make this clear, I’m not Alexandra.

            Now to your question:

            “Than (sic) life itself has no intrinsic value?”

            In my opinion, yes, that’s correct. The value of a life is weighed on many different levels, but simply being “alive” (if that can even be defined) means little to nothing by itself.

            First you must define what “value” is in terms of a person. For the sake of simplicity I contend that a persons “value” is determined by their potential to do good (good defined as that which improves the lot of themselves and/or others) instead of evil (defined as that which takes from themselves and/or others). Now that we have a working definition of “value,” we can make deductions from it.

            One test is whether or not this person currently acts in a way that is either good or evil. Even if they do not act with more good than evil, there is generally a potential for them to do so in the future. In rare cases the evil they’ve done is so large in scale, and their potential for good so outweighed by it, that their life is essentially meaningless. For these people, ending their life is sometimes merited.

            A second test is whether or not they are well enough to do any good. If they are so ill that all they can do little more than exist, and there is a very slim chance that they will get well again, that value is very small. Whether or not this life has enough value to keep it going is up to the individual and those who love them. Keep in mind this decision has nothing to do with the value of their previous actions or their value as a person, but only the value of their continued life.

            A third test is whether or not the individual themselves believe they have the potential to do good. In the case of suicide, the individual obviously decided that their life no longer had this value, and therefore ended it.

            A fourth test is how much evil is believed will be done to an individual in the future. If it’s believed that significantly more evil will be done to them than good, then sometimes ending that life is preferable. This is what most people would call “mercy killing,” and is the reason for abortion in many cases.

            There are obviously other tests that we make in terms of the value of a life, but these are the main ones. Sorry for the super long reply, but it’s usually the simplest questions that have the most complex answers.

        • John

          Don’t ignore the problem of suffering. For many people( in the short term and long term) continued pain and suffering is worse than life. Enjoyment and pleasure is fleeting. If all a secularist can look forward to is enjoyment, then there isn’t much life to be had.

          • Alexandra

            No I don’t ignore the problem of suffering. If a human life has reached the point where the suffering is so bad that there isn’t enough flourishing left to be had then ending the life can be a moral decision.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Gjernes/1400126950 Christian Gjernes

          And why is it good to enjoy it?

      • Alexandra

        Let me qualify that statement.

        The assumption is that a life of human flourishing is preferable to death, which is something that all mentally healthy humans can agree on.

        • Colin Gormley

          “which is something that all mentally healthy humans can agree on.”

          Circular. You define “mentally healthy” as people who hold this. Yet that is the point we are disputing, Why is it more “mentally healthy?”

          • Alexandra

            I see your point, I need to think about it.

            My immediate thoughts are that it is simply what the majority of humans want.

            You have to make a few assumptions and definitions to start arguing a point and the assumptions are that the majority of humans want human flourishing and the minority that don’t are who we consider to be mentally unhealthy.

    • Marc Barnes

      That’s circular reasoning my friend. Life is valuable because organisms value survival?

      • Daniel

        Take honeybees. Why do they sting? It’s a defense mechanism so they aren’t killed. But what happens when they sting? They die.

        So the hive is protected at the expensive of the individual.

        And a nonrational creature makes the the logical decision every time.

        Product of intelligence I’d say.

        • dauntless

          Hate to burst your bubble, but you think honeybees stinging to protect the hive despite their death is a product of intelligence? Wouldn’t a designer worth his money have allowed them to live after stinging, like wasps? The fact that workers eviscerate themselves through the act of stinging is incidental, since the stinger arose from deprecated reproductive parts, and speaks to the selective strength of having the capability to sting even when it kills the individual.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Gjernes/1400126950 Christian Gjernes

      From an evolutionary standpoint, we only survived as a species because we randomly had the components to keep going. Randomly, and we kept changing, and those who didn’t would die. There was no conscious force behind it, it was just randomness. That’s not meaning, just momentum.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        But based on random alone is not enough to guarantee that the sun won’t explode tomorrow, or that the weak force will keep existing to keep the atoms of your body together. It’s simply an insufficient explanation for anything at all.

  • Jay E.

    This post came at the exact instant I was engaged in this exact argument, lol.

  • ThomasSanjurjo

    UH.mazing!

  • IstillBelieve

    Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”

    1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

    – Taken from the bible.

    Not sure how the Catechism got from point A to point B, but I would guess it had to do with how society viewed the hatred of the Church towards homosexuals.

    • MC88

      The Church still condemns homosexual acts just as it condemns fornication and incest. “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

    • AttentionDeficitCatholic

      Most of the laws in Leviticus are no longer applicable, as extreme strictness was necessary to guarantee the survival of the tribes of Israel long enough to form the people into a proper culture to give birth to the Messiah and to spread His teachings.

      The verses from 1 Corinthians are referring to the fact that you must obey God’s commandments in order to win heaven (fornication, adultery, idolatry, homosexual activity, stealing, etc. are all contrary to said law, by the way, but doing such things does not make one less human and less deserving of human dignity, and having temptations to do such things is not wrong at all).

      Context, context, context.

    • Blah

      TROLL! TROLL IN THE DUNGEON! Just thought you ought to know.

    • lakingscrzy

      The Levitican laws were given to a nomadic group of people with no social or political structure. They were laws intended to get the people to survive and copulate. Making laws banning homosexuality in that time makes perfect sense, the Jews of that time were not living in a first world cushion.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Ah, the “God Hates Shrimp” fallacy. The answer is here: http://courageman.blogspot.com/2009/03/god-hates-shrimp-fallacy.html

      • Mike McGee

        I’ve only just now read that article once, so perhaps I’m missing something that would be revealed with further re-reading and proof-texting it. (Ha?).

        But it seems as though the argument is ‘well we just go by consensus and tradition. Do you really need us to officially outline every thing that’s bad?’

        But doesn’t saying ‘it’s by consensus’ do literally -nothing- to the argument? Because then that means that this argument is formulating the consensus.

        As someone who came here from /r/atheism and hasn’t considered himself any form of Christian for a couple of decades, I’d be more than happy to learn I’m misinformed on the matter, but it seems to me that my next logical step in this argument should be bringing up slavery. Does the NT ignore slavery or condone it or condemn it?

        Because the consensus and tradition until somewhat recently in our history are very, very different from our present day ethical views on the issue. Or, perhaps a less inflammatory analogy, but also a slightly less sound argument, I should be bringing up interracial marriage instead of slavery. Which would then suggest that tradition and consensus are completely morally fallible, and are actually things that are open to evolutionary processes. (Badumsh. (I’m sorry, that’s a cheap shot, but I can’t resist. Which is why I’m typing this apology instead of just deleting it.))

        In which case you should just trust me when I say that in 200 years, Christians will look back on Christians of today and apologize for your delayed stance on the issue. I mean.. Right?

        • Craig Stewart

          Tradition is fallible, but so is science. This is kind of a category mistake since, strictly speaking, science is a species of the genus tradition, but let’s work with it. The virtue of both are that they are open to peer-review and criticism. It is also a virtue of both that they provide us with an immense deal of insight. Who would of thought that those before us were also concerned with the same things we are, and might have spent their whole lives devoted to it?!

          Tradition is an appeal to expertise. Expertise that has been fine-tuned, honed, evolved, and developed over milennia by some of the most thoughtful minds that have ever graced this earth. It is constantly being added to, considered, and chipped away. But the block of its substance remains.

          It is the democracy of the living and the dead, and it does provide a hermeneutic of interpretation for moral questions. It also helps us to understand why God did what, when he did.

    • Tandjleighton

      Your argument: the Church hates homosexuals because I say it does.
      Your position: the Bible says that engaging in homosexuality is a sin so therefore they must hate homosexuals! Lil’ leap in logic there? (And seriously, you don’t think we don’t have friends, relatives who are homosexual and whom we love?)
      Don’t want to be patronizing but ummm . . . do you realize that Leviticus was written around 1400 B.C. for the people of Israel?

  • Snoperk

    Modern Day “Mere Christianity”? I love it!

    • http://thecatholicsciencegeek.blogspot.com/ The Catholic Science Geek

      Huzzah on Bad Catholic’s twist to one of my C.S. Lewis faves!

  • Liz

    Disclaimer: I’m Catholic and TOTALLY endorse this.

    But the scientist in me is finding holes in your argument.

  • Shrookins

    Morality being a complex survival system AND and integral part of human nature in no way promotes Christianity over other religions or Atheism. It’s just well written and true.

  • Shrookins

    No he didn’t. Morality being a complex survival system AND and an integral part of human nature in no way promotes Christianity over other religions or Atheism. It’s just well written and true.

  • shrookins

    Morality being a complex survival system AND and an integral part of human nature in no way promotes Christianity over other religions or Atheism. It’s just well written and true.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      What is well written and true?

    • Colin Gormley

      And why should we follow what is “true?”

  • Alexandra

    Maybe it’s because I’m an atheist or because I haven’t had enough coffee today, but I couldn’t follow that. I kept getting confused and felt my lids getting heavy.

    I *think* you were asking about where do atheists think morality comes from? I’d recommend reading Sam Harris’s “The Moral Landscape.” Actually, I’d be seriously interested on your take on that book, Marc.

    • http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com/ Brian Green

      Oh lord, Harris’s _The Moral Landscape_. That book is a frightful mess. I dissected the first half of it with tedious care (here’s the first part: http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/book-review-the-moral-landscape-by-sam-harris-part-1/). I did not get around to dissecting the second half. There is only so much worth saying.
      Anyway, the answer to what “atheists” think is that they do not agree. There are those who like objective morality and there are nihilists and relativists too. One of he nice things about being Catholic is that we get objective morality from both God and nature, and the nature part *ought* to even make sense to atheists.

      • Alexandra

        No of course not all atheists agree on what is moral, but neither do all Christians or even everyone who identifies as Catholic.

        The nature part would make sense if it was actually based on natural law instead of the Catholic brand of natural law.

        I’m not sure I’m willing to read your review of Harris’s book. I started to, but it’s just completely unfair and pretty boring.

        • http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com/ Brian Green

          I know it’s boring. That’s why I read this blog instead of my own. :)

          • Alexandra

            Which would be why I asked for Marc’s review, not yours. Though I doubt that his would be any more reasonable.

          • musiciangirl591

            apparently it was :P, he’s the author

          • Craig Stewart

            I think you might be confusing ‘rationally disagrees with Sam Harris’ with ‘unreasonable and boring’ Alexandra.

            I’ll try to keep this fair and short, but we both test each others patience. Even when I was an atheist I loathed fundamentalism, and knew full well that internet-cum-atheists often have more ignorant vitriol than the fiercest muhajadeen.

            Sam Harris makes a single fundamental philosophical mistake that undermines his work. There are other problems with each issue he addresses, but because I’m lazy, I’d much rather go with one fundamental error that writes off the whole project.

            Some other atheists and agnostics think we can derive morality in a godless universe (Derek Parfit in his recent magnum opus On What Matter’s – though I think he fails too, and won’t win many other atheists because he is not an empiricist), and Catholics do believe that the natural law is open to anyone with reason. I’m a little more skeptical of Paul’s optimism, and I suppose a bit more Augustinian in my despair of the ability of reason to see God in Nature once sin has severely damaged the vision of the intellect.

            To the point:

            1. Harris commits the is-ought fallacy. The is-ought fallacy was put forward by a much wittier and courageous atheist than Sam Harris, that is, David Hume. He also non-believed before Darwin! What gusto! The is-ought fallacy runs that the mere fact that something is, does not say anything about how a thing ought to be. The is-ought fallacy, then, undermines all possibility of godless natural law, or morality from empirical facts. Period.

            What I find doubly perplexing is that Hume is a major influence of Harris’, so he really has little excuse for what must be a naked cash grab.

          • Alexandra

            No his review it wasn’t reasonable or rational, he was crazy quote mining and taking things completely out of context. Sure he can disagree, but he was doing it for all of the wrong reasons.

            Also that wasn’t to the point at all, there was rambling about Darwin and atheism and Harris being influenced by Hume and cash grabbing.

            That and you’re right, we bother each other too much to play this game.

          • erin

            wow, you really can’t stand to respond to an actual argument.

          • Alexandra

            There are some arguments that I don’t actually feel compelled to respond to, yes. This was clearly one of them.

          • CPE Gaebler

            OK.
            “Harris commits the is-ought fallacy.”
            To the point enough for you? Have you considered this argument before? Any response to it?

          • Alexandra

            Yes, but I don’t know enough about it to really talk about it intelligently. I’m still thinking about it, and really it’s at the core of the difference between secular and theistic morality.

          • SocrateaseRedux

            Read Elizabeth Anscombe’s essay “Modern Moral Philosophy” and Alasdair MacIntyre’s book After Virtue for Catholic philosophers arguing that there is no such thing as the is-ought fallacy.

            In short, the argument goes that there are certain cases in which one can logically infer that, based on what something or someone is, it/he/she ought to do something. For instance, the function of a watch is to keep time. As such, a watch ought to keep time correctly, if it is a good watch. There’s an evaluative statement (“A good watch ought to keep time correctly) from a factual one (“A watch exists for the purpose of keeping time”).

            As Catholics, we conceive of man as functional. That is, human beings have the function of “knowing, loving, and serving God.” We can say that a man ought to do something, insofar as doing that is in conformity with knowing, loving, and serving God. When someone acts according to this function, we call them “good” people.

            There are much better reasons to attack Harris’ book.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Do share.

            … Although not in reply to this post, hehehe. Is there a way to keep comments from narrowing into spaghetti?

        • notAblogger

          I appreciate the careful wording:

          “or even everyone WHO IDENTIFIES AS Catholic.”

          Thank you. Not many of the atheists I’ve encountered make that distinction.

        • MC88

          Lol. Apparently this is a “new atheist” thing – “your argument must be short, amusing, and easy to follow or it doesn’t deserve my lofty attention.” That must be why Dawkins can’t be bothered to read and refute St. Thomas or St. Augustine, which is why educated Christians scoff at Dawkins. I’m sure there are enough people who have reviewed that book or refuted the principles therein that you don’t have to be so picky as to only read Marc’s opinion.

          • Alexandra

            There’s a lot of stuff out there to read, and anyone is going to make the judgement of what is worth reading.

            Given a long long rant written given to me late at night someone who has already revealed their biases, nah, it’s not worth reading.

            There probably are people who have written about it, that are doing it with less biases, but this isn’t on the top of my list of stuff to read, and yeah if I’m going to be reading something for funsies, I’d like it if it was amusing and easy to read.

            That’s not to say I don’t ever read serious texts. Dawkins obviously has patience for reading stuff that is not short and amusing, he’s a really well respected biologist. The thing about theology is that there’s no reason to believe that the field is at all valid because there’s no reason to believe in the Abrahamic God in the first place. A cursory overview will do because there’s nothing in there of value to start with.

          • Emmanuel

            There’s no reason to believe in quaternions, atlases from differential geometry, or the real numbers. But mathematics stills studies them. The point of theology is to posit a conception of god and study the ramifications just as math has axioms which define structures which are studied. Or you could say the point of theology is to study different conceptions of god just as mathematics studies the differences and similarities between different axiomatically defined structures.

            Long story short: you don’t need evidence or reason to believe the starting assumptions of discipline to make that field of study valid.

          • Alexandra

            Yeah, but that doesn’t make it worth my time, or would it make Dawkins more capable of dealing with the arguments for the Abrahamic God. You don’t need to understand theology to do that.

          • Cmatt

            Actually, you kind of do need theology to do that as, well, theology is the study of God (or the God question, if you will) much as biology is the study of life (bio meaning life). Why should I accept a biologist’s arguments about theology which he has never studied or trained in, any more than I ahould accept a theologian’s opinions about biology which he never studied or trained in? I should no more take Dawkins’ opinions on theology than I would his opinions on economics or finance.

            Modern people fall into the trap that because some scientist is really good in his field of expertise, he somehow has credibility in areas outside of it. I can’t tell you the number of physicians I know who are brilliant in their area of practice but are horrible businessmen.

          • Alexandra

            But you can disprove the existence of the Abrahamic God with history, sociology, physics, and all sorts of other fields. And you don’t have to have a deep understanding of any of these fields to understand the arguments.

          • Albert

            Wait up, hold on, slow down. God is not a material body, god cannot be measured, so how is physics able to even comprehend it?

            Saying physics proves/disproves God is like saying math can prove/disprove ballet.

          • http://everythingtosomeone.blogger.com/ Christie

            YES.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Which is a perfect example of how a complete lack of theological know-how DOES screw up your ability to adequately refute God…

            Dawkins and cronies seem rather fond of saying that they don’t have to actually get a clue before making an argument because religion is so obviously wrong it’s like demanding they read all sorts of treatises on what color the Emperor’s nonexistant clothes are. The problem, to extend the analogy, is that Dawkins is so mind-bogglingly ignorant that he doesn’t even know what clothes are. “Do YOU see a thin layer of sand covering the Emperor? No? Well I guess he doesn’t have any clothes on, OBVIOUSLY, right?”

          • Jesse

            You do claim that your god has measurable, physical effects on our human experience, right?

            If not, then in what sense do you claim to have a “relationship” with it?

            If so, then those effects can be observed and measured, at least in theory.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Right, because I can totally have on opinion on whether unicorns exist without knowing what “horn” and “horse” mean. Or being able to count to “one”.

          • Alexandra

            Can you elaborate? I’m really not sure what you mean.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Since Dawkins plainly has no knowledge of what Christians mean when they say God, he has no right to say he doesn’t believe in it.

            Maybe if he’d bothered to learn some theology, he would know what Christians meant. But then he would know that to deny the existence of the Christian God—which is existence; all it is, is the fact things exist—is a self-contradictory statement.

            Atheism is not a rationally tenable position. Lots of positions that are effectively atheist are, but strictly defined it’s a nonsense position.

          • Korou

            Sorry, Sophia’s Favourite, and all other commenters who agree with her – try proving that God exists first and then we’ll agree he’s worth studying.
            Tell me this: how many other religions have you studied? How familiar are you with any of them? Have you exhaustively read everything their theologies have to say before you dismissed them as no longer worth pursuing? Of course you haven’t (or if you are some expert on all religions, I’m sure you wouldn’t say that all your fellow Catholics need to be!) But that is exactly what you are saying we need to do – read and refute every argument that can be made for God before we decide we don’t belive in him. The burden of proof is on you. We don’t have to prove that God doesn’t exist. You have to prove that he does.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            1. I’m a guy. Did you notice the noun is “favorite”—”Sophia’s” is a genitive adjective.

            2. Again: before you are allowed to have an opinion on whether a thing exists, you are required to know what it is. You don’t know what our God is, but you have a very strong opinion on whether he exists. This puts you in the position of a person who doesn’t know what “horse” or “horn” mean—and frankly, you personally also can’t count to “one”—but you have a very strong opinion on whether unicorns exist.

            3. I have studied the theologies of Taoism, Confucianism, non-sage Chinese Traditional Religion, Buddhism, Korean Shamanism, Shinto, Navajo religion, Hopi religion, Sioux religion, Ojibwa Medicine Society, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Slavic, Greek, Hittite paganism, Vedic religion, Hinduism, Haitin Vodun, Brazilian Candomble, Yoruba religion, Judaism (both Kabbalah and Maimonidean), multiple sects of Islam, Zoroastrianism, various post- and pre-Christian Gnsotics, and multiple Christian sects.

            Since “the Christian God does not exist” is logically identical to the statement “there is no such thing as existence”, or to the statement “ontology is a philosophical field without a subject”—no, caveman, the burden of proof is on you.

            I’m sorry if it offends you to be called out on your blind stinking pig-ignorance. But the fact of the matter is, you have no right to your opinions, because you are not even aware of what they’re opinions about. Stone Age peoples don’t have a right to an opinion about quantum mechanics, either. If that offends you, well—maybe learn not to be Stone Age?

          • Jesse

            There *are* reasons to believe in the mathematical things you listed — the real numbers, at least, are very useful in many engineering applications. And theology is specifically **not** described as simply working out the consequences of arbitrary, fictional premises — the name for that is creative writing, and more specifically, Science Fiction.

            Try again.

          • Craig Stewart

            Cheers, again, Alexandra. You’ve realized something that also occurred to Aquinas 900 years ago. If we cannot establish the existence of God, it makes little sense to do Theology.

            You merely reject the arguments. I don’t blame you. I do think they’re sound, but they’re about as compelling for belief as a round of chemotherapy.

          • thoughtsandideas

            Alexandra, I have to say, having read your many blog posts on this article  it seems to me that you are truly interested in discussion and debate (the real kind, not throwing ideological feces). Thank you for that. It’s rare to find people on either side of this question (especially given the emotional links to the topics) who are interested in a true discussion. I applaud your desire to research and know before you commit yourself to belief, however I would caution you not to isolate yourself in your research. Study without experimentation is cold and distant, and simply brings you the thoughts and discoveries of others.
            You stated that there is no reason to believe in an Abrahamic God. I’d like to offer two points, not exhaustive, but I think sufficient for this… 1) It is at the very least, reasonable to believe in an Abrahamic God (without necessitating it, or making it the only choice). It is a possibility which reason can provide (you need only look at Plato and Socrates to find proofs of its reasonability, once again, if not necessarily a reason for you to believe in it) 2) There is not a requirement to believe anything just because it is reasonable. For example, at this moment it is perfectly reasonable for you to believe I am a woman. In fact, I am not. I am a man. Prior to that statement however, no one would have said you were unreasonable for believing I was a woman. It was not until you received further data, the “revelation” if you will, from me, that I was a man, that you were able to determine that believing me to be a woman was wrong, and that I truly was a man.
            My point is that all the research, the philosophical debate, the theological arguing, odds are none of it will ever convince you, or anyone of God’s existence, much less the God as I understand him as a Catholic. It is something you have to experience, something that once you experience, you are unable to see anything else as reasonable. Faith is owned, not learned from a book. If you will allow me another example, I have never been to China. No matter how much I study, no matter how many people I ask, both those who have been there and those who haven’t, all I know about China is a collection of other people’s thoughts, opinions and experiences. Only if I actually go to China and experience it for myself am I brought to a certainty of what it is like there. I say this recognizing that the majority of knowledge in the world we take from the experiences and thoughts of others. If you truly desire to know God without any doubts, you must actively seek Him in your life. “Seek and you shall find.”
            Now I anticipate that many may say “I have sought, and I found nothing”. To this I have two suggestions. 1) You stopped. Never stop. Can you imagine if people had always stopped after pursuing something was found difficult? We would have nothing and nothing would ever be achieved. When something is worth obtaining, it is worth seeking for as long as it takes to obtain it. 2) Re-think your seeking. How were you doing it? Were you doing it your way, on your terms, or on His? He has given us a path to find Him, but it’s hard, and it requires much effort, and we’re not always big fans of that. If He has established a way for us to encounter Him, then if that is truly our desire, we should use whatever it is He setup. Some might say “what a tyrannical bully, who makes us do things His way”. When I put food in my mouth, I do not complain about the tyranny of my body which forces me to do things this way. I recognize that putting food in my mouth is the natural way that it enters into my stomach and nourishes my body. In the same way, God’s “rules” or “path” are not arbitrary dictates from a bully, they are guidelines for what one must do to encounter God and gain a chance at Heaven.
            So to conclude this statement (I apologize for its length), if you truly wish to know God, then go all in. I can promise it’s worth it. Truth is always worth it.

          • thoughtsandideas

            boo, it didn’t like my smiley face… just made it a box. Just for the record, it was a smile!

          • Jesse

            Er, did I misunderstand, or did you just *agree* with Alexandra that theology is valueless and not worth reading?

            I got that impression when you said: “all the research, the philosophical debate, the theological arguing, odds are none of it will ever convince you, or anyone of God’s existence, much less the God as I understand him as a Catholic.”

            Maybe you meant merely that theology is valueless to non-Catholics, but even so, that supports Alexandra’s decision not read it.

            Assuming I’m not grossly misreading you, I wanted to highlight this instance of agreement between a atheist and Catholic regarding the uselessness of theology.

          • SocrateaseRedux

            I think what he meant by that was that you’re not going to have faith just by reading works of Catholic philosophers and theologians. It is only when you seek that you will find, but in this sense it is how you live and act, not just what you read. In which case, I can say from experience that this is absolutely right. I’m a Catholic college student who spent his first 2 years partying and whatnot, but also reading The Confessions and the Summa. Reading those wasn’t enough to bring me to loving God, though it wasn’t a bad start. But this year, I’ve changed a lot of my habits and have slowly (I mean, very slowly :) ) begun to realize how important this is to developing my faith and love for God. Hope this helps!

          • thoughtsandideas

            Hey Jesse,
            So I could see where it would be quite astounding to find a Catholic agreeing with an atheist about theology. Made me smile. That said, in response to your question, yes and no. Like socrateaseredux stated, I don’t mean that theology is valueless. I think it has immense value. I actually majored in theology in college, and while I would consider myself a bum, I’m not quite at the point of calling my life valueless yet. :)

            But theology’s purpose is not conversion, theology’s purpose is greater understanding within an already established faith. Yes there are basic tenets of the faith which would be quite necessary to understand before one simply jumped into a religion, but these I would consider less theology, more a basic creed which gives a general quick glance view at the faith.

            However, I would hold that if you are striving to understand the purpose of life (theology answers “why” not “how”) that you cannot ignore theology, but must take it into consideration alongside every other philosophy.

            In layman’s terms, Algebra is valueless to someone who doesn’t know numbers and can’t even count. However, contrary to what the high school teens may think, it is actually an extremely valuable truth which basically aids in understanding how most of our economy and engineering works. But you have to learn to count first, and you can’t learn to count if you don’t first experience that which written numbers represent… an actual quantity of things.

            Studying theology without any faith to use as a reference is like doing algebra without knowing what the numbers mean. I’m sure you could memorize some stuff but until you understand what it really means, its just empty facts and figures.

          • Korou

            thoughtsandideas, I hope you don’t mind me joining in the discussion. Incidentally, I have had such a lot of trouble making comments on Disqus – I’ve been trying to join in all of today and yesterday and it keeps not working! So now I am able to comment, I’ve got a lot I want to say…

            Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful post. I hope you don’t mind, as I say, if I post some comments on it.

            You said, “It is at the very least, reasonable to believe in an Abrahamic God (without necessitating it, or making it the only choice). It is a possibility which reason can provide…”

            There are millions of possibilities that reason can provide and, from an atheistic standpoint, the Catholic God is only one of them, no more intrinsically likely than th Baptist God, the Hindu gods, or Thor. I am afraid I have to say that, lacking some distinguishing reason to look into your God’s existence, it is NOT particularly reasonable to believe in Him.

            You said: “Never stop.”
            Hmmmm. Well, yes, never stop looking for the truth; but it strikes me as illogical to say “never stop looking for the truth of my particular God.” From my point of view it sounds like you’re saying that you should assume Catholicism is true and keep looking for reasons to believe until you manage to convince yourself.
            After a while, it IS reasonable to stop investigating one possibility and turn to another; that’s common sense.

            There’s more I could say, but let’s not have this post drag on too long.

            Incidentally, I’m in China now. Funny, that!

          • thoughtsandideas

            So totally forgot about this blog until today, so sorry for not responding earlier. Just for the record, I wasn’t necessarily pushing the Catholic faith. When I say you should never stop searching, I mean for truth. Yes, I personally believe that this pursuit will ultimately lead you to God, but I recognize that the pursuit is going to look different for different people. The important part is that in some way, you are searching.

            No, I don’t advocate that you get stuck in something and keep looking for reasons until you convince yourself. That’s taking a truth and seeking a reason. That’s justification, which I think we can all agree almost 9 times out of 10 leads to a complete absurdity. I’m saying don’t stop asking the question “why?” until you find a satisfactory answer. I don’t just mean an answer that is reasonable, I mean one that resonates with you, brings a certain fulfillment if you will. Then, once you have that answer, obliterate it with new questions. If it is true, then really, you should be able to question it unto eternity and still feel confident in it.

            The only time stopping is reasonable, is if you dont need whatever it is you are searching for. If its superflous. If you need it, it doesn’t matter how impossible it may be, youcan’t quit. So if you need to know the truth of life, then never stop searching for it. If you don’t need to know it, then I guess you stop.

          • MC88

            See, this is why educated Christians don’t take people like Dawkins seriously. We say “God exists. We can show this logically.” He says “Prove it.” We say “Here is St. Thomas. He has five ways to show the existence of God. Please read the proofs and show us exactly where he goes wrong.” Dawkins et al say “You can’t prove it, so I don’t have to bother watching you try. I know your proofs are silly without even reading them, because I am smarter than you and all your saints.” Isn’t declaring yourself more intelligent than Theists making exactly the same mistake you accuse us of making – positing an absolute truth without bothering to prove it? If you are an atheist because you are smarter, prove it. Read St. Thomas. Refute him point-for-point.

            This is why we are not convinced by you – because you declare that we simply cannot do something which we know has already been done, without deigning to attempt to refute our argument. It is condescending and childish at the same time.

          • Alexandra

            I’m not an atheist because I’m smarter. I don’t claim to be smarter at all. I know plenty of theists that are smarter than me. The issue of religious belief is complicated and isn’t necessarily based on intelligence.

            Moreover, Dawkins really isn’t about trying to refute theists. Dawkins’s goal is more on holding the hand of the person teetering on the edge of atheism and saying it’s okay, you’re right, here’s the arguments. He’s not trying to talk to you, he’s talking to me 6 months ago. He knows his audience and his audience responds to science and history much better than it does theology.

            That and Dawkins, and plenty of philosophers, do go line by line and explain why Aquinas’s arguments are illogical. Perhaps it doesn’t satisfy you, but you can’t claim he never tried to show you.

            Bottom line though, is I’m not trying to refute you or convince you. I’m trying to exchange ideas with you. I’m sorry you interpret it as childish, but I think your stabs at me are a whole lot more childish.

          • CPE Gaebler

            “Dawkins’s goal is more on holding the hand of the person teetering on the edge of atheism and saying it’s okay, you’re right, here’s the arguments.”

            So, he’s an ignorant person trying to comfort other ignorant people by telling them they’re not ignorant. OK, that’s better than nothing, I guess?

          • Wintermute

            It’s utterly hysterical to me that someone who needs an invisible sky daddy to help them sleep at night would call someone who doesn’t ignorant.

          • CPE Gaebler

            It’s utterly hysterical to ME how someone could not realize that “THEN WHAT CREATED GOD??????” is not, in fact, a knock-down refutation of Aquinas.

          • Korou

            Actually, minus the capslocks and hysterical punctuation, it is.

          • CPE Gaebler

            ….. Nooooo. It isn’t. Because God had no beginning and is changeless. It’s an incredibly childish attempt.

          • spookymulder8

            How? Which is more rational?
            Your belif that things magically come from… nothing?

            Or that there is something eternal, and that is the first cause of finite things?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            Listen up:

            There will be bloodshed over this one day, and very much of it.
            When faith is the issue,tempers flair, but when faith and the absence of it are in competition, violence is inevitable.

            That said, I will have part in that, if I live to see that day.

            Furthermore, fools for atheism:

            No Catholic puts their faith in an invinvisible sky daddy.

            For Catholics,
            God is not a being. HE IS BEING.

            “I AM THATWILL”
            is his name, and even Dawkins knows that.

            Time is non-linear beyond 3D space and time.

            On the dimensiof spacetime, you are talking about pure actuality. If you gobeyond that
            to “theternity of eternities” so to speak, or perhaps we could say beyond the potential infinite dimensions supposed by either
            M, string, or super string, then you are talking about infinite actuality, ie pure potency.

            Theology is actually fascinating for the scientifically minded if onecan put their emotional baggage behind them for a short time.
            Perhaps that’s why so many devout Catholics have been scientists.

            While empiricists like Hume were engaged in intellectual masturbation tackling with mysteries of causation that had no objective explanation, men of science like Blaise Pascal and later, Fr. Michael Heller.

            Max Planck, MR. QUANTUM, was an elder of the Lutheran Church.

            The jury of intellectually honest atheists, and rational Christians has decieded:

            New Atheism is just plain ig’nant.

          • spookymulder8

            Says the guy who probably believes biological life evolved magically from bricks and stones, that fish can turn into people, or that life was seeded by aliens from another planet or dimension… like Dawkins! Now I don’t see any aliens around… do you? Have you seen life spontaneously evolve? Have you seen matter emerge from… nothing?! No?!!! Isn’t it funny how athiests believe in wild crazy things they have never seen or can scientifically verify?

          • Korou

            No, he’s a person talking to people who want to get to where he is (comfortable in not believing there is a God) and who is offering reassurance and information.

            As he says in his book. The very first few pages of it.

          • CPE Gaebler

            And he is ignorant of religion, and his arguments can only be convincing to people who are also ignorant. I stand by my comments.

          • Korou

            Sorry. I disagree with them. Dwkins isn’t a professor of theology, but nor is he ignorant. Theological arguments aren’t really all that hard to understand, and their flaws aren’t really all that hard to point out.
            To answer your objectio to “where did God come from” – all you’ve done is made up a terminator to your problem of an infinite regress and given it a name. Sorry, but you can’t do that. You can’t win the argument by saying “God doesn’t need anything to make him because he just is.” I get it that you believe God is the ultimate unmoved mover, but you can’t prove that just by claiming it.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Are you saying that there isn’t an unmoved mover, or that there might be an infinite regress, then?

          • Korou

            MC88, that is a very valid thing to say. It would be sensible to read Aquinas and refute his arguments. That is why Dawkins did do that in chapter 3.
            Now, if you would like to present Aquinas’ arguments in your own words I would be happy to refute them. It’s not the first time someone has, you know.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            “Really well respected biologist”? The man is a behavioral entomologist.

            He’s a beekeeper. His published papers are on the habits of wasps.

            Also it is amusing to note the Chair of the Public Understanding of Science puts his foot in his mouth whenever he talks about anything other than beekeeping. Stephen Barr ripped him a new one a few years back for not knowing cosmic rays from gamma rays (hint, one of them has mass).

          • Alexandra

            Why do you feel the need to rip at Dawkins for his ability to do good science? He is well respected, and everyone has their brain farts when it comes to basic knowledge when you haven’t thought about it in a while.

            He is a well respected biologist. Reducing his work to beekeeping idiotic.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Because he’s an arrogant asshole? Seriously, he’s blind stinking pig-ignorant—I’ve met 7th graders with more knowledge of religion, history, and philosophy than him—but he postures like some kind of great intellectual.

            Whenever philosophy comes up, he instantly transforms into Dilbert’s boss: “Anything I don’t understand is either simple or unimportant.”

          • CPE Gaebler

            Hey now! That’s unfair to Dilbert’s boss!

          • Korou

            Richard Dawkins is a gentleman. If you’ve heard him speak or read his work you’ll know that even when he is disagreeing with people he does so politely. If he does use terms like ignorant he is describing a person who does not know much – like, for example, the creationists who tell him that transitional fossils have never been found. He wouldn’t stoop to calling anyone else an arrogant asshole, and you shouldn’t either.

            When religious people call Dawkins arrogant or ignorant they’re usually invoking what has come to be called the Courtier’s Reply. Have you heard of it? P.Z.Myers put it like this:
            I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor’s boots, nor does he give a moment’s consideration to Bellini’s masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor’s Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor’s raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.

            Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

            Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.

            Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor’s taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.

          • Cal-J

            P.Z. Meyers? The professor at UM who had his students steal consecrated hosts from a Catholic Church so he could pierce them with a rusty nail and dump them in a trash can, film the whole thing and post it online?

            Are you going to start holding him up as a model of civility, too?

          • Korou

            1. Whether or not PZ Myers is a model of civility is not the point. The point is that he described the “Courtier’s Reply” which shows how many criticisms of Dawkins fail, including some on this thread.
            2. Do you know why PZ Myers did that? Because a student who walked away with a piece of Catholic host without eating it was threatened with death and received bodily violence.
            3. Do you know that Myers ended up with three things in his trash can? The host, some pages of Dawkins, and some pages of the Koran. Message: It’s just a cracker, and they’re just books. Catholic response: complete fury, which was a mistake on their part – much better to have just held the high ground and shrugged it off.

          • Cal-J

            “Because a student who walked away with a piece of Catholic host without eating it was threatened with death and received bodily violence.”

            Huh. You have a source?

            Secondly, the eucharist is extremely important to Catholics. You go to receive it, and really nothing else. If you don’t plan on receiving it, than we have every right to be furious

          • CPE Gaebler

            Richard Dawkins? The guy who spoke to the Reason Rally telling them to mock religious people at every opportunity? The guy who has many times hurled insults at William Lane Craig, e.g.:

            ‘Dawkins has blogged of his “almost visceral loathing” of Craig’s “odiously unctuous, smug and self-satisfied tone of voice”. Craig, he says, is a “deeply unimpressive… ponderous buffoon” who uses “chopped logic” for “bamboozling his faith-head audience”.’
            http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/paul-vallely-god-knows-why-dawkins-wont-show-2374659.html

            Yeah. What a gentleman.

            As for the Myers Backpedal, the problem is that Dawkins, Myers, and others of their ilk are trying to show everyone that the Emperor has no clothes while being so mind-numbingly ignorant that they don’t actually know who the Emperor is or even what clothes are. When told that the man they’re talking about has the wrong hair color, wrong eye color, is a foot and a half too short and has a missing arm, and is furthermore entirely clothed, they say “What, so we’re supposed to be experts on genealogy and clothes now? As if we need a double Ph. D in Royal History and Imaginary Fabrics to see that the Emperor has no clothes! It’s so obvious! Do YOU see a thin coating of sand on that man? NO? Told you it was obvious!”

            I cannot take seriously anyone who thinks that “Then what created God?????” is even a sensible part of a rational reply to the cosmological argument.

          • Korou

            Can you not? So why do you think it’s reasonable to say to atheists “So what created the universe?”

          • CPE Gaebler

            Because the universe had a beginning. God did not.

          • Korou

            Yes, Dawkins, the reasonable and well-spoken gentleman.
            Regarding the Reason Rally, Dawkins was not saying that all religious people should be mocked. He said that their ridiculous beliefs should be mocked. For an excellent explanation of this, including the transcript of Dawkins’ speech, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig
            Also see here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig for the reasons Dawkins refused to debate Craig; because of his moral outrage at the appalling things Craig’s religious beliefs led him to say. I have to say I agree with him, and I understand why he wouldn’t want to share a stage with Craig.

          • http://twitter.com/ncloeter Nate Cloeter

            I’m sorry but I have to bring this up. We’re talking about the same guy who in his book: “The God Delusion” used a Professor who studies German to state Jesus may not have existed right? It’s one thing to question Jesus’ divinity. I’ll give you that. Everyone is different in their beliefs. But I can’t take someone seriously who says something like that, quotes it from a Professor who teaches the Germanic language, and tries to pass it off as historical fact. That isn’t something a well respected scientist does.

          • Jes

            Dawkins would not have looked like such a noong in the debate against Pell’ if he had looked at Wikipedia. if you are going to set yourself up refuting other peoples arguments/ beliefs/ gods you should at least know what they are. Pell’s had read all Dawkins stuff and then some.

          • Wintermute

            While you’re at it, at like you to read my extensive writings on the taxonomy of unicorns. Some people may scoff and claim that this work is meaningless since unicorns do not exist, but I think if they took the time to read all my many arguments in depth they would change their minds. It’s childish and silly of them to claim they can disregard my work on its premise, with refuting my many fine arguments for how unicorns exists and remain hidden from plain view. Clearly their failure to engage my arguments one on one reflects an intellectual failing on their part.

          • spookymulder8

            But you don’t actually have a book on unicorns for us to look at, do you? Basically all you said was, “My empty comparison & intellectual dishonesty and cowardice is my ultimate refutation of God! HA!” And you expect us to take your illustration seriously?

            Besides… ‘unicorns’ do exist! Unicorn defined as a single horned animal. Example: A Rhino. Also there are some deer and other creatures that either biologically or due to mutations only possess one horn. And thus were classified as ‘unicorns’ or ‘single horned’. But it’s likely you were thinking of the mythical horse.

            Well, let me know when you actually do have an actual book; until then you can try reading other actual books and real arguments by Catholics like Aquinas etc. The books and their arguments are quite real I assure you! But atheists have a fine tradition of closing their eyes and mind to the most obvious of things…

          • Korou

            So you’ll stop scoffing at Dawkins if you read The God Delusion and found that he actually does read and address St. Thomas Aquinas’ arguments? Chapter 3, Arguments for God’s Existence. Quote:
            “The five ‘proofs’ asserted by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century don’t prove anything, and are easily – though I hesitate to say so, given his eminence – exposed as vacuous. The first three are just different ways of saying the same thing, and they can be considered together. All involve an infinite regress – the answer to a question raises a prior question, and so on ad infinitum.”

          • Powersb1965

            This is effectively an ad hom claim on Dawkins’ part. It is not a pointed refutation.

          • Korou

            Are you referring to Dawkins saying the arguments were vacuous? That would be ad hom if that was all he said, but that isn’t his point. His point is that all of Aquinas’ arguments involve and infinite regress, and therefore answer nothing.

          • http://swt.encyclomundi.org/ shackra sislock

            The God Delusion is already refuted by William Lane Craig https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lRmZn1F44M&list=PL342C55FBBA645623

            I mean, seriously?

        • Cmatt

          But the opinions of those who identify as Catholic is irrelevant. They can differ all they want, and that won’t make Catholic Opinion (what is held by the Catholic Church) inconsistent as to what is moral. Individual Catholics my differ on a number of moral questions, but Catholicism does not. To observe that individual Catholics differ demonstrates nothing regarding the objective nature of Catholic morality. It only shows that various Catholics adhere to it in varying degrees – so what, I’ll gladly admit as much.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Hell, according to one survey, 40% of self-identified atheists believe in at least one definition of “God”. A lot of them are natural pantheists, for instance (like the Stoics and some Chinese philosophers). But if God’s in everything, there is a God.

          • Korou

            Would have replied to you above, Sophia’s Favourite, but the boxes were too narrow to write in.

            We know perfectly well what God is, but we don’t believe we are required to know every detail about His alleged existence before we say we don’t believe in him.

            As to your credentials regarding the study of other religions – congratulations, you are clearly a most learned gentleman. But, as I said above, do you go around telling other Catholics that they have to study ALL of the available possibilities exhaustively before they choose Catholicism? No? So why do you say that we atheists have to learn everything about Catholicism before we reject it?

            Incidentally, well done for your studies of different religions – but you still haven’t studied all of them, have you? How do you know that there isn’t another religion out there that makes more sense that Catholicism? Better get back to the library!

            Now, as to your point about my or our ignorance: I know that God is supposed to be the person who made the universe; who is three entities in one; who incarnated as Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago; who loves me and knows me and wants me to be a Christian.

            Now then, if a person came to you and was able to talk about God with this level of understanding, showing a knowledge of the Bible and its stories and wanting to become a Catholic, would you tell them they didn’t yet know enough to be a Catholic? No? So why tell me I don’t know enough to be an atheist?

          • Sophias_Favorite

            No, God is existence itself, the fact that anything is. That’s the important thing. Everything else—salvation, morals, even the sacraments—follows from that.

            Since the Jews knew about ontology 800 years before Plato invented the concept—despite not understanding that that’s what the Tetragrammaton refers to—and only Catholics actually understand that fact, my search for the true religion is concluded.

            But you’re not worth my time. Cast not pearls and all that.

            I’m through responding to you.

          • Korou

            Ah. So the hypothetical person who came up to you and said they wanted to be a Christian – you’d tell them they weren’t ready to be. Very interesting.

            Here’s the thing, Sophia’s Favourite. we atheists are actually, by and large, interested in finding out the truth. We really are. And we’d be happy to listen to your arguments for the truth of Catholocism, Christianity and theism. And at the very least, if they were good ones, they’d give us pause for thought.

            It’s not like we know the truth already and we’re denying it for the sake of rebellion or anything. We honestly don’t believe that you are right when you say that there is a God and that He wants us to be Catholics. This is a failure of communication, and it is on your part, and on God’s, because we listen to your best arguments and we think they don’t hold up.

            Nice talking to you.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            No, idiot. I’d tell them “welcome”. “Yes” does not have the same requirements as “no”. You don’t need to be a great Shakespeare scholar to agree with his membership in the canon: but you damn well better be one to dispute it.

            And you do not listen to our best arguments. You hear our best arguments, assume you understand them—mainly by hallucinating—and then dispute with the imaginary nonsense in your subnormal heads. Not the same thing at all.

            That’s it. I’m done. Stop responding to me.

          • Korou

            OK. We’ll stop there then.

        • Rick

          “pretty boring”.

          I suppose… not enough coffee, again. Right?

    • Sophias_Favorite

      You’d be better advised to read “Twilight of the Idols, Or How to Philosophize with a Hammer.” Specifically the section on George Eliot.

      If atheism is true, there are no morals. 120-odd years since Fred said it, and atheists have still never even addressed it. Just pixie dust and “clap your hands if you believe in morals”.

      • Alexandra

        Why are you being so flippant? I guess the real question is why am I even responding to you when you’re just dragging this conversation into mudslinging.

        • Elfdowney

          Mudslinging!?!!… You’re one to talk. EVERYTHING you write has a flippant remark included.

          • Cal-J

            Alexandra is the one judge of who is being offensive in any conversation. And it is never her.

          • Korou

            Actually, no, I don’t think it has been.
            Reading through this thread, and some others, I have to say that Alexandra seems to be responding courteously. Good for her!
            Maybe now the Catholics will stop thinking of us as immoral?

      • Korou

        And The God Delusion, chapter 6, Why Are We Good? The Roots of Morality.

        And quite a lot of other atheist writings about the basis of secular morality.

        It’s really quite fun, this thread. Someone makes a claim of an argument that has never been addressed (not even won, but addressed) and all you have to do is flip through the contents page of Dawkins’ book to refute them.

        Seriously – even if you don’t agree with Dawkins, it is a good book, well worth a read. Know your enemy?

        • Sophias_Favorite

          Are you serious?

          Many atheist thinkers—the ones who, unlike Dawkins, can be taken seriously—have mocked him for not truly understanding the moral issues raised by atheism. Not only does he not understand them, he pretends they don’t even exist.

          This is what Nietzsche was talking about. You need to graduate from little English board-books like Dawkins, and start reading real thinkers.

          Put another way, Dawkins, an enemy to me?

          Your username is in Japanese. Do you know what is meant by the Japanese idiom “no enemy of mine”?

          • Korou

            Well, you were the one who said no atheist thinker had addressed the issue of morality. And then when I pointed out it had been addressed you say it’s not worth reading.

            Dawkins is an educated layman and extremely successful popular writer and speaker when it comes to religion. He’s worth listening to – especially if you’re going to say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and then admit you haven’t read his books!

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Dammit. Last time, then I’m out.

            No, you subliterate halfwit. I didn’t say no atheist had addressed “the issue of morality”. I said no atheist had addressed Nietzsche’s challenge to morality. Because they haven’t. They can’t.

    • Rick

      ye, ye, let’s blame the coffee (or lack thereof).

      Fight apathy!… or maybe don’t.

      • Alexandra

        Thanks for this really productive comment!

  • Quelle

    It’s that same morality that your lawgiver handed down that told Christian to kill muslims because it was the right thing. You wanna know something funny, morality had been around since before the Jews created their ten commandments. Society doesn’t function with out. If you believe in the bible their is two whole books before your “law giver” gives his people his laws why because morality existed with out him. People need to learn to evolve. also here is a fun fact, scholars have proven that the pentateuch was started to be written at 900BCE. By some jews moses is said to have died at least 1271 BCE. Do you see how much time has passed. Do you realize how much of that oral tradition had been change for almost 400 years. Same with the new testament. The first gospel isn’t written until at least 40 years after Jesus’s death. Material is changed through time to sound better. Want an example: George washington cut down a cherry tree, US lost WWII, and JFK was President. One of those three listed is true! Some one created Washington story in the 1950s to make him sound moral. Whose to say that didn’t happen with the bible. Deuteronomy and the Priestly sections of the torah(which consists the 10 commandments) weren’t written until 600-500BCE Judah was on the verge of being conquered so the kings of the time had scribes rewrite the stories of old to tell the Israelites to stop being polytheistic and be monotheistic because they believed that was the reason why they are being conquered.

    As myself being catholic this what I realized, I see more atheists have a better chance to go to heaven then most christians. They are doing good because they are not being told to by some book or some church, they do it because they know whats right. Maybe that is what this article should of been about. WHy christians do the right thing only because the bible tells them so and not because they should. Maybe us christian should stop being defensive and hurt by athiest and start to learn from them because trust me, as a catholic I have grown more in my faith spending time with a atheists then christians

    PS you sound really homophobic
    PPS “Jesus loves you…everyone(with a brain) thinks your an a@@h0le

    • Alexandra

      As rambly as this is, I like your point.

      I really am interested in conversing with theists about morality and how we can define what it is outside of the bible. We should be able to come to the same conclusions of what is moral because regard of what you believe, what you said, Marc, we all experience what morality is and it’s innate to us. Any time that we don’t come to the same conclusion, it’s because of something that is in the bible, and like Quelle says, that’s a book full of flaws.

      • Marc Barnes

        The Bible, while containing a lot of moral truth, is not the One and Only Source of Moral Teaching. There’s a lot more to it. And I am positive that atheist, Christian and every human being can figure out a great deal of it through honesty and sound reason. Which is a big reason I believe in a God — why this common, written-on-our-hearts morality otherwise?

        • Alexandra

          I see your logic, and it’s sound enough. I can see how you get there, but I think the “written on your hearts” morality can be explained evolutionarily and doesn’t require a supernatural explanation. It’s within us because individuals that cooperate survive better and so it’s been selected for. You really should read Sam Harris’s book. It’s very interesting and Harris is the least yelly of the New Atheists.

          • http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com/ Brian Green

            I’m sorry, I have to reply again. It’s because no-one should think Harris is respectable. He is not the “least yelly” of the new atheists, he advocates torture, murder, nuclear first strike, dictatorship, and a world government all for the sake of stamping out religion (all in his book The End of Faith, pages 52-53, 129, 151, 194, 198-9, 230).

          • Alexandra

            Just FYI, I really don’t respect your opinion.

          • Alexandra

            I mean you’re mostly quote mining. He is just discussing senarios where these things might be the moral action, he’s not “advocating” them. Also these specifics I’ve looked at don’t have anything to do with stamping out religion.

    • Paul

      Citations needed please. Poor grammar is pushing my brain to disregard all claims without them!

    • Jacob Neeson

      Quelle, I would be very careful with my words if I were you for a few reasons.

      First, because by claiming to be Catholic you’re claiming you believe what the Church teaches and the Church teaches that the Bible is infallible as sacred Scripture.

      Second, Christians don’t believe in living moral lives because of some book or some church; they do it for God. So if following God’s commands simply because they come from God seems wrong to you, then maybe think about where morality comes from. Then where the Bible comes from (the Word sent from the Father) and what the Church you claim to believe in is (the Body of Christ with Christ as head and Holy Spirit as soul).

      Finally, the point he was making wasn’t even about homosexuality. It was just a reference point.

    • ems

      “You wanna know something funny, morality had been around since before the Jews created their ten commandments.” That is not funny, that is the basic truth all Catholics should believe. Did you read the post? Morality is not from man, or society, but from GOD. If you are Catholic, you know that as Catholics, morality existed since creation. This point will not shock our ‘Bad Catholic Blogger’, he writes about it up above.

      If you read above what the CCC says about homosexuality and realize that our author tries to abide by the CCC- you can see that homophobia is not at all what he is like.

  • westley

    Morality comes from humans being social beings.

    • Tom

      This only elevates the problem to a higher level: Where does society get the idea of morality? If you say “From the people”, then you argue in circles: “People get morality from society, which gets it from people”

      • Alexandra

        You’re misunderstanding the argument. Morality comes from the fact that we care about each other and survive best when we cooperate. What makes us thrive as a species is what is moral. It’s obviously not that simple, it gets more complicated, but it’s not a circular argument.

        • westley

          Exactly.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20602584 Mark Duch

          No, Alexandra, you’re missing the point. “What makes us thrive as a species is what is moral.” Catholics agree! That’s why we’re pro-life. What we’re asking is /why/ what makes us thrive as a species is what is moral.

          • Alexandra

            I think that’s a different point that was being made there, so it’s not missing the point so much as it’s a different point.

            I addressed below that you have to start with some sort of assumption, and the assumption is that we as humans want to flourish. Healthy humans agree with that. You don’t really need any other reason besides that’s what we want. Morality is simply what things make us flourish.

          • Tom

            If morality is simply what things make us flourish, then why support homosexuality? Homosexuals can’t procreate. Hardly flourishing, wouldn’t you say? As you said, it gets complicated…..

          • Alexandra

            Flourishing isn’t as simple as procreation. Flourishing includes happiness. Flourishing is the opposite of suffering.

            Two people having a loving relationship is flourishing for those two people and doesn’t cause any other humans suffering, therefore it is not immoral.

          • Tom

            So, flourishing, in your mind, involves the least amount of suffering possible? Am I understanding you correctly?

          • westley

            Tom, why not come right out and state the straw man corner you’re trying to push Alexandra into?

            She already said it’s more complicated than that, so you can’t “win” by trying to get a one-sentence morality rule.

          • Alexandra

            Thank you, Westley.

            I’m not here to win some debate and talk in absolutes. This trying to paint me into a corner is silly.

          • Tom

            So asking legitimate questions about someone’s assumptions is backing them into a corner now?

            Alexandra asserted: “Flourishing is the opposite of suffering.” I was simply asking if that meant that “flourishing” meant “least suffering possible”. Is this not a legitimate yes or no question?

          • westley

            “So asking legitimate questions about someone’s assumptions is backing them into a corner now?”

            Nope.

            “Is this not a legitimate yes or no question?”

            No, it isn’t.

          • Tom

            How is asking for clarification on what someone means in an assertion not a legitimate question? Because that’s all I honestly asked for.

          • westley

            Because even after she said morality is complicated, you were attempting to get a simple answer. There isn’t one.

          • Alexandra

            Yes, but obviously it’s a complicated issue. But in terms of a one sentence reply what is moral is what what involves the least amount of suffering.

            I’m not saying that that means that one person who is capable of massive ecstasy if they kill everyone in the world that is more than the happiness of all of the people combined that they should kill them.

            It’s similar to a utilitarian approach, but it’s clearly not that simple. No system is that simple.

          • Tom

            Please, then, explain your complicated system to me. I mean this in the most charitable way possible. I’d like to learn more about said system. At the very least, suggest a good book I can put on my reading list for (eventual) study.

          • Alexandra

            Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape. It’s a really good book.

          • Tom

            Thank you. I shall take it under consideration.

          • gocart mozart

            google John Stuart Mill

          • westley

            Should homosexuals be executed, as your god demands? I’d say widespread carnage is detrimental to society.

            Beyond that, I’d say a lot of atheist support is on the principle that the government has no business punishing people for consensual acts; there’s a pretty clear correlation to me that freer societies are happier, and oppressing e.g. gays goes against that.

          • Tom

            Note: I was going off of Alexandra’s line of thinking. If you read my previous posts carefully, you will see that I am only investigating yours and Alexandra’s line of thinking. I did not mention God or His commands once. Nor did I explicitly state that I had a better alternative. I was merely questioning Alexandra’s assertions, nothing more. Please don’t put words into my mouth.

          • westley

            I didn’t put words in your mouth; I asked “Should homosexuals be executed, as your god demands?” You’ve indicated you’re a Christian, unless there are two different Toms posting in this thread.

          • Tom

            You’re deflecting the argument then. I have not explicitly offered an alternative morality in our small discussion here, Christian or otherwise. I was simply question Alexandra about hers.

            To answer your question: “Should homosexuals be executed, as your god demands?” Frankly, yes, just like anyone who breaks God’s laws and then does not repent from their sins. This includes, but is not explicitly limited to, those that masturbate, have sex outside of marriage, steal, lie, murder, etc. It’s like asking “Should someone who breaks laws be punished?”

            Also, God doesn’t specifically ask US to execute them, just that “They shall be put to death”. I don’t believe I saw a “you” in that verse (But don’t take my word for it: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus%2020:13&version=NASB;KJV;NIV;DRA) In the end, God is the one that judges them for their actions, not us.

            Also, this article is helpful as well: (http://courageman.blogspot.com/2009/03/god-hates-shrimp-fallacy.html)

          • westley

            So are you saying that neither gays nor murderers should be punished by humans?

          • Tom

            In a spiritual sense, yes. Jesus came EXACTLY for that reason: that we learn to forgive others as God has forgiven us, through His Son Jesus.

            Now, in the sense of a civil society, no, it is not the case that murderers shouldn’t be punished.

            If you wish to discuss further, start a new comment. It’s getting crowded in here.

          • westley

            That’s a different question. The one at the end of this column was “Where do YOU think morality comes from?” My answer was that it comes from humans being social beings, and Alexandra appears to have a similar answer.

        • Sophias_Favorite

          But…forced matings are a perfectly functional reproductive strategy. Why do we think rape is wrong?

          I can go all down the line and find a species that does things we consider “wrong”, and yet survives just fine. Hell, half the things many people nowadays think of as morality—like pacifism—are actually ridiculously, nigh-suicidally maladaptive.

          It is indeed a circular argument, and also one contrary to fact.

  • Jackson

    Never read the comments!! … Except mine. Incredible job!! Little leap in logic over the whole “it is right to live” (A Moral Relativist could argue Evolutionary Imperative), but overall a great summary of the surprisingly tolerant view that both the Gospels and Church (in theory, but the containers are dirty) lay out towards Homosexuality in the Church. That passage & the Baptism ‘chapter’ (I don’t know, I’m a Southern Baptist) from the Catechism really struck me as firmly laying out the truth while doing so in love. You addressed it earlier, but make sure not to (I’ll assume you read these) be too belligerent. The love we show towards all people, of any faith, in the face of acceptance, cruelty, or martyrdom must be given to those who attack us most. For every fiery Cyril of Alexandria, 100 ‘Bibiana’s & ‘Valentine’s go down in history for childlike forgiveness, even in the face of Martyrdom. Love & Reconciliation, combined with staggering apologetics trumps the flashiest infograph (Though combine all 4…). Not just homosexuals deserve our love & respect. The stormy atheist does as well.

    • Jacob Neeson

      A Southern Baptist familiar with all those early Christian Saints?! You are pretty cool Jackson. Good, interesting post.

      Btw, note that it’s “paragraph”, not chapter. Now you know. :)

  • /r/Catholicism Rules

    Checkmate.

  • http://twitter.com/melinwy Melinda Wilson

    excellent, will be passing it on!!!! thank you

  • Hamburgerbound

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” -Einstein. Then you: “This seems to be evidence of a lawgiver” I dunno, you have a lot of clout, I’ll talk to the sky, maybe it’ll decide for me.

    • Patriconway

      Why should man’s ethical behavior be based on any of those things? Your appeal to authority doesn’t actually answer any of the questions raised by this post. Why should I listen to Einstein? The answer to the question ‘Why?’ has to be objective. If the answer is subjective, then there’s no reason why my appeal to the authority of God is better/or worse than your appeal to evolution etc.

    • Jake E

      Nice job taking the final conclusion to an entire stream of logical conscience. You mock BadCatholic by quoting his resolution “This seems like evidence of a lawgiver” yet include nothing about the evidence of the argument at hand. It was laid out clearly and simply for you, yet you did nothing with it. Not to mention Einstein criticized atheism saying he preferred “and attitude of humility”

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      “Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks….

      Only the [Catholic] Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.”

      – Albert Einstein, Time magazine, 23rd December, 1940 p. 38

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Einstein was a Spinozan static monist who toyed with Maimonidean pantheism.

      In normal words? He believed in God.

  • mac
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

    Firstly, homosexuality is not “objectively disordered”. It’s an alternative sexuality, not an inferior or disordered sexuality. When you call it “objectively disordered”, you’re being, at the very least, judgmental. You’re putting human beings with the same level of health and function on a distant, alien plane rather than treating them as brothers/sisters and equals.

    Moving on: “morality” is a basic understanding of societal (yes, societal) norms, consequences, and empathy. The fact that we’re frequently tempted to give into our ‘sins’ shows that this “morality” system isn’t an inflexible system of rules that are bestowed upon us and incorporated into our lives. Empathy allows us to feel the pain of others by putting ourselves in their shoes, so that vicarious/hypothetical pain often dissuades us from harming others. It’s the reason we don’t want to abuse an animal, or insult a homosexual – because we can imagine ourselves feeling the pain we’d be inflicting. Even this isn’t a perfect system though (see: Mean Girls). Beyond that, an understanding that societal rules exist, and that breaking them will have negative consequences (laws -> imprisonment, social norms -> becoming socially undesireable) does a good job of keeping us in place. These are worldly consequences that bind us, not “I WON’T GET TO HEAVEN IF I ROB THIS CONVENIENCE STORE!!!!1″

    If you need more evidence against this “Lord’s morality” theory, consider moral rules rooted only in religion, rather than in society. Things quickly fall apart as far as consistency from human to human go. Millions of people have absolutely guilt-free premarital sex on the daily. An astounding amount of people believe that abortion should be legal and that homosexuals should have equal rights and should be allowed the same guilt-free sex that the we heterosexuals enjoy! “Oh my god” is thoughtlessly treated as an expression devoted exclusively to describing cute jeans, rather than a use of the lord’s name in vain.

    I could go on, but you get the point. Morality is hardly consistent from person to person, so if there’s a “lawgiver”, he needs to do a better job of giving laws. It’s a combination of societal norms, empathy, consequences, personally decided values, and more. Something we create and are taught from youth by society.

    You may think that all these cute images get you places, but ultimately you’re not doing much better than the atheists tackling fundamentalists on facebook. Try harder next time.

    • Andy S

      Sarge

      Is homosexuality not disordered because you say it isn’t? Why should I take your word for it?

      Is it because of your incredible logic that because millions of people do things guilt-free then that means that there is no lawgiver? Lots of people rob banks… Does that mean there is no law against it and also no lawgiver in this regard,

      Let’s all try harder.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

        Believe it or not, most sane people DO think homosexuality is not disordered! For example, the American Psychiatric Association maintains that it’s a normal variation of human sexual orientation. If psychiatrists aren’t defining it as a disorder, then it probably isn’t going in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) anytime soon either, so no, it isn’t a recognized disorder no matter how hard the catholic church would like it to be!

        You’re right, lots of people do rob banks, and do an assortment of other terrible things. So if your lawgiver is giving laws telling them this is bad, we can agree he’s not doing a very convincing job! The fact of the matter is that a lot of morality is determined by society and by personal life experience. For example, children who are abused by there parents are more likely to become abusive parents in the future, because they’re taught that that’s okay. Good or bad parenting will impact an individual’s morality more than some invisible lawmaker ever could. There are a ton of things that go into the creation of one’s morality, but rest assured they’re ALL worldly. And that’s not to say the Church can’t be one of those things too, but then of course the Church is worldly too, isn’t it? After all, if your lawgiver had put these ideas safely into our minds, Moses wouldn’t have needed to scurry down Mt. Sinai with a pair of stone tablets!

        • JoAnna Wahlund

          They do NOW. They didn’t used to. And they’re beginning to push for recognizing pedophilia as a normal sexual orientation, too. Do you agree with them in that aspect, as well?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

            Yes, they do NOW. So the most current psychological analysis methods tell us that it isn’t.

            And who exactly is “they”? The DSM still has pedophilia listed as a disorder, and experts state that it often occurs comorbidly (as in it occurs often along with the presence of other psychiatric disorders, such as personality disorders) or in people who were abused in their childhood. No similar characteristics occur in the case of homosexuality, to my knowledge. So no, I do not agree with “them”, and not knowing who they are or what they claim doesn’t help any. Someone’s always claiming something, after all.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            I’ve read up on the decision to take it off the diagnostic tables. Know what new study changed their minds?

            None. It was just the trend of popular opinion. In the total absence of hard data, they went with social consensus—the same social consensus that had anti-miscegenation laws on the books not 20 years previous.

            A lot of APA members resigned in disgust over that change, you know. Of varying backgrounds—they objected to it as a violation of professional ethics.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

            That may be true or it may not (I’m leaning towards the latter, but if it is true then this is great news for plenty of priests! :P) but it’s all just a side-point anyway. When it boils down to it, psychologists don’t have much more to do with deciding right from wrong than bigoted old Catholic men do. The fact remains that, while pedophilia unarguably harms children, a consensual homosexual relationship typically harms no one, and in fact is enriching to the lives of those involved. Putting the two on the same plane is idiocy.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            There are higher rates of pedophilia among fathers and public school teachers…and every other clergy in the world.

            But keep right on with your blood libels, piggy, we know you don’t care about truth if you can get people to go along with your agenda of mass-murder. Again.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Unarguably? It isn’t unarguable. It can be, and has been, argued in the past, and said arguments are being revived.
            http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/333rtjrn.asp?page=1

        • Craig Stewart

          Dude. Penis’s are made for vagina’s (and vice versa), not buttholes (that’s where you poop from). Catholics are not complicated.

          When we say homosex is unnatural, we’re really being very simple.

          • Alexandra

            Simple, but not necessarily correct. Your assumptions are not necessarily true.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            In the sense that it is not inconceivable that some cosmos could exist where it was not true, yes—it is not strictly, logically, a necessary truth.

            It is, however, true in all observed cases.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

            Did you literally just slop all the biggest words you could think of into a sentence with no discernable meaning?

          • Cal-J

            Translation: “Sure, you might be right, in a world where the rules are different, which is speculation on the order of imagination. But here? No.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

            Alrighty then. The post isn’t a jumbled mess now, but still stays true its former spirit of senselessness!

            Which “rules” are there in this world saying that homosexuals having sex isn’t possible? As Korou said, anal sex is very possible. Unless you’d like to argue that it doesn’t allow for conception, which would still be irrelevant because sex =/= conception. It’s absurd to think that the two are completely dependent on one another, and until the catholic church says that married heterosexual couples who are physically unable to conceive are committing grave, mortal sin when they have sex, it just stands as bigotry towards the homosexual community.

            Unless this “cosmos” that you’re all going on about is actually just the creepy world of catholicism and its perverse fascination with sex.

          • Cal-J

            “When we say homosex is unnatural, we’re really being very simple.” – the actual claim

            The only person who speculated as to the possibility of was you, so I’m going to ignore most of that. If you’d like to address the actual claim, you may.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            You think those are the biggest words I could think of? Adorable.

            If you complain about the size of the words, and assert that something other people—since they explained it—understood quite readily, well…it says something, let’s just say that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarge-Verisine/100002738872054 Sarge Verisine

            You’re right, you ARE being very simple.

          • Korou

            Dude. Anal sex is not a crime. Two gay men can do it. A heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman can do it. Two homosexual women can do it.
            Also, if penises are made for vaginas, then oral sex is unnatural?
            I don’t think you do say that homosex is bad because its unnatural; you say it’s bad because it’s against your religion, and you try to justify that by saying its unnatural. But it’s not. Homosex occurs in many animals apart from humans. And, as was pointed out, it hurts nobody, so what’s wrong with it?

            The fact that the Bible says it’s wrong. Good reason for Bible-believing Christians to think it is, but not for anyone else.

        • Catholic girl

          “For example, the American Psychiatric Association maintains that it’s a normal variation of human sexual orientation. If psychiatrists aren’t defining it as a disorder, then it probably isn’t going in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) anytime soon either, so no, it isn’t a recognized disorder no matter how hard the catholic church would like it to be!”
          It used to be in the DSM. I wonder if Psychiatrists got smarter or dumber when they took it out?

          • Alexandra

            A mental disorder is something that is associated with causing the person distress or disability. So by the Catholic definition, homosexuality probably still is a disorder, but psychiatry moved past that when they realized that was causing the distress was the societal condemnation, not the condition of homosexuality itself.

            I think correctly identifying the cause counts as progress, so I guess I’d vote for that means that psychiatrists got “smarter.”

  • A Silent Observer

    Captain Picard FTW!
    Good post, Marc. A little…rambling, but it gets the job done.
    For those commenting that morality is merely an evolutionary trait so that we all get along…really?
    According to that line of reasoning, we should be able to see other ‘societies’ with laws. One animal does not know it is wrong to steal food from another animal. They do not feel shame when they do it. According to this theory of ‘evolved morality’ shouldn’t both creatures share? Name another social species on this planet that has a sense of law and order. I’ll be you can’t. Even a complex societal creature like the honeybee has no morality. When you cease to support the hive, you die. True, there are creatures that form a symbiotic relationship with each other, but they don’t do it because they feel morally obligated to. They do it because it benefits them.
    Another point; on the surface, morality makes us weaker. Stealing that money would make us stronger, better able to survive and bear children. Killing that person would eliminate a potential rival or enemy. So, wouldn’t it make sense that we would be ‘bred’ or genetically programmed to care only about ourselves, many species are.
    For those saying that morality is merely how society is programmed to be happy, frankly, I find I’m much happier when I’m not nice to people…
    Finally, I suppose that morality doesn’t necessarily require a supernatural explanation, but when the evidence is examined, that seems more likely.

    • Alexandra

      First off, a lot of animals do have a sense of right and wrong and do feel shame. If you really believe they don’t, I’m guessing you’ve never had a pet or you had a really nasty pet.

      Stealing money would breed ill will among our peers and they would be less likely to support us if we needed help in the future. They might even kick us out of the society and then we’d be really out of luck. So while we’d have the money, we’d lose the good graces of our peers which is a lot to lose.

      Killing someone that poses a threat to us would be good, but people don’t trust or respect murders. Again, you’d lose societal support and face consequences. Same thing.

      Cooperating with people does not make us weaker, it builds a community that is stronger than a bunch of lone wolves who decide to just fight each other for funsies.

      If you really do feel happier when you’re not nice to people, then you’re in the minority, but I doubt that you really do. When you are altruistic people are more likely to do good things for you, like some sort of secular karma. Your overall quality of life is better when you treat people well because they will treat you well in return.

      • Korou

        Well said!

  • Jcbarkley123

    Are you Retarded? Morality does not require an existential origin. In the same way many animals of the same species do not kill each other often. We are driven by natural instinct. For example, if something is stolen from you you are upset. When you are upset you will exact revenge or reprimand the person whole stole from you. Once someone steals enough and is punished enough they will realize that stealing is wrong. This repeats itself until “social norms” are created. People will then educate their children on what their perception of what’s wrong and what’s right. That’s why we have to teach our kids what is right and what is wrong; because it is not born in them. We teach our kids our personal definition of right and wrong from the time we bring them home from the hospital. Kids mimic their parent’s actions and eventually develop their own sense of morality. Morality has absolutely NOTHING to do with a god.

    • Ckdaw

      I am extremely sold on your argument after your retard question.

      Way to Ad Hominem.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Uh-huh. And then why do people sometimes question these social norms?

      Of course morality requires an existential origin, everything does. Do you even know what the word means?

  • GuyWith?

    What about the idea that morality has sociobiological roots? That is, it’s a product of evolution. Survival isn’t a moral good, it’s just something innate in us because our predecessors who had the “survival gene” survived the process of natural selection. (I’m a true and true natural law Catholic, but this is something I bump up against and struggle to answer… perhaps the answer is “you could be right, but the human experience suggests that there is something more…”)

    • Sophias_Favorite

      How about the fact lots of things universally acknowledged as immoral (however many loopholes we create to let ourselves get away with them), are also perfectly viable survival strategies?

      Forced matings, for instance. Anyone who thinks good morals are the same thing as survival is either so rich they’ve never had to choose between them or is an atheist who still believes in Santa Claus.

  • Tanyarenfrew

    absolutely amazing. lawyer’d like a sir. :)

  • Mike McGee

    Also, I get the general idea that replying to NT stuff with OT verses is a bit silly of us rabid secularist marxists, because of the whole new covenant thing. Like, I’m fine with that. If we’re trying to point out internal inconsistencies, from our outside perspective, we still need to at least abide by the rules of the system. Like I said, cool with that.

    But I’m not sure the issue -really- is ‘Ah, shrimp is why you shouldn’t quote Leviticus’. I mean, I still think it’s a pretty valid point. After all, why did the ‘consensus of what we all know is unnatural’ -need- to be given specific airtime, and called out, and mentioned in Leviticus, but not after halftime.

    But I think that’s avoiding the -real- crux of the issue. The real crux of the issue is, at one time, eating shellfish was against God’s wishes, and so was wearing two different types of cloth. The God who you would say exists today is that same dude. I mean, right? So doesn’t that mean that he has a track record of laying down moral guidelines that are, in fact, inconsistent with our innate, internal understanding of what’s right and wrong? Or at least, our innate understanding is inconsistent with his track record. Or at least, there are times (and presumably will be times) when our internal understanding is out of sync with Holy Law.

    I’m expecting you to reply with God’s laws changed because they needed to fit the situation on the ground, with the circumstances of the day. But then, that sounds like God is as much of a moral relativist as, I dunno. Doobie McBleedingHeart.

    • Mike McGee

      Note: Doobie McBleedingHeart is -not- my alter ego.

      ..Well. He wasn’t before now.

    • Lori

      One reason God gave the Jews all the detailed commandments of Leviticus and the like was to set them apart as His chosen people. When they had to follow intricate rules every day about what to eat and what to wear, it served to remind them of God’s covenant. In the NT Jesus makes a new covenant, one meant for all people, so the old rules no longer applied – though it took the early Church some time to understand that.

      • Alexandra

        But some of the rules in Leviticus are completely immoral. Did God dictate the requirement that people should be killed for these offenses? How is that interpreted?

        • Cal-J

          Which rules in Leviticus are immoral?

          • Alexandra

            Uhm, the killing people? The punishments in Leviticus for violating these rules.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Why is it immoral to be killed, when you render the life of your neighbors impossible?

            You yourself were the one saying morals come from survival. So why shouldn’t they kill people who impede their survival?

          • Alexandra

            You’re really all over the place, Sophia.

            We’re talking about Biblical morality here. Was killing someone for homosexual sex moral in the Old Testament days? That’s the question.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Well, aside from the public-health nightmare that is anal sex, any behavior that deviates from a group’s norms can break down its cohesion and risk its survival.

            Ever hear of the Uncanny Valley? It’s where CGI and other art may creep people out by being too lifelike, but not quite enough. It’s theorized to have originated in an instinctive aversion to the mentally ill.

            Any action or mannerism that isn’t “normal”, defined relative to the rest of the group, can trip that response.

            I’m not the one who defined morality as whatever the community does; you were. But you want to have your cultural relativism and also judge them as if your quaint tribal customs were universal morality.

            You have to think that yes, it was moral. So’s Pakistani honor-killing and Aztec human sacrifice. Remember, social cohesion is the sole source of morals!

      • Lori

        …and I should add that there’s a difference between a rule like ” thou shalt not eat shellfish,” which was a rule God imposed merely for a time, and an immutable law like ” thou shalt not kill,” which is literally set in stone. There’s nothing -innately- wrong with eating shellfish, whereas murder is clearly an evil. It’s like the fasts imposed by the Catholic Church today. Eating food is a good thing, but there are times during which we are asked not to, as a small sacrifice for the good of our souls.

        Which makes me wonder about the Tree of Knowledge, if you’ll pardon my literalism. Eve saw that the tree was good for food; neither she nor Adam appeared to sicken from eating its fruit. Yet God had forbidden it. Was this, too, something regarding which, if our First Parents had chosen obedience, God would have changed the rule at a later time? Would God have shared the fruit of Knowledge once humans were ready for it? Hmmm….

        • Mike McGee

          Like Alexandra below, to me, some of the OT stuff doesn’t just seem quaint, or inexplicable, but downright wrong. Surely ‘to set them apart’ isn’t good enough for the -source- of morality to set laws like that.

          Also, and I really don’t want to be a dick here, but is there anything in the Bible that says some of these rules have an expiration date? Because that seems like an ad hoc explanation, something that was tacked on by mere mortals. Which isn’t really.. satisfying, if we’re supposed to buy into an infallible authority.

          • bauerfam

            If you use Bible-only thinking, you might run into some confusion. Try adding Tradition tot eh Scripture, and the confusion clears. Christians have not been brain dead for the last 2,000 years and have resolved many issues for the benefit of mankind.
            Please take another look at the CCCC regarding homosex.

    • Sailor

      First of all, there is a distinction between dictates of the moral law and prudential proscriptions. I *think* that the explanation that I’m about to give is orthodox. If not, someone who knows more should correct me.
      The punishments required in the Old Covenant for violations of the Moral Law are the punishments that our sins *deserve.* So yes, sodomy and other serious sins deserve death. The wage of sin is death.
      Under the New Covenant, we do not receive the punishment that our sins *deserve* in this life because of God’s sacrifice of Himself, that is, the sacrifice of the Son to the Father. The Old Covenant was just. The New Covenant is clement and merciful.
      God has not, strictly speaking, changed, but his relationship with us certainly has. And He also has assumed a human nature. This is all part of the Mystery of the Incarnation. Even though God doesn’t change, God may truly be said to have been born, to have grown up, and to have died. This isn’t a contradiction, actually, and someone who isn’t merely a combox theologian might be able to explain it better, but it *is* a mystery.
      So that’s the moral law.
      There are also some prudential dietary laws that were necessary because they weren’t as good at preparing food back then as we are now, and also because it was necessary for them to have a strong identity as a People. It *is* objectively wrong to eat food that you know could make you sick.
      Also we must keep in mind the nature of what is happening to the Jews. The Jews had been chosen as the guardians of continuing revelation from God. That process was very, very important for all of mankind, not just for the Jews.

      • Mike McGee

        Hmmm. Okay. I hadn’t considered the ‘assumed a human nature’ angle, and that’s something I’ll digest.

        But already, in my own head, that seems like ‘Well, isn’t that an improvement? If God has improved over time, and is mutable, and a process and progress, dot dot dot’

        But I can see how that’s just me stamping my foot and saying ‘No! Atheism!’

        So I guess my real point is, the OT stuff -doesn’t- seem ‘just’. Like, why did we as humanity need to rely on the human-themselves rabbis coming up with the rabbinic law to make the death penalty further and further out of reach. Talmudic law needed something like 25 judges to -all- agree that a capital crime has been committed, there need to be X number of witnesses, etc, etc, all with the result that the death penalty was exceedingly rare, even by non-Texan standards. Why did the human guardians of revelation need to improve on justice?

        Or would that then be.. their own way of bringing in clemency and mercy into OT hard-ass shit because they don’t have a second covenant to do that for them?

        • Craig Stewart

          There’s obvious hope for this one guys! A sincere seeker of the Truth, wherever it leads. Trust me that it leads in some strange places.

          Keep honestly probing Mike! If you seek the Truth with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul, God has promised you will find it. But those conditionals are important, even if we don’t believe in souls.

          The arguments are the long way in. If that’s the way you want to go, it is rich and rewarding when you get there. If you want to take a massive shortcut (I’m lazy, hopefully you’re not!) then just take Pascal up on his wager and try acting as if you did believe and formally invite God into your heart. Come visit us at Mass, or try praying the rosary. Hell, try praying. God will seize this opportunity and shock you. But he is the archetype of everything good about the gentleman, he will never force himself upon you, now or for eternity.

          Yours with an ocean of love,

          Craig

  • -_-

    “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person. Your behavior does”. – Anonymous

    • Craig Stewart

      Could have very well been Jesus Christ, or the Pope. They would sagely add that our beliefs are formative for our actions and behavior, and intrinsic to who we are, but the point stands. Catholics are the more ‘do’ey’ of Christians. Protestants, I think, are very ‘believey’.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Neither of them makes you a better person, and even if you are a better person, you’re still in the same condition as your “inferiors”.

      I paraphrase, but that’s a teaching of both Christ and the Buddha. “There is more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over one righteous man.” and “All are alike worthy to hear the message of enlightenment, even the wicked man.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001496427028 Chris Alessandrini

    this is so broken its not even funny. if you new anything about evolution you would know that morals evolved as a means of self preservation. once these morals are seated in your mind, the mind will then apply them to other situations that are similar. ex cruelty(x) to humans (y) is wrong(z) therefor x+y=z, and since humans (y) are not wrong (x+0=z), that can only mean that cruelty is wrong (x=z) regardless of what y is.

    • Contra Mundum

      You say morals evolved as a means of self preservation and preventing cruelty, but this doesn’t explain all the morals we have.

      Take one example:
      I assume you feel that bestiality is bad, and by extension is morally objectionable. There is nothing in this that threatens self preservation. It certainly doesn’t add to the human population, but that’s beside the point, many activities we do don’t. For the human involved it may be pleasurable, and make him happy. If you want to bring the animal into the picture, it is not under any immediate threat to its life either. (Although we can focus less on the animal’s morals or even it not giving it’s “consent.” We eat the damn things. We’re trying to define Human morality.)

      This is just one of many actions that I would assume most people find morally wrong, but have nothing to do with self preservation. Since this type of action does not threaten self preservation, and (by some extent) may not be considered “cruel,” by the logic you put forth in your comment, how can we say that it is morally wrong?

    • Sophias_Favorite

      If you knew anything about evolution, you’d know “preventing cruelty” and “self-preservation” have no relation to each other whatsoever.

      Plainly, you have a very fairy tale conception of the natural world.

  • JAGreene86

    There’s two things that Christians and Atheist have in common: one of them is Faith.

    WHAT? HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE AN ATHEIST OF HAVING FAITH!!!

    Look around Atheist…do you KNOW that things exist or do you BELIEVE that things exist?

    “I think, therefore I am” essay is in reference in saying that, philosophically, it can be the existence of anything around me can be disproven (except I cannot disprove my own thought, for that would be a philosophical contradiction).

    With this argument, it can be stated that we never KNOW anything to be true (except our own existence), but rather BELIEVE things to be true.

    …but wait, I said there’s two things that Christians and Atheist have in common…what could possibly be the second one? Ah…Self-motivation.

    We are all motivated to believe what we believe and do what we do. Faith does not do this “random” assortment upon people. The reason why we are passionate about we believe is because we choose to believe it. If we did not choose to believe it (or if it was suggested that it’s “common knowledge”, therefore, everyone should, and does, believe it), then we won’t be as passionate about it…but since our beliefs, in some way, shape, or form, make us distinct in a world full of 7 billion people, but yet link us to at least one individual that we want to link ourselves with is the very reason why we believe what we believe. Christians cannot even deny this fact, no matter how hard they try…and they won’t want to, because a “self-motivated” Christian is better than a “God-motivated” Christian (that is why so many Christians are viewed as “bad people”, because they take themselves out of the equation).

    To people who are confused, let me explain: The reason why society is so uppity about homosexuals getting married is because both parties will it to happen, therefore, why not let it happen? But they wouldn’t be able to have this same argument if person A wanted to marry a dog, or a 15-year-old, or even a robot. All three can’t give legal consent. Their best argument is that “both people will it”, not “one person wills it”. If I marry someone just because they want to marry me, I’m going to be such a terrible husband, versus, if I marry someone because I want to marry them, I have a better chance of being a better husband (whether or not I actually become a good husband is TBD).

    With that explanation, people should be Christian because THEY want to be Christian, not JUST because they feel like God wants them to be Christian…and same thing with Atheists…they should be Atheist because they want to be Atheist…not because they have some anger or resentment towards religion (as Inception would say, positive motivation is stronger than negative motivation).

    So, there is some benefit to being either Christian or Atheist, or else neither would exist in our world (I’m just isolating those two, since I would imagine 99% of the people on here are one or the other, but this applies to all faiths). What is the self-benefit of being Christian? What is the self-benefit of being Atheist? Or, the better questions…(as John Nash discovered) Which one brings the most benefit to both the individual…and society? I will not deny that both have some degree of benefit to the individual who believes it and/or the society that surrounds them…but I asked “which one brings the MOST benefit?”.

    For this (and last paragraph, thank you all for following up to this point), I call on…math and science (Atheist favorite subjects). It would not be a good argument if I start with the simple “2+2=4…we can all agree that’s true, right?”, because that means nothing…but yet, (I am no math major, nor science major) if I were to point out…that even math and science dive into this “solution A is better than solution B”, I would not be far from the truth. Now, not all calculations and discoveries can be simplified in such a simple solution, but if the basis of evolution is true, then it can be agreed upon that evolution itself weeds out what is bad and enforces what is better. This is definitely true in morality (if, morality, indeed came from society)…however…is society better or worse now then, say…50 years ago? If morality is indeed coming from society (thus, coming from evolution), then either evolution is not “naturally improving” society, or morality does not come from evolution.

    I no longer ask the question “what is good, what is evil”…I now ask the question “what is better?”. Have we maxed out on morality? Or are there more moral principles yet to discover? And do WE have to be the ones to willfully discover it?

    (…and for those who are wondering whether I’m Christian or Atheist…I could tell you, but how would you know if I’m lying or not? By the evidence…but evidence, as we know, is mostly determined by how we interpret it (aka The Bible). You have three options: Believe me to be an Atheist, believe me to be a Christian…or “I don’t know”. The “I don’t know” crowd I give an award for being “the most cowardly award” (but at least they’re honest about it). The other groups…have a 50/50 shot of being correct. If you’re wrong, you’re being judgmental (for you can’t be judgmental if it’s true, right?)…if you’re right…but then again, how do you know you’re right? This is where faith takes over. We believe…therefore, we hope it to be true…for what good is faith if you’re wrong?)

  • ihavemorals

    Everyone should be loving… So don’t try to call out atheist and still say why catholicism is best.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Atheists can love and be moral all they like…but it makes no sense.

      “This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads.”—Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

  • http://ideasaboutgodandtheworld.wordpress.com/ Alejandro

    Have to admit, you made it pretty good, even if it has some flaws.

    • Alexandra

      There’s too many flaws in there to really call it good. I couldn’t even manage to follow it.

      • JoAnna Wahlund

        Perhaps that indicates a deficit in your concentration as opposed to a deficit in the argument.

        • Alexandra

          It does yes, but that doesn’t exclude the fact that if it were without flaws it’d be easier to follow and I’d be able to maintain concentration on the point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Silvia/100000180380975 Gary Silvia

    This is an easy one, the Dude abides. Not being a dick to others is a natural evolutionary response, what’s “good” for you is good for me. Running around pissing on other people’s rugs is not just exhausting but causes a lot of trouble for a lot of people, then your stuck with a lot of reactionary pissed off people.

    • Cal-J

      I wouldn’t call “not being a dick to others” a “natural evolutionary response”; people have to be taught to behave well. To share. To care for one another. Any parent can testify to that.

      And it doesn’t occur naturally, either; you let humans alone without any supervision, without any accountability and something will go wrong. People have inclinations to fight, to steal, and, at times, to kill.

      And as you yourself pointed out, it breeds itself; you mess with other people and they want to mess with you right back.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Hmm. So, then, psychopaths don’t exist?

      That’s sure good to know.

  • Burton

    A question for those who believe that morality evolved:

    If evolution is a random process (no teleology here!), then would you agree that it is meaningless to suggest that anything is innately good or bad in the moral sense?

    If the evolution of our species is, in the future, furthered by acts that we now universally agree are morally reprehensible, and if society as a whole embraces these acts as morally acceptable, would they cease to be “bad” and become “good”? Is anything innately “good”, morally speaking?

    • Alexandra

      Evolution isn’t random. Mutations are random, but natural selection is anything but random.

      • musiciangirl591

        it seems random…

      • Sophias_Favorite

        From a chemistry standpoint, “mutations are random” is nonsense. Mutations occur because of the properties of genetic material, and various environmental factors like radiation. There is some element of chance, but most of the seeming randomness is simply because it’s so complex we can’t perceive the underlying correlations.

    • Kubricks_Rube

      “If evolution is a random process (no teleology here!), then would you agree that it is meaningless to suggest that anything is innately good or bad in the moral sense?”

      Not necessarily. Evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive, so you’re right that evolution doesn’t say anything is good or bad. But as humans evolved, we gained consciousness, and through that consciousness we developed moral tools to determine what ought to be, just as we developed math and science as tools to discover what is. Given our close biological connection not just to all other humans but to the entire tree of life, there is nothing random about the consistency with which humanity has settled on moral truths or the direction in which the study of right and wrong has progressed. (See Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good and Evil and/or How We Believe .)

      “If the evolution of our species is, in the future, furthered by acts…”

      Again, evolution is not prescriptive; there is no commandment to do anything for “the evolution of our species.” Evolution doesn’t act on a timescale that we could purposely exploit.

      “…that we now universally agree are morally reprehensible, and if society as a whole embraces these acts as morally acceptable, would they cease to be “bad” and become “good”?”

      The trajectory usually works the other way- things universally embraced as morally acceptable are slowly discovered to be reprehensible- slavery, sex with children, the divine right of kings, destruction of the our ecosystem. It certainly goes the other way too- equality for women, minorities and (fingers crossed) LGBT people for example. Right and wrong haven’t changed- our understanding of the world has.

      “Is anything innately “good”, morally speaking?””

      The Golden Rule. It’s the most elegant moral barometer we have.

  • BreathBeforeYouType

    It’s nice to see that there’s a Catechism like #2358. Does that mean there are over 2300 Catechism’s? Or more?? If so, it must be terribly hard to keep up with it all.

    So, how far does that love for gays extend? Enough to grant homosexuals equal rights? Enough to legalize gay marriage? Enough to accept/marry them in the Catholic Church? Recently, in my city, a gay man was fired from his position as musical director from a Catholic Church because he married his partner. He’d been working for the church for several years. The decision to fire him did not seem based on love.

    And again, it’s great to be Pro-Life! Not in the political sense but in actual definition- saving lives. Are Catholics pro-life enough to protest the war(s)/capital punishment? Or is the focal point purely about saving the unborn? If so, how about teaching safe-sex and passing out condoms? Does the Catholic Church do that?

    Perhaps this morality I have does come from a high power. I would argue it’s because I grew up with loving role models and was encouraged to be kind and understanding. Either way, it’s my “morality” which causes me to take issue with the position of the Catholic Church.

    It’s been my observation that practicing Catholics are only “Pro-Gay/Pro-Life” to the extent the church allows. It also seems that equal rights are at the center of this debate. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church doesn’t allow equality. Be it allowing homosexuals to marry, giving young adults knowledge about safe sex, or electing a woman to become Pope. And that’s why this argument holds no water.

    - An Agnostic “Baby Eater”

    • Slaflamme88

      You’re right. The Church doesn’t allow for equality. That is, among two things that are not equal. The Church calls it like it is. No matter how hard society may try, a woman is not a man and a man is not a woman. Period. This is where you and the rest of society get it wrong: they equate equality with sameness. Are people with homosexual tendencies equal to people with heterosexual tendencies? Absolutely. Should they’re relationship choices be treated as the same. No, that would be irrational. Are men and women equal in dignity as human beings? Absolutely. Are the same? No. So should they be treated as if they are the same? When they’re not? I’ll let you answer that one. It’s not a tough one either…

      • Slaflamme88

        “their”. Sorry, it’s late.

      • JAGreene86

        …to further illustrate your point, here’s a math statement:

        3×2-5+6+7=14

        Are they of equal value? Yes.
        Are they written the same way? No.

        Men and women are different expressions of equality. They shouldn’t be the same, or else why is there males and females in the first place?

        Heterosexuals = Homosexuals

        Are they of equal value? Yes.
        Are they written the same way? No.

        Caucasians = African American

        Are they of equal value? Yes.
        Are they written the same way? No.

        …get the picture?

        …and it’s not so much that homosexuals don’t have the same rights as everyone else…but people forget that marriage is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.

        What about the many people who are single, but yet wanted to get married? Don’t they have a right to get married as well? Why didn’t they use that right?

        Marriage is a privilege, not a right…let’s clear that up. A right is something that is a need…marriage is not a need, therefore, it is a Church and State-given privilege.

        • BreatheBeforeYouType

          I don’t presently need to bare arms or have a fair and speedy trial by a jury of my peers. At some point, I might. So, it’s good that those rights are afforded to me by my country. Also, should I chose to marry, I would be afforded several rights within my marriage. I’m not gay, so I don’t have to worry about life insurance/will issues or visitation rights, should something terrible happen. If I have kids with my spouse, I don’t have to worry the state could pass an amendment and possible take them away. Again, I don’t need any of these rights as of yet, so it’s nice to have these “privileges”.

          And I’m not sure I understand your last argument.

          “What about the many people who are single, but yet wanted to get married? Don’t they have a right to get married as well? Why didn’t they use that right?”

          Do you mean they were a committed couple but just didn’t get married? At least they had a choice, right? It’s not quite so oppressive.

          • JAGreene86

            Contrary to popular belief, but not everyone is entitled to a just and speedy trial.

            I just took a class, offering us the intelligence of the courts…and it was:

            If someone sues you for copyright, even if they’re in the wrong, it is better for you to just settle.

            Is that justice? I asked the question “don’t I have the right to an attorney, even if I can’t afford one?”, she said…surprisingly…no. Because of how small my wallet size is, I do not have the right to an attorney. My only two options then would be to settle for an unjust judgement, or represent myself in court…and probably lose anyway, because I’m not a lawyer and not trained on court laws.

            Also, I don’t have the right to bear arms, because I need a gun license to carry and conceal a gun. If I am found to carry and conceal a gun without a gun license, I can do time in jail.

            Yes, it is nice to have “privileges”, but do other people have privileges that I don’t have? Absolutely. Do you see me making a big fuss over it? No. As I stated earlier, consent from either the State and/or Church institution is the only way a marriage can be legal. If the Church and/or State found some flaw or reason for two people not to get married, they don’t have to give consent…that is why it is a privilege. If the Church and/or State said to me “you can’t get married”, why would I want to make such a big fuss over it? If they say I can’t, then I can’t. If I’m gay, and the Catholic Church says “we will never give consent on marrying gay couples”, then I won’t get married in the Catholic Church. They have the “right” to do that, and even if I think they’re in the wrong, there’s nothing I can do about it, because I’m not the Church…just in the same way that I’m not you. I can’t “force” my ideals on you, even if I wanted to…you always have that choice. But, however, if there is moral right and wrong” (which is what the original discussion was about), and the Church believes that it is in the “right moral teaching”, then I can either educate myself on why they believe what they believe (and then accurately make a stance either for or against the Church), or I can just sit and pout about “I hate the Church because it tells me I can’t have this and that” like a little kid. Now, of those two options, which sounds like the most mature response?

            …and for someone who doesn’t know the Catechism very well, you awfully come across as someone who knows the Catholic Church very well…*sarcasm*

            …and what I mean by last paragraph is saying that…why can’t single people get the benefits of being married, even though they’re single? Why can’t we just give them the same tax breaks that we give married people? Because to me, (and based on your arguments) thats discrimination, and they should be treated just like everyone else.

            …and respect isn’t equality…respect is about understanding, compassion, and empathy. Even though we are all “equal”, I have more respect for people who are honest and real…and the combination of the two are rare to find nowadays.

            Catholicboyrichard is honest and real, and out of everyone on this blog response, I respect him the most, because he’s shown me how honest and real he is. I dream about being as honest and real as he is…and hopefully one day I will be. That is what inspires me…that is what wants me to get up and fight for just and noble causes, as well as be understanding, compassionate, and empathetic to those around me. Atheism and Agnosticism doesn’t do that for me (but if people can do that while being Atheist and Agnostic, all the more power to them…but where I caution is that most Atheist and Agnostics don’t). Christianity does that for me…and that is why I am a Christian. I will admit that there are a lot of Christians who don’t treat/respect everyone as they should, and I would strongly question whether or not they should be a Christian then. As strange as it sounds, I would rather have someone be a good Atheist rather than a bad Christian…but where I run into trouble is that most Atheist aren’t “good Atheists”, because they either are not looking for the greater good of society, or, they’ve developed their own warped ideologies that point everything back to them being correct in their universe. That’s what I argue against. People aren’t correct in their beliefs just because they want to be correct in their beliefs…but people are correct because they believe what is true. As I stated earlier, faith is worthless if it goes against truth. If there is no god, then my faith in god is in vain…but all the evidence in my life points to there being the existence of God, but since I can never know something for certain, I have faith in that evidence, therefore, I have faith in God and in Christianity.

          • Cmatt

            a just and speedy trial

            and a right to an attorney if you meet certain poverty guidelines only apply to criminal cases, so the copyright example wouldn’t apply.

      • BreatheBeforeYouType

        So, men and women are not the same and henceforth treated differently. To what extent? How are these differences measured and calculated? Men are bigger, so they get to be our leaders? Is that the rationale? Women are smaller in frame, so their opinions and merit mean less within the Church? There are (essentially) two genders but why is one exalted while the other is expected to take a more submissive role? Is that what the Church deems the will of God?

        Again, this circular logic doesn’t make sense. Gays and Straights are equal, but one’s relationship is more valid than the other. But since they are defined by their orientations (in this context) they cease to be equal.

        To me, it’s like saying this:
        A=1
        B=1
        Therefore A > B

        • Cmatt

          Gays and straights are each individually equal before the law and God, meaning they individually have the same rights and responsibilities. That does not mean any combination of these individuals have to be treated the same. A man may be strong enough to carry a 200 lb load 50 feet; a woman may not. It is therefore not “unfair” if the man qualifies to be a firefighter, but the woman doesn’t.

          A man and a woman can join in matrimony to procreate. A man and a man cannot; a woman and a woman cannot – at least not without extraordinarily difficult intervention. Therefore, there is nothing unfair about the state recognizing one relationship as marriage, and the others not. Note: that same homosexual man is free to marry a woman; and the straight guy is just as prohibited from marrying another man.

          And if you don’t think it’s fair, then why is it fair to only allow two people to marry, but not three or four? Or to prohibit marriage between siblings? Or parents and children?

    • JAGreene86

      #1. The Catholic Church has a high moral standard…and anyone who works for any Catholic-offiliated organization, it is the Church’s duty to make sure that all employees hold up to that Catholic moral standard. If it is discovered that an employee is living a life as an adulterer (which, technically speaking, any man or women who is found to be living and/or married to another person of the same sex is in a state of adultery because they are having sexual relations with someone who is not rightfully their spouse in the eyes of the Church, therefore, they are not living up to the standards of the Church, therefore, have the right to terminate that persons affiliation with that organization. It’s in the same sense that someone who works at as AA consular is discovered to be an current alcoholic…the AA organization has a right to terminate his employment, because he is not abiding by the code of conduct that AA established.

      #2. There are plenty of pro-life people who are against wars, capital punishment, etc. The reason why the abortion side of pro-life seems to be the only thing talked about is because it’s the only thing that the media is portraying, because it has such a heavy load when it comes down to election times. There is no such thing as a 100% pro-life politician…so voters have to choose which life will be saved: a unborn baby, or a criminal and/or soldier. Since, the thought is that criminals and soldiers actually choose to put themselves in that situation, many pro-life people sway on the side of saving unborn babies, because, to them, when it comes time to vote, its either one or the other…and the media thrives on that.

      #3. The reason why the Catholic Church doesn’t pass out condoms is because it is against Church teaching to have sex outside of marriage and outside of the willingness to be open to life. This is not to “take away the fun of the world”, but as you can see, there are millions of 16, 17, 18 year olds who are single parents…because of failed condoms. Even if we educate kids on how to put on condoms, do you think that’ll stop the countless abuse that women go through because their boyfriends are sex-crazy? If a girl nowadays refuses sex to their boyfriend, the boyfriend will come abusive, because that is their leverage for getting what they want from the girl (either that or the guy will cheat on the girl and go after another girl who’ll give him what they want). Psychiatrist point out that the number one reason why teen girls commit suicide is because of problems over relationships. A girl gives her heart away to some guy just looking for sex…but if they refrain from sex, and if the guy has a reason to look at her other than just a sex object, do you think their relationship will be better or worse?

      #4. Let me ask you this then…why is there male and female? If God was all about equality, why didn’t he just make us all males with the ability to pro-create? If you believe that there is no God, but yet evolution, don’t you think that, by now, one sex would’ve started to dominate over another sex? It’s true in the animal word…most animal species has a dominate sex over the other (I mean…some female spider species are like 8x larger than their male counterparts…and they also eat the male spider after sex…). Although I don’t think “dominate” is the right word (if that were true, I would hate to be a male spider), I think “sex roles” is more of a proper term. For instance: Can a man have a baby in it’s womb? No…that role is for the mother…it is a special bond between the mother and the child, because the mother was with the child for 9 months before it was even born. Males can’t have that same relationship with their child as the mother does. Is that equality? Or is that just about “creating them male and female” and each of them having their certain role, certain bond with the child when the child is born? This is the same case in the Catholic Church: Women have certain roles in the Church, and men have certain roles in the Church. I’m sure a working man like yourselves understand that not everyone can be the “big cheese”…but yet you need people to get the work done…and, again, about equality…should everyone get paid the same then? I mean…it doesn’t seem fair to me that there are certain jobs that make more money that are less work than other jobs which are more work but less money (try being a server at a busy restaurant, then you’ll quickly realize how unequal the world really is).

      The beauty of life is to know our role. Submission and discipline is becoming a lost art in this modern world…but, I “believe” (although I’m not sure…I’m kind of agnostic on this part ;-), that if people know their specific role in life, that we would shortly see a decline of complaining about how bad the world is.

      …and hey, we’re all Agnostic in some ways…some of us are actually honest about it…but honesty and intelligence are separate entities…

      • Alexandra

        There is so much wrong with your idea of gender and sexuality.

        Girls don’t have sex drives? Boys will abuse a woman to force her to have sex with him? These are disgusting generalizations that only perpetuate the kind of behavior that you’re talking about. Gender is largely a societal construct and we don’t have to dictate what our roles are in society based on the expectation of our gender conforming to our sex.

        • JAGreene86

          Let me ask you this: Can an alcoholic ever become an alcoholic if they never drink a drop of alcohol?

          Also, what drives an alcoholic? One who cannot control their desire for alcohol, right?

          This is what I was getting at (that has been obviously misinterpreted): When kids are young, they have a hard time controlling their sex drive…so is it better for them to “give in” to their sex drives, or wait for them to mature until they’re able to be more on control of their sex drives? My argument is saying that if you give someone something that they’re addicted to, not only are you feeding their addiction, but as soon as you stop feeding their addiction, they will become very angry and emotional and demand for you to keep feeding their addiction, or else they’ll find alternate ways to feed their addiction and leave you in the dust. If you’ve ever dealt with someone deep into an addiction, they all react the same way. Sad reality is…that’s what happens…whether someone is 15, 25, or 45 and caught in an uncontrollable addiction. People will leave their families, whom they love, to chase their addiction. Boys will break girls hearts, because of their addiction to sex. Girls may have a sex drive, but they have no idea how difficult it is on the other side.

          Yes, I know what I made earlier is a disgusting generalization, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less true. I’m talking about tendencies of human behavior, and as any doctor would tell you, the best cure for a disease is preventing it in the first place.

          As far as gender (or sex) roles, did society say that the women has to be the one to carry the child in her womb for 9 months? Does society have control over which chromosome matches with which chromosome at conception? Are we male and female by accident? Or are we male and female with a purpose? This is what I’m getting too…if you are a male, embrace masculinity for all it’s worth! If you are female, embrace femininity for all it’s worth! It’s similar to any time we buy something, we want to get the most for our money…its the same thing with life. If we’re given a male body, let us use it for all it’s worth. If we’re given a female body, lets us it for all its worth…but again, we shouldn’t trade it for a lesser value. Sex is a “metaphysical” trading of bodies…and that’s why most girls (and some guys) feel guilty about having sex with someone they don’t really know or care about, because they just realized they traded the sacredness and intimateness of their bodies for something that lasts…one whole night. Even sex in relationships can manipulate the relationship, because it only lasts as long as the relationship lasts. Once the relationship is over, the “good memory” of that moment is now tainted, and even when another person comes in, the original person is still dealing with that tainted image of their previous sexual encounter. People don’t forget having sex (unless they’re completely wasted, and I don’t even want to deal with that…), and if people have sex with the wrong person, it haunts them.

          You know…I may not be beautiful like a woman. I love beauty, but I know I’m not blessed to be beautiful. I desire a women who’s beautiful, because it’s something I don’t have. If I find a women who’s just a female version of me, what good is that? Other than their body, is there anything that they offer to me that I don’t have? That’s what I’m also getting about “sex roles”. I desire beauty in women, because I don’t have that. I desire what I don’t have. If women started looking like men, I won’t desire them as much, because why would I want more of me? I’m already with myself 24/7…I don’t want another version of “me”…I want to meet someone who is almost completely different than me…that’s more exciting to me. Did society teach me that? Or is that just an internal desire that I have in my life? To be honest with you, I feel like society is teaching me that some women are “hot”, and some women are not…that’s what I’m being taught. I’m not buying that. Women are beautiful, and fragile, and innocent (some of them still), most everything that I’m not. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t desire them. Call me a pig, but as far as I know, most women would rather have a guy call them “beautiful” rather than “you’re hot”…but what do I know? I’m just some guy spouting his mouth off on the internet, stuck in the 20th Century where women were treated with respect because they were women.

        • Chiyo

          Um, Alexandra, dear, that’s not what he said at all.

          • Alexandra

            It was certainly implied, dear.

        • P2H

          ALexandra, Gender is largely a societal construct? I have a penis. DO yu?> My penis was not constructed by society. AS I remember it was there when I was born. I beleive God made me that way.

          • Alexandra

            There’s a difference between sex and gender. You’re talking about sex, as in the body and genitals. Gender is defining what is feminine and masculine.

      • BreatheBeforeYouType

        1. So, what happened to Catechism #2358? Isn’t that unjust discrimination? To what point is a Catechism allowed to contradict itself?

        2. Again, if people are 100% Pro-Life, in the sense of the saving the unborn, they will propagate safe-sex. All other arguments quoting Catholic law/rhetoric detract from the issue and denote that this issue is more about conforming to the Church and less about saving lives.

        3. Your arguments about sexuality are specious. Unplanned pregnancies are almost always caused from people having sex without condoms/birth control. Where do you get your information about sexual abuse/teen suicides? I’m interested to read it.

        4. I’m not entirely sure why gender rights so often gets boiled down to gender roles, but it’s sickening. Thankfully, I live in a country where females aren’t casstratrated, ostracized, and treated like farm animals. Because we aren’t animals, are we? The argument about submission and discipline seems like a scary throwback that can be used to defend slavery, the holocaust and the like. Our “roles” are as human beings and to treat/respect each other in kind.

        • Barefoot Momma

          The whole section of the CCC containing 2358 is good and bears on this discussion. You might want to read it for yourself before you judge it contains contradictions. You can read it here: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            #2358 …”Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

            I wrote “Recently, in my city, a gay man was fired from his position as musical director from a Catholic Church because he married his partner. He’d been working for the church for several years. The decision to fire him did not seem based on love.”

            This man was fired from the Church because he chose to marry his partner. How is that not “unjust discrimination”? How does that action not contradict #2358?

          • erin

            It’s not unjust discrimination because that man was not fulfilling God’s will in his life (that second part of CCC 2358 that you are conveniently ignoring). How do I know? Because homosexual activity is a sin. And God does not ever call us to sin. That is our own fallen natures. Thus, no contradiction.

          • Cere

            The civil relationship known as civil marriage is not defined by the Catholic Church and is not defined by the state as “homosexual activity”. Thus, “no contradiction” between chastity and two men getting a civil marriage license.

          • stceolfrithtx

            How is it not “just” or justified discrimination? The Catholic Church has teachings, employees of the Church reflect upon the same Church and cause scandal when they fail to live up to its ideals.

            It’s unjust to expect to continue to be an employee of the Church while publicly contradicting it. It’s a privilege to work for the Church, one that you can lose if you work hard at losing it.

            In the same way, there is no such thing as a marriage between two people of the same sex, so “just” or “unjust” discrimination are entirely irrelevant. We don’t fabricate our own teachings so it is not unjust discrimination to not offer what is impossible. It is compassionate to teach and to actively campaign against the deception of the non-existent state of gay marriage.

        • JAGreene86

          Did you even read my posts? Based on your response, I couldn’t tell if you did or not.

          Did I say anything about the Catechism contradicting itself? No. I just plainly said that the Church has a high moral teaching, and to those who don’t abide to that high moral teaching, don’t have to…but, that also means that the Church, and it’s right as an religious institution, can choose whom they want affiliated with them and who they don’t.

          I think people are missing the point here when people say YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CATHOLIC! But…to those who choose to be Catholic, understand that it does mean you have to abide by a high moral standard, and that’s not because we like enslaving people, but rather, we are training people to reject what is bad and unhealthy and embrace what is good and right. If you don’t want to go through that training process, that’s your choice, but the Church has rights as well.

          I am beyond comprehension on how pro-life and safe-sex are somehow affiliated with each other. Actually, the best pro-life argument about sex is abstinence…for how can you ever get pregnant if you never have sex? If you are truly pro-life, you wouldn’t want to run the risk of anyone getting an unplanned pregnancy, therefore, you would be adamant about people being abstinent, because that is the only form of birth control that is 100% effective.

          I get my information based on the world I live in. Do I really need a bias newspaper or magazine to tell me what I see happening all around me? If I am a soldier at war, do I need an article to tell me that I’m in a war? So if I hear countless stories of relationship abuse, coupled with the ongoing sex addiction in society, I would hope that I’m smart enough to make reasonable conclusions on my own (or do I not have a right to do that anymore?). Also, I know the mentality…the only difference with me is that I choose not to follow that mentality, because I have found a better mentality to follow…but to those whom haven’t, getting what they want by force and/or leverage is the best way they are assured that they get what they want.

          The only thing I agreed in your response is that we are not animals…and even that statement contradicts your earlier argument, because animals can’t really control their sex drive…and since we are not animals, we can…and we should, because that is EXACTLY what separates us from animals…self-will. The ability to not let just instinct dictate us, but our intellect as well.

          Ah, but yet…we are already submissive in so many ways…people who have a job are submissive to their bosses and companies. Students are submissive to their teachers and schools…and everyone is submissive to the government. People who are not submissive to the government are often labeled as criminals and thrown into jail. You don’t submit your taxes for 20 years? Here comes the IRS. You drive 50 mph over the speed limit? Here comes the police. We submit to the laws of the government (whether we agree with them or not), because we know if we don’t, we can, and will, be punished for it…now that sounds like modern slavery to me, if you ask me…but why haven’t people formed a coo and overthrown the government by now? They have in other countries, and we have 10x more people than those countries that have.

          We submit to what we view as justified…that, or we submit out of fear…but what if people started submitting out of love? Would you consider that slavery? Can you be enslaved by someone you love and loves you? Is it slavery that a loving wife would submit to her loving husband? I can understand your argument if it were forced, but again, submission is never forced…it just sometimes seems like it is, because the alternative to submission looks very bleak. If I don’t submit to the laws of the government, I could get thrown in jail….that looks very bleak to me. Is that slavery, or is that there in order to keep peace and harmony with my fellow citizens?

          I’m not going to go that deep into discipline, because apparently, you don’t know what that means… because I have yet to meet a good parent that says “I don’t discipline my kids”. Discipline should help bring out the good in people, rather than just “you’re my slave” mentality. Real brief though…there is justified discipline, and unjustified discipline (ever heard of “the punishment should fit the crime”? That’s justified discipline)…just thought I’d give you the 101 on discipline.

          Oh, and love IS a willful submission to help improve the quality of life of someone, as well as, find the means and actions necessary that most benefits the recipient. You can’t properly love without submission, and you can’t properly respect without yielding to them.

          …and, next time…please read (and think about) my post before you respond to it? I really hope we can go past the “me explaining everything again” round and get into an actual discussion. I would “request” that you school me in what it means to “treat/respect” people and show that to me, because apparently, I don’t know what that means…or am not equal enough to you for you to justify doing that?

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            In that I replied point by point, I think it’s clear I read your post. I just didn’t take from it what you had hoped.

            And to be of any faith is, of course, a choice. However, when a religious group chooses to force it’s beliefs onto people through political change, that’s when I take exception. For me (and thousands of others) the main exceptions are:
            1. Opposing equal rights
            2. Overturning Roe v. Wade

            Within the center of your argument, I see the conflict between two extremes. You see sex-addicted, violent thugs. The answer to that extreme is it’s opposite- chastity/abstinence unless married. I like to watch TV… sometimes too much. So, the answer would be to get rid of my TV? That’s not self-control, it’s more self-censure. Why is the Church (and you) so hesitant to encourage a balanced approach?

            I see in some of your other posts you cite teaching kids to have self-control with drinking. Which is good! But it’s important to teach them that if/when they do drink, to do so responsibly. Same with sex. Learning how to handle these issues responsibly doesn’t encourage either act. Just as taking a gun safety course doesn’t mean you’re going to go on a shooting spree.

            And I’m still unclear of the “submission/discipline” argument and how it pertains to equality. It would seem you think equal rights would lead to anarchy? Is that your argument? Students submit to teachers, you pay your taxes, love is surrender… and within that, gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry? And women aren’t allowed to be leaders in their own Church? I don’t see the correlation.

          • JAGreene86

            You are the worst kind of Relativist, because every word you say is right, and I can’t refute it, even if it’s not the best argument.

            There’s a difference between “taking from it what you didn’t hope” and completely misinterpreting what I said.

            I talked about the Church having a high moral standard. I didn’t mention anything about the Catechism. I said it is within their right, as a religious institution (separation of Church and State remember) to not be affiliated with someone who does not adhere to that same moral standard and conduct. YOU went back to the Catechism, almost to expect me to believe that you’re some expert on the Catechism, but earlier you posted that you’re not that familiar with the Catechism, and since I knew that, I figured the best way to communicate to you was to use a real-life example. That’s why I thought you didn’t read my post, because your response reverted back to the original question, whereas I was making a deliberate effort to explain to you that the Church has the right to do what they did, just like any company has the right to terminate an employee that doesn’t adhere to their “code of conduct”. You completely ignored my point.

            Nowhere in the constitution does it say that “gays can, and should, get married”. They’d have to write that in order for it to become law. I cannot argue whether or not they should put it into the Constitution, but until then, the Church will continue to stand on what they firmly believe…and if they’re wrong, you’re not responsible for them being wrong. You’re responsible for what you follow…and if you’re not affiliated with the Church, then you have nothing to worry about…and as far as I know, the Church is not the government, and it never will be, so you have no worries with that either. In fact, you’re in the best position as anyone else in the world…that you have religious freedom, and the Church, as well as the State, should and will always respect that.

            …and actually, technically speaking, Roe v Wade is unconstitutional. I talked to a legitimate lawyer about that, and he said that it is the duty of the government to protect its citizens…including unborn citizens, and Roe v Wade violates that. Yes, it was passed in court, but just because something is passed in court, doesn’t make it morally right and/or abide by the constitution. Asked the many innocent people who are on death row (and there are innocent people on death row, that I can assure you…our courts are not perfect). Ask Catholics if the HHS Mandate is constitutional, yet Obama believes it is…so, therefore, it is?

            I’m talking about addictions here, because I often say that it’s not smart for an alcoholic to move next to a bar. It’s not wise for people to put themselves into a position where they will fall into, or back into, and addiction. As I said earlier, teen boys have a hard time controlling their sex addiction…is it wise to just say to them “do it in moderation!”…because 90% of them (if not more) won’t. I’m talking about strong desires…and I’m not saying to cut-off those desires completely, because they’re there for a reason…but if we give in to those desires before we’re ready, it might be a long hard journey getting back out of that hole. Read stories of people who struggle with addictions…because some of them happened because of one moment they let go…and make a huge mistake…and it takes them years to recover, and sadly, some don’t recover.

            …and the first sign of a person who’s addicted is one who denies that they have an addiction to it. The next step is to ask them to stop, and if they can’t, then they’re lying. This is only the case with things that are unnecessary. I say this, because I have never heard anyone die from lack of sex. I never heard a person’s last dying words be “I wish I had sex with that hot secretary at my work”. Sex is a luxury, not a necessity…and, as with everything good, there’s a time and place for it. I’m a huge football fan, and I wish I could watch football every day…but because I can only watch my favorite team once a week, I treasure it that much more. The decrease frequency of sex can actually enhance sex that much more. Sex is too good of a thing to take casual. Sex is suppose to be the physical sign of the spiritual commitment between two people, and the thrill of opening up the possibly of having a life come into existence because of it.

            Maybe I’m doing a bad job of stating the fact that I’m talking about different issues at the same time. There’s the one issue that gays should be married, and there’s the other issue that women are equal to men.

            Let me ask you this then…just because I can’t get married, am I of lesser value than you? Just because a homeless man doesn’t have a place to live, is he a lesser person than you or I? If you preach equality for all, then it shouldn’t matter what race, creed, sexual orientation, marriage status, social-economic status, etc. So, to me, who’s single…I am, and will always be, equal to someone who’s married. So, my argument is that how does the equality argument justify gays should get married? That’s why I brought up the “what if you’re single” argument, because I was confused on the idea that somehow the ability to get married somehow empowers a person and puts them head and shoulders above people who can’t get married. If you were confused on the connection, its because there is no connection between the two. I was also talking about roles. As I said…look at the example of a workspace. Everyone has different roles, down from the mailman to the CEO, everyone has their role in the company…are they of different equality? Even though the CEO might be treated better than the mailman, but by your argument, they are still equal, and that can never change. I agree with you, that we should treat everyone equal, but we all have different roles…that’s just nature. I cannot argue against that, even if I wanted to…just like you can’t argue against everyone being equal, even if you wanted to. You have one piece, I have another, and together, I feel we’ve come to a solid conclusion on that topic.

            To understand the gender roles in the Church, you need to first understand the Church. I can easily say “basketball’s boring” if I don’t know what’s going on. Any ignorant fool can say “I don’t understand why women can’t be leaders in the Church”. It’s not until you explore the whole picture can you say, with good reason, “I don’t like it”, but don’t say it like you’re the Pope and you know everything there is to know about the Catholic Church. I can assure you, with supreme confidence, that the Church has a reason for everything it does…whether you agree with it or not is your choice, but as I said earlier…you’re not the Pope, therefore, you can’t control Church Doctrine. The best thing you can do is learn about it as much as you can, and then make justified conclusions from the results. Be a good scientist, not just a good observer. Don’t just watch, investigate.

            I will say this last final thing…we often accuse people of doing what we ourselves do, because we know what it looks like, and it’s easier to point the finger forward than it is to point it backwards. As most of your posts here would indicate, you’re stomping around acting like you know what you’re talking about, when you admit yourself, you don’t know Catholic Doctrine. Don’t ask people to research things for you…you have a computer, you have the internet, you research it yourself. I do admire your courage to voice your opinion on this platform, but you’re not getting points on intelligence. You are the quint-essencial of a bad Relativist…and I say that as nice as possible. This is not to say that you can’t change, but what you are now is an insult to your own intelligence. I believe you have the ability and capacity to be a really intelligent human being, and with your courage and passion, I don’t doubt that you will become a fine arguer…but you have no material…as of now. Investigate, then make un-bias conclusions that are relatable and applicable to reality…then you’ll be a great arguer. It’s your choice though…

          • yan

            dude, re: roe v wade, it is constitutional if 5 justices say it is constitutional. there is no constitution that exists independent of it being interpreted. you could argue that an interpretation is more or less faithful to the constitution IN YOUR OPINION, but in terms of the law, the opinions that COUNT as to the meaning of the constitution are those of scalia alito thomas kennedy roberts ginsburg sotomayor kagan and breyer. nobody else, except in the case where the entire country wants to pass an amendment. then the court would have to heel.

            and sure you could disagree with their reasons for why they think something is constitutional or not. by the very definition of that act you would have to have recourse to sources outside the constitution itself.

            dude the bill of rights were not proscribed by the constitution before they were passed. they could have been interpreted as being in there already or preserved by the constitution as it was. but people wanted to make sure it was clear, so they passed those amendments. if you don’t like roe, you either have to pass an amendment, or get new judges with different interpretations. meanwhile, the interpretation that is issued is the law. and it is constitutional, even if they say you can marry a rabbit.

            i don’t want it to be constitutional but for now at least, it is, since that’s how they interpreted the constitution. people can have different opinions about their interpretation but theirs is the law of the constitution. if you don’t like that situation you can try seceding but that doesn’t exactly have a good track record.

          • allatti2d

            Alexandra, I am a Christian and I agree with your points. The U.S. is a country made up of people of all religions and atheists alike, with no preference being given to any belief by our government; this is one of the most important foundations of our country, and something its original residents & founders held dear. NO single church or belief should dominate government policy, ever. Otherwise we will devolve into another Afghanistan or North Korea or Crusades-era country.

        • Kristen InDallas

          RE #2 – Uh… they do promote safe-sex. Sex within marriage… the only kind of sex that is truly, physically and emotionally safe.

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            I’m not married but I’m in a physically/emotionally safe relationship. What about the married people who are abused and cheated on? Am I not in the better situation?

          • erin

            Not for your eternal soul. And the Church does not teach one must stay in an abusive marriage. You can read up on what the Church actually does teach in the Catechism.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Statistics say otherwise.

          • allatti2d

            Are married people allowed to use contraceptives, according to the Catholic church? If not, then is it acceptable to abstain from sex for as long as pregnancy isn’t desired, or if it would be unhealthy for the wife to become pregnant? And is this a mandate from the Bible, or is it only mandated within Catholicism?

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Yes, it’s allowed. Seriously, you’ve never heard of Natural Family Planning? A lot of people call it the Rhythm Method, which is like calling an F-35 a Super Sabre.

          • allatti2d

            I’m not talking about rhythm (I know there’s a pretty big failure rate with that, though) — I’m asking about all other forms of birth control. Not being a Catholic myself, I don’t know the church’s position on married folks being able to use it.

          • Chiyo

            Artificial (chemical or barrier) birth control is not allowed, no. They are viewed as being diametrically opposed to an openness to life and true giving of self to one’s spouse, and therefore contradict and destroy the dignity and grace of sexual union.

          • Anonymous

            Natural Family Planning is actually no less effective at all than other forms of contraception – if used properly – thanks to modern technology. Check out the stats: http://www.fertilitycare.org/system-effectiveness/

          • Sophias_Favorite

            1. It’s not rhythm. Again, that was the only method available 40 years ago. There are significantly better, more precise means available now.

            2. Even “Rhythm” has a failure rate no higher than the best artificial methods, as long as it’s used properly. And “when used properly” is the only criterion you can compare them on.

            3. No, the Church forbids married people from using contraception. Think for a moment, would you? Since the Church doesn’t allow fornication in the first place, it would only be talking to the married in its sexual teachings.

        • Emmanuel

          It depends on what you mean by unjust. People holding positions in the Catholic church are obligated to follow and teach the teachings of the Church.

          From: http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/women_who.html
          “Each year, almost half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended.1 About half of these unplanned pregnancies, 1.3 million each year, are ended by abortion.1,2″

          “In fact, half of all women getting abortions report that contraception was used during the month they became pregnant.1 Some of these couples had used the method improperly; some had forgotten or neglected to use it on the particular occasion they conceived; and some had used a contraceptive that failed. No contraceptive method prevents pregnancy 100% of the time.”

          So according to a pro-choice group half the pregnancies that end in abortion were caused by misuse or failure of contraception. And half of the unplanned pregnancies were aborted. That means at least a quarter of all unintended pregnancies happened to someone using contraception. The true number is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2. That doesn’t sound like “Unplanned pregnancies are almost always caused from people having sex without condoms/birth control.”

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            It’s true, if you don’t use a method properly it won’t do much good. If I tie my seatbelt around my waist, it wouldn’t be very effective if I got in a car crash.

            The people who neglected or forgot use the birth control on a particular occasion got pregnant on that occasion. So, they weren’t using birth control at the time.

            Leaving those two reasons out the equation, there are some people who use birth control properly and still get pregnant. But what is that number?

            Some birth control methods work better than others. They work even better in tandem with each other, like condoms + the pill. So, depending on how responsible/educated a couple is, the less likely they will have an unplanned pregnancy. Hence “Unplanned pregnancies are almost always caused from people having sex without condoms/birth control.”

          • mary_devoe

            Alexandra: Here you say condoms as birth control are not perfect. Do condoms leak HIV?
            Probably, sometimes. The FDA says HIV-sized particles can pass through pores in latex. The CDC says that’s all bogus, condoms work, use them. Who’s right? The FDA and CDC summaries are below. I also have longer documents from the CDC and a long summary on condom effectiveness. So, decide for yourself. Condoms leak. If you choose to be the ONE WHO GETS HIV/AIDS FROM CONDOM USE YOU ARE GOING TO DIE A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE DEATH AFTER COSTING TAXPAYERS A TON OF MEDICAL MONEY.

          • Alexandra

            I did some reading, and it turns out that yes, every now and then a couple of HIV viruses can leak through condoms, but that it’s rare and that it takes a whole lot more than a couple of viruses to get through to cause an infection.

            Studies have shown that couples who use condoms correctly all the time do not infect each other with HIV despite the fact that a couple of viruses can get through.

            Transmission of the virus, especially through vaginal sex, requires a very high viral load in the infected individual, and a medicated individual typically has a very low load.

            The thing is that telling the public that condoms leak viruses causes unnecessary panic. You basically have to leave a condom full of ejaculate inside of a vagina for hours before you reach the point of leakage being a problem. That would be improper use of a condom, and with proper use of a condom the risk of infection is very close to zero.

            I’m all for educating people, but telling people that condoms leak viruses, instead of that using condoms correctly will effectively prevent transmission of HIV is unfair and clearly has an agenda of pushing your own ideas about what is moral.

            Everyone knows that condoms have some kind of failure rate, and that’s worth sharing with people, but the obscure fact if you use condoms improperly you can manage to transmit the HIV virus without breaking the condom is not a sound bite or a slogan. People are sharing it as if it is and that is really a very manipulative thing to do.

        • Emmanuel

          Also, if contraception use is somewhere around 98% of women then how would that 2% of women account for almost all the unintended pregnancies???

          • allatti2d

            Emmanuel, my understanding is that 98% of women say that they have used contraception at some point in their lives, not that 98% are *currently* using contraception. But besides that point, contraception has a failure rate — as was the case for my brother’s conception and my oldest child, both of which happened when birth-control failed.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Actually, the 98% was 98% of Catholic women between the ages of 15 and 44 who were currently sexually active and didn’t want to get pregnant. big surprise.

        • http://twitter.com/CJ_Napier CJ Napier

          “Again, if people are 100% Pro-Life, in the sense of the saving the unborn, they will propagate safe-sex.”

          Not at all. By promoting “safe-sex” (btw the politically correct term is now “safer sex”), one tacitly encourages people to take riskier sexual behaviours as the norm. Instead of only having sex with a responsible person with whom one could see rearing at least some children, one can have consequence free sex with any other consenting person. Of course, should any given contraceptive method fail, as they are wont to, one would never want to actually have a baby with the random stranger one does not know and would appeal to abortion.

          The natural result, borne out in statistical evidence is that at the societal level, the abortion rate is highest when and where contraceptive access is greatest. To this end, I submit the January 2011 article from the journal Contraception, which demonstrated in Spain that: “During the study period, 1997 to 2007, the overall use of contraceptive methods increased from 49.1% to 79.9%.” AND THAT “The elective abortion rate increased from 5.52 to 11.49 per 1000 women” over the same period.

          In summary, contraception (due to high failure rates) leads to abortion due to lowered standards for sexual partners.

          Study: “Trends in the use of contraceptive methods and voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the Spanish population during 1997–2007″

          • P2H

            Beautiful CJ,

            Humanae Vitae at its best. What was true yesterday remains true today.

        • Powersb1965

          Please, follow your own title advice.

    • Guest.

      “Are Catholics pro-life enough to protest the war(s)/capital punishment? Or is the focal point purely about saving the unborn? If so, how about teaching safe-sex and passing out condoms? Does the Catholic Church do that?”

      Catholicism 101: War is bad. Capital punishment is bad. No need to teach safe-sex or pass out condoms since the Church teaches sexual abstinence outside of marriage.

      • BreatheBeforeYouType

        As long as you live within the confinement of the Catholic Church, you’ll be fine! That’s good to know.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Collin-Wahlund/100002085805911 Collin Wahlund

          Ah, this is a strange new meaning of “confinement”… Given that Catholic teachings give freedom from enslavement to baser instincts. If you’re still in bondage to them though I wouldn’t expect you to get it. I hope you do someday.

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            Could you elaborate on these “Catholic teachings (that) give freedom from enslavement to baser instincts” further?

            I presently do not feel enslaved to my baser instincts. How am I no more free from them than you are? Is this freedom only achieved through obeying the will/law of the Church?

          • JoAnna Wahlund

            How do you know that your subjective feelings reflect objective reality?

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            How does anybody know? If my contentment is subjective, than is not yours and everyone else’s?

          • erin

            We couldn’t know, except God himself came down and walked among His people in the person of Jesus Christ, teaching and establishing His Church. This is how we know.
            Sounds crazy, I know, but it all comes down to Christ in history.

          • Craig Stewart

            “Is this freedom only achieved through obeying the will/law of the Church”

            .
            … . ? …

            Are you serious? What do you think we’re doing calling ourselves Catholics? If I thought this freedom (it is that, but it’s way more than that) could be found anywhere else do you think I would show up on Sunday?

            Coming from someone who has taken far more than a fair share of everything the world, the flesh, and the devil have to offer, I know which things promise freedom, I’ve only ever seen one Thing actually delivar. It is the only place where there is cake. No lie.

    • http://twitter.com/Caellach Zachary Kelly

      I get the sense that you are trying to tear down this argument because you see it as hateful and hypocritical, but isn’t that what your post is? It doesn’t spark a debate. Nor does it allow for a civil conversation to be had after one reads it. You want to force a religion that has a set of moral beliefs, that in many ways don’t actually hurt anyone they are just another way of living ones life, to become more like yours. You are using the same intolerance that you are accusing this post of.

      Isn’t that what Atheists preach? That we should be tolerant and not force our beliefs on other people? Yet you say that unless the church follows “social norms” they are closed minded bigots.

      Catholics don’t believe in contraceptives because they believe that sex is something that you should save for the one you love and use it to express those feelings with that person and to make a child. It isn’t for recreation to just do when you’re board. They also believe that marriage is a sacred institution that joins a man and woman. There is no such ceremony to join a man and his horse, or a woman and the fields. It is for the same reason that there is no ceremony joining a man and another man or a woman and another woman. This circles back to their beliefs on the reasons for sex.

      By asking if there “are over 2000 Catechisms?” proves that you don’t know what the Catechism is. There is only one and it is the dogma that expressly lays out what it means to be a Catholic. Please research something like that before you make a comment on it.

      *What follows is a personal opinion*
      As a side note I find it weak when someone says they are Agnostic. You either believe in a God or you don’t. If you believe, but don’t follow a religion you are a Diest. Agnosticism is just a way to half-a** your beliefs. To me calling yourself Agnostic makes you appear afraid of commitment.

      • Alexandra

        Agnostic is a perfectly reasonable position to take for a while. Until you’ve finished doing your research it’s really the only reasonable position. You can absolutely be unsure of what you believe in.

        • JAGreene86

          Being Agnostic is being a bad scientist though…as with all scientific experiments, every scientist has to have two things: a purpose for the experiment, and a hypothesis. As elementary science taught us that a hypothesis is a “educated guess” on how we think the experiment will turn out. It gives us a base for which to look at the results. Science does not entirely operate out of the “A=B, B=C, therefore, A=C” logic. Science explores reasons why things happen, and what could happen. In order to “thoroughly” do research, one must prove for or against their original hypothesis so that they have some accreditation. If a scientist just does the “here are the results”, that doesn’t translate well in society. “What does this mean to me?” is what society asks…and Agnostics can’t answer that question. As the saying goes…the proof is in the pudding…if an Atheist and/ or a Christian really lives out what they believe, people will look and say “do I want to be like that person and/or believe what they believe, or do I not?” Agnostics can’t live out what they believe, because, as you said, they are sure that they are unsure.

          Also, being agnostic is philosophically illogical. There are only three possible scenarios:

          1. There is (a) God
          2. There is no god
          3. There is more than one God

          There are no greater, and no less than these three options. Not believing in any of those three does just as good as not voting in the ballot box. Also, as Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky would say “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. There is no fourth option that says “The Universe isn’t sure itself”.

          Claiming to be Agnostic shows me that they’re honest, but not very smart. However, I note them on honesty…and if they’re truly looking for answers, they will find them…but willfully ignorant agnostics use relativism to disguise their fear of being wrong. Unveil the mask of relativism, and you find someone who’s too scared and/or prideful to make a conclusion, even though they have enough evidence.

          The best advice that I could give an Agnostic is to not have the fear of being wrong paralyze you. I had that fear for a long time in my life…and that was holding me back as a person far beyond I could comprehend at the time. Now that I’ve let go of that fear and embraced life and everything there is to it, while continue my search for truth, I am a much better, and live a much better, life than previously.

          …and the evidence is there…it’s just waiting for us to draw a conclusion, from it. We also need to find why the evidence is there in the first place…

          • Alexandra

            I don’t think you understand what I meant, or maybe I didn’t understand what you did, but either way we’re not communicating clearly here.

            Agnosticism is a perfectly reasonable position if you haven’t fully informed yourself of the issue yet. Agnosticism isn’t the hypothesis stage, it’s the stage before forming a hypothesis. It’s honest, and reasonable. If you never do the research then agnosticism is all you really should claim.

            Not doing the research doesn’t make you a bad scientist or less smart. It just means it’s not an issue that you’re passionate about or consider important. And if figuring out their position on theism isn’t important to a person, that’s not a big deal. I’m agnostic about a lot of things, theism isn’t one of them. I probably would be pretty agnostic about God if I hadn’t grown up around theists and had reason to think about the issue and educate myself.

          • JAGreene86

            Ok…then what is important? Watching Golf on the Golf Channel?

            Alexandra, I understand your frustration, but there are important things that people need to know about life, or else they’re not doing any good for themselves or for other people. They may have the best intentions in the world, but what good are those intentions if they don’t show up in what we do? I may have the intention to ask this beautiful women out on a date, but if I never go ask her for a date, it’s not going to happen.

            The search for God is universal (at least it should be). Once we are able to find the answers about the “idea” of God, then everything else slowly but surly falling in place. I would honestly say, if people don’t want to find a purpose for their life, that they’re doing themselves, and others, a great injustice. It’s like if I hire an employee and he never does any work because he claims he doesn’t know what to do…I would first tell him what to do (which is what most Christians are trying to do), but then if he continues to fail at doing what I politely asked him to do, I’ll either start yelling at him or quietly firing him…and if ways don’t change, whatever job he miraculously lands won’t last long. This is what I mean…if we don’t develop a purpose to our life, we’re like the employee that does nothing, for how can we consistently do good if we don’t know what we’re doing?

            I’ve dealt with the fear of failure…as much as anyone, I don’t like to be wrong…but I’ve realized, I need to be wrong sometimes in order for me to be more right in the long run. I cannot ever improve if I don’t find a reason to improve and I don’t know how to improve. When people justly correct me, I take that in full stride, knowing that I can use that for future arguments. That’s why I love these type of discussions and debates, because everyone has their own slice of the pie of truth…it’s just a matter of what they’re willing to show, and what they’re concealing…and the more of the pie that they show me, the more respect I have for them, because I realize that they’re not letting the fear of being wrong paralyze them in their assertiveness and joy of life.

            I’d rather someone be honest with me than “show-off” how “intelligent” they are by making some wise-crack response that either has nothing to do with the conversation at hand, or find an invisible loop-hole to sneak off in to and sit on that until kingdom comes.

            I ask people to be honest and real, and if you honestly feel that Agnosticism is where you are now, then ok…I respect that, because I don’t know your story…but the Agnostic stage shouldn’t last very long…its like sitting in the waiting room for the doctors office…if you’re sitting there for an hour or longer, you start to feel anxious, and the longer you wait, the more anxious and restless you become. I don’t want you to get to that stage. If you are genuinely seeking, you will find. If you are not genuinely seeking, you won’t find, and you will turn into that person in the waiting room, becoming more and more anxious and restless with life. I have never met a fully relaxed and real Agnostic. I have also never met a completely joyful and spirited Agnostic…because they don’t know what to be joyful about.

            I’m just trying to help. I know I don’t know you well, but I’m just letting you know that there are cause and effect: we can control the cause, but we can’t always control the effect. This is not “theism”, this is basic human and life observation and understanding. It is SO important to be aware of the effect we have on ourselves and other people. If we truly care for the well-being of ourselves and others, we must first check and see how whether or not we are fully contributing to the wellness of both ourselves and others.

            …when everything’s all said and done, this is what is dearest in my heart…what are people doing to themselves and others. I try to do my best (although I know I can improve, but that will come with time and effort), and all I can do is encourage people to do their best as well. That’s 100% why I do and say what I say.

          • Alexandra

            You can have purpose in your life without ever thinking about or searching for God. While knowing God might be an important issue for you, isn’t to all people and really has no bearing on whether or not you’re a good person with drive in life.

            It clearly is an issue for you, and it is for me as well, but I know plenty of people who sit in the agnostic waiting room of theism their whole lives and are still very good and purposeful people.

          • Mitch

            The whole point of the blog post was that the definition of “good” must come from some absolute source, otherwise it is simply coming from the individual and that would preclude criticizing homophobes. So if you say that knowing God has no bearing on being a good person, you should refer to the source with which you are judging between “good” and “bad”.

          • Alexandra

            I’ve done that elsewhere in this thread.

          • Mitch

            Sam Harris is not an absolute source. He promotes morality based on scientific studies of the well-being of humans, but doesn’t solve the problem of different definitions of “well-being”, which is the point of the original blog post. If we had an absolute source for the definition of “well-being” then we could criticize the homophobes. Until then, not so much.

          • Alexandra

            I never said Sam Harris was an absolute source. That’s just nonsense.

          • Mitch

            Fair enough, but the quesition of the blog post was “So atheists, where does this morality come from?” Until this question is answered by the atheists, I share Marc’s surprise at their reaction to homophobes. But this response window is gettin g really narrow now….

          • JAGreene86

            I don’t know how they do it then…

            …but also, there are many passive aggressive people in the world…and not even their close friends and family knows the internal turmoil that goes on inside of them.

            …as this is a very subjective matter, it’s not my place to determine people’s intention…I just question them to understand them more. If they truly can be Agnostic and be at peace with that, all the more power to them, but I will also say they are of the minority.

          • Cmatt

            And if figuring out their position on theism isn’t important to a person, that’s not a big deal.

            Well it should be. In fact, it is the most important thing for anyone. See comment above regarding Pascal.

          • Alexandra

            It only is if you are leaning towards theism. In the past whether or not I know I believed in gods isn’t really important to me because I lean towards atheism anyway. It’s just honest to say that you haven’t learned enough to say with a whole lot of certainty.

          • mary_devoe

            “I probably would be pretty agnostic about God if I hadn’t grown up around theists and had reason to think about the issue and educate myself.” It is all the theists’ fault. Which brings us to the other word: “indoctrination”. Only minor children who have not reached the age of reason at seven years of age and adulthood at fourteen may be indoctrinated. Adults have a choice and may think things through. Those who refuse to think, that is their choice, but obviously, they have made a choice and it may not be called “indoctrination”.

          • mary_devoe

            We have ONE SUPREME SOVEREIGN BEING as two would preempt each other. We have a Creator of necessity as nothing comes from nothing. God creates man from nothing. I Am and I am an image of God in my free will. Those sworn to deny God are fools in a mirror. God is BEING, EXISTENCE. If a person exists, God loved them first.

          • Korou

            JAGreene86, do you know what an agnostic atheist is? This position might seem more reasonable to you. It is Richard Dawkins’ position (and that of many other atheists) and seems a perfectly sensible one: I am agnostic because I lack knowledge of God existing, and I am therefore an atheist because I lack theism. The wikipedia article explains it better than me – perhaps you’d like to read it?

        • http://twitter.com/Caellach Zachary Kelly

          As I said that is much more of a personal opinion than anything. I don’t know how else to describe it because it’s not a belief. I’ve known a lot of people who call themselves Agnostic because they don’t want to be labeled Atheists. They were afraid of the repercussions.

        • Emmanuel

          Agnostic is a good position to take if you think the question can be decided or that its important to know whether god exists to commit yourself to believing the case. Also that there is knowledge out there that will someday help you decide. There have been plenty of philosophers who have argued that you can’t know either way. Kant did a pretty good job. If the question can’t be decided then agnosticism makes a little less sense–I think because one is left with the choice of accepting a world with or without god and letting that premise shape your decisions as opposed to viewing it as a fact gathering exercise which will someday be decided in accordance with reality.

          • yan

            dude good points. but Kant did a pretty good job? by closing off the only means we have of knowing things, the senses, from any possibility of knowing things as they are in themselves? dude. it’s lame!

      • BreatheBeforeYouType

        Why do you find Agnosticism weak? A belief is a truth that resonates from within and cannot be forced through will or resolve. To say I believe in a God or to refute the divine would be a lie. But to lie would be sign of strength to you? Really?

        I also didn’t realize it was rude not to thoroughly research a blog topic before commenting. I’m still sadly not an expert in Catechism, so please, do forgive. Perhaps you can help me out. Is the #2358 a page number?

        I’m not entirely sure what Atheists preach as a whole. But tolerance is good! Love and understanding should be our goals. That is a belief I have. I also believe that humans are equal. To equate the rights of two consensual adults to “a man and his horse” or “a woman and the fields” is incredibly demeaning and unintelligible to me. Is there a section within the Catechism that uses those words? I would be interested to know.

        And I’m not sure if you can call equal rights “societal norms” until they’ve been implemented. Right now, people of mixed races go to the same schools and we’re used to it. However, gays in our country are not afforded equal rights. So, the latter is not a “norm”.

        Moreover, I sincerely believe that Catholics (and other Christian/Conservatives) use the Pro-Life issue to push their religious agendas onto others. If they truly wanted to save unborn babies, they’d focus on safe-sex because (let’s be honest) teenagers/20-somethings have sex. But instead, it’s a campaign that is based on indoctrinating people into the Church and therefore has nothing to do with saving babies. Honestly, I think it’s just red herring issue to distract us from reality. That’s another belief I have.

        • http://twitter.com/Caellach Zachary Kelly

          First see my other comment for a bit more clarification on the Agnostic thing.

          If you think of the Catechism as a large legal document each statement of belief is numbered. It has been a while since I’ve looked at it so I can’t tell you off hand how many different statements there are., but there is no line that talks about the whole “horse” and “fields” thing. I was trying to make a really far example that wasn’t ver clear. A better one would be if a True A.I. were to be created then despite the fact that you could theoretically fall in love with it, I don’t believe you could marry it and call it “Marriage.” Despite the fact that it is alive there is no way for you to further the human race with it naturally.

          Here is the Catechism on marriage. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a7.htm

          Now here is where I’m probably going to lose you.

          I personally don’t feel that men and women are created equal. There are strengths that men poses that put them above women, and their are strengths that women poses that put them above men. The idea that the two sexes can and should be on exactly level playing fields is ludicrous. Now this is not me saying that all women should be house wives and all men should be bread winners. Women are far more nurturing than the average male and are therefore better at raising children, in most cases. There are always exceptions to the rule but to force equality is to create inequality.

          Now if I haven’t lost you yet, it’s most likely going to happen soon.

          I personally can’t stand the sex ed classes that hand out condoms in high schools and especially middle schools. I was raised to believe in the sanctity of marriage and I abandoned that school of thought for a while, then I understood what was being taught. The idea promoting students in high school and middle school to have sex is a sad thing. With the advent of technology a sense of innocence has been lost and I don’t think it can ever be reclaimed. I was taught abstinence not because it was the “holy” thing to do, but because by holding off for as long as possible it make that “moment” so much sweeter. A good analogue would be “tantric sex.”

          When speaking from personal experience my relationships that had a physical component crumble far faster than the ones that didn’t. I am also still friends with those that I didn’t have a physical relationship with. I think this says something about the emotional damage that sex can cause.

          I don’t want to touch on the abortion comment because your mind is made up and further commenting is unnecessary.

          • JAGreene86

            Agreed.

            Also, just to further your argument…

            A female body doesn’t mature until AFTER high school…and actually, having sex before being physically fully mature can have negative effects on a female’s body.

            If we are encouraging young people to engage in sex, then why aren’t we lowering the alcohol age limit? I mean…kids drink anyway, so why not make it legal? Because studies have shown that the human brain does not fully develop until around the age of 21, and they are afraid that alcohol can slowly stunt brain development (not to mention that an immature brain may not be able to handle alcohol). Aren’t we concerned that girls having sex too early can stunt their physical development? Or do we not want to research that, in fear of the truth?

            I have met some beautiful, joyful people who are virgins, and I have met some people who have sex for pleasure, and they’re miserable. I agree, innocence is a dying species, which is sad to say, because I think a beautifully innocent (doesn’t mean naive or shy) women is far more attractive than a women who goes “yeah dude…do you just want to do it?”. We are no longer protecting women’s innocence, as we should, but we are violating their innocence and turning them into miserable monsters who know nothing more than to concede either to there own desires and/or the desires of their significant other.

            …we’d like to think that we’ve developed them better than that, but when I look around…I don’t see anything more than that. We’ve disguised their misery by making them “equal” in the eyes of society, but you said it best…there’s something about women that men don’t have, and there’s something about men that women don’t have. Gender is an identity…it’s who we are. I am who I am, mainly because I’m male…and I would like my wife to be who she is mainly because she’s female. That IS the beauty of marriage…the union of male and female becoming one flesh. That “special women” of a wife will bring something into my life that no one else can’t…not even my best friend…and if that weren’t true, then I might as well marry my best friend…because I know I’d be happy with him at least.

            As stated earlier in one of my posts: “Sex roles” are important to identity development. Identity development can lead people to living healthier, happier, and more productive lives…

            …or do we live in such a society that our pride is so great, that we actually believe that “submissive” and “discipline” is now hate speech?

          • mary_devoe

            Informed sexual consent is legally recognized at emancipation, when a person is old enough to vote, drive a car, enter the armed forces, and other normal activites. Informed sexual consent is needed for intercourse without which informed sexual consent, it is statutory rape. So, why are professionals giving out condoms and not informing the children of their civil rights, forming a cadre of sexual trafficking victims?

          • mary_devoe

            “that “submissive” and “discipline” is now hate speech?” “I LOVE my mother and my father” by a five year old child is now hate speech against the homosexual agenda. A person consents to become a wife or husband. These occupations are vocations called to an office with particular duties and blessings. The freely given informed consent of the person to the office of husband and wife makes of “submissive” and discipline” the practice of love.

          • mary_devoe

            Gender, (sex is the act) is a gift from God that enables man and mankind in their pursuit of Happiness, their journey to their destiny, a relationship with almighty God, the Beatific Vision. As a woman I must find my place in the office of wife, mother, sister, citizen, human being, a member of the human race, Homo Sapiens. To reject my gender because of sex is counter productive to my growth and maturity as a sovereign being.

          • mary_devoe

            There were a race of women known as Amazons who burned off their right breast because it got in the way of making war. Myth? I do not know but the idea that being unfeminine is somehow good does not inform the human race.

        • Gail Finke

          You may “sincerely believe” that, but it doesn’t make it true. Especially if you have no moral framework beyond what you come up with yourself, you need to make arguments based on facts you can back up, not your “sincere belief.” I say this in a spirit of helpfulness: An argument is no just stating a bunch of things you think sound good. For instance, as someone who knows several prolife leaders — including one of the main founders of the national prolife movement — I can tell you tell you that you are absolutely wrong about abortion. The prolife movement is entirely based on ending abortion to save human lives, and has nothing at all to do with “indoctrinating people into the Church.” You would know this as well if you actually looked into it instead of spouting off whatever sounds good to you. Same with your question about agnosticism. The practical consequences of agnosticism are the same as atheism. Saying “I don’t know” comes to the same thing as saying “There is no God,” because the result is that you live exactly as an atheist does. It just makes it easier to do so because then you don’t have to take a stand — publicly, or even to yourself. Study logic and get a good book on how to put together an argument.

          • BreatheBeforeYouType

            Again, I didn’t realize I had to study up before commenting on blog posts. I am glad you seem well-versed in logic. Which book(s) on debate do you personally recommend? First, perhaps you can help me understand some of your points better.

            “The prolife movement is entirely based on ending abortion…”

            1. Abortions are a result of an unplanned/undesired pregnancy, correct? In order to stymie the number of abortions, would not the most logical step be to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies?

            The Church has been preaching abstinence for years yet abortions continue. Therefore, if the goal is to end abortion, should not the Church alter it’s stance on safe-sex? Would the ends not justify the means?

            It seems to me, that the Church feels it’s more important to use the Pro-Life argument to promote a Catholic life-style, which leads me to the conclusion that the essence of the pro-life movement is indoctrination.

            “It (being Agnostic) just makes it easier to do so because then you don’t have to take a stand — publicly, or even to yourself.”

            2. Is this not a public forum? Am I not discussing my beliefs and doubts just as freely as others? Why does being an Agnostic diminish the validity of my opinions? I honestly didn’t realize so many people held such a low view on Agnostics. Would you say this how most Catholics/Christians feel?

          • erin

            The logical step IS to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, but while still maintaining the dignity of each human person and her sexuality. This means you can never do something immoral (like hand out condoms) even to achieve a moral end (reduce unplanned pregnancies). The ends never justify the means.
            It’s not indoctrination as much as urging a recognition of the human dignity of every single person. This dignity requires certain behavior and proscribes others. The Catholic lifestyle simply follows from the recognition of that dignity.

          • mary_devoe

            Every breath you take is from God. Now, who is laughing? Hold your breath and stop existing is the atheist’s playbook

          • Korou

            No, it’s not. The atheists’s playbook is “Can you prove every one of my breaths comes from God? when you can, I’ll become a deist or theist; until then I’ll remain an atheist.”

            The atheist’s position is an eminently reasonable one: please provide evidence that there is a God if you want me to believe in Him.”

          • Cmatt

            Would the ends not justify the means?

            In most philosophical/ethics, no, the end does not justify the means. For utilitarians, it does.

            But a simple example demonstrates why most system of ethics find that false: The end of eliminating poverty does not justify the means of killing all the poor. at least it wouldn’t in a decent society.

            Agnosticism is an odd bird. As Pascal demonstrated, it is a most absurd position to hold. There are only two possibilities – God exists, or God does not. The agnostic thinks he does not have to choose one or the other, but the agnostic is wrong – he has to choose. Why? Because the agnostic will die. He cannot avoid death, therefore he cannot avoid choosing. Once you are born, the coin has been flipped, and will land on either heads or tails. The agnostic thinks he can somehow avoid the flip.

          • Toby000293478

            The agnostic dies while letting the coin land as it may without choosing. And while you say the alleged coin has only two sides (God or no God), other people say it may have many more than that, with any number of possible “gods”. while others say the coin is counterfeit.

          • Korou

            Pascal’s Wager really isn’t a good argument to use. Logically, there are more than two possibilities, and one of them is the possibility that there is another God who would throw the Christian into hell for not believing in Him.
            To laugh at this would to miss the point, which is that Pascal’s Wager is based on there only being two possibilities, which there are not.

          • Alexandra

            Good point!

          • http://twitter.com/Lilac_Lily99 Elisabet

            “Would the ends not justify the means?”

            Biblically, a big, resounding NO. As Christians, we are not supposed to use any evil means to reach any end, no matter how noble it may be. And for Catholics (and all Christians up until about 1939), contraception has been evil since the beginning of Christianity.

        • mary_devoe

          HIV/aids, herpes, HPV, all viruses, including cancer pass through the fabric of the condom. This is scientific fact. Giving another person a condom infers its use and is a death sentence. Regarding same sex attraction. If any person does not love you enough to subliminate their sex urges, it is lust not love and you are being used. If all men are created equal by our Creator and endowed with unalienable rights to LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, how can you say that you or I or anybody at some time from their creation was not a human being composed of body and soul? And do not tell me you do not believe in the human soul because sovereign personhood, free will, intellect, intellectual property, right to choose, right to privacy, all rights are nontangible, metaphysical properites of the soul. I am sorry you do not like being a human being, or allow others to be a human being. God be praised.

          • Alexandra

            Those are not scientific facts, they’re entirely untrue.

            Also cancer passes through condoms? Cancer is not a STD.

          • mary_devoe

            Cancer is a virus. Viruses are minutely smaller than the molecules of fabric in the condoms and pass between, BETWEEN, the molecules. This is scientific fact for almost two decades. es and the baby inutero has sovereign personhood from our Creator and is our constitutional posterity.

          • Alexandra

            Cancer is not a virus.

          • Alexandra

            Also even if cancer was a virus, viruses can’t pass through latex condoms.

            The myth that viruses can pass through condoms is a lie that is typically associated with Catholic bishops, so I can see why you think it’s true even though it’s absolutely false.

          • http://twitter.com/CJ_Napier CJ Napier

            False. Science disagrees.

            “Under test conditions, 2.6% (12 of 470) of the latex condoms allowed some virus penetration.”

            Cf.: Sex Transm Dis. 1997 Mar;24(3):161-4.
            “An in vitro evaluation of condoms as barriers to a small virus.”

          • Alexandra

            That study is 15 years old, that’s like millenia in science. It’s since been disproved. I’m looking up the reference. I’ll be back.

          • Mercer392474

            Any ‘tiny hole’ in a condom that is big enough to allow a virus to pass is also big enough to allow water, nitrogen and oxygen molecules to pass, as they are even smaller than a virus. And yet we can inflate condoms with water and air precisely because the water and air do not pass through the holes in any appreciable amount. That is the same reason that condoms offer a level of protection against virus transmission. The fluid inside the condom is by and large contained by the condom, even with whatever “tiny holes” there may be in the condom, and that significantly reduces exposure. In addition, laboratory testing has found that the “tiny holes” in condoms can become plugged with use, just like my kitchen strainer can become plugged even though it has many small holes.

          • CPE Gaebler

            … Cancer is not a virus. Cancer is your own cells growing out of control.

          • http://twitter.com/CJ_Napier CJ Napier

            False – cancers can be caused by viruses. Classic example is HPV causing cervical cancer.

            “High-risk HPVs cause virtually all cervical cancers.” -National Cancer Institute of the NIH

          • Alexandra

            Cancer is still not an STD. HPV is an STD that can cause cancer. That doesn’t make cancer an STD.

          • http://twitter.com/CJ_Napier CJ Napier

            Amazing how fast we’ve gone from “they’re entirely untrue” to ducking and covering behind semantics. The point remains that cervical (or HPV oropharyngeal) cancer is so closely linked to HPV that seminal research epidemiology for the past 20 years has used a sexually transmitted model. Cf.: Epidemiology. 1991 Mar;2(2):98-106, “The sexually transmitted disease model for cervical cancer”.

        • Cmatt

          Generally, it refers to paragraph number.

        • Cmatt

          If they truly wanted to save unborn babies

          Trying to prevent baibes from being killed in the womb is not truly wanting to save them? I just don’t get your logic here.

        • http://twitter.com/CJ_Napier CJ Napier

          Agnostic: “One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.” -random dictionary

          Fact: We will die.
          Fact: Upon death we will see the truth claims of any/every religion borne out or not.

          Therefore, agnosticism is false as at some point as we will know whether there is a God or not. Peter Kreeft explains this in detail, in the context of Pascal’s Wager and I shall provide a brief quote:

          “Agnosticism, not-knowing, maintaining a sceptical, uncommitted attitude, seems to be the most reasonable option. The agnostic says, “The right thing is not to wager at all.” Pascal replies, “But you must wager. There is no choice. You are already committed [embarked].” We are not outside observers of life, but participants. We are like ships that need to get home, sailing past a port that has signs on it proclaiming that it is our true home and our true happiness. The ships are our own lives and the signs on the port say “God”. The agnostic says he will neither put in at that port (believe) nor turn away from it (disbelieve) but stay anchored a reasonable distance away until the weather clears and he can see better whether this is the true port or a fake (for there are a lot of fakes around). Why is this attitude unreasonable, even impossible? Because we are moving. The ship of life is moving along the waters of time, and there comes a point of no return, when our fuel runs out, when it is too late. The Wager works because of the fact of death. [...] Saying “maybe” and “perhaps tomorrow” cannot continue indefinitely because life does not continue indefinitely. The weather will never clear enough for the agnostic navigator to be sure whether the port is true home or false just by looking at it through binoculars from a distance. He has to take a chance, on this port or some other, or he will never get home. ”

          • yan

            i am not agnostic, but i think your comments misconstrue the basis of agnosticism. i don’t think people are agnostic because they are afraid to commit to a belief, as if their fear were irrational. they are afraid to commit to a belief that they are not convinced is true. and that is a fear that we all should share to some extent, no?

            i believe because i have the gift of faith; I believe because it is reasonable to my mind, too. but if it is not reasonable to your mind why should you believe? do we approach any other beliefs in life that way? if not, why should belief in God be any different?

            all that stuff about us being ships that need to get home? the agnostic replies, ‘that’s just like, your opinion, man.’ maybe he doesn’t see that. some people look at the universe, and they say, ‘we are just an insignificant speck; what about our situation makes us think that a God specially put us here and loves us and wants us to live with Him?’ I don’t think that’s irrational. Maybe it’s not thought through enough, but it seems prima facie rational to me.

            peace….

        • yan

          Agnostic: i was once agnostic for about 1/2 a day. I had been reading a lot of existentialist stuff, especially Sartre. And I looked up as if to say to God, ‘so, like, what about all this stuff I’ve been reading and thinking about? Do you have a response?’ And I felt like, God and what-have-you, maybe a zillion angels or so, responded with, ‘are you serious???’ And I was ashamed of myself.

          but dude if you are agnostic that’s cool with me if that is what you think. Everybody is different. Sometimes it is just not easy for some people to believe in God. And from about 3rd grade until i finished my teen-aged years, i wasn’t an agnostic; i was an atheist.

          Sex: dude, ask someone that is older. 20-somethings didn’t used to just have sex. It was nothing like today. So to say it as if it is a fact of nature, rather than a fact of our present day society, is wrong. However, people used to get married younger, so it was easier to wait than nowadays.

          Yah so we want people to be chaste, that’s what Jesus taught and lived, and we think it’s right. To say we don’t care about babies though, that’s just terrible. Truly that hurts my feelings as a Catholic and as a human being, because I can tell you, we truly love babies.

          i didn’t think gays were being denied their rights, but i never thought in my wildest dreams that a gay would think that he or she would want to get married to a person of his own sex, since it never occurred to me that marriage was anything else but a man and woman, nor that it could be anything else. man was i stupid! apparently they have been being denied this right from the beginning of time….but dude it’s gone beyond being silly now, to where they want to use marriage as a way to normalize both the act and the inclination. And dude, it’s just impossible, can’t be, and never will be, even if america were to be 100% gay and under the 14th amendment it were found that every person must marry his siblings and mother and father as a matter of equal treatment under the law, and the inspector general were to arrest people that didn’t go along with the new regime, and the national guard were called in to make people all get gay marriages at gov’t chapels, that wanting to do certain acts and doing such acts would ever be normal or natural.

          peace…

        • anonymous

          The catechism is divided into numbered paragraphs, to make it easier to look stuff up; if you look in the margins of any paragraph, they list the numbers of other related paragraphs. #2358 is part of a section about the dignity of marriage:
          http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#IV
          I also recommend the very beginning part,
          http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c1.htm
          which talks about the basis of christian belief.

          If you get a copy of it, you’ll see that the really basic, general stuff is in large type, while the more technical parts are in smaller print. In my copy, there’s also a huge index in the back, and a list of all kinds of unususal catholic words with definitions.

          I really recommend that you read it, because everything is set out so clearly and precisely. It’s no fun trying to argue with people who are fuzzy on these things themselves–it’s better to refute what the church itself says, instead of what individual believers say.

    • mitch

      Catechism #2358 is simply referring to a paragraph within the Catechism, it’s a reference to be able to find the material cited.

    • PaulaN

      I believe Catholics are called to oppose both abortion and capital punishment. It is called having a “consistent life ethic”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consistent_life_ethic

  • Jake

    Hmm… going back to what the raptor said. would that statement mean that it could be morally acceptable to hate Blacks? Jews? Mexicans? not really huh.
    The main difference for me at least is that we as humans don’t have predators, or really anything that can curb our numbers thanks to medicine, intelligence, and for those lacking intelligence, warning labels. the only hope we have to curb our numbers before we suck the planet dry are world wars, an overbearing government telling you you can’t have more than 2 kids, cataclysmic natural disasters, or abortion. since the little parasites don’t have a ssn yet. eh i’m rambling.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Babbling. Rambling has content and thoughts in it.

      We cannot suck the planet dry. Before we attained sufficient numbers to do it, our cumulative body heat would raise the air temperature enough to bake us where we stood. How big do you think this mudball is?

      Merely upgrading our existing agricultural land (9% of the earth’s land surface) to 1984′s state of the art, we can provide food for 35 billion people at an American level of calorie intake—105 billion at a Japanese one. And since when the population was 5 billion, it only used .3% of the non-agricultural land to live on, if we had 35 billion people, we’d only use 2.1% (with the agricultural land, humans would only be using 11.1%—the remaining 88.9% would be wilderness).

      And we’re never going to need to support 35 billion. The UN Population Office projects the numbers stabilizing at around 9 billion c. 2050.

  • Jimihendrixq

    Complete misrepresentation of the atheist view; followed by jumping to false conclusions. Cute…

    • Alexandra

      It’s impressive the arguments you can have when you just make up what the other side has to say. It’s like how I’ve been undefeated at Scrabble for years since I prefer to play against myself.

      • JoAnna Wahlund

        Ah, sweet irony.

        • Alexandra

          Care to share what irony you’re seeing?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Collin-Wahlund/100002085805911 Collin Wahlund

      I see… so you say it’s a misrepresentation with no explanation why, and just expect people to nod their heads in agreement. It may work in your “freethinker society” meetings, but not in sane company.

      Given my past leanings in your direction, I have a pretty good idea of what most atheists argue and this is pretty spot on. News flash, many great Christians once were atheists and then grew up.

      • Sophias_Favorite

        Alexandra fell for it. But then, atheists call themselves “Brights” on much the same basis as causes dictatorships to call themselves People’s Democratic Republics.

        • Alexandra

          You’re really being nasty, Sophia.

          And Collin, some Christians “grow up” to become atheists, so there’s nothing super special atheists becoming Christians.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            1. It’s Sophia’s Favorite.

            2. I do not acknowledge a universal moral obligation to be “nice”. Cope with that fact—what is your grounds for saying I ought to?

          • Sophias_Favorite

            1. It’s Sophia’s Favorite.

            2. And you are perpetually condescending and self-righteous, without a speck of justification. You dial your wholly unwarranted arrogance back a few notches, and maybe I’ll be nicer.

          • Alexandra

            I’m the condescending and self-righteous one?

            Of course you don’t have to be nice to me, but I’d appreciate it. I am, for the most part, nice to people here. Sometimes I lose my cool and say things I’m not proud of, but that’s certianly not all the time. I’ve stopped talking to people who I have a hard time keeping cool with, so I’m going to go ahead and add you to that list because this is just ridiculous for both of us.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Unwarranted condescension. And I certainly am not self-righteous—certainly not compared to you, who also have no rational basis for your morals.

          • Korou

            I’ve really enjoyed reading Alexandra’s posts in the short while I’ve been here. They generally seem to be thoughtful and polite. She doesn’t insult the people she’s talking to and she seems to be addressing their arguments well. It’s nice to see that people can disagree but still be respectful of each other.

            Sophia’s Favourite, I thought it was a bit funny how you say “I certainly am not self-righteous—certainly not compared to you, who also have no rational basis for your morals.” First, even if you don’t agree with Alexandra’s arguments you must know that she does think she has a rational basis for her morals, and that she has given her reasons for these.

            Second – quite a self-righteous (convinced of ones own righteousness, especially in contrast with others) thing to say! Quite ironic.

          • Alexandra

            Thank you so much Korou! This meant a lot to me. I was feeling really hurt last night and was thinking about quitting commenting on this blog. As much as I’ve enjoyed it, I felt really attacked last night.

            You made me smile, thank you. :)

          • Sophias_Favorite

            I am not convinced of my own righteousness in the slightest. I sneer at the very concept. But then, you’re doubtless one of those unlettered savages who doesn’t know ethics from metaphysics, and so assumes “rationality” equals “righteousness”. My ideas are coherent. Hers are not. The righteousness of her behavior is immaterial to that fact—at best, though she’s delusional, she’s not the dangerous kind.

            And no, you have no right to believe in morals if you are an atheist, at least not if you are the type of Western quasi-materialist philosophical naturalist atheist that Alexandra obviously is. I’m sorry if it offends you to be told this, but ideas have consequences. And the rational consequence of philosophical naturalism is that there is ultimately no such thing as “right” or “wrong”, no matter how much you want there to be.

            Go read Nietzsche.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            1. It’s Sophia’s Favorite.

            2. And you are perpetually condescending and self-righteous, without a speck of justification. You dial your wholly unwarranted arrogance back a few notches, and maybe I’ll be nicer.

  • http://twitter.com/TomKappes Tom Kappes

    Amazing explanation of morality! You are so awesome and I appreciate all you do here. I wish you had the means to post multiple things every day, as I seriously look forward to every time you post on your blog. God Bless!
    PS: Can we be friends? haha

  • twentyone_21

    Non-Catholic here, good read! Love the argument from morality. It’s a good approach!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LCA6ANJB7OX5XO74WVNT62NHJQ Joseph

    Ha!

  • http://www.catholicsforisrael.com/ Catholics for Israel

    Brilliant. Well done!

  • catholicboyrichard

    My first reaction was “oh no here it comes…” being the same-gender attracted kind of guy I am, even in the Church and on the Net I find myself afraid at some of the stuff I hear about those actively LGBT (which, as a Catholic Christian, I am not). I am very sensitive to concerns of discrimination within even our Church, because it does still happen sadly. And never should.

    Having said that I am always, always pleasantly surprised at your insightfulness. You have it right, Marc Barnes. The Church teaches authentic love towards us from my background. She however does not support our doing whatever we want. Love does not mean accepting all behavior of all people. If I want to go and bang every boy (metaphorically, not “boys” as in under-age!) then there are plenty of “faith communities” I can join and they will give me “more bang for the buck” than Rome does or ever will. I have been there, and have done that. A few times.

    If your audience wants to know more go visit my site at http://catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com. I have lots on this topic and some others as well. So come over and say hi.

    For the record, since I have actually BEEN a “bad Catholic” and you are a young and devout man of God, one of the best out there, we should probably swap blog names hehe. I know you are far better and more holy than me.

    But I digress– I have been privileged–yes privileged–to be called back to Rome after years of being a gay activist and a few other things to boot. So much so that I find it WORTH my while to give my sexuality over to God. And I must do it daily. Then again that is something we all are called to do, SSA, straight, married or single. We each are called to holiness and chastity.

    For those who think “it gets better” go live in that world for awhile BTW. For some it does. For so, so many it just does not. We do no favors in lying to people, especially young teens, and telling them to “come out, come out, wherever you are” and go play in the busy street. And busy it is. Some, even many, of them are literally destroyed in the process of being used as political pawns in the “marriage equality” movement. I find that repugnant in what it does to the innocence of so many. I lived the lie too, so I do actually know.

    I am a long ways from repressed either. I know of my preferences and inclinations and accept them. Accept, yes, act upon them, by His grace, no. No more. But I also know God calls me to something higher.

    And to your original point, the knowledge of our innate dignity comes from God Himself, as well as our ability to see that dignity in others as a result. Atheism or some outwardly imposed artificial self-love simply does not put it there. Neither did evolution.

    As usual you have it right.

    • JAGreene86

      Now that’s honesty and intelligence, my friend!

    • Gail Finke

      What a great reply. Thanks for your honesty. On this issue (as is true when ANYTHING becomes a “hot-button” issue) few people are honest. Whether they are actively lying, working hard at pretending, or just carried away with what they think is true (and so not paying any attention, one way or the other, to what is really happening), they go off on some diatribe that has little resemblance to reality. And when you try to pin them down to facts, figures, studies, etc., they stare at you with blank eyes — reality makes no impression on them. Anything that doesn’t agree with their ideology is some sort of aberration, even if there is more of the “aberration” than there is of their “truth.” I just read something from Frank Sheed that really hit me: He said that when Jesus said “the truth shall make you free” He meant that it is important to see the world as it really is, because otherwise you are just living in a fantasy of how you think it ought to be and ought to work, and you are not free. You are enslaved to a lie — a lie that you can never make true, no matter how hard you try. Seeing that the world is wounded by sin, no matter how distressing that sight is, makes you free. Free to let God transform you and to love others. (It’s in his book “The Church and I,” toward the end — a fantastic book.)

      • catholicboyrichard

        You and the others who “liked” my post have deeply humbled me yet again. And God knows I need it at times. Gail I will need to check out that book, Frank Sheed is tremendous and in-depth.

    • http://profiles.google.com/ventana54 Bryce Lee

      God bless you!

    • Jake E

      Well I have yet to meet a “good” Catholic as Catholicism’s most beautiful goal is perfection witch doesn’t translate very well to humanity. So don’t put yourself down like that, we all have our respective crosses to bear. But as for everything else, you will definitely be in my prayers.

      • catholicboyrichard

        Jake thank you and I do not mean to sound as though I live life putting myself down–I do not, although some who have commented here seem to think I should. I accept and bask in the forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and know I and all of us are fighting the same battle in various ways. But hearing the kindness and love written here could indeed make my head swell if I am not careful! That was all I am saying. We start gaining victory in one area only to find we have 2 or 3 more waiting to work on. It always goes deeper and deeper and we must let it. Thanks so much for your prayers!!!

        • yan

          dude it’s cool, FYI i put myself down; i consider that i am just a piece of xxxxx except for God’s grace both because of my sins AND sinfulness. and dude for most people lust is a big one; BVM at Fatima i think it was said most of the people going to hell are going there for the sins of the flesh. the sin starts with lust whether hetero or whatever, and lust is in itself sinful. peace. if hetero lust is bad how can same sex lust be good?

          ‘Without Thy Godhead nothing can, have any price or worth in man, nothing can harmless be.’ [Veni Sancte Spiritus]

          peace…

    • yan

      dude like, what discrimination has happened in the church?

      • Rick

        what do you mean by: “dude like,”?
        seriously, what?

        • yan

          dude! like, i don’t know! true it’s grammatically horrible, but doesn’t it convey some objective, yet difficult to define, meaning? dude. anyway, it’s cool…peace….

      • catholicboyrichard

        Obviously you did not read my comments too carefully, or you would not even be asking if I am “cool with sin.” Why would I repent if not? What I am cool with is what our Church clearly teaches, and that is the fact that the inclination itself is NOT sinful. This is spelled out clearly in several Church documents including the Catechism.

        It is not a matter of my secretly “hanging on” to sin, but of accepting the love and forgiveness of Christ. I doubt you would even be asking this question of an ex-murderer who (the example you gave) dared to post here. But me, since my “sin” seemingly is far worse in your mind than others perhaps, you are free to badger me about it with such statements. My areas of struggle are no more or less “creepy” than yours, “dude.”

        And yes you ask what discrimination goes on in the Church? People feeling the need to write as you did would be a starting point. People who “admire” my story but keep me at arm’s length once they find out is another. By far that is not the majority thankfully, but it happens. And it causes salt to be rubbed into what is already a deep enough wound. It is no wonder so many from my background leave the Church and never look back.

        • yan

          dude, peace. but you are wrong that the catechism says the inclination is not sinful. it just says you can’t put the blame for the inclination entirely on the person that has it. i am certainly cool with that.

          but also, i didn’t say your inclination was creepier than the love of another sin. i said that accepting the inclination as being ok in the sense of liking it, would be creepy. sorry about that, i’m just saying how i feel. i’m sorry you are sensitive about that and i understand.

          it seems you like it though, b/c it seems you want to like, um, i dunno; well, you say it’s not a sinful inclination anyway. but, dude, lust is sin. and lust that isn’t natural would be, well, have that additional aspect to it, which obviously can’t be a good thing. which again, I’m not saying you are to blame for having, or at least i don’t know. but like, if you feed it, and justify it by saying, ‘there’s nothing wrong with this,’ then, aren’t you responsible for making the condition worse?

          but dude how did i discriminate against you?

          peace…and i hope you stay in the church my friend.

          • catholicboyrichard

            Yan–As to the CCC, 2358 states that the inclination is “objectively disordered.” What that means is, it is an inclination towards something which is always sinful. The only reason heterosexual lust is not always disordered in the same way is that, in some cases at least, there is a legitimate way to fulfill those desires. So it is not always sinful.

            While what I share below is not a direct quote from the Catechism, it is directly from the USCCB document called

            Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination:
            Guidelines for Pastoral Care

            Issued by USCCB, November 14, 2006–the section below should clear up the issue once and for all: Quoting from pages 5-7 of this document:

            Starting with page 5–

            “Homosexual Inclination Is Not Itself a Sin”

            5
            While the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, she does distinguish
            between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual inclination. While the former is
            always objectively sinful, the latter is not. To the extent that a homosexual tendency or
            inclination is not subject to one’s free will, one is not morally culpable for that tendency.
            Although one would be morally culpable if one were voluntarily to entertain homosexual
            temptations or to choose to act on them, simply having the tendency is not a sin. Consequently,
            the Church does not teach that the experience of homosexual attraction is in itself sinful.
            The homosexual inclination is objectively disordered, i.e., it is an inclination that
            predisposes one toward what is truly not good for the human person.14 Of course, heterosexual
            persons not uncommonly have disordered sexual inclinations as well. It is not enough for a
            sexual inclination to be heterosexual for it to be properly ordered. For example, any tendency
            toward sexual pleasure that is not subordinated to the greater goods of love and marriage is

            6
            disordered, in that it inclines a person towards a use of sexuality that does not accord with the
            divine plan for creation. There is the intrinsic disorder of what is directed toward that which is
            evil in all cases (contra naturam). There is also the accidental disorder of what is not properly
            ordered by right reason, what fails to attain the proper measure of virtue (contra rationem).15
            It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that
            is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has
            been rejected by God or the Church. Sometimes the Church is misinterpreted or misrepresented
            as teaching that persons with homosexual inclinations are objectively disordered, as if everything
            about them were disordered or rendered morally defective by this inclination. Rather, the
            disorder is in that particular inclination, which is not ordered toward the fulfillment of the natural
            ends of human sexuality. Because of this, acting in accord with such an inclination simply cannot
            contribute to the true good of the human person. Nevertheless, while the particular inclination to
            homosexual acts is disordered, the person retains his or her intrinsic human dignity and value.
            Furthermore, it is not only sexual inclinations that can be disordered within a human
            person. Other inclinations can likewise be disordered, such as those that lead to envy, malice, or
            greed. We are all damaged by the effects of sin, which causes desires to become disordered.
            Simply possessing such inclinations does not constitute a sin, at least to the extent that they are
            beyond one’s control. Acting on such inclinations, however, is always wrong.16
            Many in our culture have difficulty understanding Catholic moral teaching because they
            do not understand that morality has an objective basis. Some hold that moral norms are nothing
            7
            more than guidelines for behavior that happen to be widely accepted by people of a particular
            culture at a particular time. Catholic tradition, however, holds that the basis of morality is found
            in the natural order established by the Creator, an order that is not destroyed but rather elevated
            by the transforming power of the grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ. Good actions are
            in accord with that order. By acting in this way, persons fulfill their authentic humanity, and this
            constitutes their ultimate happiness. Immoral actions, actions that are not in accord with the
            natural order of things, are incapable of contributing to true human fulfillment and happiness. In
            fact, immoral actions are destructive of the human person because they degrade and undermine
            the human dignity given us by God.”

            I dod not write this–it comes directly from pages 5-7 of this document, which was approved by the entire USCCB body.I would also refer you to the Vatican document

            Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
            ” On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”

            which confirms that the above is the universal teaching of the Church and not only the USCCB.

            I obviously agree with you that ENTERTAINING lust is sinful, and I never ONCE said or even hinted otherwise. I never said either that I (now quoting you above “wanted to like” my inclinations). With all due respect you are over the edge if you think people who have homosexual feelings want them. Most do not.

            What we are called to do is the same as single heterosexuals–we fight our desires and lusts, and if we fall, we go to confession, get up, and keep fighting some more. Most of us end our confession with an Act of Contrition, which usually includes the words “avoiding the near occasion of sin,” but if we have thus confessed and forsaken our sins, God has forgiven us and we can then forgive ourselves rather than beating ourselves up over them. I can indeed like myself, accept myself, and forgive myself for my failures. God does. I never once implied by that statement that we should hang on to lust in our hearts.

            People continually misunderstand this, thinking that my inclinations are somehow worse or “creepier” as you say than yours as a straight person are. You ask how you discriminated? You didn’t TECHNICALLY, by law, discriminate against me by your question. But your attitude at least seemingly did. Perhaps you did not mean it to, that is between you and God and in either case we are brothers in Christ so hopefully there is forgiveness between us.

            But, whether you meant to or not, what you did was to tear down my walk with God in front of the hundreds of people now reading this. And very honestly that hurts. A lot. It is that kind of over-scrutiny that very often those with SSA face, even within the Church and long after they are attempting to live a chaste life. And to me that is a form of subtle but real discrimination. It leads to a horrible sense of discouragement and disenfranchisement. And I think if you asked anyone fighting with SSA you would find that to be the case.

            And no I would not leave the Church because of you. A few years ago I might have, however. You need to realize the pain that careless words can actually cause. Then again so do I. I am not trying to hurt you either. So, as you said, peace to you too. And I am letting this rest here.

          • yan

            dude, it’s cool. FYI, I know about everything you posted, i’ve read it all before, I accept it all 100%. I think perhaps we disagreed over semantics in part. Let me say, what got my attention from your first post was the statement, ‘I am a long ways from repressed either. I know of my preferences and inclinations and accept them.’ Now, pls forgive me for misunderstanding, but, when people use the word ‘repressed’ these days in that way, they are saying ‘repression is bad, experience your feelings as you find them to the full.’ I think that’s bad. You state just now that you think entertaining lust is bad; I’m glad for the clarification. Surely you can understand how your seemingly gleeful denial of ‘repression’ might lead a reader to think otherwise?

            Further, you stated that the inclination itself is not sinful. However, although that thought is indicated in the title of the paragraph, the document carefully elaborates the full meaning later:

            ‘To the extent that a homosexual tendency or
            inclination is not subject to one’s free will, one is not morally culpable for that tendency.’

            This is of course, exactly what I posted earlier. The catechism states that the sources of SSA, as you call it, are mysterious. There remains therefore a realm in which the individual may be part of the cause of SSA itself, and insofar as one may be the cause, that person would be blameworthy, similarly as to an alcoholic having a part in having caused his alcoholism. and if one is NOT ‘repressed’, that leads me to believe that you aren’t interested in stemming SSA at its source if possible. Therefore as for me, dude, i am a full-on believer in self-repression! ‘i beat my body,’ wrote ST Paul.

            As to discrimination dude, i responded to a lot of comments before i noticed yours. i hardly singled you out in any special way than others, rather i responded to the content of your post as i did to the contents of others. so i think you might be a little sensitive here dude. peace.

            and dude you don’t have to trumpet it. you put it out there. i might be gay for all you know. why put it out there? or if you can’t handle the reaction? dude. dude! how can you say it is over scrutiny??? your whole post was about your being a gay Catholic! like 80 people ‘liked’ your post, but my comment ruined your day?????

            dude! peace to you.

          • PaulaN

            The inclination is described as “objectively disordered”.

            Does “objectively disordered” mean sinful to you?

          • catholicboyrichard

            Not according to the Church, which I just finished quoting extensively. Temptation is not a sin, dwelling on it is what can lead to sin. God bless.

          • John

            Concupiscence, which is a result of (original) sin and inclines to sin, is not itself sinful. The position that concupiscence itself is sin is not Catholic, but Lutheran. This was addressed explicitly at the Council of Trent, Session V. Grace and peace to you, Richard. In Christ you are more than a conqueror.

          • yan

            dude, source that for me?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            Hey, Yan, outside observer here, just wanted to ask you:
            How old are you?

            Seriously, I’m pretty sure if immaturity isn’t a sin, willful impudence most definitely is.

            Having read through your posts, I have gathered that you are either exceedingly pretentious despite have been repudiated in every post you’ve made, or actively trying to subvert discussion here for some other purpose.

            This kind of behavior you engage, this attempt to waylay a righteous man–it is so unspeakably subversive.

            You are no confessor. You do not have the authority to preach.
            It is not your place to belittle our brother Richard.
            He has spoken fairly and with courage, and by his own account he has made the effort to have his writings reviewed by his spiritual advisors and members of the clergy.

            What’s more, at every instance where you challenge his language (for you have no grounds to challenge him elsewhere, especially within his heart, toward which most your thinly veiled suspicions are directed) you have been turned back by the truth of the teachings of the Catholic Church relayed by the members of the Magisterium and the Magisterium itself, speaking through recognizedbodies at every level.

            There comes a time to drop the act. You are now in the position of having overwhelmingly more cause to admit that you have misread Richard’s statements, rather than to continue in your strange exercise in stubborn impudence.

            “Yan”, what’s with this “dude” non sense?
            Speak like an adult, you come across as if a hyperactive pubescent boy who has spent far too much time either digesting the pulp of popular culture or whom, having been cloistered away from the world, somehow thinks that your use of this completely out-of-context epithet is either endearing or genteel.

            Personally,I have a hunch it’s neither. I mean honestly, who are you trying to fool? I think it’s now quite clear what kind of game you’re playing, “yan”, and it sickens me to think of as much as it must dismay my brother Richard.

            You attempt, in vain, to waylay the mission of a righteous man.

            Retro vade satannis, Yan.

          • the heretic

            this is a free world,evryone got the ri8 to speak watever he wants,i personally think the bible has got into your head :P
            try reading sum good novels for a change…..

          • the heretic

            if the starter of this discussion has the right to critisize the atheists, then atheists also hve the right to speak watever they want (not sayin yan is a atheist or sumthing, he has the right to choose what he believs)

          • yan

            Dude I found it. Very cool.

            “This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin.”

          • yan

            dude, no.

          • Mleecombs

            Richard, that guy cannot tear you down. Your words speak for you and capture the hearts of all those who also love God and try to live his will. I am grateful to you, will pray for you and wish you all the blessings and graces of our Lord. Have a peaceful and joyful life.

          • catholicboyrichard

            Thanks so much, Mleecombs! God bless your for your kind words and always for your prayers.

    • Malakh

      There are a few things in this world that I view higher than a same-sex-attracted person who refuses to act upon his urges for love of his faith. (Whatever faith, but especially Christianity). Yes, it is great when everybody else isn’t doing it, but everybody else can get married. You, sir, are a hero. God bless you and be with you on your journey!

      • catholicboyrichard

        Thank you SO much for saying that, Malakh. I needed that so very much tonight. God bless you on your journey too!

    • yan

      dude it’s cool you repented from all that bad stuff. and dude it’s cool to accept yourself but at the same time, you accept it not because it’s a good thing but because you realize it is your cross, right? cuz if not, then it’s like you’re saying, ‘yah, i like to murder people; i won’t do it cuz i know it’s wrong, but, at the same time, the “liking” part really excites me.’ cuz that would be bad, right? not to mention creepy.

      but if you said ‘i like to murder people and i know it’s wrong and won’t ever do it again, and i also know IT’S BAD TO LIKE THAT too, but i accept that i am that way [i.e. i like murder], and there is only so much i can do to feel otherwise, that’s just how i am,’ then, you would be a good Catholic in that respect, I think. capisce?

      and dude just so you know it should be the same for heteros. if we are cool about our propensity to lust then we aren’t good catholics; yes we accept that we have hetero lust but we are obligated to do our utmost not to indulge it, and not purely for prudential reasons–i.e., because it will eventually lead to actual sin, but simply because lust is bad, period. it’s one of the seven, remember? peace…

    • Daniel

      Agreed: you ARE a hero. Keep fighting the good fight, and keep on witnessing.

      • catholicboyrichard

        In light of the rest of this thread your words help, Daniel. None of us need to be given added shame for our actions. Most of us carry enough. God bless and thanks so much.

    • Jay E.

      Behold, the heroic man standing for the discipline of the Gospel, and the truth of human sexuality… the sort of person gay activists would prefer didn’t exist. Great to see your comment, man! Fight on!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472790264 Richard Gerard Evans

        Thanks Jay E! God bless.

    • yan

      dude just one thing: i mean, you had a wife for a long time, according to your blog. i mean, didn’t you love her? wasn’t the marriage consummated? if you don’t want to answer, that’s cool i totally and completely understand. but i was kind of wondering if you could ever ratify that marriage, or, is it annulled, or do you think it is even possible, given your SSA, to ratify it? I would think in theory, you still could ratify it, assuming it was not annulled. Or wait–is it void ab initio since you married outside the church? these marriage laws are confusing. peace.

      i mean, a wife is a wonderful gift. not without problems of course, but still. even if you have SSA. cuz it seems you also have some Opposite SA as well. peace.

      you can call me prejudiced on this point, b/c i don’t believe there is any man or woman with SSA that doesn’t also have some OSA. That’s been my personal experience of every SSA person I’ve ever known. sometimes they are loath to admit it though. but dude! you can see it. peace.

      but dude you only talk about your SSA on your blog. dude why? as you say you are not defined by your SSA. so like, don’t define yourself then like that. you say you’re a person; awesome, then, you only talk about being an SSA person…??!!

      dude it’s like you want to hold on to it! dude let go….JMO. peace…

      • catholicboyrichard

        I certainly am not here to get into all of my “dirty laundry” but my former wife and I were married outside of the Church during the years I was an evangelical Protestant minister. We were married for 12 years and divorced over 20 years ago. We had 4 children in heaven together, via miscarriage. When I returned to the Church one of the steps I took was to make peace with her and we are friends only, but definitely friends. She is a good person who did not deserve what happened to he and I have long ago taken full responsibility to her in person as well as in the confessional. In any case the marriage was officially annulled at my request through our Archdioces upon my return to the Church and confirmation in 2006. Old news.

        As to my blog, you obviously read very few of the posts, as probably 2/3 of the 165 posts currently there do not deal with this issue in any way. I had my blog reviewed by my priest and spiritual director, and am faithful to the Magisterium to the very best of my knowledge and ablity.

        Unlike what you may think I do not find it particularly easy to share such personal areas of my life. However by the time I returned to the Church, it was common knowledge among family and friends, and even the public to some extent, so “the cat was out of the bag” already so to speak and it is an intregal part of my “journey home” story. I do not suggest to all from my background to “share it with the world” and reactions such as yours are part of the reason why. But since my story is well known already, I believe I am called to use it to assist and help others.

        Very frankly the rest of your personal remarks which you sent to me separately from this post bordered upon harassment. I am going to ask you very respectfully to, as you say to me, please “let it go.”

        I will no longer be responding to you here or elsewhere.

        • yan

          ok dude, that’s fine. you asked for advice in your blog, i gave it. i’m sorry if i offended you again. was not my intention. peace.

    • P2H

      Wow Richard awesome. Laus Deo!! WIsh there were more people who loved GOd liek you.

    • nat

      What an amazing witness! I very much admire you for sharing this, knowing the reactions you might receive. I feel like a lot of the prejudice inside the church comes from ignorance or simplification of the Catholic faith. As we all saw with Yan’s posts, this ignorance is far too common, “dude”. It’s so sad to see the number of people who turn away from the Church because of these misunderstandings. Same-sex attraction is not a sin, and is not the same as lust. Thank you for boldly standing up for our Church and correcting those who preach misconceptions! You truly are a hero, what a cross you have upon your shoulders! You are an example for all of us.

      God bless you all the days of your life.

      • catholicboyrichard

        Thanks so very much, and we are all learning together. God bless!

    • Danny O’Connor

      May God Bless you and strengthen you,there is a group called courage for people with attractions to the same sex who are trying to live chaste lives.I am a straight guy and have been living chastely for a while -quite a long while- and It is very difficult,particulary the lonliness and the way the world is today,it is difficult sometimes not to think impure thoughts when you see the way some women dress.We are spirits who have a body,this body doesnt last forever but this spirit does,that is why as I am not married I am living chastely and trying to let God be in charge of my life,Hopefully He will direct miss right my way some day ,but if not I will continue to do my best to follow Him in the Church His Son established.

      • catholicboyrichard

        Danny thank you for mentioning COURAGE–I have had some contacts with them in the past and in fact recently joined a group on Facebook that is associated with them. They do a tremendous work. COURAGE distinguishes itself from most Protestant “ex-gay” groups in that they allow, but do not push, a reparative therapy model upon people. What I mean is, they do not attempt to change so much the outer things such as “I better learn to play football” or start changing the oil in my car in order to somehow be manlier. If a person wishes to pursue such things they certainly do not discourage it, but clearly teach, as Rome does, that we are not the sum total of our activities, whether sexual or non-sexual, and who we are as children of God is at issue here instead. Good, healthy approach I believe.

        They focus strongly however on the interior life, the Sacraments, and give those of us with SSA the chance to identify with and meet others who deal with similar issues but who wish to live in chastity according to our station in life. They are good stuff, and unlike a very few on this thread who think otherwise, have helped me to learn that it is healthy to think of myself as simply a “Catholic Christian with…” rather than saying I AM this or that. I happen to also have diabetes. But instead of internalizing it as part of me, “I am diabetic,” etc, it is something I HAVE but does not make me who I am. That is precisely why most of us avoid using the word “gay” these days. I still feel the feelings sometimes. But I am not what I feel, by God’s grace. How we think and speak does influence how we act.

        Since you mention it I am going to post their link here, which is http://couragerc.net/. They are incidentally the only Catholic approved group dealing with the issues of same-sex attractions currently. And they do help many.

        As to your own issue, isn’t in nice to know we have so much in common after all? You are not alone–and neither am I. We can pray for one another. And we will. God bless!

    • Often Discouraged

      I just really wanted to tell you how much reading this ment to me. As a young person struggling with my bisexual attractions and how they fit with my Catholic faith, I get discouraged, a lot. I also fall, more than I would care to admit even to my self. I know the churches teachings and I know what I am called to do, and I fight to follow them every day. Unfortunately thats the hard part. The really hard part. Reading this has given me hope beyond imagining. Thank you so much for putting your self out there, as I am sure that you and your story has given hope to many more with same sex attractions than just me.

      • catholicboyrichard

        Not at all sure why, but twice now I have replied to you and the comment seemingly has disappeared. Just know I care, and feel free to contact me on my page, which is listed elsewhere, and also at the Courage site. There are good folks who care there.

        YOU and those of us with this struggle as well as with opposite gender issues–that alone is why I posted this. So glad you wrote. My prayers are with you.

    • Nancy

      Thank you so much for posting here. I have a friend who is constantly going back and forth between God and her SSA . . . She is really on a rollercoaster between what the world teaches and what the church teaches about SSA, and mostly about God’s unwavering love for her. It is so encouraging to have people to direct her to who are choosing Christ above the false freedom our culture teaches.

      • catholicboyrichard

        Believe me I do understand, we are so inundated with the idea that our sexuality cannot harm others. Yet it can and deeply. Mine as a person with SSA can, and so can a straight person who wastes this precious gift by using others for his or her benefit.Blessed John Paul II even speaks of the adultery we commit by using our spouses at times. It is never okay.

        And in full disclosure I went through a few periods even since returning to the Church where I strongly struggled with Church teaching in this area too. Just love her as I am sure you already do–and yet let her know that she can be more than she is with God’s help and healing. I think of the wonderful Josh Groban song “You Raise Me Up.” To me the message is that God loves us as we are, but so much that He does not leave us there thankfully. Thanks for the kind words on this Lord’s Day.

    • mary york

      Thanks so much Richard. I am a heterosexual married woman who really does not know what to think about this issue. Your testimony was interesting. You might be interested in the experience of David MacDonald, at http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/index2.htm. He traveled in that world for some time before years of celibacy and then marriage.

      • catholicboyrichard

        I appreciate your honesty, Mary, and your link to David MacDonald as well. I have communicated with him briefly on a couple of occasions and his site is chock-full of many other apologetics and testimonials, such as Pro-life issues from a very personal perspective, as well as his SSA background. It should be noted that he received an instantaneous deliverance from his SSA, which is not the usual. I mention this only because somecan become discouraged if their experience does not match another’s. However we are each individuals, and many or most of us struggle for a time or even a lifetime with our desires.

        In that area David apparently did not by a special infusion of grace. But God’s work within us is designed for us according to our particular needs and ablities, and sometimes simply a miraculous gift as his was.

        Just curious–when you state that you do not know what to think of this issue, do you mean of the Church teachings on the topic? Attitudes? Just asking for clarification. I do know that I too struggled at times even after my return to Rome.I am not looking back now, but that does not mean I have not at moments. But there are times in our walk of Faith when we just have to look past what seems logical to our finite minds and give in to the Infinite, who never wavers and always knows what is best, and then just hang on for dear life. And God always makes it worth our while.

        Thanks so much for your good words and link.

    • marie77_00

      God bless you Richard! I am so humbled to be able to call you my brother in Christ.

    • Me

      You wrote, “I find it WORTH my while to give my sexuality over to God;” what a true and refreshing statement that would be beneficial for heterosexuals to understand as well.

  • Brian

    While I do agree with everything stated (and I mean AGREE). The sad fact of the matter is that not the entire Christian community follows this mandate. Their are quite a few Christian bigots who do not follow Jesus’ call to love. Further there are many who take their responsibility as one of “toleration” rather than “acceptance” of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Very few people will feel love and compassion from people who merely “tolerate” their existence. We as a Christian community have a good answer, however before we can take an outside world to tax for it, we need to clean up shop ourselves. Glass houses and all that…

    Thank you though. Well stated case (minus purposeful internet grammar issues).

  • Burton

    Going back in the conversation a bit – I posed the question: if evolution is a random process, can we say that any action is inherently “good” or “bad”?

    A respondent stated that mutations are random, but natural selection is not. OK, granted, but that entirely misses the point of my question. All of evolution is still driven by a random process, and nothing purposeful in the teleological sense. If this is the case, then morality is a completely relative concept. No action is innately “bad” or “good”.

    For example, if the random process of mutation selects for a majority of humans who believe that we should improve our gene pool by killing infants born with genetic defects, could anyone, in that case, in any meaningful way call infanticide morally wrong?

    • JAGreene86

      Hitler was a smart man then…head and shoulders above everyone else in that line of thinking.

      Let me ask you this: if morality is relative, what argument is there that says that I should follow your moral teaching? By saying morality is relative is like saying “you have your opinion, and I have mine”. No shit! You’re just stating an obvious fact, without really drawing any effective conclusion from it, and you act like that’s should change someone’s line of thinking.

      Relativism has no place in a metaphysical discussion…because it is all based on opinion and in-conclusive facts. Your argument is neither “right”, nor “wrong”, therefore, why take the trouble posting it in the first place? Why should we take the trouble to read your post, even if you “randomly” decide to post it? Where’s the motivation to believe what you believe?

      There are three ways to live: Live life as it were by accident, live life as it were on purpose, or live life not at all.

      • Burton

        I agree with you. My point in the above comment (and I think Alexandra knows full well what I am driving at) is that if you are going to be an atheist, at least have the courage to lay aside the last vestiges of religion based morality and admit that within any atheist paradigm, no action can be said to be inherently good or evil. I find that few atheists are actually willing to admit this, grow a set, and accept the full implication of their belief system.

        • Alexandra

          I’m not entirely sure, I’m still working it out.

          I think you can probably say that causing needless suffering is not good or is “evil”, and increasing human flourishing is good.

          But this is all based on our constructing what good and evil mean. If we’re just talking about what our goals are as a society and working towards that goal is what is good and working away from that goal is what is evil, then we can define good and evil.

          What do you think? I’m interested in figuring this out.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Oh, good—”that which advances the program is alone good, that which impedes it is alone evil.”

            Please tell me you meant something else by defining good and evil purely by “our goals as a society”.

    • Alexandra

      I really don’t think you understand evolution or the evolutionary arguments for morality. These questions really don’t make sense if you know what it is you’re talking about.

      • Burton

        Ok, then why not enlighten me so that I can understand. Can you explain why my question makes no sense?

        Let me try another way. In your atheistic paradigm of morality, are there any moral absolutes? Could a society evolve that would legitmately conceive of infanticide as a moral good in certain circumstances?

        BTW, “you just don’t understand what your talking about” is not the most persuasive argument.

        • Alexandra

          It’s not meant to be a persuasive argument, it’s meant to be a statement of my own observation.

          I’m still working out exactly how to word what it is I believe, this kind of philosophy isn’t my strong suit, but yes I think there are some moral absolutes. But they’re not things like killing is wrong. The more accurate statement would be that causing needless suffering is wrong.

          And yes, I think infanticide can be a moral option in some select cases. A parent making the choice to euthanize their infant born with Tay-Sachs disease could be a moral choice.

          • Burton

            OK, I accept that your comments were meant as an observation. I do understand (correct me if I’m wrong) that the processes of random mutation and natural selection leads to the preferential survival of certain genetic traits within a species. I also think it is safe to say that these processes are in no way driven by any sense of purpose or final cause. In other words, survival is not “better” than non-survival in any sense of higher purpose or moral value; it simple works out that way because of the nature of the forces acting on the system.

            I think the philosophical question you have to ask yourself is whether or not anything exists beyond this system of physical forces. If the answer is no, then the statement “causing needless suffering is wrong” is utterly meaningless. Wrong in what sense? How do you define needless? How can anything be “wrong” if all of existence can be reduced to blind and purposeless forces acting on atoms and molecules? As a society we may decide to call something “wrong”, but in this paradigm any given indivual has no absolute basis for ascribing moral guilt to any action performed by another individual.

            I think you are being inconsistent and falling victim to a form of sentimentality. At a visceral level, it just doesn’t feel right to cause someone else pain even if it is for my benefit. But that feeling is not a legitimate basis for morality.

          • Alexandra

            Well see I’m working from the assumption that there is no higher power, and I think that’s a key difference in the way we see what needs to be defined. And of course, there’s a degree of emotion and sentimentality involved here, that’s what it is all based upon fundamentally.

            Our goal is to be happy and healthy. Humans agree on that, it’s what we feel and want, hence the emotional component. I value my happiness and health, and if someone violates that that makes me feel bad. Out of empathy, I am not compelled to violate other people’s well being and out of selfishness I won’t because they might hurt me back.

            What is good is what gets us there, what is bad is what gets us away from it. We’ve set up a system ourselves and defined right and wrong. You don’t need anything beyond that.

            Things clearly get more complicated than the being nice to other people kind of moral dilemmas, but fundamentally it comes down to human emotion and desire to survive. We have that in us and we use our ability to reason to determine what choice will best fit our definition of what is good.

          • Burton

            So then you would agree that a morality based on atheistic evolution cannot entail moral absolutes, but is instead based on human emotion?

          • Alexandra

            I think they’re still absolutes, but they’re different. They’re not 10 commandment style killing is always wrong, stealing is always wrong. An act can be completely wrong, because needless human suffering is wrong, but sometimes killing or stealing can result in more human flourishing without causing needless human suffering.

            But the central “absolute” would be that what is best is human flourishing, what is worst is human suffering, and our goal is to maximize human flourishing. Sometimes you have to cause human suffering to achieve human flourishing, so causing human suffering with a purpose can be good when all things are considered, but causing needless human suffering is always bad.

            That was repetitive, but I’m too lazy to fix it.

          • Burton

            OK, but you cannot simply assert an absolute moral value like human flourishing (good) or needless human suffering (bad). There must be some rational basis, and atheistic evolution does not provide that basis.

          • Alexandra

            I think we’ve hit a wall here. There is a rational basis, you just don’t agree with it. I think it all comes down to that you define a rational basis as a supernatural being and I don’t consider it to be anything like that.

          • Burton

            fair enough, just would love to understand your rational basis

  • Korou

    So, a summary of the OP and the comments might be:

    Marc: it may be nice of atheists to support gay rights, but actually the atheists are just shooting themselves in the foot! Now let’s talk about a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND UNRELATED issue – how can atheists know what is right or wrong at all? Watch me beat up this series of strawmen to show how the atheists can’t, in fact, say anything about anything!

    Supporting commenters: Wow, Marc, you really showed those strawmen! Take that, atheists!

    Atheists: Uh, what?

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      I’ve read your comment three times and I still can’t make any sense out of it. Pot, meet kettle?

      • Cal-J

        I like his definitions of “COMPLETELY DIFFERENT” and “UNRELATED” (oh, heck, let’s throw “AND” in there, too); I’d always found that “rights” and “right and wrong” are both derived from an objective source (which is why we use the word “rights” and not “privileges”, for example).

      • Korou

        Not really. I wasn’t saying I didn’t understand Marc’s article, just that I didn’t see why some commenters were impressed by it.

        He misrepresented his opponents arguments so that he could claim to have defeated them, and he did so in response to a completely unrelated issue; atheists supporting gay rights and atheists having a sense of morality have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

        I hope that’s clearer now.

        • CPE Gaebler

          “Atheists supporting gay rights and atheists having a sense of morality have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. ”

          ……

          This is so utterly contrary to observation I have to wonder if you’re from the same planet. Are you saying that atheists don’t support gay rights because they believe discrimination is bad?

          • Korou

            Dear CPE Gaebler,

            Thank you for your comment. Rereading what I wrote I see that I did express myself incorrectly. I should have said:

            “The fact that atheists support gay rights and the question of whether or not atheists have morals have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.”

            Would you say they do have anything to do with each other?

          • CPE Gaebler

            Thanks for the reply. I apologize if I was a bit too sarcastic – I learned to discuss from one of the sassier schools, heh.

            I’m not sure your revision is much clearer – still seems to me that atheists support gay rights because they subscribe to certain moral judgments such as that discrimination is bad and allowing people to be happy with their lovers is good. Could you elucidate?

          • Kubricks_Rube

            I believe that what Korou is trying to say is that the real point this article is to argue that morality comes from a “lawgiver.” So the specific moral position used to make this claim- in this case supporting gay rights- is arbitrary. The argument could be made with “atheists oppose murder” or “atheists give to charity” without altering anything.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Oh, I know. I realized that about the article. Kinda thought it was obvious, really.

          • Korou

            Cheers, Kubricks!

    • Sophias_Favorite

      They only seem completely different and unrelated to you…because you didn’t understand it.

  • Mladicj

    where does morality come from???? good question…. i would say my parents! if it were from the church i would would be a bigot and feel the need to pressure people into my train of thought. i would feel the need to make laws that force people to live the way a book written by man says they should live. a book that i will tell you says nothing about how wrong rape and sex with a child is. a book that if i were to fallow would tell me that i can never play a game of football because the hide is that of a pig and that i should kill my nieghbor for working on sunday. and liets not forget a book that child molesters hide behind and the people that run there religion help protect. are my moral from a old book of short stories? NO they are from the best people i have ever know and will ever know. MY PARENTS, who never judged people for there sexual prefrences, color, beliefes, or social situations.

  • Del

    Wow… I take a break from BAD CATHOLIC for a few hours and BAM! — there are 175 comment posts already.

    1) The problem with our liberal, politically correct culture is that it is full of cafeteria moralists. They obey the moral laws that they like; they break the moral laws that they don’t like. They think themselves virtuous because they keep some of the moral laws.

    2) What we love about sincere athiests is that they are intellectually honest, for the most part. Cafeteria morality is intellectually dishonest, and they can feel it.

    3) Catholics and atheists both agree that we must love and affirm persons with same-sex attraction. We can have a jolly good discussion about the best way to love these people and protect them from bullying and unfair discrimination.

    4) But if we are called to love and protect a human person with a naturally occurring aberration like homosexuality, then we are also called to love and protect a child in the womb — even one with an aberration like Down’s Syndrome.

    If that “gay gene” is ever discovered, Catholics will be at the front of the line demanding that such children cannot be killed because they might be gay.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472790264 Richard Gerard Evans

      Such good thoughts and so clearly stated, Del. God bless you for your compassionate attitude.

    • Wintermute

      I think your reasoning fails because #4 begs the question of whether the “child in the womb” has the same moral standing as a person. This is precisely the point on which many reasonable people disagree. I have never heard a pro-choice advocate argue “yes, the fetus is a person like you or me with equivalent rights, but we don’t care, so abort away!” (To be fair, I acknowledge some people may make this argument, though again I have not heard it). What is far more common is the position that the fetus does not have equivalent rights to a newborn child, and as such, the rights of the woman supersede them.

      You may disagree strongly with that premise, but that does not entitle you to act as though it doesn’t exist.

      • Peter Brown

        The reasoning only fails if it’s (a) trying to be a tight logical argument that is (b) addressed to a general audience (as opposed to an audience–like Catholics–where the moral standing of the unborn child can be treated as a non-question). I’m not convinced, from re-reading Del’s post and looking at this blog, that either (a) or (b) is true.

  • Aubrey

    Apologetics- like a Sir.

  • pico87

    Relativism sucks

  • finishstrongdoc

    …..ummmmmm…..Obama?…..yes…….definitely Obama.

    or not.

  • Joey McGoebbels

    Morality comes from power, the strong do as they will and the weak do as they must.

    Everyone hates the “dark ages” but the truth is the world was a better place back then because the Church was more powerful.

    • mary_devoe

      Morality comes from power, the power of the Supreme Sovereign Being, our Creator, and you are a majority of one if you are the only moral person remaining .

    • Luka Alexandrovich Nevskeyev

      Morality comes from power.

      Ethics comes from love.

      God is about the latter, and Christ showed pretty clearly that God doesn’t seem to give a jot about human mores. He cares about human joy and happiness and the life of the world attained through love, for He is love and He is the source of all joy, happiness, and life.

  • Cha5678

    Of course one first parse if the atheist maintains any consistent set of moral teaching on treatment of homosexuals that could possibly spill forth into a connected web of morals. If so, it might be possible to tease out these claims. But this practice fails upon the atheist that exploits the homosexual for the purpose of giving a human face to the sterility and promiscuity inherent in homosexual relationships they selfishly wish for their own heterosexual relationships. Then, there is no moral concern, but only a clever trick by an intellectually dishonest atheist. That atheist will continue to obscure truth and undermine reason to get what they want.

  • Craig Stewart

    If they are necessarily true, and I`m inclined to believe as a matter of objective fact that they are, I wouldn`t claim that I could necessarily know them to be such.

    See what I did thereÉ

  • Cece Smith

    What I know about the atheist community, I’ve learned from reddit. And from what I can tell, I really don’t think I’m who you’re addressing. If I were to label myself, I’d say that I’m a pro-life, libertarian atheist who really doesn’t care for the LGBT or Pride movements. Mainly because they create a “Gay” identity that my friends with same-sex attractions (I’ll be absolutely stunned if that phrase never catches on, Scalia willing. It just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) can’t relate to. They end up being ostracized by those who are anti-gay, yet condemned by the gay community for not fitting the mold. It hurts them more than it’s helping them.

    But despite being off the mark of your target Atheist, I’d still like to offer my answer to the morality question, since I think it’s a theist’s most compelling tool. I didn’t always have an answer. And before I found the one that satisfied me, I would hark on the ones that I didn’t quite buy into. In debates, it’s always more compelling to answer with lies than to honestly confess to having no answer whatsoever. It’s true that I’ve never believed in God, certainly not a personal one, and that morality couldn’t come from something that I didn’t believe to exist. So what? Utilitarianism? No. Relativism? Probably not. Absolutism? What’s scary is that the people who claim morality is absolute, also claim that it is their own morality that is the only True morality. I don’t trust it and I think its power is abused.

    No, no, and no. My answer doesn’t have a fancy name, or if it does, I don’t know it. I guess you could call it “Smithian” if you had to, since it comes from Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Phenomenal book. The language is a tad unwieldy, but the ideas are very relevant and compelling. It basically argues that morality is emergent. The way we interact with each other seems to be a combination of primitive instinct and reasonable judgement. Complex feedback loops inform us of the best ways to treat each other. The system works as if it were masterminded by an “Author of Nature”, but there doesn’t necessarily need to be one. I mean, there could be if you’re into that sort of thing, but the system works with or without him.

    So, that’s my backwater atheistic conclusion. It works quite well. If you want to understand it more fully, you could tackle the book. But its popularity is growing, so you may be able to read up on it by lighter secondary sources soon enough. Nice blog, by the way. It’s always a fun read.

    • Craig Stewart

      I think the essential philosophical problem is going to be the same one levied against any kind of sentimentalism. It’s (probably, never actually read it) an excellent descriptive psychology of how people come to exhibit behavior that appears moral.

      Well and good. There is definitely a place for descriptive psychology.

      The problem is that sentimentalism does nothing for us in determining what is right and what is wrong. Now maybe you’re a relativist, in which case there really isn’t any bite to this criticism (how could there be?!), but if we want to make statements like “genocide is wrong”, and have them mean something more than “Boo, genocide”, sentimentalism is not going to cut it.

      Wittgenstein once gave a very strong argument against relativism. He threateningly brandished a hot poker in a visiting speaker’s face. There is the old army quote ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’, I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m quite sure nobody is a relativist after being sucker-punched in the face.

      • yan

        dude! I am a HUGE Wittgensteiner. The incident you mention reminds me of a poem I read the other day, courtesy of Simcha Fisher:

        EPISTEMOLOGY

        I.
        Kick at the rock, Sam Johnson, break your bones:
        But cloudy, cloudy is the stuff of stones.

        II.
        We milk the cow of the world, and as we do
        We whisper in her ear, ‘You are not true.’

        Richard Wilbur

    • yan

      dude, or ms. dude, though, doesn’t the theory depend on an idea of nature which is sort of, well, scottish or something? i mean, what about ‘nature red in tooth and claw’? Hobbes and lord of the flies and the holocaust and machiavelli?

      i think theoretically it is easier to find a source for morality in an eternal unchanging God than in that elusive, brooding chick-beast ‘nature.’

      But for you the problem is believing in a God for whatever reason I think. That’s cool though, I appreciated your post, thx. And that you are pro-life, that’s the best of all.

      Suggestion: maybe you should read Dr. Singer to get a different view on nature and the implications that his view has on morality and the way we treat other humans. His philosophy is based on observations about nature and the world, but he doesn’t come out with a morality that is, for instance, pro-life. He’s a very smart guy and yet he has missed that point, which you get. And I think how he comes out, compared with how for instance Smith comes out, illustrates the point that when you want to create a theory of morality from nature alone, you are going to get more variations than if, say, you tried to construct a morality by looking at all the teachings of all the religions of the world. It could lead you to ask ‘when it comes to morality why are they all so similar?’

      I wouldn’t advocate believing in God b/c of Pascalian-wager reasons but really the existence of God helps tie a world-view together logically, and a logical tie-in CAN [though it not necessarily MUST] be an indication that something is also true.

      peace….

  • Robyn

    INSTA-SHARE! Many of my Facebook friends will have very upset sensibilities, which is fantastic

  • Alexandra

    Burton, I’m still working on figuring out too, honestly! But what I’ve realized from chatting here is that it has to do with that I start with the assumptions: 1) there is no supernatural entity that is the basis for morality and 2) morality exists. Therefore there has to be a secular basis for morality. What it is *exactly* isn’t incredibly important to me, because it’s a much lower level question than I like to think on, but I can see where theists feel like it is an incredibly important question to ask.

    In reasoning what is moral, I think the central idea is that causing needless suffering is always wrong. Why? Because we all exist, and we don’t want to suffer. That’s enough for me, but I get that it’s unsatisfying if you are trying to use the existence of morality as an argument for a higher power. I just know a priori that there isn’t a higher power, so the question doesn’t really hold a whole lot of importance to me.

    • Burton

      Thanks for your honesty. These are certainly challenging questions. All I have been trying to do is help you to see that if there is no God, then there is no morality in the sense that most people assume. Nietzche nailed that one head on.

      I think that was Mark’s main point. As an atheist, you may have your own personal notion of what has led humanity to a place of moral sensibility, and you may even think that is a good thing, but you have no business judging anyone else’s moral viewpoint on homosexuality or anything else, because in your philosphical boat, there can be no absolute right and wrong.

      • Alexandra

        First off, even if it were true that I don’t think there can be an absolute right or wrong, that wouldn’t keep me from being able to make rational judgements about the right or wrongness of other people’s viewpoints or actions. You can measure the relative wrongness or rightness of something without knowing what the values are if you take it to infinity.

        Secondly, I didn’t say there’s no such thing as absolute right and wrong. I said that we define it ourselves, it doesn’t come from a higher power. What is wrong is needless human suffering, what is right is human flourishing. You don’t need a higher power besides the solidarity of humans as a species.

        You’re not going to make me “see” that there has to be a higher power for morality to exist, because like I said, a priori I know there is no higher power. This isn’t a convincing argument for a higher power, and even if it was, you still have to have some reason to believe that the Abrahamic God is the higher power at work. I just “see” why this is such a tough topic for theists and atheists to talk about, now. Because we come here with different assumptions and theists have trouble trying to see it without the assumption that there is a higher power.

        • Burton

          Well, I’m beginning to agree that we have hit a wall. I am not trying to convince you that God exists, only that you are not being a consistent atheist. If your going to reject God, then at least be willing to accept the logical consequences, and for Heaven’s sake don’t claim that there are moral absolutes.

          • Alexandra

            I’m not entirely sure what the logical consequences are, and I’m open to thinking about them. I appreciate your concern, but I don’t think that you have much of a better grasp of secular morality than I do, so it’s turned me off that you think you’re trying to show me inconsistencies. I can see them myself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inconsistent, it means that perhaps I having finished thinking or learning about it yet.

          • Burton

            No desire to turn you off to the conversation, and I am certainly open to learning how a secular paradigm can yield moral absolutes. In the mean time, I do think it is hypocritical to condemn Christians for a particular moral viewpoint when you can’t explain the basis for your own.

          • Kubricks_Rube

            Without a compelling solution to Euthyphro’s Dilemma, I don’t see much difference between humans determining what is moral and humans being told what is moral. To be fair though, I’m not convinced there is such a thing as absolute morality. But I don’t see how God would clarify that one way or the other.

        • yan

          dudette if we define morality ourselves then in what sense is morality ‘absolute’? dudette, hitler defined it his way, jeremy bentham defined it his way, kant his way, and marx defined it his way, and they each thought their version was the absolute right one. Dudette! can’t you see what you are saying doesn’t make sense? if God doesn’t define it, how do you know if your morality is the absolute right one, and what is the basis for respecting yours over another’s, get it? but you are right, one would have to believe in God at some point in order to accept that morals have a basis in God. But that’s another discussion. point here only is that if it’s not from God, it can’t be absolute. and as a thoughtful person, you feel that to be a problem. good! keep at it…may God be with you…if you don’t mind my saying so. peace….

        • yan

          dudette:

          ‘like I said, a priori I know there is no higher power.’

          how can you KNOW something a priori??? you assume it is so, therefore it IS so???? whaaa?

          Dudette no one is saying you can’t have a morality without a higher power. just saying that you can’t tell anyone your morality is either true or binding on anyone else, unless it has a higher basis than having originated in your own reflections, however intelligent those refelctions may be. cool? peace…

  • Hartm

    Use whatever you like to justify your homophobia…it is all junk. Just don’t try to pin your idotic faith based beliefs onto the rest of us. Yes, I love homos…I am not one, but being naturally created like the rest of us heteros, they deserve the same basic human rights.

    • Lindsay

      Wow … that just went right over your head didn’t it? Or did I miss the irony?

    • yan

      dude, don’t they have their human rights?

      • Kubricks_Rube

        From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

        Article 16.

        (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

        (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

        (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

        So no, in most countries and most states in the US, they do not have their human rights.

  • yan

    dude, you need to include a pic in this montage of the big lebowski saying ‘like, that’s just your opinion, man.’

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

    Hahaha… Good job debunking a series of straw men. Meanwhile, outside of emotionally-threatened fairy-tale land, Nietzche dealt with all of this in his book “Beyond Good and Evil” over a century ago.

    Neither my personal essence, nor my reason objects to homosexuality. For people who make faulty arguments, there is reason. For people who’s personal essence is such they MUST come after my friends, or others who do not have their hateful essence, with intent to harm…

    I am prepared to fight.

    • yan

      dude, who is coming after your friends?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

        The sort of scum who have been tormenting homosexuals for the last two thousand years all across the planet.

        The kind who gave one of my gay friends death threats, who tortured one of my lesbian friends with a knife. People who are biologically hateful to gays, Anti-Human, and by my standards– evil.

        See “Exposing Christianity dot com” if you wish to learn more.

        • yan

          dude, truth be told, hard to believe. did those people go to jail or get sued by your friends? are you exaggerating though?

          if true, were the tormentors Christians? If so I apologize.

          We are against gayness though. It’s against the natural law, obviously. No offense; it just is. When you go to the gas station, you don’t put gas in the radiator, right?

          dude why do you think nietzsche is on your side? b/c he doesn’t like Christianity? dude nietzsche HATES you.

          Christians don’t hate you though.

          peace out…..

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            Do you even understand grammatical English?

            Yes, Christians have tortured my friends. Do you want me to go into the graphic detail of how Christians tried to slash of her breasts with a knife because she was a lesbian? As of 2008 56% of hate crimes in the U.S. are against homosexuals. Just google and you can find a lot worse.

            Yes, Nietzsche is on my side:

            “The degree and kind of a man’s sexuality reach up into the ultimate pinnacle of his spirit.”

            Friedrich Nietzsche
            Beyond Good and Evil, 1886

            Yes, Christians HATE me, and my friends. LOVE has a different definition in English than it does in your life-hating LIE. Examine the ENGLISH definition of Love in Webster’s Dictionary if you believe otherwise.

            And YES, your false religion has committed terrible crimes against humanity since it first came into existence.

            Again, see Exposing Christianity dot com for more details!

          • yan

            whew! dude, peace to you. anyway, full disclosure: i won the spelling bee in 3rd grade; but, you are right, that is not grammar! my apologies.

            dude you seem like, very angry. just an observation. are you always like this?

            so dude, the Christian, was he like, ‘I’m a Christian, that’s why i’m slashing at your breast, you lesbian!’ or what? how exactly DID that go down?

            re: the N-word [Nietzsche], um yah it’s an excellent observation, but, i don’t see there any indication that N liked you. but on second thought, you may be right about him liking you. i actually read the book you quoted from when i was 16, but since then have learned a lot more about N. I am still learning, but i never got the impression that N cared about any kind of mass movements, rather that he hated all that kind of stuff. so i suppose it depends on what we are talking about.

            Love: good topic. True, Christians don’t want to sleep with you, have amorously passionate feelings for you and etc. They do however want the best for you, and want to do whatever they can to help save your soul, b/c they believe that to go to God, you have to be holy and good. In that sense, they love you very, very much, and care deeply, or at least they should. True. Obviously they disagree with you about what they think is best for you. I think that’s why you think they hate you. but they don’t, dude…

            terrible crimes against humanity: ok, Chesterton i thought had a good answer to this one. he said that on one hand, people accused Christianity of making people weak [take N for instance] and pusillanimous, and then they criticized it for starting all the wars on the planet. dude??!!

            peace brother…

          • Alexandra

            I think the thing is that Christians fail to acknowledge (understand?) that it is not within a secular definition of loving to tell someone that their orientation is objectively disordered and that having a fulfilling sex life, getting married, and raising children with their spouse is not good for them.

            Christians say, “we love you” and they respond with “your version of loving me is hateful.” The Christian position on homosexuality is homophobic by the secular definition of homophobia.

            In this conversation we’re using the same words, but to us they mean different things. What Christians call love for homosexuals is not at all loving.

          • yan

            dude, true that the secular definition of homophobia fits Christians, since that definition demands that if we don’t approve of homosexual acts, then we are homophobic. Which means you have a great name to call us. but the word doesn’t explain why our view that homosexual acts are morally unacceptable, is wrong. it just assumes the wrongness.

            peace.

          • Alexandra

            No it doesn’t address why the position is wrong, you’re right, that’s another point entirely. But it addresses the reason why there is a huge perceived hypocrisy in Christians who say they love everyone, while behaving in a way that the secular world does not consider loving.

            A secularist doesn’t see any reason why homosexuality is wrong.

            The reason that I hear from Catholics most often is that it is a violation of natural law because it removes the procreative aspect of sex from the unitive. But that definition of natural law is Catholic in nature.

            Secularists don’t believe that there is anything wrong with separating the unitive from the procreative, and the empirical evidence suggests that is true. I know that Catholics look at an entirely different set of empirical evidence to come to a different conclusion, but I secularists see both the evidence and conclusions to be flawed.

          • yan

            cool dude. good summary of our differences. Only a couple small disagreements: you say the definition of natural law coming from Catholics is ‘Catholic in nature.’ We would say in reference to homosexual acts, that we are only recognizing that 2+2=4, not defining it to be so. And I personally find it hard to understand how anyone, no matter how gay or sympathetic to gays, can see the homosexual act as being a natural one.

            Second, while the separation of the unitive from the procreative is a quick way to show that homosexual acts are unnatural, the most basic reason they are unnatural is that opposites sexes are obviously designed to be complementary, most clearly in relation to the sexual act itself, and same sexes just as obviously are not.

            peace, sister…God love you.

          • yan

            one thing i forgot to mention, and i appreciate your acknowledging that the issue of right or wrong is a separate point: while there is disagreement based on sincerely held belief, based on the genuine act of reason, as to whether those acts are right are wrong, to call us homophobic–a word which assumes the conclusion that we are wrong, and which is pejorative–is wrong, as it attributes malice to us, where there is none. peace.

            actually, it’s pretty hateful, if you think about it.

            peace.

          • CPE Gaebler

            What empirical evidence are you referring to, exactly?

          • yan

            sister 1 more thing–

            violation of personal autonomy by another does not necessarily equal act of hate. we don’t put people in prison b/c we are crime-phobic.

            peace!

          • CPE Gaebler

            That, or what you call “homophobia” and “hate” is not at all phobic or hateful.

            I’m not sure what coherent definition of “loving” one can construct that excludes the Christian perspective. “Honestly wanting the best for someone… and also not being wrong about what’s good for them” I don’t think cuts it.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            Again, you need to purchase an ENGLISH dictionary.

            See, LOVE has a D-E-F-I-N-I-T-I-O-N in ENGLISH, and the D-E-F-I-N-I-T-I-O-N
            happens to completely contradict your usage of the word.

            Oxford English Dictionary:

            love (love)

            Pronunciation: /lʌv/noun
            [mass noun]

            1a) strong feeling of affection:

            “babies fill parents with intense feelings of love”

            “their love for their country”
            -a strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone:

            “they were both in love with her”

            “we were slowly falling in love”

            -affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one’s behalf:

            “give her my love”

            -a formula for ending an affectionate letter:

            “take care, lots of love, Judy”

            The only way you can claim to “love” gay people is by separating them from their own sexual nature and inventing a LIE which does not actually exist. Regardless of biology, many homosexuals know that homosexuality is a part of their deepest spiritual essence. You cannot deny someone’s existence and then claim to love them.

            If you Hate my wife, you also HATE me. If you HATE my sexuality, you also HATE me, if you HATE my race, you also HATE me.

            This is a matter of simple logical extension. You can’t claim to love someone but hate their very essence, i.e. what comes from the bottom of their nature.

            Nor can you claim to know my essence better than I do. I know what is in my soul, because I have seen it in meditation and have direct mystical experience. You do not. If you claim that you do, you are a liar.
            With regard to Chesterton’s mentally unhinged musings, Christianity DOES breed both pathetic weaklings, and violent psychopaths. I have read “Orthodoxy”, and it is filled with a bunch of total straw men.

            For example, Christian nobles enslaved all all the free yeoman of North Europe by force, destroyed our Pagan religion, and then made our people serfs for hundreds of years who they ruthlessly abused.

            So yes, Xianity has bred both pathetic slaves and psycho murderers. History is filled with examples of this, and Chesterton is a fool to deny it.

            Ultimately however, this comes down to you holding the Anti-Human LIE known as Christianity. The Xian Bible is filled with unhinged nonsense that it promulgates the worst of human tendencies in both directions:

            Psychopaths find a reason to kill people:

            “I come not to bring peace but the sword”

            “Bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

            Coward find an excuse to be weak:
            “Turn the other check”

            “Those who live by the sword die by the sword”

            The truth is that Christianity is a LIE, and Xian are DECEIVED!

            This information can be found easily at the following sources:

            Exposing Christianity (A must-read Website)
            Zeitgeist: Part I Religion (Check YouTube)
            Zeitgeist Source book (200+ Pages with images)
            Sons of God, by D.M. Murdock
            The Case Against the Case for Christ, by Robert M. Price

          • yan

            dude that’s cool, you can insist on your definition of love if you like. we think love includes concern for the true good of the person, not just the feelings we have for a person or not. those feelings change and in english we call that kind of love fickle. the love we believe in is a kind that endures forever and through changes in circumstance and changes in personal feelings. I think our conception of love is superior to yours. peace.

            if our conception of love is true then it follows that your self-experience, while important, is not the sole determiner of who you are. I know you don’t like that but dude! We also should be entitled to our opinions, as much as you, as to what constitutes the true good of a person. if you declare that your true essence is that you are napoleon do i have to accept? there are other evidences and criteria that we are permitted to use in order to decide what is the true nature and good of persons in addition to your subjective experience. Which I am not discounting, just supplementing.

            i was surprised and impressed that you are familiar with chesterton as an anti-Christian person, most people that are anti-Christian have never read him. most Christians probably haven’t either.

            you have an interesting point in claiming that Christianity promotes the worst of both worlds by virtue of the fact that certain verses, taken alone, point in different directions and in extremis. however when evaluating your claim i think it is better to look at the overall fruits of the influence of the church. did europe and the parts of asia and africa and america that became christian become worse places or better places after they became christian? i would argue that a broad comparison suggests much better. if you want to argue that, we can go place by place if you like, it would of course take a lot of time and space but that’s cool if you want to. you are a smart person and obviously have thought about things. peace.

            where you are getting your history in regard to N europe [can you be more specific? N Europe is rather a large area] i don’t know; pls source that for me if you don’t mind.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            With regard to your question about Xian Genocide against Pagans in Northern Europe, read the stories of Redbad the Frisian, Widukind of the Saxons, The Baltic Crusades, and the murderous forced conversion of Norway by Olaf I for starters. You can find these stories in any complete history of Northern Europe along with many others, however:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaf_I_of_Norway
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raud_the_Strong
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxon_Wars
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redbad,_King_of_the_Frisians
            http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/christianization-lithuania.html

            etc.

            Xian MURDERORS also did similar things in the Roman World:

            http://www.ysee.gr/index-eng.php?type=english&f=lovestories

            It also seems that you fail to understand the point of language. If you want to speak Christianese, do it in Vatican city. Speak English here, because it happens to be an ENGLISH speaking country. In any event, language must be objective (i.e. both parties must subjectively observe that each party follows the same standard) for it to carry any meaning at all.

            With regard to sense experience, you have again failed to understand the issue. All anyone has is his own sense experience: the only “YOU” I know is what I have perceived via my senses. So yes, only my perceptions matter to me, because they are the only perceptions I have to go by. All of what you say are “your” perceptions I get through MY perceptions. The “objective” world consists only of what we subjectively observe other people to agree with us upon.

            The very idea of an “essence” is ultimately improvable via ordinary sense experience. All I perceive is that some people around me act like me, and others do not. To the degree that someone acts like me, and I subjectivly understand my own soul, I infer that perhaps they have the subjective “I” known as the essence as well.

            One of the more mystical points of meditation is being able to make real CONTACT with other essences, or at least get closer to them, instead of just assuming them to exist. Despite being unable to prove it, one finds oneself naturally feeling closer to the essence of others as one begins to perceive less material types of matter, such as that of the astral world, mental world etc.

            One of the horrible things I have learnt via power meditation is that NOT everything which looks “human” to some extent on the outside has the same astral or mental bodies as I do– Thus the terrifying phenomena of psychic vampirism, or in biological terms, sociopathology. These sorts of monsters almost certainly have a different essence.

            You can find information about all this stuff if you explore all of the links on the website Exposing Christianity

          • yan

            dude, i think you may be a little off. peace brother.

          • CPE Gaebler

            You, uh… may want to re-evaluate your sources. Zeitgeist Part 1 is a total crock, full of pretty much the worst arguments ever conceived. They actually thought “The words Son and Sun sound the same!” was a good argument, and didn’t bother to check their basic facts enough to realize that the stars don’t noticeably move with respect to each other, a simple basic fact of astronomy known since ancient times. This “Exposing Christianity” is no better, and it reads like every other paranoid conspiracy theory.

            I say this to warn you, because your pain has robbed you of your reason. Your friends being hurt has wounded your heart deeply. I know not what to say to that; it is beyond my meager skill. I will pray for your healing.

            Have the attackers been brought to justice? If not, I pray that they will. I also know that they will be forced to give an account of their black actions. I pray that before that, they will be wounded by the searing agony of a re-awakened Conscience.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            If you think that Zeitgeist is wrong, read the F******* source book. That book covers every claim in the movie word for word. Not to mention Murdock’s other work, which covers every claim in even more depth.

            Once you actually read and think about the material, go to freethought nation and try spreading this kind of nonsense. Post the link of you getting massacred back here if you dare. Every so called “debunking” of the Christ Myth thesis has been destroyed in depth.

            Regarding the SUN/SON it seems you do not have the intelligenc to realize Zietgeist was only making a play on words for emphasis after already providing plenty of proof. Acting as if that one line is the main thesis of Zeitgeist is blatant intellectual dishonesty.
            Nor for that matter did Zeitgeist claim that the stars “moved” in relation to each other in the sense you are implying, although it did cover the Pprocession of the Equinoxes, a well know Astrological phenomena it seems you fail to understand. So stop Bullshitting.

            With regard to Exposing Christianity, I stand by every word. Having meditated for hours every day, years and years on end, I am very familiar with the occult deception underlying Xianity.

            The reason Christianity is EVIL– underneath all of the corruption surrounding it– is that Christianity is a LIE and a HOAX meant to drain humanity of its natural power.

            I have SEEN this in action with my own two eyes, and I SEE it almost every day. Go open your chakras, learn how to read auras and energy, then come back.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Here’s a source (NON-Christian) debunking the various astronomy fails in Zeitgeist part 1:
            http://www.tracer345.org/zeitgeist.html
            I was referring to what is referred to as “Claim 1;” claiming that Sirius aligns with Orion’s Belt on December 24th. Of course, anyone with the slightest knowledge of astronomy knows that Sirius does NOT MOVE with respect to Orion’s Belt, that in fact the stars do not visibly move relative to each other at all, so Sirius is aligned with Orion’s Belt every single night of the year.

            The Christ Myth thesis is one that even non-Christian scholars hold in contempt, as it is completely false-to-facts. As I said, you are not engaging rationally but are grasping at conspiracy theories. This saddens me, and I hope it changes.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            That website’s attempt to “debunk” Zeitgeist by criticizing several minor lines close to the very end of the video is almost as pathetic as your appeals to vaguely defined “authorities”. Professors with PHDs support the Christ Myth; this is a fact.

            If you want to discuss these minor claims in depth however, I have some suggestions for you.
            1) Register an account under this same user name at Freethought Nation Forum (D.M. Murdock’s forum)

            2) Post your link

            3) Link the post to this website.

            Your link consists almost entirely of self defeating bullshit which deliberately misinterprets and then debunks straw men for its own satisfaction. I have no intention of debunking it here because due to the sheer amount of bullshit, as much would take too long. There may be one minor error which it points out, however. If you want to continue this, create that thread.

            Lastly, I reject reason as a first principle. I live my life as I see fit, experience all sorts of incredible things which others never do, and use reason as my tool when I want it. Reason is subordinated to my nature: not vice versa. Perhaps that I why I reason better then you, however…. as in this case.

          • CPE Gaebler

            “almost as pathetic as your appeals to vaguely defined ‘authorities’. Professors with PHDs support the Christ Myth; this is a fact.”

            So ironic it hurts.

            But since you admit that you are not reasonable, I see no reason to continue attempting to appeal to your reason. I will pray for your healing.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            I am not able to reply under your response for some reason, however it deserves note that although claimed the Christ Myth theory was innacurate because everybody disagreed with it, and implied that my response referenced authorities as vague as yours. Note this not the case, because Robert M. Price is actually a double Ph.D

            Ah, delusional Xians…

          • CPE Gaebler

            Whereas, of course, there are no Ph. Ds who oppose the Christ-Myth hypothesis. Like Bart Ehrman, for example.

            Lemme put this to you: Which side do you think has more Ph. Ds on it?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            By the way you swine, the people who tried to slash off my friend’s breasts DID do it because they were Xians. They made this known.

            Stop trying to deny Xian CRIMES!

          • yan

            dude, may i ask how they made it known?

          • CPE Gaebler

            I do not deny the crime. Not only that, but I and the Church both condemn it. I pray for the victims of the crime, including yourself.

          • CPE Gaebler
          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            Why thank you. It turns out that the microscopic minority of gay people in this country are actually the target of 12-14% of all hate crimes.

            Gosh, you must be SOOOO proud of yourself!

          • CPE Gaebler

            More like 18-19%.
            Can you tell me where you got the number 56% from? It looks like, whatever you got that number from, they were completely wrong. Why did you believe that source? What other things did they tell you that could have also been wrong without your knowing?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            Cut the mind games Xian.

            The website I got that figure from was actually right– a distracted copy paste however resulted in the wrong set of figures copied.

            (56% being a composite figure of other hate crimes categories).

            I decline your other questions because they have nothing to do with the subject matter.

          • CPE Gaebler

            My other questions are irrelevant because you miscopied. No worries.

  • justtoclarify

    Hello, I am an agnostic atheist and while I’m not as militant or vocal as many of the atheists you probably encounter, I did want to address your concerns, seeing as how much of what you’ve written seems to be phrased as questions (rhetorical, though they may be). Firstly, you’re perception of the secular explanation for morality rests on the assumption that we’ve all agreed that it developed in society. While many may think that, there is no actual consensus and those questions are better answered by psychologists and anthropologists. I personally believe that our empathy for other human beings and general agreement to not hurt or steal from others arose as a matter of evolutionary necessity. Evidence shows that early hominids operated in groups and any members which killed, injured, or stole from others only made the group smaller and weaker. That’s why we feel the natural emotion of guilt. It’s in our DNA. Anyway, that’s only another explanation. Scientists are continuing to discover more about our origins.

    Furthermore, if our morality is derived directly from God, why would anyone hate gays in the first place? Is it because of the passage “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Lev 18:22 | KJV)? If God doesn’t truly feel that way about gays, why would he not amend it either by talking to someone directly (like the Pope) or through Jesus? Doing so would have spared the lives of hundreds of homosexuals like Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death for being gay, and those who committed suicide either because they believed themselves to be an abomination or because they were bullied by people who did. And anyway, if God gave us common morality, why don’t we all feel the same about gays, blacks, Jews, animals, war, abortion, prostitution, and several other controversial and non-controversial topics?

    Lastly, and I’m sure you know this and only didn’t address it because you had little space left, even if man did have inexplicable universal moral standards, that does not, in any way, imply the existence of a single, omnipotent, all-loving deity who made man in his image in the Garden of Eden, wherein woman caused sin and self-awareness because of the former angel which now presides over the damned but will be vanquished by the deity’s son (who is also Him) who’s death removed aforementioned sin or any of the other stories of the Bible or any other religious belief that comes to mind.

    I think that’s all I’d been meaning to say. Sorry for the novel. I don’t intend to offend anyone, only to answer questions to the best of my ability. I recognize in this comment that I have not defeated Christianity with flawless logic that shall be forever unchallenged or that I have challenged any veritable Thomas Aquinas. Keep in mind though, I’m no Richard Dawkins.

    • yan

      but dude whose morality says to hate gays??? Christians don’t hate gays….’tis truth forsooth! Yes, Jesus talked to us about it. That’s why Marc posted from the catechism, to show you that very thing. peace…..

      • Korou

        Christians say they don’t hate gays, but a lot of bigotry and hatred towards gays has come and still comes from Christians and is justified by referring to their Christianity.

        • yan

          dude like, that’s just your opinion, man…

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            That is a FACT. Christian scum have murdered gay people for being gay for thousands of years. You can proove this simply by examining the law codes of the Christian Emperor Theodosius.

            (Theodosian Code 9.7.6): All persons who have the shameful custom of condemning a man’s body, acting the part of a woman’s to the sufferance of alien sex (for they appear not to be different from women), shall expiate a crime of this kind in avenging flames in the sight of the people.

          • yan

            yah it’s true we were stricter on all sorts of moral lapses in the past. Wasn’t that long ago in England that they hanged pickpockets ’til they were dead. They also buried suicides with a stake through the heart. church has gotten more lenient recently in view of our ability to keep bad folks in the gray bar hotel and in order to be more humane. In Catholic thinking, the old retributive and expiative motivations behind those punishments has given way to trusting and hoping that the person will be able to expiate his sins by his life even better than by his death.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            Take your lies about “Sin” and shove them where the Sun doesn’t shine. Your comparison of human sexual activity to a CRIME only reveals your Anti-Human mindset.

            Do you know why Xians don’t murder gay people (any *more*)? The secular law STOPS them. The “Church” claims it has the right to “Interpret” whatever it says, so naturally its policies as now found in the “Catechism” just so HAPPEN to conform to modern secular law in order for the “Church” to survive.

            This is why documents such as the “Syllabus of Errors” written by Pople Pius Pope Pius IX aren’t given much credence any more.

            Condemned:

            “every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.” (No. 15) and that “it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.” (No. 78)

            Those words have definitions bucko, so your goose is cooked. Definitions are objective, and as such do not require interpretation outside of select types of literary device such as metaphor, simile, double entendre, etc.

            By the way, if you want a more “infallible” statement than the above, you can find dozens of them. I am quite familiar with the Xian-”Catholic”-Spirtual Pogram;

            “That it is againsts the will of the Spirit to burn heretics [at the stake] is condemned as false.” Pope Leo X — Papal Bull Exurge Domine

            Xianity is a complete LIE and a program of spiritual DECEPTION. It breeds Anti-Human murderors, and has done so throughout history.

            See Exposing Christianity (Dot) Com

          • yan

            comparison of sexual activity to crime is wrong? is rape wrong? what about SM that hurts people, who are willing to be hurt? Is that arguably wrong? Why can’t what is unnatural also be considered wrong?

            dude the change in the attitude of the church toward freedom of religion occurred after the holocaust. with a document called dignitatis humanae. the church was part of causing the changes in society to which you say it was forced to conform. not true my friend. your history is mistaken.

            the old view was that since there is one true religion, therefore error has no rights. the church after further reflection and in light of subsequent history tweaked that to say that although error has no rights, human consciences do in matters of religion. so the church still holds to the view that there is one true religion, but it holds that civil society must permit freedom of conscience in respect to religion. so you are right insofar that the church has effectively sided with liberals on this point, but not for all the same reasons that liberals espouse this point.

            as for burning heretics i guess i will have to concede your argument that the church does not hold that punishment for mortal sin must exclude capital expiation. however the church holds today that although the Spirit does not condemn the burning of heretics, neither does it condone it. obviously that change is open to the charge of being a self-serving one, but i think the history of the church supports the view that this change was made for reasons having to do with love, not out of coercion.

            dude if the church were just about survival, there would be no martyrs. but as it is, the church for 2000 yrs has suffered from martyrdom at the hands of the state in various contexts for the very reason that the truth could not be compromised. and the church never changed its teaching in order to make it easier for its adherents. rather, at certain times, the view of the church, through the witness of its martyrs, prevailed in society so that the laws and principles of the church were highly influential in civil law. Today obviously, the trend is in the opposite direction. Thus the church is again being publicly opposed in society.

            peace brother.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y2NGRIAO7AC2IOG7BHVNP5TXR4 Florian Baur

            Your English is so sloppy it could be responded to in five or six different ways. There is not so much as a trace of logic in much of what you are saying. Asking wild questions is not the way to carry on with an argument. That said, I will try to abstract from, and respond to them, a final time.

            To start with, “Right” and “Wrong” are “aught” judgements which are rooted in the immaterial world (Biological Habits are not “Aughts” but “Is”‘s, although they do tend to correspond to the essence in some way) and spring from each individual’s deepest essence. You don’t get an “aught” from an “is”

            Most people agree that killing humans and eating them is wrong. However if we are invaded by aliens, or meet sociopaths who do this, there is no objective standard we can condemn them by. Rather, we hold to our own subjective standards, and simply fight or die. AND if people have no other way to live but to kill a convicted murderer and eat him, most people wouldn’t place it on the same level as killing an innocent man.

            The only basis I can oppose your hate for gays under is the basis that it is irrational, and that at some level of your being you probably don’t really care– that you are really just rationalizing yourself away from your essence, and that at essence you aren’t really opposed to the existence of gay people.

            In the event that I am wrong, however, the only option I have left is to DEFEND myself and my friends against you Xians as best I can. So if you intend to place my consensual sexual activity with other adults on the same legal level as theft and acts of violence, get ready for a death struggle. Boy.

            With regards to the Church’s stance on murdering unbelievers, after Secular Governments stopped allowing Xians to murder Gays back in the 19th century, Xians stopped. Which means that whatever legislation passed after WWII was in place DE FACTO more than a century before, and my original remarks are accurate. Another example of a switch is how the “Church Fathers” claimed they did not believe in coercion until Xians gained power in Rome after the murderous pseudo-Christian Constantine (He tried to hold both Xian and Pseudo-Pagan beliefs for political advantage, but showed his real cards at the end) and his successors took power.

            http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/Constantine.htm

            With regard to Xian “Martyrs”, you are correct that thousands of people have died for your LIE –if often under conditions less holy then you have been lead to believe– For example trespassing across other men’s borders without permission. That does not mean that your LIE is correct however, or that the Xian higher ups aren’t trying to preserve their power. It just means that they are willing to sacrifice their pawns– although some are deluded enough to sacrifice themselves.

            I am through dealing with this xtian idiot. I do recomend the following website for those who wish to learn the truth however.

            This Stuff is the Real Deal:

            JoyofSatan.com

          • yan

            so, Jesus never existed, but Satan is the real deal. dude….your are in serious need of help my friend…may God watch over you….

          • Korou

            Florian, I hope you won’t mind if I say that you’re being a bit inflammatory.
            Not that I disagree with your what you’re saying – there certainly is terrible violence against gays, and a lot of it is caused by religion and carried out by the religious.
            Dawkins, in The God Delusion, cites some other terrible stories of the horrible things that can happen, do happen and are happening because of religion. Well worth a read. Catholics especially might be interested in the bit where he talks about Catholic kidnapping of children (the story of Edgardo Mortara). From Wikipedia:

            When a delegation of prominent Jews saw the Pope in 1859, he told them, “I couldn’t care less what the world thinks.” At another meeting, he brought Edgardo with him to show that the boy was happy in his care. In 1865 he said: “I had the right and the duty to do what I did for this boy, and if I had to, I would do it again.”

            Sobering thoughts, eh?

          • Korou

            It’s a verifiable fact, and you can check it like this: look at people who show hatred and bigotry towards homosexuals, and then check how many of them cite religious reasons for their opinions. The results will show that of the hatred, condemnation and bigotry homosexuals experience plenty of it comes from Christians for religious reasons. It’s easy to check for yourself.

          • CPE Gaebler

            More of it comes from Muslims for religious reasons. Like in all the countries where homosexual acts are punishable by death. Whereas the Church teaches that homosexuals are not to be treated cruelly.

          • Korou

            And the treatment gays suffer at the hands of Muslims is worse, much worse, than that which they suffer at the hands of Catholics and other Christians. But that doesn’t make such treatment right, and although the Catholic Church says homosexuals should not be treated cruelly, it does treat them cruelly.

      • justtoclarify

        Yet the passage remains. God, as an omnipotent being, had to know that such a lack of demand for the amendment of such a passage would cause such pain. He still allows this sort of thing. Why?

  • ReasonReignsSupreme

    There is an important error in this:
    “Morality was naturally developed for the good of society.”
    Researchers who study psychology and evolution have found substantial evidence that morality evolved as something called altruism. Altruism is when a member of a species helps or protects another member of the species. This serves the purpose of preserving genes for the survival of said species.
    The idea of fairness is exhibited even in capuchin monkeys. In lab studies, capuchins who were rewarded with food that this species prefers would not accept it when another visible capuchin was given a food that is not preferred. (It didn’t happen every time, but would you refuse good food every time you saw another person with a less-good meal?)
    Morality evolved for the good of intelligent species.
    On a less important note: It is highly unlikely that all atheists love gays. Most probably do; I find gay-ness, straight-ness, and transgendered-ness to be negligible in relation to how much I like or dislike a person. But to my point, it hurts your argument to make sweeping generalizations.

    • Burton

      What do you mean by “for the good of intelligent species”? Do you mean that morality improves survival advantage? Why is this “good” morally speaking?

      If our morality evolves to include the widespread adoption of eugenics worldwide, could we then call eugenics a moral “good”? Sure would help select for the strongest, fittest humans.

  • Andy

    If you guys haven’t discovered Dropbox yet, you really need to check it out: http://db.tt/24XhQ6ek

  • appreciatingthisstuff

    love the format! somehow it makes it so easy to get what your saying! I’d liek o see more like this!

  • InvictusLux

    Bravo my young friend – flawless logic once again. The very process of logic requires a prime mover. All our facilities for thinking, inferring, communicating etc. involve an ubiquitous universal principal seen in nature called “Causality”. If we say that A=B and B=C therefor A=C it is because of a cascade of principals that all hinge on causality. It gives is a basis for being repeatable – which is also called being RATIONAL. Irrational people we sometimes call “Crazy”. They will try to say that 1+1=3 on one moment then another say that 1+1= 0 or might guess that its 2 the next moment. My general theory is that most all liberal minded people and most all atheists are mentally ill. They simply let emotion get in the way of reason to create illusions of perception – for them there is no truth – except that one truism. What matters to them is what works to balance their world view in a way that they can cope and partially co-exist and use a primitive but deficient world view that works so-so for them. Such people can not be reasoned with – they have to be approached through an emotional/subjective channel. YOU are doing that brilliantly with IMAGES and caricatures. You also are using aural modes – music – which can also work. Johnny Cochran used it brilliantly by playing into the demographic and low educational levels of the jurors in the OJ trial – “If the glove don’t fit ya gots to acquit!”. The truth is most of the people who hate and spurn Catholicism are mere children – adult kids with huge wounds of gaping hubris shot all through them. Treat them delicately since raw appeals to a damaged intellect that is not illuminated by faith can shut them down. Push too greatly with steel-trap logic will force them into a corner where they will detect only a shade of their their own hypocrisy or logical fallacies which will make them tune out or get defensive. The BEAUTIFUL thing about Catholicism is that its Divine and mystical – it gives us an unfair advantage over the depraved minds and souls that are limited to very natural human and damaged facilities. It is quite intimidating to them. We don’t have to brow beat them – we just need to crack a few chinks in the hubris to open up “reasonable doubt” and they the Holy Spirit can work on em (and they can’t run any more or not too long at least).

    Keep up the good work.
    Pax

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Let me see if I have this right. Atheists are good to the gay community because of the morality instilled in them by a lawgiver who wants them to be bad to the gay community? Okay then.

    • ejjj

      When did anyone say God wants anyone to be bad to the gay community???

  • linford86

    Wow.

    If only:

    David Hume
    Jean Paul Sartre
    Immanuel Kant
    John Stuart Mill
    Sam Harris

    Not to mention a whole boat of ancient Greek, Eastern, and utilitarian philosophers….

    …didn’t ALL have theories of secular morality independent of the purported existence of God or gods, I *might* be able to lend your view a tad bit of credence. Note that not a single one of these thinkers is a moral relativist, or holds a view anything like the one you present in your post. They all have concepts of objective moral standards that your post doesn’t even begin to engage with.

    Unfortunately, your post is nothing but a sad mixture of strawman and “God-of-the-gaps”. Basically, you’re saying that because you can’t conceive of a sound way to have objective moral standards without God, God must exist to explain the purported existence of objective moral standards. But it’s long been known that “God-of-the-gaps” theology is problematic — a fact that has long led sophisticated, serious theologians to stop using it as an argument.

    I said your post involved a strawman because you did not engage with any of the worthwhile explanations of objective moral standards that exist in the literature (or even widely in the atheist community. For example, you completely failed to engage with either humanism or utilitarianism.)

    But there are other issues here as well. You’ve ignored (or are ignorant of the fact) that Divine Command Theory suffers both from the Euthyphro Dilemma and a deep circularity. Unless you’ve solved those two problems, DCT is defunct and you certainly can’t claim it as the way by which anyone knows what is right or wrong.

    • DG

      I notice you said his arguments were flawed. OK. But I think they were actually wrapped up in a question. Perhaps answering the question – which is a fair one, even if wrapped up in what you believe to be flawed arguments – would do well.

      • Patterrssonn

        If the premise is flawed then so is the question. In which case buddy boy needs to work a little harder. For one thing before he attempts to paraphrase Darwin he needs to try and gain at the very least some kind of even rudimentary awareness of evolutionary theory.

        • DG

          No, the question is fair. What is the reason an atheist has for being compassionate to gays? It’s a fair question. Ask a Christian why they think what they think, and they will point to this or that. Fine. You can say those sources are wrong. OK. What does the atheist point to? That’s a fair question. And if he is wrong about his understanding, then educate by saying this is why this or that value is held.

          • Wintermute

            It may be a fair question but in my mind it’s trivial. Why should an atheist show compassion to gays? For this atheist, it’s as simple as the fact that if I were gay, I’d want to be treated with compassion. If my brother or sister or child was gay, I’d want him or her treated with compassion. Knowing that, how can I do any less?

            See? Moral principle, to which I have conviction, with no need to invoke higher powers.

          • Anon

            Your moral principles. Not binding on me.

          • DG

            That’s fine, but upon what grounds are the idea that we should treat others the way we want to be treated based on anything other than that’s what I happen to believe. I think that was the point of this ‘flawed’ post. Sure, atheists can invoke the Golden Rule. But upon what grounds? Why? Where did that come from naturally? I should think that such a view would cancel abortion. After all, most people don’t want to be aborted, and yet many have no problem allowing it. Or doing it. Are they then wrong? And if so, why? Or why not? Why would that Golden Rule suddenly apply in one case and not another? What cosmic force produces that, or what do you do with those who disagree? Are they just as right? I might be misreading Mr. BC, but I have a feeling that’s what he’s getting at.

    • SocrateaseRedux

      For critiques of Hume’s, Kant’s, Sartre’s, and Mill’s systems of morality, see Alasdair MacIntyre’s book “After Virtue.” Wouldn’t you agree that it’s not enough to merely develop a “system of morality,” but also to have good reasons why one would adhere to it, and whether it’s internally consistent?

      Seriously, it’s a great read.

  • Patterrssonn

    It’s simple morality just like religion comes from us, it really isn’t any more complicated than that. And morality just like religion evolves to meet changing needs and our developing understanding of reality. Someday the catholic church will either give full support to gays and lesbians or simply fade away as its parishioners become more and more sickened by its immorality and bigotry.

    • Hunt1060

      In the past 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has had many teachings deemed controversial and flat out wrong according to popular opinion. Do you know how many of those doctrines have been changed? None. Zero. It doesn’t happen. The Catholic Church hasn’t gone anywhere. It won’t fade away.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    It’s disingenuous to point to Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358 as evidence that anyone sticking up for the gay community makes the Catholic Church happy when the “just” discrimination of Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358 and phrases like “objectively disordered” are some of the things what we’re sticking up for the gay community against.

    • CPE Gaebler

      And on the other hand, Catholics would like to protect them against falsely believing that their self-destructive behavior is totally 100% OK.

      • Alexandra

        Perhaps, Catholics could acknowledge that not everyone believes that there is anything self destructive about it, mind their own bedrooms, and respect other consenting adults decision to do what they want in theirs

        • Big Dave

          Of course Catholics realise not everyone agrees. And Catholics aren’t forcing anyone to stop being gay, it’s just if you ask us if its right or wrong, we think its wrong, along with other stuff the world thinks is ok like porn and contraception. We are entitled to our freedom of speech and of thought, just like everyone else.

          And by the way I enjoy your comments here very much, generally very thought provoking and reasonably fair and open minded. Thanks

          • Alexandra

            Of course Christians still have their right to free speech, and absolutely should exercise it. It just often doesn’t stop at free speech. Moreover, hate speech is not a protected class of free speech and sometimes talking about the morality of homosexuality does cross into that territory.

            My main gripe with the Church’s position on homosexuality is with opposing marriage equality. The existence of a strong separation of Church and State is what allows religion to flourish the way that it does in the US. It is so important to keep the two separate, to maintain the rights of all people of all faiths and lack of faith.

            Secularly, there isn’t any reason to believe that homosexuality or homosexual partners as heads of families is wrong. Marc tried to argue it once, and fell flat on his face revealing his own biases by not properly checking the validity of the sources he cited. Families are important, and whether it’s a homosexual or heterosexual couple or even a single person heading it, what matters is the supportive and loving environment it provides.

            By trying to impose the belief of the Abrahamic religions that homosexuality is disordered and not worthy of the protections afforded to heterosexual relationships we fail to separate Church from State effectively and we institutionalize discrimination.

            It is one thing to counsel people who ask for your help on your values and beliefs, but another entirely to deny someone a right based on what you personally believe.

          • Kubricks_Rube

            Well said.

            Do you read Fred Clark (Slacktivist) over at the Progressive Christianity portal?

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/

            He articulates very well the problem with the redefinition of “sticking up for” or “protecting” or that Marc and many of the commenters use:

            How, exactly, is the defense of legal discrimination compatible with being “a nice guy”? [...]

            This word nice seems to have come to mean something strange and hard to pin down. If we simply consider the definitions of the words, then it would seem possible to treat someone fairly without being as nice to them as one might be. But the opposite would seem impossible — we cannot treat someone unfairly and still be nice to them. Yet as the example of our “nice guy” above shows, the word is constantly being used in this second, impossible sense by people staunchly defending injustice while just as staunchly insisting that this doesn’t mean they’re not “nice” people.

            So let me say something here that ought to be blindingly obvious, but which apparently still needs to be pointed out: Injustice isn’t nice.

          • mary york

            Alexandra. You write well. OK..here is an honest question: From a biological standpoint people become sexually attracted to other people (overwhelmingly mostly of the opposite sex) when they develop mature sexual traits (low voice, facial hair, heavy musculature, strong jaw for males, and wider hips, breasts, etc for women). The appearance of these traits corresponds with fecundity. Sexual attraction is first and foremost about sexual reproduction.

            Most societies view sexual interests that are targeted towards subjects with whom one cannot reproduce as aberrant. We view people who are sexually attracted to pre-pubecent children (again absence of outer sexual cues) as not just wrong because the child cannot consent, but downright deviant and “sick” because the person wants to copulate with a being that is not fertile. Likewise, we find someone who wanted to copulate with dogs or horses to be deviant and psychologically sick. Similarly we would discourage someone from copulating with a close relative because the outcome has a biological consequence that is undesirable.

            So how is homosexuality different?

          • Alexandra

            The difference is in that a neither a child nor an animal can consent to sex, and therefore it is rape. I don’t know a whole lot about psychology, psychiatry, or whatever you’d need to understand to be educated on what it is to be a pedophile or similar, but these predispositions lead to actions that are not moral because they cause human suffering, and in my really limited knowledge on the subject, are typically associated with other mental disorders.

            I think all of us, theists and atheists, can agree that sex is complicated and adult, and it is damaging to someone to be involved with sex when they cannot give full consent.

            Homosexuality is different in that adults can consent to homosexual sex. I understand how people can have trouble understanding why being sexually attracted to people you cannot reproduce with is any different than being sexually attracted to children or animals in terms of the psychology, but the central difference is that it does not involve becoming sexually involved with someone that cannot consent to a sexual act.

            Especially in terms of the law, it is not our place to judge whether what consenting adults do sexually is healthy.

            On a more personal level it makes sense to set our own boundaries and decide what fits into our own personal values. All humans react viscerally to the idea of incest, there’s something we find innately abhorrent about it, but that doesn’t mean we should legislate it, even though I think we do right now. I would guess that has to do with how much we all know and feel it to be wrong. Aversion to incest is a human universal. Surprisingly, aversion to homosexuality isn’t, which I see as a good argument for the fact that morality is somewhat universal and innate to us.

            Laws are meant to protect the rights of individuals and promote the good of society. Outlawing rape, including in cases of someone being to young to give consent, is good for individuals, but restricting recognition of committed relationships to heterosexuals only hurts the non-heterosexual families that do exist and are just as valid as the heterosexual ones.

          • Mary

            Thanks for your thoughtful reply. You said, “science has shown that homosexuality is a natural variation in human sexuality.” Could you point out your sources for this, and also, isn’t pedophilia a variation of human sexuality?

            In some way I think you are dancing around the main point, which is that the whole point of sexual attraction is for reproduction. If we reproduced asexually there would be no reason for sex and no reason for two different sexes. But, we broke off from that evolutionary chain some 250 million years ago, forever parting ways with the parthenogenesis-prone lizards.

            With this understanding, to be “turned on” by sexual cues of a human one cannot mate with, or by cues from a different species, or by a human without outward sexual traits (child) is a total waste of energy, and I must confess that sometimes, by my thinking, evidence something has gone wrong with the wiring.

          • Alexandra

            But you’re somewhat right. Homosexuality is in a sense aberrant in that we consider heterosexuality to be the norm. However, science has shown that homosexuality is a natural variation in human sexuality.

      • Kubricks_Rube

        And you are free to do so, at least up to the point where it infringes on anyone’s equal protection under the law. I realize that the more LGBT people are given the same rights as everyone else without the predicted doom following (for either LGBT individuals or society), it gets harder to convince others that this Catholic view of homosexuality is in any way accurate, but there’s the rub.

        • Alexandra
          • Kubricks_Rube

            Pretty typical and typically unimpressive stuff. I’m particularly galled by the idea of comparing the lengths of marriages to the lengths of current homosexual relationships (as of 2004 no less). Not just because it isn’t a direct comparison (which Marc acknowledges) but because it ignores the massive (Church-endorsed-and-encouraged) stigma against gay people and relationships that is thankfully diminishing but is certainly a factor in the low rate of LGBT relationships still active from the mid-1980s! None of which, of course, has anything to do with equal protection under the law or why the alternative to marriage for LGBT people is superior.

          • Alexandra

            Yeah, it absolutely has nothing to do with the point he was trying to make, but it does very effectively make the point that Marc is a high caliber homophobe.

          • guest

            “Marc is a high caliber homophobe”

            I must admit to laughing out loud when I read this. How presumptuous of you! If you passed him in a hallway you wouldn’t even know it was him.

          • Alexandra

            Well those three articles he wrote made it clear that he clearly is biased to believe that homosexual couples are more likely to provide a damaging environment for children than a heterosexual couple.

            It’s not presumptuous given what he has written and posted to his own blog, he has made it very clear that he truly believes that homosexuality impairs your ability to be good parent. That’s homophobic.

            Regardless of how he behaves towards homosexuals, he absolutely has shown us that he thinks of homosexuals in a homophobic way.

          • Marian

            What specifically did you find homophobic about Marc’s words? From what I read, he used fact (i.e. statistical results from studies, the Catechism, etc) to compassionately demonstrate what the Catholic Church teaches and why. If we want to avoid being homophobic, does that mean we should not read and consider the research? At the beginning of this post, he said we are called to love all our brothers and sisters in Christ. How is that being homophobic?

          • Korou

            Cheers, Alexandra – looking forward to reading these.

      • Korou

        Since it has been proven that homosexual behaviour is not self-destructive (see posts above where I pointed out how homosexuality has not been considered a disorder for longer than many of us have been alive) the Catholic Church is perpetuating a dangerous lie.

        • CPE Gaebler

          …… Proven? How so?

          • Korou

            I’m sorry – I thought I’d commented on this above. I’ve had a lot of trouble with Disqus these last few days and I think my comment didn’t get posted.

            I was talking about the Wolfenden report and the Evelyn Hoeker study of the 1950′s, which proved that homosexual behaviour was not disordered and led to laws being changed to that effect.

            Therefore, as homosexuality has been proven not to be a disorder, the Catholic Church is perpetuating a dangerous lie when it says that it is.

  • Jeff Lionheart

    Argh, this again? I’ve encountered this argument many times, and thankfully I’ve found that Julian Sanchez just recently wrote the best counterpoint I could possibly hope for. In full, it’s listed here ( http://www.juliansanchez.com/2012/04/23/all-ethics-are-secular-ethics/ ), but these two paragraphs sum it up to me;

    “Now, I know Ross [Douthat] has read his Euthyphro, but since he talks here as though he hasn’t, I’ll go ahead and make the obvious point: Invoking God doesn’t actually get you very far in ethics, because ascribing “goodness” to a deity or its laws is meaningless unless there’s some independent criterion for this. At best, God gets you two things: First, a plausible prudential internal motivation to behave “morally” (because God will punish you if you don’t), though of the same formal sort as the motivation you might have to obey a powerful state or a whimsical alien overlord. Second, a potential form of “expert validation” for independent moral truths we lack direct epistemic access to, as when we accept certain propositions on the grounds that mathematicians or scientists have confirmed them, even if most of us are incapable of comprehending the detailed proof. But invoking God doesn’t solve any of the problems that secular moral philosophers grapple with—it’s essentially just a way of gesturing at a black box, wherein we’re assured the answer lies, and asserting that we needn’t worry our pretty little heads about it.

    If divine commandments are not supposed to be mere arbitrary rules we obey out of fear, then every question Ross thinks confronts the secular moralist reappears within a theistic framework. Why does being made in the image of God, whatever that entails, imbue people with dignity? Why would it obligate us to treat them (or refrain from treating them) in certain ways? Why should we believe that supernatural properties can supply us with the appropriate sort of reasons if natural properties cannot? As with cosmological questions, appealing to God defers the questions rather than answering them. In the moral case, one might add, it seems to do so in a rather unattractive way: It turns out that the reasons we have to respect other persons are rather like the reasons we have to respect property—flowing not from anything intrinsic to the object, but from the consideration due some third party who is the real source of value.”

    And as an atheist, can I just say how much I am always infuriated and offended by this line of argument? “Oh, you atheists can’t possibly be moral! But whenever you do anything that I acknowledge as moral, it’s actually because you’re *secretly acting like a Christian*!” I don’t greet religious people who choose to treat gay people with common dignity by saying “Thank you, that’s very atheist of you.” Is it really so confusing to someone that someone who didn’t believe in a God could possess a sense of ethics? If all morality comes from an external ‘lawgiver’, what happens if that lawgiver is evil? What if he asks you to kill your own son? (It’s not like he didn’t ask that of Abraham, even if he wasn’t made to follow through.) If a lawgiver commands one to commit senseless murder, are they still ‘good’? Are their laws worth obeying? Would you not sensibly refuse to obey this arbitrary command, choosing the higher moral value ‘don’t commit senseless murder’ over ‘obey God’?

    • Burton

      I don’t think anyone here (that I have read) is arguing that an atheist can’t act in ways that our society considers to be “moral”. However, I have yet to hear an atheist offer a staightforward explanation for a moral paradigm that boils down to anything other than relativism. Many of you describe well reasoned explanations of how morality evolved and highly educated explanations of moral systems. The larger questions still go unanswered: what is your basis for absolute moral laws such as the Golden rule and the inherent moral dignity of the human individual? Are these laws in any sense absolute (as opposed to relative)? If so, why?

      When answering these questions, please try to avoid evasion by simply pointing to the errors in your opponents argument, or overly convoluted answers, or appeal to authority.

      • Korou

        Burton, I posted a reply to you. I can see it when I search the comments for “new posts” but not when I search for “old posts.” Have you read it? Do I need to resubmit it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Stensland/28206421 Gary Stensland

    I have always felt atheism to be a rebellion against religious society and nothing more. Obviously Catholics should love and respect homosexuals like all other members and sinners (one and the same) of the church yada yada… but ultimately Catholics view homosexuality as a sin. So, the atheists in rebellious nature show support for the gay community out of spite and disgust they have for the church, for whatever reason that may be.

    I think this explanation makes the most sense. I loved the picture btw. :) Sense it never addressed what you believed to be the true reason behind why atheists behave this way, I thought I would give my two cents.

    • Jeff Lionheart

      Could you really ever see yourself as making a ‘show of support’ for any community out of ‘spite and disgust’ for another? Which is more likely in your experience; that you’d care for another human being simply because they’re another human being and do not deserve to be mistreated, or that you’d care for them because one of your ‘enemies’ doesn’t like them?

    • Alexandra

      That is a really depressing worldview.

    • Drew M.

      Wow. As Alexandra said, that is incredibly depressing. I’ll also add presumptuous as hell.

      Instead of assuming why we don’t believe, why don’t you just ask?

    • Korou

      There is a considerable amount of disgust with the Church over the disgusting things it has done. Why is this a bad thing?

      Your use of the word rebellion is interesting. In a sense it’s true – religious society says “There is a God and you have to do these things,” and atheists answer “No there isn’t, and we and you don’t have to do these things.”

      But I wonder if, by using the word rebellion, you were trying to paint atheists as sulky adolescent figures? Perhaps knowing that there is a God and trying to deny it?

      As an atheist, I can assure you that this is not so. Quite simply, we don’t believe God exists, and when we see people who do believe that God exists working to produce social harm because of that belief we have a right and duty to stand up to them. Fair?

  • Unsteddy

    So, essentially, this guy is saying that if aborting children is the free will of the woman than hating gays is the free will of the…gay…haters?

    And then half the post is him repeating himself, I see.

    Well person. Toleration is one thing and discrimination is quite another. The act’s are not equal because hating gay people is a choice that negatively affects other people, you injure then physically and mentally and Atheists recognize this as harmful and therefore are against it. Abortion on the other hand, harms no-one (don’t even start with “the fetus is alive” bull because it is not and no matter how much you say it is doesn’t make it true) and the people who are against it are religious idiots who have had their morals force-fed to them by Fox news and believe themselves righteous when the are simply ignorant.

    And the reverse is true as well, tolerating and accepting the LGBT is productive to society, while forcing people to have children when they can’t afford it will only lead to overpopulation (I mean, moreso) and increase in crime (all these babies with mothers who can’t afford to put them through school, what do you think they’ll become?)

    Morality is constantly changing, 500 years ago no white society would have batted an eyelid when religious fanatics slaughtered tens of thousands of people that were different to them, but today’s society is changing. Medieval concepts like hatred based on race, gender, sexual preferences or religion are dying out because people are beginning to question the sense of doing what you’re told without considering the outcome. There are NO “innate internal laws” that dictate right or wrong, that is naive, YOU as an INDIVIDUAL must justify your morals, NOT society. And if you can’t justify your reasoning but still expect others to accept your opinion then you have no right to one.

    I’ve met people who are religious and also clever, few as they are, and this guy is not one of them. Spouting a bunch of logical fallacies in a overly-complex fashion while being incredibly condescending and self-righteous? Oh look, it’s Bill ‘O’ Reily, you should talk to him about a job.

    • CPE Gaebler

      “Abortion on the other hand, harms no-one (don’t even start with “the fetus is alive” bull because it is not and no matter how much you say it is doesn’t make it true) and the people who are against it are religious idiots who have had their morals force-fed to them by Fox news and believe themselves righteous when the are simply ignorant.”

      Abortion does harm someone (don’t even continue with “the fetus isn’t alive” bull because it is and no matter how much you say it isn’t doesn’t make it true) and the people who are for it are irreligious idiots who have had their morals force-fed to them by CnN and believe themselves righteous when the are simply ignorant.

      Also this website:
      http://www.godlessprolifers.org/home.html
      exists and is a thing, so, no, it’s not just “religious idiots.”

      Also, you might want to consider reading about medieval history from a source more reputable than Richard Dawkins or Carl Sagan. You don’t know what you’re talking about and it shows.

      Spouting a bunch of logical fallacies in a overly-complex fashion while being incredibly condescending and self-righteous? Oh look, it’s Bill Maher, you should talk to him about a job.

      (Actually that’s hilarious because you say righteousness comes from oneself, and he doesn’t, so there’s a case to be made that atheists are the self-righteous ones! Lawl.)

      • Korou

        This sounds like a good place to make an interesting argument I read recently, and I’d like to see what the response is. Do Catholics really believe that abortion is murder?

        This article is aimed at evangelicals, but I think it’s applicable to all prolifers.
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-dudley/pro-life-evangelicals_b_970800.html

        Thoughts on this?

        • CPE Gaebler

          The implication that there’s some sort of disconnect between opposing the wanton slaughter of the unborn and supporting the execution of violent criminals or taking arms to defend America against its enemies is just plain nonsense. Executions and acts of war are categorically different from paying someone to kill your offspring.

          As for the Catholic position on violence for the cause, I don’t know it.

          The bit on the frequency of miscarriages is also ill-advised. On the one hand, there is yet again a qualitative difference between the two. A child dying of natural causes that have killed people throughout human history is sad. A child dying because its parents paid money to a third party to kill it is sad and completely horrible. On the other hand, in the comments on this very post an individual spoke of having 3 “children in heaven” and I know one woman who has had seven miscarriages, every single one of which broke her heart, because she loved her children before they were born. What more do you expect?

          That, and it’s noteworthy that a large number of miscarriages are due to chromosomal or genetic problems. As in, a defect so bad that it is physically impossible for the embryo to become a child, and there really isn’t anything we can do about it. Not exactly something you can just throw money at. Although there are studies done on miscarriages – it just isn’t as high-profile as AIDS and various cancers. No media exposure.

          • Korou

            So the “wanton slaughter of the unborn” is not such a serious problem that it needs extreme measures to address it?

            The point I’m interested in is this: millions upon millions of abortions have occurred; pro-lifers would say, correct me if I’m wrong, that this is comparable to a similar number of actual babies or children having been killed.
            Are you saying that if millions of children were executed every year your response would be to denounce it, file petitions against it and try to get the law changed – but not to break the law to prevent it?

            In http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2011/10/herod-the-abortionist.html
            I read:
            “And it haunts me now because it still goes on, in abortion clinics across the world, at a morbid, clinical pace of 4000 innocents a day. When Herod sent his soliders out to kill every boy under the age of two in Bethlehem and its surrounding area, he unwittingly spat out a blackened prophecy for our times.”

            Now if this was happening today – if the governments of the world were killing 4, 000 two-year-olds a day – I would see that as a horrific crime. I would happily bomb the clinics in which these murders were taking place, and I would happily shoot the doctors who were murdering these TWO-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN; or if I wasn’t brave enough I would certainly cheer for people who did.

            Because if you would be willing to take up arms to prevent the execution of children, or if you would support others in doing so – but you do NOT do the same in the case of abortions, then doesn’t that mean you don’t really think abortion is murder?

            Which is the point the article makes, and which I would be interested to hear your thoughts on.

          • CPE Gaebler

            My thoughts are that it is akin to defenders of slavery telling abolitionists that if they REALLY thought real people were being forced into labor and cruelly abused, they wouldn’t just be doing underground railroad nonsense to get them out, but would take up arms and free them. Which happened, but not until the abolitionists had the force of the law working for them instead of against them.

            Pro-lifers are in a difference set of circumstances. Even for the ones who are in favor of vigilante violence (which I am not, and I believe the Church is not, but I am not sure about that), there’s no way it would end well. For one thing, it would mean the law would retaliate, and abortion clinics would become even more the impregnable fortresses they are. But I’m more worried about the fact that it wouldn’t actually save children. In the case of slaves, Jews, or murdered two-year-olds, one can stop the harm by simply removing the victims from their abusers. But in the case of an abortion, the abuser is the child’s own mother who carries the child within her. Someone with the money who’s made up her mind to pay someone to kill her child isn’t necessarily exactly going to say “Wait, there’s trouble at the clinic I was going to go to? Well, nevermind then! Gonna have me this baby after all!” They can simply pay someone else. There is just no way to remove the child from the threat, and all the ill-advised vigilante violence in the world can’t change that.

            Except, I dunno, kidnapping the mothers and chaining them in the basement until they give birth or something. Now THAT would be a highly effective and practical method to save many lives with no drawbacks whatsoever, I think not.

          • Korou

            Well, CPE Gaebler, you do make some interesting points, and you have given me something to think about. It is true that there are plenty of things going on in the world that we do put up with because, terrible as they are, we feel it is not in our best interests to act against them, especially if it means breaking the law. Your point about the underground railroad is a good one – although I should point out that they were, in fact, breaking the law, by stealing and smuggling slaves.

            I’d say, though, that vigilante violence could be effective against abortions. If you were to have a campaign to shoot abortionists and bomb abortion clinics that might make it very difficult for people to get abortions. Also, it might be feasible to kidnap pregnant mothers and remove the babies, especially those that were close to term.

            Of course, I completely condemn all of these actions as I don’t think abortion is murder; but if I did, I think I would condone these.

            Thanks for the interesting conversation.

        • JoAnna Wahlund
    • eliz27

      I have an ultrasound from when I was 5 weeks pregnant that shows a spine, a beating heart, a living baby. p.s Angry people are not persuasive.

      • Korou

        Which rant? You mean the post that was making a serious point about the status of the fetus?
        A different story to what?

        • Korou

          Oh, sorry, I thought you were replying to me. Misread. Apologies!

  • Alexandra

    Marian, Marc wrote a blog post where he cited a study that said that 30% of children raised by lesbians are molested while only 0.6% of children of heterosexual parents are. This is an alarming and serious claim, and Marc cited it without checking to see that the paper was valid. It has been shown to be very very untrue, but Marc believed it without doing the proper research. Taking a study that makes a claim like that at face value definitely says something about a persons personal opinions.

    He did really sloppy work, using poor sources, and bogus datasets on those series of blog posts and came to the conclusion that he was right, that homosexuals probably can’t be as good of parents as heterosexuals.

    He only seriously considered research that supported his point, and he clearly didn’t even consider that research seriously since he used sources that are widely known to be disreputable. That is indicative of the fact that Marc believes that homosexuals are inferior parents to heterosexuals before even starting the research. He didn’t question it, because it agreed with his prior belief.

    His bad research is a product of his homophobia. Whether he behaves in a way that is loving or not, he believes that homosexuals are innately inferior to heterosexuals as partners and parents.

    • Marian

      I think Marc himself responds to this charge on this page:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2011/12/a-correction.html
      You’re right, whether consciously or unconsciously, we tend to latch onto ideas that back up our own preconceptions. It is extremely difficult to be truly objective in your perspective.
      I could say I believe a twelve-year-old boy is innately inferior to adults as a parent. Does that make me ageist? You are confusing people with their actions when you say Marc is homophobic. People are more than their actions, people choose their actions and can change their actions, therefore they really should not be defined by their actions. Therefore, Marc’s views on active engagement in homosexuality are completely separate from the way he feels about the people who do or do not engage in those behaviors. I have a feeling we are going to disagree on this, especially if you are of the opinion that homosexuality is something in-born, not something learned. But at the same time, some people are born with a propensity towards compulsive eating. Does that mean that everyone with that genetic makeup is an obese glutton? I would guess not (of course I cannot know, because I don’t have statistical data on this). Genetics are not purely deterministic, because we have free will.
      One more thing: Ultimately, and this is a basic fact of genetics, every child is born with one mother and one father. Therefore, every child has a fundamental right to a father and a mother. It’s pretty simple, and you don’t need any study to verify it. That doesn’t mean that a child can be raised well by a single parent, or by adoptive parents (homosexual or heterosexual). But there is a reason why two women cannot create a child together, and that is because children need a father to help raise them, to model behavior.

      • Alexandra

        You’re right, we disagree entirely. We are defined by our actions and our beliefs. We can change our behavior and convictions, of course, and you’re also defined by those changes you make.

        Marc has clearly demonstrated that he believes that homosexuals are inherently less capable of forming a healthy family than heterosexuals, by virtue of the fact that they are homosexuals. There’s no reason to believe that, while of course there’s a reason to believe that a 12 yr old isn’t going to make as good of a parent as an adult. That isn’t a good analogy.

        Research has shown that who you parents are does not matter in the way that people seem to think it does. What matters is that people care about you. We don’t prohibit people who aren’t loving from getting married and having children.

        We don’t make sure you have a high enough income to be able to get married and eventually support a child, or even restrict the reproductive rights of people who have been convicted of violent felonies. People who are terminally ill and won’t be alive for their child’s birth are allowed to get married and have kids. People who would be generally deemed unfit to parent are allowed to parent.

        As long as a couple is heterosexual the State recognizes marriages and protects their rights to establish a family unit. If you’re not going to discriminate based on things that clearly lead to lessor quality parenting like a violent past, living in poverty, or not being present for your child’s life, you absolutely cannot justify discriminating based on sex.

  • Burton

    I wrote this response yesterday in response to Jeff Lionheart. I didn’t see any reply, so thought I would re-post as a more recent comment. I am sincerely interested to hear atheists’ response to my questions…..

    ….I don’t think anyone here (that I have read) is arguing that an atheist can’t act in ways that our society considers to be “moral”. However, I have yet to hear an atheist offer a staightforward explanation for a moral paradigm that boils down to anything other than relativism. Many of you describe well reasoned explanations of how morality evolved and highly educated explanations of moral systems. The larger questions still go unanswered: what is your basis for absolute moral laws such as the Golden rule and the inherent moral dignity of the human individual? Are these laws in any sense absolute (as opposed to relative)? If so, why?

    When answering these questions, please try to avoid evasion by simply pointing to the errors in your opponents argument, or overly convoluted answers, or appeal to authority.

    • Alexandra

      Burton, that’s a big and serious question and not really something that people can do justice to in a comment section. If you’re really interested, do the reading. There are plenty of books about it, vs just a blurb by people who don’t necessarily know or think about this thing on a blog post.

      What can be dealt with here is the fact that the existence of morality isn’t an argument for a god or your God. This is a god of the gaps argument and it’s weak.

      • Burton

        My question has nothing to do with the existence of morality or even whether or not its existence is a reasonable argument for God, but rather the basis for morality from an atheist’s viewpoint. You are avoiding my questions. Does atheism provide a paradigm for a moral system that is not relativistic?

        The response, “its too complicated for me to describe in the combox, go read these books” is evasion. The question is big, but not that complicated.

        • Alexandra

          Yeah it is, and no I don’t have an answer, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I’m not avoiding your question, I’m saying if you really care, look it up. By posing this question and not getting an answer here you seem to be acting like that’s a sign that there isn’t an answer. That’s not necessarily true.

          • Burton

            I agree that in theory there could be an answer to this question, and maybe only those with higher degrees in philosphy and ethics (not me!) can really explain it. But the answer to this question is so important and fundamental. I admit that I doubt the existence of absolute morality in an atheistic worldview. If all we are is the additive result of molecular and atomic interactions, then how can “good” and “evil” have any absolute inherent meaning?

            I am so insistent on some coherent answer to this question at this blog because I feel that atheists are so often hypocritical. They tend to forcefully speak and act as though absolute morality exists, but then they have no way to explain its existence. If you, Alexandra, have no explanation for absolute morality, why not embrace some form of relativism? I think it is generally a good thing that you have chosen human flourishing and avoidance of needless suffering as your moral standards, but do have any basis for insisting that others abide by those standards?

            I truly appreciate your statement: “I don’t have an answer”. Those are hard words for most people to say, present company included. I don’t have all the answers either.

          • Alexandra

            My experience has been that other people abide by a similar standards because it’s what they want too. Perhaps not all of us, but the vast majority of us, and we can enforce it because of that.

            We’ve made serious mistakes along the way in relying on the zeitgeist, like with slavery and eugenics, but we evolve in our understanding and are moving towards creating a more just set of rules that we expect each other to live by. If you read some of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, he talks all about how he knows of course blacks and whites aren’t equals, but he still believed that we shouldn’t be owning them. Our understanding of what is moral has evolved as we come to understand the world and each other better.

            That doesn’t mean that a secular morality is worse than religious versions. Religions have done awful things too based on their own evolving understanding of morality.

            As for relativism, relativism doesn’t make sense to us, it just feels wrong. I remember being taught it in high school and thinking, blah, not cool. I’m glad that people have moved past that awful idea. There’s nothing quaint about hurting people.

            It is an important question, and it’s fundamental, but it’s just not what I spend my days thinking about.

    • Korou

      Hi Burton,

      I’ve tried to make an answer for you. This is based on my own thinking, articles I’ve read from other secular thinkers, and especially upon the article “The ineffable carrot and the infinite stick” from http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/carrot&stick.html which I find addresses the question very fully and which I can recommend to people who are seriously interested in how a moral system can be maintained in a godless universe. The writer certainly explains it better than me but, even if I’m not so good at setting my thoughts out or explaining things fairly, this is my explanation of what I understand to be moral.

      There are two elements I think are important. First, why are human beings moral? And second, how can we justify our morality?

      Although absolute and certain answers have not and maybe cannot be given as to why humans have an innate moral sense (along with many other types of animal) evolutionary experts have come up with some plausible scenarios for how a sense of morality might have evolved.
      It seems that altruistic behaviour towards family and friends was a trait which enabled groups to survive and so was selected by nature; people who were kind and helpful towards others in their group were more likely to survive, hence more likely to pass on their genes; and so the trait was bred for and is now a part of our makeup; and although we live in a very different society to the tribal one we evolved in through hundreds of thousands of years it is still an innate part of us.

      So: we are moral beings because we have evolved to be. But how can we justify a moral system without invoking an ultimate lawgiver?
      A secular system of morality can be constructed, and we can say that it is reliable if it is based on something that is unchanging: our nature as human beings. Using known facts about humans we can create a structure which can support such a system.

      FIRST: human beings all seek to experience pleasure and avoid pain; all seek to move towards happiness and away from unhappiness. Even though definitions of these four vary widely, they can be held as constants. Yes, one person might get happiness from making money and another person might get happiness from feeding hungry people. But they both share the idea of happiness as a good thing, no matter how they interpret it. A bigger objection would be that some people have radically different views on what happiness is – say, a masochist, a person who enjoys being hurt. No, you probably wouldn’t want a masochist to treat you the exact way he wants to be treated, but the masochist does share your values at a deeper level: he wants the happy feelings that come from physical pain; and since you want the same feelings, via different means, you are asking him to treat you as he would want to be treated.

      SECOND: human beings possess empathy. We understand what others are feeling; we are capable of feeling their pain or pleasure sympathetically, of “putting ourselves in their shoes.”

      THIRD: human beings are social animals, and capable of cooperation with each other.

      If we take these three points for granted then morality would be the pursuit of the greatest amount of happiness for ourselves and others; ourselves, because being happy is our goal in life (whatever happiness might mean for us individually) and for others because if everyone in a society cooperates in helping others to be happy it increases the likelihood of our own happiness increasing.

      Therefore, one of the rules of such a system of morality could be “do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you.” Secular morality should be based on seeking our own happiness and helping others to seek theirs, and helping to reduce our own unhappiness and that of others.
      What, though, if a person decides that his happiness is based on hurting other people? What if a person’s definition of happiness is radically different to yours, like a mass murderer? His actions cause pain to society at large; it’s not moral to hurt other people, because, in principle, it diminishes the likelihood that they will help you.

      I hope this has answered Burton’s question. I note that he did ask for an explanation of an absolute moral system, and it might be that some people may say that this is not an absolute moral system since it is based on human nature; but we are discussing a system of human morality, and so that is based upon human nature.

      • conditus

        I’ve enjoyed reading the conversation the last several days, but I do feel as if your answer brings up another question.

        You say that “A secular system of morality can be constructed, and we can say that it is reliable if it is based on something that is unchanging: our nature as human beings.”

        This leads me to question, where does this unchanging nature of human beings come from?

        Also, is this unchanging human nature something that can be explained in darwinian terms?

        • Korou

          Hello Conditus,

          The unchanging nature of human beings comes from our biological and social evolution.

          Yes, it can be explained in Darwinian terms, and many evolutionary scientists have done so. Basically, cooperating with others, being kind, sharing and being friendly are all traits which increase the likelihood of group survival and so are selected by nature in humans and other animals.

      • Burton

        Korou,

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Your description of how a moral system based on the Golden rule can help society is very well put. If we start from the assumption that morality evolved by Darwinian processes, then I believe your conclusions regarding human nature and our moral sense are valid.

        I don’t think, however, that your description provides a basis for absolute moral standards such as the innate dignity of the individual. For example, based on the system you have described, it could be considered a moral good to kill newborns if they have a disease that will mean a life of significant suffering. In that case, we would kill them to prevent their own suffering and the certain suffering of their parents.

        Also, in the system you have described, there would be no moral reason to prohibit society from killing those that decrease the general happiness of the majority. Imagine a future where a simple genetic test could determine those who are more genetically fit in terms of disease susceptibility, personality tendencies, and intelligence. Imagine the degree of happiness that could be achieved if we could eliminate the genetic drag on society and speed up the process of our own evolution. Can you provide a principled (non-utilitarian) reason why such a society would be good or evil?

        • Korou

          Hello Burton,
          I’m so glad we’re having a reasonable debate about this; it’s very kind of you to agree with the first part of my argument about the origins of morality. You posed some very interesting questions. Here are my responses:

          BURTON: “I don’t think, however, that your description provides a basis for absolute moral standards such as the innate dignity of the individual. For example, based on the system you have described, it could be considered a moral good to kill newborns if they have a disease that will mean a life of significant suffering. In that case, we would kill them to prevent their own suffering and the certain suffering of their parents.”
          RESPONSE: The argument for keeping the baby alive would be this: killing the baby would cause more suffering for the parents and immediate family. Therefore the baby should be kept alive. However: as with all moral decisions, this should be a balance. So yes, I have to say that if the amount of suffering would be too great, it might be a moral choice to euthanize the baby. But the suffering this would cause would be so great that we would have to make sure we were acting to prevent even greater suffering – therefore, severely disabled babies.
          Please don’t think that I’m making light of this or that I’m not being serious. This would be an extremely difficult moral decision. But some research shows, as you might know, that we’re not the first to go through it. It has been proposed by, of all people, a Christian Bishop (see http://www.christiantoday.co.uk/article/church.of.england.defends.disabled.babies.submission/8337.htm ) although as I’m sure you’ll notice, he was calling for the withholding of treatment which severely disabled babies would need to survive, rather than actually ending their lives through intervention. But you can see here that this happens too: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp058026
          I would defend, in extreme cases, the ending of babies’ lives as a morally good action. Imagine a situation in which a baby had some condition which caused it to be in constant and extreme pain; a condition for which there was no cure and no possibility of a cure. Would you condemn that baby to a life of hell? Or would you decide that the moral thing to do would be to end that life? If you would decide that, then you’ve answered your own question.

          BURTON: “Also, in the system you have described, there would be no moral reason to prohibit society from killing those that decrease the general happiness of the majority. Imagine a future where a simple genetic test could determine those who are more genetically fit in terms of disease susceptibility, personality tendencies, and intelligence. Imagine the degree of happiness that could be achieved if we could eliminate the genetic drag on society and speed up the process of our own evolution. Can you provide a principled (non-utilitarian) reason why such a society would be good or evil?”
          RESPONSE: I think I can, yes. The amount of suffering that would be caused by such a society – suffering to the people being killed, suffering to their friends and family, and suffering to anyone empathetic enough to feel their pain – would greatly outweigh the resulting “happiness” – so put because I’m not sure if any moral person could be truly happy knowing that they had caused such pain in order to selfishly benefit themselves, or even not-so-selfishly benefit others.

          Would you agree, then, that morality is something that can be worked out, an agreement based on stable principles of human nature that we can agree on?
          Now I’d like to ask you: if your morality is based on revelations from God, how can you justify it? Why, as Marc put it, is it wrong to hate, if not that hating hurts people?

          • Burton

            Korou,

            You ask a fair question. Let me start by quoting your response to conditus:

            “Yes, it can be explained in Darwinian terms, and many evolutionary scientists have done so. Basically, cooperating with others, being kind, sharing and being friendly are all traits which increase the likelihood of group survival and so are selected by nature in humans and other animals. ”

            Would you agree that the desire to maximize individual and societal happiness is, at its foundation, nothing other than an evolved genetic trait selected for because in confers survival advantage? I know I’m answering your question with a question, but we need to get to the bottom of absolute versus relative moral systems first.

          • Korou

            No, I don’t think I’d say that it’s nothing more than that. Our innate sense of morality came about through our evolution, but it can be also be morally justified using reason; you can argue that the Golden Rule makes sense.

            Maybe another way to put it would be that our human nature has developed through an evolutionary process; and since that human nature is basically consistent you can construct a system of morality based on it.

          • Burton

            Your answer is unclear. According to your paradigm, our moral reasoning also came about through evolution, presumably also selected for because it confers survival advantage. The fact that this evolved capacity to reason allows us to “make sense” of the Golden Rule in no way changes the fact that the foundation of this “rule” is that it confers survival advantage: nothing less and nothing more. So what is the “something more” you’re referring to?

          • Korou

            The question of where our human nature came from might be getting a bit deep for me – I am not an evolutionary psychologist. But I’ll try my best.

            I wouldn’t say that our moral reasoning came about through evolution. Our sense of morality did, our desire to help others and to see “fair play”; that was naturally selected because it was an aid to survival in social groups.
            Reasoning also came about through evolution. It evolved as a product of our ability to think and to make sense of the world around us, to image the past and the future, to calculate consequences (I suppose – like I say, I’m not at all an expert).

            However, I’m not saying that these two things – a sense of morality and an ability to reason – came about together, or produced each other, or were naturally selected for the same reasons.

            When it comes to working out our morality, evolution doesn’t come into it for us today; evolution has finished its work (from our point of view – how we might be different in a few millions years isn’t important right now). So the “something more” is that we can now use the reasoning powers we have been “given” to consider the human natures we have evolved to have in order to construct a system of morality – a system which makes sense, a system which all can, in principle, agree on, a system which can tell us what is objectively right and what is objectively wrong.

            The foundation of the rule is not that it confers survival advantage. If it were, then morality would be based on survival of the fittest. Richard Dawkins has often said that the principles of Darwinian evolution would be a horrifying thing to base a moral system on.
            The foundation of a system of secular morality, then, would be to ensure happiness; happiness for as many people as possible, as much as possible, with a consequent minimising of suffering. Can you think of a better goal for a system of morality?

            (Excuse me now – it’s late in my part of the world. I’ll look forward to carrying on this discussion tomorrow).

          • Burton

            Sleep well! I’m going to restart this thread at the top, as my combox is getting too skinny!

    • Korou

      Burton, I’d now like to ask a question in turn: where do you get your morality from, and how can you prove that this source is reliable?

      Marc said: “It’s wrong for me to hate, it’s wrong for you to hate.” Why is it wrong?

      If you can justify why it is wrong to hate by pointing to the undesirable consequences of hating, wouldn’t that mean that morality is something that we, as humans, can work out for ourselves?

      Or is it wrong to hate others because God commanded us to love others?

  • Alexandra

    Mary, the fact that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality is a well known fact. A simple google search will show plenty of sources.

    I feel like we’re moving the main point. The point is that homosexuality isn’t harmful to people, but denying them marriage rights is. You’re asking about how is homosexuality not a psychological problem like pedophilia, which to me isn’t the point at hand.

    Pedophilia clearly isn’t homosexuality, they’re different things. Sure they’re both sexual preferences, but they’re not the same sexual preference. I don’t know enough about psychology to be able to talk intelligently about what the actual biological and psychological differences and similarities between homosexuality and pedophilia are, but it really doesn’t matter anyway.

    Homosexual couples can still parent and raise children. They can adopt children, help their kin raise children, and also employ a third party to have their own biological children. Homosexuality doesn’t preclude people from being able to reproduce or contribute to the community and the propagation of genes. Acknowledging and welcoming homosexual families into our society is of benefit to everyone, what is not beneficial to everyone is ostracizing homosexuals based on the fact that not everyone understands the psychology.

    • Mary

      I am sorry, but my Google searches end up with a host of controversy. Most that point to homosexuality being “normal” also point to pederasty as being “normal”…could you point me to sites you think are reputable? You seem like an evidenced-based person….so I thought you probably had some good resources.

      Again…I am asking a pointed question about raw biology and evolution. It seems that as a society we decide what is sexually deviant and not sexually deviant based on whether offspring can result from the object of one’s sexual attraction. For instance, we find it sexually deviant for a young man of say, 20, to be sexually attracted to an eighty- year-old woman, for the most part because she is not fertile, and therefore does not have the outward signs of fertility. Again…sexually fruitless to be attracted to young children, (distinct from being attracted to a 15 year old, which is imprudent to act upon, but not really deviant).

      It seems central to the discussion, and I cannot understand why biologically-savvy, nonreligious people do not, at the very least wonder about this. How on earth did Homosexuality ever arise if it is a normal, adaptive part of human sexuality? It seems maladaptive in the extreme.

      • Korou

        Mary, if you go to Google Scholar and type in “evolution of homosexuality” you will find quite a lot of people have written about it and that there are very good explanations for how homosexuality could have evolved.

  • Korou

    Some moral questions were very tricky to decide on what the right or wrong thing to do is, but not all are. And that brings us back to the OP. Marc asked: how do we, as atheists, decide that it is wrong to be cruel to gays?

    By persecuting them, as the Catholic Church does, you are causing them pain. This is a wrong thing to do, objectively speaking, because causing other members of your society pain diminishes the total happiness of society and increases its suffering.
    You don’t have any reason to do it; homosexual inclinations and actions are not hurting them, and they are not hurting you; it neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg if two men or two women fall in love with each other. The only objection you truly have against it is that your God said that it was wrong. Therefore, the moral action for you to take is to disagree with your God, to object to his rules, to say to him, “No, God, we won’t persecute the homosexuals because they’re not doing anything wrong, and you shouldn’t send them to hell because of it.”

    And while you’re at it, would you mind saying the same thing to God about us atheists as well? If not, why not?

    • Contra Mundum

      I think when you try to equate morality with happiness, you get into a slew of problems. First, not everything that makes someone happy might be considered moral. For example, a student cheats on his test, and manages to do it without being caught. He is certainly happy since he ends up getting a good grade, and since no one else was affected by it (let’s assume there was no class curve, just standard grade scale) it did not decrease any other person’s happiness. Would that make cheating in this particular case morally good?

      Another problem is that happiness, at least in the secular sense, is ultimately relative. What makes you happy might not apply to someone else. If doing something wrong is defined as something that diminishes the total happiness of society, we can see where relativity gets this definition in trouble.

      If you’re going to say “objectively speaking,” what is the standard of what happiness is? When you say “happiness of society,” this implies then that morality, and by extension the definition of happiness, is ultimately determined by the majority. Taking the case of homosexual marriage, in every state in which it has been put up for a vote, it has been rejected by a majority. How then does homosexual marriage increase society’s happiness if the majority of society rejects it?

      Also, you are simplifying the Catholic Church’s position on the matter. For one, they do not have a knee-jerk reaction like some other denominations in saying that anyone with same-sex attractions do is destined for hell. They oppose homosexual behavior, specifically homosexual sex, and since intimate homosexual relations would logically lead to this behavior, they must oppose it. They don’t object to homosexual behavior simply because God says that it is wrong, although I will admit that is all the reason some Catholics need. But they also base their objections as the logical consequence of natural law, and, forgive me for being a little crude, basic anatomy and biology.

      • Alexandra

        When thinking about what increases happiness, you have to think about it in terms of the relative good it brings. Sometimes it’s easier to think of things in terms of the other extreme of happiness, which is suffering. The action that will alleviate more suffering is the moral one.

        Unjust discrimination is something that causes a lot of suffering. The most obvious suffering is the suffering of the people who are being discriminated against unjustly, but that isn’t the end of it. The people that are perpetuating the discrimination are doing it because they misunderstand the issue and the hate that leads to being discriminatory is detrimental to both parties.

        It does not make humans happier to bear ill will against each other. Treating people justly makes us happier because it leads to us being treated justly in return. Being angry and full of hate does not make you happy, it is a form of suffering. People work their whole lives to get rid of negative feelings towards other people so that they can increase their own happiness.

        Properly educating people about the fact that homosexuality is a natural variation of sexuality and only affects their sexual preference, nothing else, leads to a decrease in suffering for everyone. Ending discrimination against homosexuals absolutely causes a reduction in suffering and and increase in happiness for society as a whole.

        In your example of the cheating, if the class found out about the cheating, that wouldn’t increase their happiness. And the happiness the student gets from the grade is accompanied by guilt of having cheated, and possibly anxiety that they will be caught. Only a psychopath has no negative emotions from having done something they know to be wrong.

        • Contra Mundum

          But we still get into conflicts even if we think about happiness in terms of the relative good it brings. For example, one group believes a certain action increases happiness, and alleviates suffering, while another group believes just the opposite, that the same action instead increases suffering, and thus decreases happiness.

          The most immediate example I can give to this is the issue of abortion. The pro-choice group believes that abortion is not bad (maybe they may say it’s not good, but at least they would accept that it is morally acceptable), and having the option available increases happiness and alleviates suffering (I assume they would say it takes out the suffering of having the trouble to have another mouth to provide for if it is out of their means). The other side, the pro-lifers, would say just the opposite. If indeed the fetus does count as a legitimate human life, then abortion to them is the most immoral thing imaginable, since it would be literally infanticide. In addition to the murder of millions, according to them, the mothers would also be in suffering perhaps because of some depression later on realizing what she had done.

          This extends to the issue of homosexuality. One group says that it is perfectly normal and increases happiness, and does not cause any suffering. Another group comes along and objects, saying that the tendency is disordered, and that its behavior may cause physical suffering (say contracting a disease from unprotected homosexual sex), and if they believe in souls and God, they may say that they are threatening their immortal souls. In their view, in opposing homosexual behavior, they are actually helping out those with same-sex attractions, by leading them away from what they believe to be a destructive lifestyle. In their minds, it is exactly like stopping a person from playing recklessly with fire.

          How then do we determine who is right on what is moral? We cannot selfishly say that we as individuals know we are right, just because we say it is. Another person can make the same claim but on the other side of the issue, and through this we get nowhere.

          Can we appeal to society then? Society is just a collection of individuals, and thus whatever the majority says is moral, is moral. The society can also determine what exactly defines happiness and suffering, and which actions increase happiness and what decreases suffering. But in this, a society can determine slavery is moral, and say (as slave masters had in the past) that slaves living in slavery is actually good for them, and decreases their suffering by taking away the awful burden of freedom.

          Ultimately we have to come to some source of what determines what is moral. For Christians, this source is God. In a universe with a God as Christians define it, there is no room for relativity in moral matters. In a godless universe, I just don’t see how one could impose his or her morality on another with any authority.

          Could you explain how homosexuality is a natural variation? It seems to me that if there are several variations, one could argue that having an incestuous attraction, or (in the extreme) having an sexual attraction to animals are natural variations of sexuality. Maybe you can clear this up.

          Also, I have known fellow students who have told me they cheated (in a different class than mine) and did not feel any guilt about it. Let’s say they felt it was justified, maybe because the teacher was terrible. Again, in a secular environment, we cannot assume that a person would feel guilty about such a thing. And if the student never did get caught and is still happy about it, why is it wrong and why can we call them a psychopath?

          Apologies for the long reply.

          • Korou

            Contra Mundum, if you were talking to Alexandra would you mind if I replied to your post as well?

          • Alexandra

            The real issue I’ve realized here is that I am working from the assumption that there is no god. God just simply isn’t even an option for me to consider, so morality is what it is and we might not have all of the answers, but that doesn’t mean that we can fill that gap with a god.

            Especially given how many hundreds of gods there are that have been suggested, and even how many different interpretations of what the Abrahamic God says is moral. There’s no reason to believe that one version is more correct than the other.

            The problem with Christian morality specifically, is it is based on things that simply aren’t true. What we observe in the world contradicts with what Christians consider moral, and that’s a serious flaw in the system of morality. Not only is there no reason to believe that they Abrahamic God exists, the resulting system of morality actually leads to less human happiness than a system of morality that is designed based on what we know about human nature.

            I’m getting weary of this topic, I’m hoping Marc posts something else soon. So I’ll hope that Korou will pick up and address the things I didn’t.

          • Korou

            Alexandra, I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts in this thread. It’s good to come on a discussion like this and find people standing up against wrong arguments.

          • Korou

            OK, Contra Mundum, here’s what I think, if you don’t mind me answering your questions to Alexandra.
            And apologies in advance. This is a long post. I’ve tried to make it relevant and to set it out clearly.

            You said: “But we still get into conflicts even if we think about happiness in terms of the relative good it brings. For example, one group believes a certain action increases happiness, and alleviates suffering, while another group believes just the opposite, that the same action instead increases suffering, and thus decreases happiness.”
            But that’s fine – both of them believe that happiness is a good thing and that it is good for us to bring it about; and both believe that suffering is to be avoided, and that the good thing for us to do is to avoid and prevent it. Their disagreement is not over ultimate aims; their disagreement is over which methods would bring those aims about.

            I won’t quote your examples on abortion or homosexuality, since you’ve done a fine job summarizing the arguments of each side. But don’t you see that in doing so you have quite rightly used a system of morality based on reasoning? You didn’t say to me “Homosexuality is bad because God says so.” That would have been morality by divine commandment. You said, “Homosexuality is immoral because it hurts people in these ways.” And you did the same with abortion – you said it would be infanticide, if the pro-life side were right.
            If I were to say to you, “Well, what’s wrong with infanticide?” you would quite rightly answer that it causes suffering to the parents, family and fetus (and I’m not saying that it does, necessarily, just that you’re right to give me reasons based on avoiding pain). You said that some people think homosexuality is wrong because it is “playing with fire” and “self-destructive.” If I were to ask you why that was immoral, you would say that it hurt the people involved – the homosexuals, their family and friends, and the whole of society.

            You said: “How then do we determine who is right on what is moral? We cannot selfishly say that we as individuals know we are right, just because we say it is. Another person can make the same claim but on the other side of the issue, and through this we get nowhere.”

            What we can do is say that we know what is right because we know that we all want to gain happiness for ourselves and each other and avoid suffering. And you yourself have quite rightly said that. You laid out the arguments that each side uses to justify its position, arguments based on how we should increase happiness (by having babies and by ensuring that only men and women marry each other) and decrease suffering (by not aborting babies and by making sure that men don’t marry men and women don’t marry women).
            The way we know what is right on what is moral is to persuade the other person that your way is a better way of making a happier world – the thing which you both want – than his is; not that he should not be trying to minimize suffering, but that the way he is trying to do it won’t work as well as your way would, because he has insufficient information, or incorrect reasoning.

            Can we appeal to society then? Society is just a collection of individuals, and thus whatever the majority says is moral, is moral. The society can also determine what exactly defines happiness and suffering, and which actions increase happiness and what decreases suffering. But in this, a society can determine slavery is moral, and say (as slave masters had in the past) that slaves living in slavery is actually good for them, and decreases their suffering by taking away the awful burden of freedom.”

            And you know what? If that had been true, then slavery would have been moral. But it wasn’t true; the slave would have been happier living free, as it was in the slave master’s power to make him. Therefore, the slaveowner’s actions increased suffering unnecessarily; therefore they were immoral.

            You said: “Ultimately we have to come to some source of what determines what is moral. For Christians, this source is God. In a universe with a God as Christians define it, there is no room for relativity in moral matters.”

            Okay, then. If you were granted the chance to speak to God, and you said to him, “God – why is it that hating people, stealing, lying and cheating is wrong?” what do you think God would say?
            There’s basically two ways He could answer:
            1. One is God might say, “Well, if you hate and cheat and steal you hurt other people. Would you like it if they did that to you? So don’t you do it to them. You don’t want to be hurt, so you know they don’t want to be either; you can know what is good for them because you are like them, and you already know what is good for you.”
            If God could use reasoning to justify his morality, you could do the same.
            2. Or second, God might say, “It’s wrong because I say it’s wrong. It offends me when you do these things.” The problem is, if God said that, then God could make any type of morality he pleased. He could say that abortion was good, that gay sex was the most holy type of intimacy, that hurting other people gratuitously was praiseworthy. And how could you argue with him?
            Now you may say that God would never do things like these, but the thing is, you can’t know that. If goodness is merely what God commands it to be, then goodness has no meaning. You can’t say God would never command us to do evil, because if God commanded it, it wouldn’t be evil! You objected to moral relativism? Well, that is what it would look like.

            You said: “In a godless universe, I just don’t see how one could impose his or her morality on another with any authority.”

            Would you say that I have provided an explanation in this post?

            You said: “Could you explain how homosexuality is a natural variation? It seems to me that if there are several variations, one could argue that having an incestuous attraction, or (in the extreme) having an sexual attraction to animals are natural variations of sexuality. Maybe you can clear this up.”
            Well, I’m not at all an expert on this, but you could say that incest is immoral because it hurts the participants in some way – perhaps by stunting their emotional growth? You could say its immoral because it breeds genetic weaknesses, but that objection would be avoided if the two didn’t have children. Of course, if one of the partners is below the age of consent it would become a case of one person forcing their will on the other, thus hurting them. You could make a similar argument with bestiality, saying that animals can’t give consent.
            But you can find people who could argue, persuasively, that incest (at least above the age of consent) and bestiality are not immoral.

            Also, I have known fellow students who have told me they cheated (in a different class than mine) and did not feel any guilt about it. Let’s say they felt it was justified, maybe because the teacher was terrible. Again, in a secular environment, we cannot assume that a person would feel guilty about such a thing. And if the student never did get caught and is still happy about it, why is it wrong and why can we call them a psychopath?

            Well, that was what Alexandra said, so I’ll leave it to her to answer. But maybe, if the students thought it over more carefully, they would see that there were longer-reaching consequences than just easily finishing a test. If you were a parent explaining why you shouldn’t cheat to your child, what would you say? Don’t you think that there are very rational and real-world reasons for not cheating, reasons which have nothing to do with whether a God exists or not? Reasons like, “If you cheat you’re hurting yourself in the long run because you didn’t learn anything,” or “How would you feel if someone else cheated and got away with it on a test you had to work hard on?”

            So, Contra Mundum, what do you think? Would you say that it’s possible to reason out secular morality without needing God to tell you what is right or what is wrong? And what do you think of my question about how God know what it right and what is wrong?

            Looking forward to your answer.

      • Korou

        Hello Contra Mundum,

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I’ve also read Alexandra’s, which I agree with, and now I’d like to respond, point by point:

        “I think when you try to equate morality with happiness, you get into a slew of problems.”

        That’s why we need to consider happiness in a broader sense. Morality is our way of considering what would be the greatest good by looking at the full picture. As Richard Dawkins (he who we all know and love!) said: “I think I want a morality that is thought-out, reasoned, argued, discussed—based upon almost, say—intelligent design.”
        I certainly don’t want to say that morality being based on maximising happiness and minimising suffering for ourselves and others is a morality based on gorging ourselves on chocolate, stealing money, cheating our way to success and insulting people we don’t like. And if you think about the consequences of such actions, you can see why they would not be moral; they would end up hurting other people and, in the end, hurting ourselves.

        “First, not everything that makes someone happy might be considered moral. For example, a student cheats on his test, and manages to do it without being caught. He is certainly happy since he ends up getting a good grade, and since no one else was affected by it (let’s assume there was no class curve, just standard grade scale) it did not decrease any other person’s happiness. Would that make cheating in this particular case morally good?”

        If God said that cheating was wrong, would you be avoiding a sin if nobody found out you cheated? Of course not, and the same answer applies here. If people did know about the cheating, they would feel hurt, they would suffer from the system being abused. That is why cheating is, in principle, morally wrong. Unless there is a greater reason to consider it morally right – say, if you were a Jew in Nazi Germany who lied about being Jewish.

        “Another problem is that happiness, at least in the secular sense, is ultimately relative. What makes you happy might not apply to someone else. If doing something wrong is defined as something that diminishes the total happiness of society, we can see where relativity gets this definition in trouble.”

        Well, I’ve already addressed this with the example of a masochist. But both you and he do agree on happiness being a good thing, and you agree that you would like the other person to treat you in the way he would want to be treated – with respect and friendship and help, even if the preferred forms for that treatment are different.
        Isn’t it reasonable to say that the aim of morality is to produce the greatest good for ourselves and others? Isn’t that a noble goal for a system of morality?

        I would also really be interested in finding out how a theist justifies morality. If you think that morality is based upon God’s moral standard, then why? If God said hating is wrong, why is it wrong? Just because God said so? Or is there a standard God could use to explain to us why hating other people is wrong?

        “If you’re going to say “objectively speaking,” what is the standard of what happiness is? When you say “happiness of society,” this implies then that morality, and by extension the definition of happiness, is ultimately determined by the majority.”

        No, it’s determined by human nature: the fact that, as humans, we all agree that happiness is a good thing, and that our ideal state is for us to be happy – and that as empathetic beings and social creatures the ideal state of the world is for everyone to be as happy as possible.
        Again, let’s not address this narrow-mindedly – I’m not saying that the perfect world would be one in which everyone gets to eat anything they like, drink anything they like and have sex with anyone they like! Would an orgy of gluttony, morality based upon selfishly satisfying animal urges actually make us happy, if it were tried? IT would increase suffering in the world – physical suffering from overeating, emotional suffering from lack of commitment to partners and betrayal of trusts, and intellectual suffering from stagnation of the mind.

        “Taking the case of homosexual marriage, in every state in which it has been put up for a vote, it has been rejected by a majority. How then does homosexual marriage increase society’s happiness if the majority of society rejects it?”

        What if the majority were misinformed about what would make them happy or would cause them to suffer? What if they thought the legislation of gay marriage would hurt them but their arguments were based on faulty information and reasoning? If that were so, then the people who oppose gay marriage are acting immorally, because they are acting to hurt other people without the justification that they are preventing a greater harm.

        “Also, you are simplifying the Catholic Church’s position on the matter. For one, they do not have a knee-jerk reaction like some other denominations in saying that anyone with same-sex attractions do is destined for hell. They oppose homosexual behavior, specifically homosexual sex, and since intimate homosexual relations would logically lead to this behavior, they must oppose it. They don’t object to homosexual behavior simply because God says that it is wrong, although I will admit that is all the reason some Catholics need. But they also base their objections as the logical consequence of natural law, and, forgive me for being a little crude, basic anatomy and biology.”

        I’m sorry, I had a little difficulty understanding what you meant by logical consequences of natural law. Perhaps you could explain it for me?

        Do you mean that having gay sex makes one unhappy or unhealthy? If so, you could argue that this has been proved to be untrue. Much of the suffering that has been observed in gay relationships can be traced to the society they live in that discriminates against them. And even if it were true that gay sex is unhealthy (presumably unprotected anal intercourse is unhealthier than unprotected vaginal intercourse) that would only be one factor in the equation; to put it another way, we don’t say that actions with an element of risk, like drinking or smoking or having heterosexual anal intercourse are immoral either!

        As for basic anatomy and biology – do you mean revulsion at the idea of gay sex? If so, that’s not a good argument; there are plenty of sexual practices which we may find unappealing or even unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean we can stop consenting adults from taking part in them.
        So unless there are reasons showing that homosexuality increases suffering in society I’ll have to politely stand by my conclusion – the Catholic Church is increasing suffering in society regarding their teachings about and treatment of homosexuals, and that is demonstrably morally wrong.

        I’d like to point out now that I’ve finally got around to answering Marc’s OP. He asked how atheists could justify their stance towards gays. Answer: because cruelty is objectively morally wrong; it increases suffering and decreases happiness much more than it increases happiness and decreases suffering.
        If you argue that I’m wrong about the Catholic Church’s reasons for persecuting gays, or whether they do or not, that’s a separate discussion; and if you can convince me that the Catholic Church is right, that homosexuality is, in fact, bad for people and society, then I’ll change my assessment and decide that homosexuality is, in fact, immoral. But first you’ll have to give me reasons to think so.

        • Mary

          Heterosexual anal intercourse is considered immoral.

          • Korou

            Mary, if you can give me a good reason why, then I will believe it is immoral too. What suffering does it cause to the participants or those around them?

          • Mary

            The rectum is not suited for this activity. Thus the many tears. Many issues with the anatomy. ALso…most people consider it painful! It is a place of nonsterile waste.

          • Alexandra

            I thought it was only considered immoral if there is ejaculation outside of the vagina? Isn’t anal sex okay as a part of foreplay?

          • Mary

            Not to my understanding of the teaching, but I could be wrong. It is unreal to me that ANYONE would ever voluntarily do that or allow it done.

          • Alexandra

            It’s unreal to me that anyone would consider a sex act between consensual adults to be immoral.

          • conditus

            So if I cheat on my wife by sleeping with my best friends wife and we both consent is that moral?

          • Mary

            I think she would obviously say that was not moral as the wife was not consenting, and if she was it was not cheating. But, do you agree that polyamory is moral Alexandra? Also, what about two people who are into extreme S and M? This is not moral in my book. How can you think it is?

        • Contra Mundum

          After reading your reply, I agree with what you said about the cheating, and how it would apply to things in general, and how the aim of morality is to produce the greatest good. But I came to this realization, which may or may not be helpful for the discussion.

          For Christians, morality is inextricably linked with a sense of justice. If someone does something morally wrong, they should be subject to some form of punishment or forgiveness, if they sincerely regret their actions. Christians believe that ultimately God judges us according to our actions at the end of our lives. God can do this, because he is the source of morality (more on this later), and can thus distinguish what is truly right and wrong.

          Atheists do also tie morality with justice, but I would say to a lesser extent. By lesser extent I mean punishment is confined to our existence in this life. In a universe without God, there is no afterlife; our only lives are that which we are living now. Since there is no afterlife, justice cannot be applied to us after death. Indeed, the greatest punishment in a godless universe is to be killed by a death penalty.

          Now let’s imagine some deranged killer, who kills a great number of people, but manages to get away with it and is not caught by any police system. Obviously by both Christian morality and the morality you described, his actions would be morally wrong. But let’s say the since this killer is not caught, he lives his life however he wants, and eventually dies a natural death. He never gets punished for his actions while he is still alive. Where is the justice for those who were killed by him?

          The ultimate point that I’m trying to make with this anecdote is that though the morality system you described is indeed noble, it is ultimately not binding. What I mean by this is that someone may be considering doing something that may be defined as immoral, but your morality system is only effective in stopping the person from doing the immoral thing if he is 100% going to be caught. If he is never caught, what does the morality of the action matter? Even if his name is tarnished after he is dead (like Hitler), what does this matter if our conscious being no longer exist after we are dead, as an atheist believes?

          Contrast this with the Christian worldview, where God is aware of all of your actions. After you die, you will be judged accordingly, and justice is applied for everyone.

          This leads me to your next point. Catholics believe that God is goodness and truth itself. Because of this he is not bound by some outward morality, morality comes from him. (I’ve only read briefly into this, so unfortunately I can’t give you a deeper explanation at the moment, but if you’d like to know more about it there are resources out there. Father Barron is a good start, that was where I first heard it). Naturally you’d wonder how humans would be made aware of this morality, and the Catholic answer would be through revelation (i.e. God revealing to us through Bible, appearing to us personally, etc.)

          “What if the majority were misinformed about what would make them happy or would cause them to suffer? What if they thought the legislation of gay marriage would hurt them but their arguments were based on faulty information and reasoning? If that were so, then the people who oppose gay marriage are acting immorally, because they are acting to hurt other people without the justification that they are preventing a greater harm.”

          But doesn’t it go both ways? What if those who were pro gay marriage were also misinformed? I’ve certainly seen case where those who were pro-gay marriage use faulty information (and less than savory militant tactics), so they are not free from the faults that also affect those who oppose gay marriage.

          “I’m sorry, I had a little difficulty understanding what you meant by logical consequences of natural law. Perhaps you could explain it for me?”

          Natural law is tied with the anatomy and biology objections, so I’ll put them together here. First, the part about the discrimination is true, and Catholics are told through the Catechism not to discriminate against them simply because of their attractions (remember, Catholics distinguish between the attraction and behavior, as will as sin and sinner). Now, that being said, yes, gay sex being unhealthy is a factor, but I wouldn’t say it is the main argument. Obviously two lesbians do not have the same problem.
          When I say natural law, I mean the logical uses of which our bodily parts are made (or developed, evolved, etc) for. The genitals are there for a specific purpose, namely procreation. The pleasure experienced is a side effect, but not the main purpose of the genitals. This is most readily apparent in the male genitals, where the production of sperm is intended for the development of new life. Stimulating it results in the ejaculation of this sperm, thus it logically follows that procreation is the main purpose of the genitals. Catholics hold that any use of the genitals for any use other than this is immoral. Catholics also put another layer onto this, the unitive aspect. These two are linked together, and cannot be separated, and any action that separates the two is considered immoral. Thus homosexual sex, heterosexual anal sex, contraceptions, oral sex is considered immoral by the church.

          This is where Catholics derive their main objections to homosexual behavior, as well as the bible, and tradition. (arguably the bible’s objection to the matter is because of the natural law argument, but I digress).

          I found that most discussions/debates do little to change one’s opinion, but that’s not to say they are completely useless, there is always that one rare case… Whatever the case may be, I appreciate your willingness to hear the other side in a respectful manner.

          • Korou

            Hello Contra Mundum,
            You know, we seem to be getting on so well that I feel a bit impolite in arguing with you. Nothing personal, okay? I’m glad we can discuss this reasonably.

            “For Christians, morality is inextricably linked with a sense of justice. If someone does something morally wrong, they should be subject to some form of punishment…”
            I believe, Contra Mundum, that you are starting us down a false trail here. Not that the question about justice isn’t worth discussing, it is; but the issue we’re talking about is: can you justify morality in a godless existence? From the point of view of that, it doesn’t matter if the wrongdoer is brought to justice or not – right now, you and I are discussing how we can say, with any authority, that he or she is a wrongdoer; how we can say what right and wrong is. Marc, and others, have argued that if you don’t believe in God you have no right to call anything right or wrong. Would you agree that we have established that we have that right, in a godless universe?

            “The ultimate point that I’m trying to make with this anecdote is that though the morality system you described is indeed noble, it is ultimately not binding. What I mean by this is that someone may be considering doing something that may be defined as immoral, but your morality system is only effective in stopping the person from doing the immoral thing if he is 100% going to be caught. If he is never caught, what does the morality of the action matter?”
            You’re right; it’s not binding. But that doesn’t affect it’s validity or not. The aim of a moral system is to recognize what right and wrong is, and why. If it succeeds in doing this, it has fulfilled its purpose. The existence of evil does not negate our ability to differentiate it from good – but you are effectively arguing that it does.

            “Contrast this with the Christian worldview, where God is aware of all of your actions. After you die, you will be judged accordingly, and justice is applied for everyone.”
            So if you became an atheist, if you came to a realization that God did not exist, you would cease to believe in good and evil? You would decide that because the person who called you names, stole things from you, hit you or killed people you love might never be punished fully and completely, that means that you are now unable to judge whether he did right or wrong? I believe that this is what your line of reasoning must lead to.

            “This leads me to your next point. Catholics believe that God is goodness and truth itself. Because of this he is not bound by some outward morality, morality comes from him.”
            I had a search for Father Barron, but it seems that almost all of his work is on youtube, which I can’t access because I live in China. Can you point me towards any articles he’s written about morality? I found some , but on other topics.
            Answer me this, then. If God is not just good, but actual goodness itself, then goodness simply means “what God does.” If there is no independent standard of what goodness is, then how could you ever look at God’s actions and say, “Yes, that was good.” There would be nothing at all that God could do that was not good. He could command rape, murder, the torturing of infants – and it would be good, by definition. Therefore, goodness loses all meaning.
            It may seem like this isn’t an important point, because you could just say, “Well, God would never do evil things.” First of all, non-Christians could argue that God could do and has done evil things (murder, genocide, torturing innocents in hell, etc.) – but that would be missing the point, and put us on a different argument.
            The point is this: we are having a discussion about the nature of morality. Catholics on this have quite rightly pressed me to defend my morality by asking me to justify it in extreme and unlikely situations. So when I ask questions like that in return, you can’t answer, “Well, that’s theoretically possible but it doesn’t matter because it would never happen.”

            “But doesn’t it go both ways? What if those who were pro gay marriage were also misinformed?”
            Sure it goes both ways; but all that would mean is that one or both or all sides would be incorrect (completely or partially) about what is moral or not because they’re using faulty data or reasoning. That wouldn’t mean that they were wrong about being able to determine what is morally right by a process of reasoning.

            “When I say natural law, I mean the logical uses of which our bodily parts are made (or developed, evolved, etc) for…”
            We should be aware of the danger of the word “made” in this context. Saying that things were made, or designed to do something is useful shorthand, but in fact (as Catholics and atheists both believe, but Creationists do not) what happened was that certain features were selected by natural circumstances to be passed on through evolution. Saying something was “made for” a reason gives the impression that it was deliberately designed for that use with a purpose in mind; the theory of evolution says that what happened was the feature in questions somehow gave the organism a better chance of surviving long enough to pass on genes, and that is all.
            According to the theory of evolution, nobody looked at something and said “that is good.” Something gave an organism a better chance of living long enough to reproduce, and so that feature was passed on to the offspring. It isn’t even accurate to say it was selected because it was useful; instead, we should say “it had certain characteristics which increased the likelihood of it being selected.”
            Sorry for being so long-winded. But because of this, I have to ask you why it is that the using of some evolved ability or parts of our body to do something other than the action which originally increased their likelihood of being passed on is immoral?
            Put briefly, what is your reason for using “was used for” to create “should be used for?” Let me give you some examples.
            The mouth evolved to chew food with for us to eat. Does that mean that chewing gum is immoral?
            The stomach evolved to digest raw. Does that mean that cooking is immoral?
            Hair evolved to keep us warm. Does that mean that wearing clothes is immoral?
            In short, humans today do lots of things – lots and lots and lots of things – that we never evolved to do. We write on computers, talk on telephones, and live in small families instead of in tribes. We enjoy putting gloves on our hands, putting glasses on our eyes, and putting sexual organs together in ways that will not result in our having children. Why are any of these things wrong?
            One final thought: it could be argued that nothing humans do is unnatural, because if it were we would not be able to do it. This is not to say that nothing we do is immoral, but that you cannot base an argument of morality on saying something is unnatural. Our creativity, our desires and our intelligence are all features which evolved to make us what we are, and they throw off surprising side-effects quite apart from their main purpose of keeping us alive.

          • Alexandra

            I really liked the way you worded all of that!

            Also, are you a Westerner? You communicate in English like it is your first language. I do the majority of my research in China and lived in Wuhan this summer! I love China, and totally sympathize with the crankiness derived from Chinese internet censorship. I’m somewhat surprised Patheos isn’t blocked!

          • Korou

            Hi Alexandra,

            Thanks very much! I’m afraid I might have been a bit pedantic, but I wanted to make sure I covered all the angles.

            Yes, I’m British, and I teach in an international school in Beijing – not really all that far from Wuhan, as it’s such a big country. I love the food, and how people here are so friendly, and the whole experience of living in a different culture.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if Patheos was blocked on day, especially if someone on it started writing about X_njiang. Can’t get youtube, facebook or blogspot here.

          • Alexandra

            I’ve spent some time in Beijing. I felt much more comfortable there since it is so much more international than Wuhan. While I was in Wuhan I missed Western food and was so glad to be able to get some in Beijing! Now that I’m back in the States, I really miss real Chinese food.

            You’re a brave kid. Life in China is hard. Teaching must be quite a challenge.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    I think this argument has two flaws:

    1) False Analogy: The survival of a fetus is absolutely dependent on the life of a woman who will be transformed physically and mentally by its development. She will certainly experience pain at some point in the process and she may well face serious health risks as well. Anyone choosing to argue for (or legislate on behalf of) that fetus will be making a significant demand on the life of that woman. Prospective homophobes face no such trials and tribulations when they are asked to lump it and leave others to live their lives.

    2) So of C.S. Lewis: In arguing that atheists must find a standard beyond us to advance moral precepts the author slips at least two extra assumptions into the argument, one that such a non-subjective standard must equate to an innate sense of morality, and two that the standard must come from an authority whose interest it serves. Hence, it continues down the road to suggest “society” and to present the option as though no distinctions could be made between different demands made by society, etc. In effect, the author seems to assume that any extra-personal morality must take the form of an authority argument. I see no compelling reason to believe this is the case.

  • Burton

    Korou,

    Good morning! Continuing our discussion from below:

    The idea that evolution has finished its work, and we can now, based on our fully evolved nature, come up with an objective morality is an interesting theory. Evolution, as I’m sure you know, has no sense of purpose, so it can’t “finish its work”. I’m not sure how you could know that evolution had ceased to operate in our species.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we have stopped evolving and we now, through reason, decide to construct a moral paradigm that maximizes happiness and minimizes suffering. We have evolved to prefer happiness over suffering, so we are simply acting in accord with our evolved nature, right? Does this in any way make morality absolute? If it turned out that in some circumstances happiness was maximized by causing suffering for just a small subset of our species, could we have any basis for protecting that subset, even it it increased everyone’s suffering? You keep insisting that the basis for all our moral decisions must be the increase of happiness, and in response to Contra Mundum you suggested that the only reason we insist on the rights of each individual is because to not do so would, overall, decrease happiness. Unfortunately, many other atheists throughout history have disagreed with your assessment. They were perfectly happy to kill or oppress some of our species if it could mean the eventual improvement of society as a whole (e.g. Lenin, Stalin, Sanger, communist China). How do you know you are right and they are wrong?

    I know that you believe that happiness is best achieved by preserving he rights of the individual, but what if you are wrong? What if we could achieve more happiness and less suffering in the long run by causing some suffering to some humans in the short run? If this could be proven, would you still insist on the innate rights of each individual human? On what basis?

    • Korou

      Morning!
      Well, the first question is the easier one to answer. I didn’t say that evolution had stopped; I said that, “evolution has finished its work (from our point of view – how we might be different in a few millions years isn’t important right now).”

      Evolution is still, of course, ongoing, but it works on such a long timescale that for us on the scale of our lives as individuals our our lives as societies we don’t need to consider it; we can assume our human nature is a constant, even though it might be changing in a few million years. We can’t see ourselves evolving significantly so from our point of view we might as well not be.

    • Korou

      OK, back again! I hope I’ve answered your questions; and I’ve asked some of my own, which I hope you can answer for me.

      You said: “For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we have stopped evolving and we now, through reason, decide to construct a moral paradigm that maximizes happiness and minimizes suffering. We have evolved to prefer happiness over suffering, so we are simply acting in accord with our evolved nature, right? Does this in any way make morality absolute?”
      -Response: Only in one sense: that there is always a right or wrong way to proceed, based on the constant of our human nature; we all, always, prefer happiness to suffering. Doesn’t that make sense? It doesn’t mean that there we look at a situation and follow a rule as to what to do (“Should I lie when asked my real name by a police officer/a member of the Gestapo? No, lying is wrong.”) It means we look at a situation and follow a principle: maximize happiness and minimize suffering for all concerned as much as possible. Now that last part may give us some difficulties, and the process of working out what the right thing to do is may be a complex and difficult one; but who said morality was simple?

      You said: “You keep insisting that the basis for all our moral decisions must be the increase of happiness, and in response to Contra Mundum you suggested that the only reason we insist on the rights of each individual is because to not do so would, overall, decrease happiness.”
      -Response: I think now might be a good point to clarify exactly what I said. I said that secular morality could be based on three facts about human nature. One, that we all seek to increase happiness and avoid suffering; two, that we are capable of empathy; and three, that we are social creatures who can cooperate.
      -My question: are there any of these three things which you dispute? Would you say that humans beings don’t seek to be happier? That we can’t understand how others are feeling? That we can’t work together to produce greater happiness?

      You said: “Unfortunately, many other atheists throughout history have disagreed with your assessment. They were perfectly happy to kill or oppress some of our species if it could mean the eventual improvement of society as a whole (e.g. Lenin, Stalin, Sanger, Communist China).”
      -Response: Yes, many atheists throughout history have disagreed with me, and you, and many other people about what the right thing to do would be. The totalitarian dictators did not subscribe to a system of morality like the one we are discussing while they continued to kill and oppress. Their systems of morality were based on totalitarianism, communist dogma and, very probably, a selfish consideration for their own personal wellbeing and a lack of consideration for others. Using the system of morality I am outlining we can say that yes, they were morally wrong to act as they did.
      -My question: based on your morality, which I am assuming means living a good life by following the commandments of God, what would you say to these mass murderers? If they asked you, why should we obey God, what would you tell them? Would you tell them the good reasons God has for giving his commands? Or would you tell them that that they are breaking God’s commands and will be punished for it? In that case, how is God’s morality any better than theirs?

      You said: “How do you know you are right and they are wrong? I know that you believe that happiness is best achieved by preserving the rights of the individual, but what if you are wrong? What if we could achieve more happiness and less suffering in the long run by causing some suffering to some humans in the short run? If this could be proven, would you still insist on the innate rights of each individual human? On what basis?”
      -Response: On the basis of a moral system which includes empathy. If you chose to gain your happiness at the expense of another’s suffering you would be acting immorally, just as you know others would be if they bought their happiness at the cost of your suffering.
      Therefore the rights of the individual are your rights, and you act morally when you protect others’ as your own. The existence of people who act against this does not invalidate it.
      -My question: how do you know you are right and they are wrong? How would you justify your own morality? If you don’t explain to them why hurting people is wrong because of its consequences, how do you explain it?

      Finally, would you agree that I’ve answered Marc’s question and explained how atheists can justify their support of gay people’s rights in secular terms?

      • Burton

        Korou,

        I’ve been out of comission for a few days – the busyness of life and all that!

        OK, I think we are getting to the heart of the matter. (BTW, I think you have answered Marc’s question very intelligently, but I think his question leads on to deeper questions).

        Let me start by addressing the most important response you gave, and then I will try to answer your questions. You have constructed a secular morality based on a few basic assumptions:

        1. Human nature is constant.
        2. human nature includes, at a basic level, the desire for happiness,
        empathy, and the ability to cooperate.

        In other words, we all want to be happy, we should (because of empathy) want that happiness for others, and we can cooperate in an effort to maximize both our own happiness and that of our fellow man. This system is logically coherent and at one level answers Mark’s question beautifully.

        The deeper question that I keep bugging you with is: “yes, but, is this moral system absolute?” In other words, is there something innate within each individual human that endows him or her with moral dignity and rights, such that it is always good to protect and preserve that dignity, even if doing so leads to an increase in suffering; and is it always evil to violate that dignity even if it means an increase in happiness. Your answer to this in no way suggests any reason or basis for the innate/absolute moral dignity of the individual. You say that your system provides for absolute moral standards in that, because of our constant human nature, we will always know how we should proceed to maximize happiness. But that is not the same as innate moral dignity. That is a form of utilitarianism. The difference is subtle but critical. As I said earlier, if by some dramatic evolutionary shift our nature changed such that preservation of our species required less empathy (or none), your would have no principled moral argument against the change, or if you do I haven’t heard it yet. If you went toe-to-toe with Vladmir Lenin on the best way to maximize human happiness (because that’s what he wanted, too), you would have nothing more to fall back on that your personal hypothesis, however well-reasoned it might be. I happen to think that Lenin’s and Nietzsche’s arguments, as atheists, were at least as compelling as yours and more intellectually honest.

        The deeper point that I believe Marc was driving at is that the only way for humans to have innate moral dignity is for that dignity to have been bestowed by a higher source. If we were created by one who is the embodiment of goodness, beauty, and self-sacrificial love, then we would each be “hardwired” with innate moral dignity as a reflection of those same characteristics. I am not here arguing for the existence of such a supreme being, only that innate moral dignity is at least possible in this paradigm, but is impossible in the atheist paradigm.

        How do I know that I am right? I don’t. But, ignoring for the moment the spiritual aspect of my nature (which I know you deny exists, so I don’t make it part of my argument), I am intellectually convinced that the theist’s moral paradigm makes far better sense of reality that the atheist’s.

  • AAA

    MARC! PLEASE POST MORE! PLEASE??????????

  • ShadowsBeckon29

    Almost got it completely right. Problem is, this same line of reasoning can be applied to God as well as to Atheists. If God is a good god, then morality must come from something beyond God as well, or else morality would be whatever God said it was, which doesn’t sit well by me or any reasonable theist I should say.

    • Korou

      Well done, Shadows! You’ve refuted St. Thomas Aquinas.

      You could say, of course, that it’s fine if morality is whatever God says it is; if God is as good as they say, then surely we can trust Him to be telling us what is right or wrong? But in that case God is just doing what is right – and there is therefore an independent standard of what is right or wrong which we can consult; so we don’t need God to be good.

      You could then say that God is Himself goodness. But the thing is, if God IS Goodness, then he could do any kind of evil and it would be good by definition.

      You could then say that God would never do evil – but if he did, it wouldn’t be evil, would it? This isn’t just a quibbling point – by saying that God determines what goodness it, Christians are essentially defining it out of existence!

      I really am looking forward to someone on this thread giving me an answer to my question. I have asked it more than once now. If your morality is based on revelations from God, how can you justify it? Why, as Marc put it, is it wrong to hate, if not that hating hurts people?

      • Brbr_kent

        Hi, Korou, i would like to give some thoughts on this.

        The line of argument that morality can be based on avoiding creating suffering/maximizing happiness is very appealing. I think it works, especially now in history, to help many people make good decisions. I also think that it is very basic; meaning that it is pretty easy to see if you are causing harm to someone else, and therefore seems to need no augmentation from outside authority.

        My objections to the approach, though, are based on what I think are significant limitations.

        Take the last sentence in the above paragraph. Suffering can be easy to see-with-your-own-eyes when it is in front of you but not so much when it is far away, or abstracted. Of course, that can be a function of the empathy abilities of each person which theoretically can be enhanced through education. But until the point, however we get there, that more people (everyone?) are ethically self-aware and have a thoroughly developed and functioning empathetic capability then we are back to square one as far as them figuring it out on their own.

        But, of course we can object that there *should* be a moral authority, just not based on a religious history or definition. Without religion, people would naturally have figured out that suffering is bad and we ought not to cause it, and to stop it if we can. And modern versions of this propose that we can make systems of morality and choices based on what makes the most happiness for each person or group (depending on the situation, I guess.)

        Which, yes, sounds good except for when you think about the fact that people *have* been using that basis for morality since the dawn of humanity, with and without religion.

        The only difference is the pool of persons included in the Group.

        And, to a lesser extent– but just as important as far as impact– what constitutes “suffering” and “happiness.”
        For example, is going through daily hardship and deprivation an acceptable “kind” of suffering (thus not suffering at all) if it leads to the maximum number of people getting a certain thing, or condition that falls under the definition of happiness?

        Definitions matter, and if you think it is easy to postulate a morality that will work for all humanity based on the principles of avoiding suffering and maximizing happiness then we have to know WHAT are the definitions, and WHO is making those?

        • Korou

          Hi Brbr_kent,
          Happy to hear from you. I’m sorry, it may take me a little while to get back to you. My holidays have just ended, and work begins tomorrow.
          Talk soon!

          • Korou

            Before I do, though, I have to ask – why is it nobody is answering the question I keep asking? How do you Catholics justify your morality?

          • Brbr_kent

            I can’t answer for anyone else about justifying their morality. But I will say that it is a difficult for most people to articulate moral reasoning. And I also do *not* believe that you have to be able to talk about Good to do it.

          • Korou

            That’s what I’d say too – I did have some trouble forming the arguments I’ve been making, and had to do some research to help me put myself as clearly as I could.
            But I hope you’ll give it some consideration for your part, even if you don’t want to correspond about it; because I am making a serious point that morality based upon the existence of God- “it’s right because He said it’s right” – is not real morality at all.

          • Brbr_kent

            Korou, I am willing to correspond on this; please continue by posting your response to mine above.
            I am not interested in persuasion as the goal, but exploration of the topic by discussing it from two different perspectives.

      • conditus

        If you don’t mind I’ll make an attempt to answer your question. I don’t know if you’ll find the answer satisfactory but it will be an honest answer on my part.

        My argument is that God is good to us and loves us even though He has no need to be good to us or to love us. Furthermore He has no need for us to reciprocate that goodness or love towards Him. You say that if we define God as goodness than good would be whatever God deemed it to be including evil being good. The thing is that God is not manipulative. If He was He would just make everyone believe in Him, no one would doubt His existence and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Therefore since God is not and has no need to be manipulative we can trust that what God defines to be good actually is good.

        So then why is God good to us if he has no need to be good? Because God loves us and wants what is best for us. What is best for us? To be close to God. What brings us close to God? Being good to one another. How are we good to one another? There’s more to it than this but I will omit the parts that an atheist might state have no bearing on him/her but we are good to one another by:

        Honoring our mothers and fathers,
        by not murdering one another,
        by not committing adultery
        by not stealing
        by not bearing false witness
        and by not coveting our neighbor’s wife or property

        I will add to that list, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” .

        Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I think that if were to follow these “rules” that one would lead a life that could be construed as morally upright. I’ll even take it a step further and state that if all of humanity were to live by these “rules” that there would probably be less suffering in the world and more happiness overall.

        Well duh you might say, you don’t need to believe in God to see that to be true and you shouldn’t have to have God tell you to act this way to which to which I would say I agree 100%. But here’s the thing, it’s hard to live this way, especially the whole do unto others and the love your neighbor bit, especially when you’re dealing with people that you just don’t like for whatever reason. Maybe they mock your beliefs, maybe they’re ignorant or poor or diseased or ugly. Maybe they break all the rules that you believe to be good, etc. etc. etc.

        It’s then that I try to remember the words “What you did for the least of these brothers and sister of mine you did for me.” In other words when we are good to one another we are good to God. That brings us closer to God. When we are bad to one another we are bad to God. That pulls us away from God. That is why it’s wrong to hate, because when we hate one another we hate God who is good. Therefore by hating God we hate what is good.

        Maybe an atheist might find this all to be a bunch of hooey, but it is what I believe and it’s how I try to live my life.

      • Dan

        Dear Korou,

        I don’t think you understand St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs. Please trying re-reading but this time carefully. Try not to fall into the trap of “Catholics believe in a blob in the sky” because that is what is false about your reasons so far.

        Your in my prayers,

        dan.

  • Korou

    Marc, this image that you say you made for atheists. Have you shared it with them anywhere else? Or is it just on your website, where your fans can tell you how cool you are?

  • Jane Hartman

    You are brilliant – Please continue with such thoughtful blogging. God bless…..

  • Parasum

    “If this seems mere trifle, allow me to probe the implications of this fact: The Jews agreed to give up the pleasures of fornication, drunkenness, cheating, laziness, idol-worship, and all the rest, and to spend their lives in prayer, fasting, and strict obedience to hierarchy, all without an eternal reward.”

    ## Then maybe Christians should stop using the bait of an eternal reward as an argument. Most of them seem incapable of realising that good is to be done *because it is good*, & *not* because it is commanded. I do not need a God to know that lying is base, & mean, & ruinous to society: a few minutes’ thought, & a functioning moral sense, shows that.

    FWIW, God is impossible to argue for: because God can’t be “pinned down”. People do not need God – they need anything thaty will *function as* God. Since God functions rather poorly as God, He is not terribly credible. Anything – if of sufficient importance to the user – can function as God: the goddess Isis, patriotism, the family. To put it another way – what people call “God” is just another idol, a substitute for God (if there is one; there might be many.)

    Too many apologists argue for a denominational idol, a fetish they can shake at “outsiders”. Or else they think God is so limited that argument can demonstrate the real existence of one. All they do is argue for the existence or the need of a gap in their mental operations which they call God.

    • Dan

      Dear Parasum,

      this doesn’t sound like a very catholic apologist, please try again!!
      Do you know what is meant by “God” for Catholics??
      i’ll pray for you, please pray for me!!

      Dan

  • Devra

    I shared this on facebook, and it was the occasion of my first-ever experience of getting unfriended–by an atheist friend. He said it was condescending and insulting and devoid of any intellectual value. He also said it reminded him of Chesterton. So I think you should feel honored. But please say a prayer for this guy. His name is Pete. Thank you!

    • Alexandra

      Devra, this picture of Marc’s is condescending, insulting, and devoid of any intellectual value. The point that Marc was trying to make isn’t any of those things, but the way that he made it was really crude and incredibly insulting to atheists. Heck it’s insulting to theists too. It’s asinine, and hardly the best way to open a dialogue about secular morality. I don’t blame your ex-facebook friend Pete one bit.

      I’ll keep you in my atheists prayers that maybe you might realize the reason why Pete wasn’t proud to publicly call you his friend after you posted this.

      • Dan

        Alexandra,

        i don’t think you are correct my friend,

        And as a side, atheists shouldn’t be afraid of prayers for them. they are harmless!!

        You’ll be in my prayers too,

        Dan

    • berlinoa

      By the way … You are insulting your “friend” again – surely no atheist want’s to receive any prayer – even if it would come from the big dog called Pope.

      • Devra

        No, no, I didn’t say, “I’ll pray for you.” I make it a point not to do that. And I didn’t identify him beyond his first name, so no one is likely to come up to him and say “Devra asked me to pray for your wretched soul.”

  • Billy Bean

    Almost thou persuadest me to return to the Catholic Church!

  • Angelonius

    To all the homosexualists who love shoving their views down the throats of Catholics, I have the perfect pic just for you:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-E48UBFwzfFE/TzAS1AM71VI/AAAAAAAADxo/T4GpIy01fjc/s1600/benedict_beer.jpeg

  • berlinoa

    One thing is true, any gay person volunteering to be/become a member of the Catholic Church, must be close to insanity … I pity the ones who don’t realize the fairy tale aspect of above cartoon – life is more complex in choices than submitting oneself to anyone book.

    • Dan

      Berlinoa,

      i’m afraid your very much mistaken.

      who submits to a book? i don’t, i stick to what is true. are you saying that it is wrong to love our fellow humans as brothers and sister no matter who or what they might be? That is a very important part of what it means to be catholic christian.

      I will pray for you conversion,

      Dan

      • berlinoa

        Dan – so what is true in religion??
        To start: – to love your neighbors, our fellow humans: for sure nobody has to be or become a Christian. When I look at the many cults that followers of the so called ‘son of god’ (ridiculous as according to that book called bible, supposedly we are all children of god, so what makes that guy Jesus so special to carry the title, either we are the same children or not …hhmm??) have created in the centuries to follow – how little love these cults have shown to thier fellow humans – that i s t r u e !
        Morality in the general sense can and does exist besides and outside of religion. You are free to believe what you want, thta’s a human right and that is very important. Anyone has however no right to organize based on his believee and then declare others for unworthy of anything – that’s what religious cults (call them church or whatever) have histrorically done and still do …

        • Dan

          Berlinoa,

          Again this is the wrong, this begins with a misunderstanding of the word religion. Which has more to do with the actions one does for their faith, i.e. prays and so fourth. Morality, right and wrong, is all about objective truth. Thus, in the case of same-sex attraction, there is the truth on what it is and where it comes from. After this or even before this is the acceptance to love all people no matter the issue. This teaching of the church is not religious, but actually founded wholly on reason followed by compassion.

          As you say to love our fellow human being has nothing to do with religion. it is simply the best way to live. It is a case of understanding truth, and this is what is taught by the church. For example, the church teaches that murder is wrong. That is because this is true. Do you understand this point? i don’t think I’ve explained this very well. sorry about that.

          A cult tries to enforce it’s religious discipline, things like not eating meat on a Friday or praying at particular times of the day etc. those are the things for which religious freedom protects the right to do and not be discriminated for. Churches will teach, like a school education might, about morality and ethics. Such as do not lie and do not murder, love all human beings. These are know in Catholicism as doctrine. These are things are not tied to faith as such but more to the general codes of life. You see, if one where to start arguing that killing people should be legal the church would say NO. this would not be Church enforcing its religion, but rather supporting that when looking at the evidence is the most truthful.

          I don’t think I’ve explained myself very well here. I’ll have another go if you’re still unsure. Also I apologize for being crude and blunt, it is childish and i should know better, please forgive me.

          God Bless,

          Dan.

          • berlinoa

            Dan – I accept your explanation – it’s not that far away from some of the things I mentioned. Difference – there is no need today anymore to look for doctrine by religious organizations. Humans have culturally and know-who/experience wise very much evolved from the times where so much was not known …
            So, I agree to disagree in your religious point of thinking, the human aspects in your thoughtsdseem to have however the same goal(s) in mind. When it comes to homosexuals, again we (the human comdined knowledge) know nowadays that sexuality is not a choice per se, it’s deeply rooted in our biological human system. Yes, there are those who are bisexual and those have the luxuary to “choose” the sex of their partners. But most people are either hetero – or homosexual (that is of course still a minority). To think that those homosexual people are really different in their overall life expectancy in terms of moral, family and culture etc., is just plain weird. People are not the same – but they have the same rights … well should have the same rights I might add.
            People who read the bible misunderstand many things – the most important thing to understand is that the doctrines you speak of were valid at the time of the writing of the book – a lot of them are de-bunked. Those people that tried to use bible verses to counter science are totally wrong – science is ever evolving and does not have ethic values at the core – we (humans) bring that to the table, the knowledge in the bible about anything is ‘static’ (well I know a lot of people read a lot of things into the text … Sunday exercise) and mostly ancient truths for the societal system at the time …
            So what I claim: no religious person/believer can take ANY text to make someone to live accordingly – the text is only important for the person him/herself! The requirements for humans to live peacefully together are well understood (startting with the human rights!), but our political leaders worldwide don’t care much about them …
            Also I’m not offended by your tone and style or even matter of discussion. Don’t you worry – have a blessed day!

          • Dan

            Hello Berlinoa,

            There is not the scientific evidence of a “Gay Gene”. There are indeed those who choose, but of those who do not choose, this is where the debate truly lies. Where does same-sex attraction come from?

            The church sides with the theory that its origin is in the mind, or metaphysical. Now this is where I wince with fear, because i want to balance objectivity with empathy which i fail to do a lot, but it is because of these two we get confusion and conflict in this and so many debates.

            There are, as you say may who say they are born with such feelings, to that i can only “say of course!” Why would be liars if we say we cannot recognize those who are beautiful (in all its meanings) in our own sex. For some this sense is exaggerated and presents a real dilemma.

            There are studies which show that the debate on homosexuality forces individuals to make a choice upon their attraction by telling them they must proclaiming whether they are either Gay or Straight. But this theory (which the church supports) says, no distinction should be made, a man is a man (man=Human species) objectively speaking, and therefore deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. To define a person based on their sexual orientation, to create a stereotype, is as entirely offensive as is it is to condemn them as criminals upon this aspect.

            As for the religious aspects, its simple; the reason the Catholic church takes a position is because it is consistent with its teaching, such as the big bang theory and evolution (not natural selection thought, whole different kettle of fish). The aspects about morality are also consistent with church teaching. The church also teaches that murder is wrong, and so is stealing etc.I’m not they to make these equivalent, i’m trying to show the church has this objective side. But as you know, murders, thieves prostitutes, liars, these are all the people the church calls into her church. I mean think about it, our church is called catholic, this means from the Greek, Universal its for every body to be apart of. That’s the point of it all, we must recognize sin (which translates as things that make us unhappy) and then try to change it.

            As a historian of ancient text i can say from a position of authority that the church does not tell people to be a mirror of the bible. We can learn from it, but life is where we learn. Truth is in the bible the kind of truth that exists in other ancients texts, like romantic love and revenge and other non-material things. There are something which are as true 5000 years ago as they are now. that mean that we need to learn form the ancients and develop upon their findings. You know, build on solid foundations and all that. We learn from books, and the bible is number of texts grouped together which teach us, like Plato’s works or Herodotus or Livy, Tacitus, and many many others. We are not the first to discuss these issues.

            I think you misunderstand doctrine as it is in Catholicism, it is as tied to the bible as the law is tied to ancient Rome, or democracy is founded in ancient Athens. But even for Catholics it is not just the bible which informs our faith it is other things as well. I could not provide all the information here, partly because i don’t know all of it and partly because of what i could tell you this post would be EVEN LONGER than it is now, and i”m as sick of writing this as i’m assuming you are reading this.

            If I’ve missed something, then you may mention it again. But i think i’ll repeat, Catholics do not base their position on homosexuality on the bible. If that surprises you, or is not what you expected, then that might be enough reason for you to start investigating what it is that Catholics believe on Homosexuality and Why from a source who is far better informed than I am. I thank you for this peaceful debate, which had a rocky start. I feel that the only way for us to search for the truth is to investigate the opposing side and try to understand the opposition.

            Also i hope the things I’ve posted do not offend you, or any one else; that is not my intention.

            God bless,

            Dan.

  • GUEST

    what about the part where we evolved in societies and had to decide on norms and values to hold, so as to coexist peacefully? What about the part where we ventured beyond the bible’s outdated morality and began judging for ourselves what was appropriate? You know, when we decided slavery was evil no matter what the bible said on the subject? Or how about when we ended segregation in an effort to ensure everybody equal protection under the law, and generally became anti-discriminatory in our attitudes? We get our morality from our close peers, environment, and even the media; we learn it and make our own value judgments.

  • http://kirikili.livejournal.com/ Mimi C.

    If I must, I identify with the atheists, at least concerning Christianity. And here are my atheist thoughts on the subject of morality. Being my thoughts, they are not representative of the entire spectrum of atheist thoughts, nor should they be, because not needing the concept of a God does not translate to someone not being an asshole. And I don’t identify with those uncouth hooligans. I identify with the couth rapscallions, if you must know.

    Ancient civilizations had laws, which meant they recognized that certain behaviors were acceptable and others were not. The words ‘morality’ and ‘ethics’ stem from Roman and Greek roots, and have been expounded upon by their philosophers. So morality exists in societies that didn’t recognize a logical god – just look at the Greek pantheon. They must, then, have had different impetus for separating ‘good behavior’ from ‘bad behavior.’

    Where, then, does morality come from? You might well ask where does civilization come from, the various patterns that make up society but have long faded into the unconscious. You might well ask how did these animals called humans become aware enough to form groups with functioning roles and rules, domestic other species, plan vast cities and live in them for centuries without descending into chaos? The two, I believe, stem from the same beginning.

    At some point in the history of human evolution, we became aware of ourselves. We learned that this is Me, that is Other. And some Others were like Me, and We lived together, and so thrived. Humans are group animals, we do best when surrounded by others. And as group animals, we’ve developed evolutionary responses to stimuli that allow us to act more harmoniously in such groups: we form hierarchies to streamline chains of command, we crave praise and feedback, we are suspicious of people who are not like those in our group.

    Morality can be seen, then, as simply another evolutionary advancement. As groups of humans grew larger, rules grew with them. Besides simple ones like ‘don’t eat that mushroom, you’ll die’, there were ones like ‘if you hit Greg, Greg will get angry and hit you back, and then everyone will get upset because you’re wrecking our dynamic, so don’t do that.’ These were passed down until we forgot the basic reasons behind them, or, in other words, the reasons became subconscious. A set of rules that has lost its basis but not its impact, that is morality.

    But what causes us to follow it when we’ve come to the point where intellect could easily point out that looking out for only ourselves is the best plan? Again, I point to humans being instinctively group animals, seeking that which keeps them in the herd, but also empathy.

    Empathy goes back to that very basic, This is Me, That is Other idea. You know that if a stick jabs you in the eye, it hurts. Following that idea, if you see someone else get jabbed in the eye, you wince in sympathy, because you’re projecting your understanding of pain onto them. Knowing someone else can feel the same pain as you, that is empathy. That explains why most humans, if not desensitized, dislike cruelty to animals. We’re projecting our understanding of pain onto them, whether or not that is the case. The more like us the animal is – mammals are the big one. It’s why we call cow-meat beef, and pig-meat pork, but are fine with fish being fish and chicken being chicken – the more we project, the more we empathize. So just as we wouldn’t want anything taken from us without our permission, we can understand the feeling behind ‘stealing is bad.’ That’s part of the reason sociopaths, who lack empathy but not intelligence, don’t feel it necessary to abide by morals or laws.

    So that’s my idea of morality. Or part of it. The part that comes up in response to this at 10pm, anyway. But that’s not everything I want to say.

    I don’t think I should treat all gay people, men or women, with love. Being gay does not make you pleasant, or charming, or a witty conversationist (though it does not make you the opposite of any of those things, either). All it does is mean you like to have sex with members of the same sex. So if a person happens to be gay and also, pardon my French, a raging fuckneck, I will remember him as a raging fuckneck and avoid him accordingly. That, for me, is the point.

    The point is respect. It’s about respecting that these people are different from you, can have different opinions than you, and not be lesser for it. Respect is something that’s more difficult for humanity to grasp than morality, since morality is based on an internal group empathy, whereas this sort of respect requires reaching to those who are different, traditionally threatening.

    Love, to me, is a far more terrifying entity. Just because you love someone who is gay does not mean you think they should be free to love and marry who they want. It doesn’t mean you respect their differences. Indeed, love often gives people the idea that they can interfere in other’s lives, because they care about them and want what’s best for them. The Inquisition tortured hundreds out of love and kindness. Slave-owners made the argument that they cared for slaves out of love and concern for their survival. Love is such a primally human emotion, and it can be just as ugly, distorted, jealous, painful, silly, destructive, or conceited as any other primally human thing.

    Given the choice, I would rather have your respect than your love,
    -Mimi

    P.S. I read your blog because you have a thoughtful, lyrical writing style, and I like the approach you take to exploring your religion and the issues surrounding it, but I do get irritated sometimes when you speak as if the world was only made of dualities. This article, for instance, assumes that the only two way morality can be explained is by Christians or by Atheists. I know it feels like these are the two groups most vocally butting heads, but I would love to see your take on how Catholicism compares or interacts with other religions, or other viewpoints besides the old standbys.

    P.P.S. Having considered my own logic-based argument, I realized that humans are primarily irrational creatures who act first and justify later. I instinctively thought ‘the argument of morality originating from the Christian God is wrong’ and then had to look for evidence to back up my feeling. Even though we have reached the point where we feel we should understand and have reasons for every action, our consciousness is only a small part of our overall decision making process, the large majority we have yet to understand. I think it’s okay to say we don’t understand why we do things, but I like my argument so I’ll keep that up too.

  • robesojoh

    Here’s what I don’t understand from you argument. Even if morality is, as you say, dictated from some external force (“god”), how must a human subjectively accept this truth? Who’s to say that homosexuality is an immoral act? The Bible? The same hateful piece of fiction that specifically condones the beating of slaves (When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property- Exodus 21: 20-21)? Is slavery not inherently wrong? What context would this possibly be morally justified??) Who says the Bible has any authority to speak on moral issues?

    • Austin

      “robesojoh”, if that is your real name…. Just ask Mr. Anderson first thing in the morning!

      • donttouchthecourt

        Mr. Anderson…? This is getting stranger by the minute.

    • Dan

      Hello,

      If i’m reading you correctly, yes, humans do have the choice to embrace truth or reject it.

      Just to say Catholics, the ones form whom it was created, use the bible as an aid to faith and to understand a great many things. The bible is very mysterious, and it is full of many texts with many different contexts and genres. For example, the rules on what could be done to slaves in other places during ancient times was horrific, such as the use of helots by the Spartans etc, such crimes were also committed by the Israelite’s Imagine saying to the world right now “football is wrong, stop it now”, lots of people would protest and not allow it, they would be angry and rebel. it is as Jesus said “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” and so one simply swaps the word divorce with slavery and other adjustments and voila! it all makes sense Matthew 19:8.

      So yes slavery is wrong, and in no situation is it justified. The bible is a collection of books, Jesus is the one who hold the knowledge of moral issues. But in fact we all have this objective morality inside of us

      Praying for you conversion,

      Dan

  • Guest

    I apologise for my lack of time to read through every comment so someone may have said this already, but IMO this argument is flawed. The comparison here under any kind of logic is not, “If you don’t like homophobia, don’t be homophobic” – that’s like saying “If you don’t like hating abortion, don’t hate abortion.” The comparison is “If you don’t like homosexuality, don’t practise it.” The extent to which the Christian lobby in the US is crapping all over women’s rights is horrendous, and it never ceases to amaze me how in a country that prides itself on its multiculturalism, it’s become commonplace to legislate by the beliefs of *one* religion – dominant or not.

    • Korou

      Guest, that’s an excellent point, and I don’t think anyone has raised it yet.

      • Corita

        Hi, Korou I have been checking back to see if you wanted to talk anymore on the comment I made below. If not, no problem, just let me know then I can do something else with the three minutes it takes to load this post!!! :)

    • Dan

      that was the argument he was mocking, so you agree with marc

  • http://unfriendlyatheist.tumblr.com/ Theunfriendlyatheist

    This was an impressive misrepresentation of atheism. While atheists are popularly pro-choice, taking ONE SINGLE pro-choice argument and launching your entire article from that point is rather disingenuous. Personally, I’m pro-choice for different reasons: because I believe that egg-bearing people should not be treated differently than sperm-producing ones. It’s called equality, and it also happens to be Constitutional.

    Interestingly enough, equality is also a legitimate argument for support of queer rights. Furthermore, the concept of equality does not require morality.

    As a whole, your focus on morality is bs. Not all atheists even believe in morality. You can’t go off from atheists’ support of gay rights to blasting them for morality. Your careless disregard for the oppression that queer individuals brought upon by religious forces- yes, especially the Catholic church- is rather immoral in itself, wouldn’t you think?

    If I was a less educated atheist, I might bring up how Jesus loves everyone. But Jesus didn’t love everyone, and his idea of “love” is no where near the colloquial concept of love. As it was, Jesus was a Jew, and he came from a religion where murdering people for being gay was commanded by god. He probably hated gays more than you will ever come to.

    So I can’t really expect you to realize how offensive this is to gays. But I hope you do realize how illogical your argument is.

    • Dan

      i am very sorry for you anger, i pity your lack of understand, i will pray for you that you might come to know truth. may God bless you.

  • Sid

    There’s no such thing as absolute moral truth or objective morality. Being cruel to gays is “wrong” because it makes you (not you, specifically, but one) a dick. (Side note: I love that you talk about treating people equally and then follow it up with a statement from the Church that defines homosexuality as “objectively disordered”; that’s hysterical). Anyway, I (along with most other human beings) have natural empathy for other human beings (and yes, even some similar non-human lifeforms whose emotional capacities approach those of human beings) and that informs my sense of “morality.” If a sense of morality came from some outside source, then why would there be such drastically different moral systems (religions, etc.) out there? Not sure why I felt compelled to comment, I don’t suppose I’ll change your mind and I don’t really care, but anyway there it is.

    • Dan

      Dear Sid,

      Unfortunately you have contradicted yourself immediately, “No moral truth” “being cruel to gays is wrong because it make you a dick”. I agree that it is fundamentally wrong to be cruel to this group of people, as such it is wrong to hate any man or woman, of any age, for any “so-called” reason; which kind of also falls on to your too, not being very nice to Mr Barns here. Also your concession of “natural empathy”, what or where might that come from? Is that perhaps an objective moral system?

      One must remember that religion is actually an action that all individuals have. Religion = religio which in turn comes from re-ligare which means “to re-establish a bond that has been severed” or some such. We all perform actions that fall under this bracket; So different religious practices are in fact a natural human process. Moral systems are much more universal, it is difficult, of course, to explain that morality is objective but the universality of human development to create laws and condemn crimes appears to be the easiest and quickest way to prove this point. As we understand more we get closer to the moral/ethical truth, and so we progress our understanding of right and wrong but not “change” it. As seem in this debate.

      “Objectively disordered” sounds rather nasty, but actually this is in fact the most accurate way to articulate the view of the church. Objectively = when looked at it through dispassionate eyes, if ordered = think of a human like the numbers from one to ten 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Disordered thus = a human whose attraction is in the wrong order to what it should be 1 2 3 4 6 5 7 8 9 10. This reality doesn’t mean that the Catholic Church hates people with same-sex attraction, she teaches to loves them, like she teaches to loves all people. Like God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, who is truth, knowing what is right to do and wrong but then not judging others for disobeying, but giving eternal love to them.

      Does that make more sense? It’s not that you’re necessarily
      mistaken about your beliefs but maybe you using a different language. I mean I can see that you in fact agree with much of what Mr Barns has said, but as you said you felt compelled to comment, perhaps to stand up for what you thought was and fight, rather than to sit and have dialogue.

      Hope we have more dialogue and strive closer to the truth.

      Dan.

  • http://twitter.com/BdrLen Len

    Humans are naturally altruistic at birth. Morality is reciprocal altruism at a societal level.

  • the heretic

    yup, the “lawgiver” which ur ranting about is the mortal who wrote the bible
    which means— all of this was the thinking of a mortal
    nd we all know no mortal is infallible so ur very argument is flawed coz u agreed upon “laws” which were created by a mortal in the first place,u chose not to see reason or logic or wat others will belive but simply,blindly trusted sumthing which cud be vry obviusly flawed
    wide acceptance of an idea doesnt means tht it is correct,wide acceptance of an idea is not a proof of its validity

  • the heretic

    also,every one has a innate internal law,code of conduct, its called “common sense” ,no lawgiver gave it to you, now if you guys choose to credit the finding of ur common sense nd mind to sum “lawgiver”– sumone who has no proved exsitence, well then,u guys truly are a sad bunch of people


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X