Are contraception opponents anti-science?

Journalist Laura Sessions Stepp at CNN says that people who oppose contraception are anti-science.  They are among those conservatives who have no faith in science and oppose Darwin’s theory of evolution.

via Anti-science and anti-contraception – CNN.com.

First of all, how can science (which is concerned with “is”) determine a moral principle (which is concerned with “ought”)?

Second, who are these people who oppose contraception?  The most defined group would be “Catholics,” not “conservatives” or even “the religious right” as such.  Certainly some conservatives and non-Catholics also oppose contraception, as do some environmentalists and nature advocates on the left.

Third, she lumps together religious liberty advocates, pro-lifers, and a wide array of health activists as being against contraception.

Fourth, what’s this about Darwinism?  Isn’t his theory of evolution about, you know, propagating the species, with the best adapted having more offspring than the unfit and so passing along their genes?  Doesn’t contraception get in the way of that?  Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that contraception goes against the theory of evolution?

HT:  Rebecca Oas

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that contraception goes against the theory of evolution?”

    Yes.

    So, is an anti war philosophy. Just sayin.

    These folks are not children of the scientific method, not by a long shot.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that contraception goes against the theory of evolution?”

    Yes.

    So, is an anti war philosophy. Just sayin.

    These folks are not children of the scientific method, not by a long shot.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@gene

    “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that contraception goes against the theory of evolution?”

    It looks like you’re both combining 2 statements into 1: “Is evolution a fact”, and “are all aspects of evolution moral”. You can have a different answer to each statement. Throwing a person off a tall building does not go against the theory of gravity, but it’s immoral.

    Furthermore, propagating one’s genes is not about how many kids you can have. Those kids have to end up having more kids too. From an evolutionary standpoint, 3 kids with no grandchildren in no different than 0 kids with 0 grandchildren.

    “how can science (which is concerned with “is”) determine a moral principle (which is concerned with “ought”)?”

    All one has to do is recognize that morality is the well-being of humans and other conscious creatures. If I put sand in my gasoline tank, it’s bad for a car. If I put a knife in somebody, it’s bad for a person. Now what’s good for humans is a very complicated topic, and we can’t always be sure of the answer, but that doesn’t mean there’s an answer. For example, if I ask the question, “How many people in the world are standing up right now?”, you can’t give me an answer. Also, the answer just changed the moment you read this. And yet that question does have an answer. Science and reasoning can give us estimates.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@gene

    “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that contraception goes against the theory of evolution?”

    It looks like you’re both combining 2 statements into 1: “Is evolution a fact”, and “are all aspects of evolution moral”. You can have a different answer to each statement. Throwing a person off a tall building does not go against the theory of gravity, but it’s immoral.

    Furthermore, propagating one’s genes is not about how many kids you can have. Those kids have to end up having more kids too. From an evolutionary standpoint, 3 kids with no grandchildren in no different than 0 kids with 0 grandchildren.

    “how can science (which is concerned with “is”) determine a moral principle (which is concerned with “ought”)?”

    All one has to do is recognize that morality is the well-being of humans and other conscious creatures. If I put sand in my gasoline tank, it’s bad for a car. If I put a knife in somebody, it’s bad for a person. Now what’s good for humans is a very complicated topic, and we can’t always be sure of the answer, but that doesn’t mean there’s an answer. For example, if I ask the question, “How many people in the world are standing up right now?”, you can’t give me an answer. Also, the answer just changed the moment you read this. And yet that question does have an answer. Science and reasoning can give us estimates.

  • BillS

    You forgot the quotes around “journalist”

  • BillS

    You forgot the quotes around “journalist”

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “How can it be … that a woman can be considered pregnant before her egg unites with a sperm?”

    How can it be that in the age of the Internet, “journalists” (You’re welcome, Bill) think they can still get away with making up lies?

    Who says a woman can be considered pregnant before conception?

    When that’s what the article starts off with, I don’t feel inclined to read the rest of it.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “How can it be … that a woman can be considered pregnant before her egg unites with a sperm?”

    How can it be that in the age of the Internet, “journalists” (You’re welcome, Bill) think they can still get away with making up lies?

    Who says a woman can be considered pregnant before conception?

    When that’s what the article starts off with, I don’t feel inclined to read the rest of it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Exactly what BillS says. While I am not against certain forms of contraception, I think the argument made above is absolutely ludicrous, in that the “journalist” has a very weak hold on science, as well as logic.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Exactly what BillS says. While I am not against certain forms of contraception, I think the argument made above is absolutely ludicrous, in that the “journalist” has a very weak hold on science, as well as logic.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Just another obvious bit of ” are anti-” rhetorical nonsense.

    Just because we don’t elevate science to a place of rulership over the cosmos and thereby turn it into an idol doesn’t mean we’re anti-science. Despite what the technocrats would have us believe, Dr. Veith is correct in that science is blind to morality (and the Gospel, and the supernatural, etc, etc). Indeed, it’s blind to so much, that it’s fundamentally unqualified to be the sole arbiter of life and knowledge where such touches on said blindspots (politics, origins, etc). Science is a great tool for discerning and describing this world’s current mechanics–the very best tool for that purpose–but that’s really all it’s good for. Unfortunately, people who are overawed with their hammers tend to see everything as a nail.

    So given that we respect science (i.e. we treat it as it actually is) while the technocrats do not (i.e. they treat it as something it’s not), they could be legitimately described as more “anti-science” than we are.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Just another obvious bit of ” are anti-” rhetorical nonsense.

    Just because we don’t elevate science to a place of rulership over the cosmos and thereby turn it into an idol doesn’t mean we’re anti-science. Despite what the technocrats would have us believe, Dr. Veith is correct in that science is blind to morality (and the Gospel, and the supernatural, etc, etc). Indeed, it’s blind to so much, that it’s fundamentally unqualified to be the sole arbiter of life and knowledge where such touches on said blindspots (politics, origins, etc). Science is a great tool for discerning and describing this world’s current mechanics–the very best tool for that purpose–but that’s really all it’s good for. Unfortunately, people who are overawed with their hammers tend to see everything as a nail.

    So given that we respect science (i.e. we treat it as it actually is) while the technocrats do not (i.e. they treat it as something it’s not), they could be legitimately described as more “anti-science” than we are.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    It pulled out my brackets. First line should read: “Just another obvious bit of (people I disagree with) are anti-(good thing) rhetorical nonsense”

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    It pulled out my brackets. First line should read: “Just another obvious bit of (people I disagree with) are anti-(good thing) rhetorical nonsense”

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Matt – she is not a technocrat. And she cannot even wield the hammer. She is a journalist, or as BillS wrote – a “journalist”.

    That is all this is. An ignoramus cobbling together a weak argument.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Matt – she is not a technocrat. And she cannot even wield the hammer. She is a journalist, or as BillS wrote – a “journalist”.

    That is all this is. An ignoramus cobbling together a weak argument.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Is it a requirement now that in order to write a column for CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews you have to have a lobotomy?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Is it a requirement now that in order to write a column for CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews you have to have a lobotomy?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    It certainly is for MSNBC…

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    It certainly is for MSNBC…

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @2

    Huh?

    Makes no sense.

    It looks like you’re both combining 2 statements into 1: “Is evolution a fact”, and “are all aspects of evolution moral”

    Nope, didn’t say that or imply it.

    Consider the family that has ten children, seven of which survive into adulthood. Three of which have grandchildren, and three have distinguished careers. That would describe Charles Darwin’s kids. However, using contraception could have easily prevented the healthy from being born while modern medicine could have saved those that succumbed in childhood. This is not morality. It is simply a description of how technology impacts selection. Rather than have nature pick them, we do it; unnatural selection, if you will.
    Is it moral? That is a totally different topic.
    Should and is are not related as Dr. Veith so aptly noted.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is–ought_problem

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @2

    Huh?

    Makes no sense.

    It looks like you’re both combining 2 statements into 1: “Is evolution a fact”, and “are all aspects of evolution moral”

    Nope, didn’t say that or imply it.

    Consider the family that has ten children, seven of which survive into adulthood. Three of which have grandchildren, and three have distinguished careers. That would describe Charles Darwin’s kids. However, using contraception could have easily prevented the healthy from being born while modern medicine could have saved those that succumbed in childhood. This is not morality. It is simply a description of how technology impacts selection. Rather than have nature pick them, we do it; unnatural selection, if you will.
    Is it moral? That is a totally different topic.
    Should and is are not related as Dr. Veith so aptly noted.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is–ought_problem

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Klasie @ 8,

    I grant you that she’s an unskilled self-appointed mouthpiece. However, I think there’s more wrong with the underlying ideas she takes up than merely her own lack of expertise.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Klasie @ 8,

    I grant you that she’s an unskilled self-appointed mouthpiece. However, I think there’s more wrong with the underlying ideas she takes up than merely her own lack of expertise.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Matt – and as someone with a slightly more than cursory knowledge of those ideas, I emphatically state that she does not have a clue, in spite of her Masters degree in journalism from Columbia. Her specialties are teenage /adolescent behavior,especially wrt sexuality. But that does not make her an expert in the matter, as she doesn’t have either sociological / psychological qualifications (as far as I could ascertain).

    We live in a sad era where merely writing on a subject, not studying it, makes you an expert on the matter.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Matt – and as someone with a slightly more than cursory knowledge of those ideas, I emphatically state that she does not have a clue, in spite of her Masters degree in journalism from Columbia. Her specialties are teenage /adolescent behavior,especially wrt sexuality. But that does not make her an expert in the matter, as she doesn’t have either sociological / psychological qualifications (as far as I could ascertain).

    We live in a sad era where merely writing on a subject, not studying it, makes you an expert on the matter.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Actually, ignoring the religious/moral content, and speaking wholly from the perspective of science, contraception or not, as a human behaviour, is not pro-/anti- science. It merely “is”. As a fact, one could argue that the anti-contraception subset of the population is merely trying to let their own genes dominate the rest of the population, which is a well-known behaviour within nature. Or one could argue that the prevalence of pro-contraception groups is an evolutionary response to impending population pressure, but that a specific subset of the population does not share the perception of impending population pressure.

    In fact, there are numerous ways of looking at this, from a biological / psychological / sociological perspective, none of which makes the behaviour, either “pro” or “anti” -science. Her using the anti-science label is actually a well known rhetorical trick, with a well-defined psychological basis, namely to paint ones’ opposition as backward and stupid, and oneself as the intelligent one, thus negating the need for logical argument.

    I’m not casting judgement on the merits either side here, mind you, just explaining the situation, and why one cannot take her remark seriously, in and of itself.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Actually, ignoring the religious/moral content, and speaking wholly from the perspective of science, contraception or not, as a human behaviour, is not pro-/anti- science. It merely “is”. As a fact, one could argue that the anti-contraception subset of the population is merely trying to let their own genes dominate the rest of the population, which is a well-known behaviour within nature. Or one could argue that the prevalence of pro-contraception groups is an evolutionary response to impending population pressure, but that a specific subset of the population does not share the perception of impending population pressure.

    In fact, there are numerous ways of looking at this, from a biological / psychological / sociological perspective, none of which makes the behaviour, either “pro” or “anti” -science. Her using the anti-science label is actually a well known rhetorical trick, with a well-defined psychological basis, namely to paint ones’ opposition as backward and stupid, and oneself as the intelligent one, thus negating the need for logical argument.

    I’m not casting judgement on the merits either side here, mind you, just explaining the situation, and why one cannot take her remark seriously, in and of itself.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ Klasie great points

    “We live in a sad era where merely writing on a subject, not studying it, makes you an expert on the matter.”

    Aren’t they modern versions filling the role of the (false) prophets who said what the king wanted to hear?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ Klasie great points

    “We live in a sad era where merely writing on a subject, not studying it, makes you an expert on the matter.”

    Aren’t they modern versions filling the role of the (false) prophets who said what the king wanted to hear?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    sg – sort of. Actually, they say what they can sell, being incapable/unwilling of/to earning a decent living by other means.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    sg – sort of. Actually, they say what they can sell, being incapable/unwilling of/to earning a decent living by other means.

  • DonS

    Well, I read the linked article by this esteemed CNN “journalist”. Way to cover both sides, Ms. Stepp, in that fairminded objective fashion that is so common in “journalism” today, in this debate over “science”.

    There was a lot more I wanted to say, but strolling through the above comments, it’s already been said.

  • DonS

    Well, I read the linked article by this esteemed CNN “journalist”. Way to cover both sides, Ms. Stepp, in that fairminded objective fashion that is so common in “journalism” today, in this debate over “science”.

    There was a lot more I wanted to say, but strolling through the above comments, it’s already been said.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Klasie mentioned (@14):

    …a well-defined psychological basis, namely to paint ones’ opposition as backward and stupid, and oneself as the intelligent one, thus negating the need for logical argument.

    Klasie also called (@8) the journalist writing the article in question

    An ignoramus cobbling together a weak argument.

    Ahem.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Klasie mentioned (@14):

    …a well-defined psychological basis, namely to paint ones’ opposition as backward and stupid, and oneself as the intelligent one, thus negating the need for logical argument.

    Klasie also called (@8) the journalist writing the article in question

    An ignoramus cobbling together a weak argument.

    Ahem.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B (@2), your answer to Veith’s question about science and morality only has me convinced that you either don’t know what morality is, or you’ve failed to see that you didn’t answer that question.

    You seem to think that morality is no different from determining an optimal biological functioning:

    If I put a knife in somebody, it’s bad for a person.

    Unless you’re a surgeon, of course. In which it could save his life.

    Still, the question remains: who gets to define “optimal” or “well-being”? I mean, from a strictly biological standpoint, cigarettes are clearly deleterious to one’s health. As is fast food. Are they, ipso facto, immoral?

    And are you really saying that all morality finds its basis in some notion of optimized biology? Why is it almost universally considered immoral to lie (at least, for some definitions of “lie”)?

    I really don’t think you’ve answered Veith’s question at all.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B (@2), your answer to Veith’s question about science and morality only has me convinced that you either don’t know what morality is, or you’ve failed to see that you didn’t answer that question.

    You seem to think that morality is no different from determining an optimal biological functioning:

    If I put a knife in somebody, it’s bad for a person.

    Unless you’re a surgeon, of course. In which it could save his life.

    Still, the question remains: who gets to define “optimal” or “well-being”? I mean, from a strictly biological standpoint, cigarettes are clearly deleterious to one’s health. As is fast food. Are they, ipso facto, immoral?

    And are you really saying that all morality finds its basis in some notion of optimized biology? Why is it almost universally considered immoral to lie (at least, for some definitions of “lie”)?

    I really don’t think you’ve answered Veith’s question at all.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith also asked:

    Second, who are these people who oppose contraception? The most defined group would be “Catholics,” not “conservatives” or even “the religious right” as such. Certainly some conservatives and non-Catholics also oppose contraception…

    Catholics are obviously the single largest group, yes. But they are not alone. There’s the whole “Quiverfull” movement, too. Would you not call them “conservative”? Heck, there’s obviously a subset of theologically conservative Lutherans who disdain contraception. You see them on this blog from time to time. And wouldn’t you call the very opposition to the relatively recent use of pills and devices conservative by nature? In short, I really don’t see how you can object to that label being used here, except to note that this isn’t true for all “conservatives”.

    …some environmentalists and nature advocates on the left [also oppose contraception].

    I have never heard of any environmentalist taking that stance. Citation?

    Doesn’t contraception get in the way of that?

    Yes, it gets in the way of having more offspring, but no, that doesn’t impede evolution. Klasie dealt well with this (@14). Another way to think of it would be to simply posit that those whose brains are given to opposing procreation are, as such, “unfit” for their environment. Sort of like how cults that espouse celibacy don’t seem to have a very long lifespan.

    But choosing to opt out of procreation is not the same thing as denying evolution.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith also asked:

    Second, who are these people who oppose contraception? The most defined group would be “Catholics,” not “conservatives” or even “the religious right” as such. Certainly some conservatives and non-Catholics also oppose contraception…

    Catholics are obviously the single largest group, yes. But they are not alone. There’s the whole “Quiverfull” movement, too. Would you not call them “conservative”? Heck, there’s obviously a subset of theologically conservative Lutherans who disdain contraception. You see them on this blog from time to time. And wouldn’t you call the very opposition to the relatively recent use of pills and devices conservative by nature? In short, I really don’t see how you can object to that label being used here, except to note that this isn’t true for all “conservatives”.

    …some environmentalists and nature advocates on the left [also oppose contraception].

    I have never heard of any environmentalist taking that stance. Citation?

    Doesn’t contraception get in the way of that?

    Yes, it gets in the way of having more offspring, but no, that doesn’t impede evolution. Klasie dealt well with this (@14). Another way to think of it would be to simply posit that those whose brains are given to opposing procreation are, as such, “unfit” for their environment. Sort of like how cults that espouse celibacy don’t seem to have a very long lifespan.

    But choosing to opt out of procreation is not the same thing as denying evolution.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    That said, I reserve my greatest derision for James N. Martin, Jr., president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who was quoted in the article as saying:

    The definition of contraception is to prevent pregnancy, which occurs at implantation.

    Yeah, or, you know, to prevent conception (no, literally, that’s the other half of Merriam-Webster’s definition). Do I have to explain it to you, guy?

    I mean, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists just gave us the definition for “congragestion”, and told us it was actually the definition for “contraception”. Oof.

    As for the article’s flap over when to start counting weeks, I can only assume that everyone complaining about legislating pregnancy “before egg and sperm unite” has never actually been pregnant. Because, in my experience at least, the whole medical community counts that way. That’s why they say “40 weeks”. Hello? Anyone?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    That said, I reserve my greatest derision for James N. Martin, Jr., president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who was quoted in the article as saying:

    The definition of contraception is to prevent pregnancy, which occurs at implantation.

    Yeah, or, you know, to prevent conception (no, literally, that’s the other half of Merriam-Webster’s definition). Do I have to explain it to you, guy?

    I mean, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists just gave us the definition for “congragestion”, and told us it was actually the definition for “contraception”. Oof.

    As for the article’s flap over when to start counting weeks, I can only assume that everyone complaining about legislating pregnancy “before egg and sperm unite” has never actually been pregnant. Because, in my experience at least, the whole medical community counts that way. That’s why they say “40 weeks”. Hello? Anyone?

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    I’m including mental well-being as well as physical well-being. That is, I’m treating chronic sadness the same way I would treat chronic back pain. So you ask why lying is wrong. Well, let’s just imagine the world is which lying was regarded as okay. In every piece of communication you had, you had no idea of whether the person was telling the truth. It easy to see that this would result in a great amount of human misery. If someone actually doubted this, one could design some sort of scientific study to demonstrate this.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    I’m including mental well-being as well as physical well-being. That is, I’m treating chronic sadness the same way I would treat chronic back pain. So you ask why lying is wrong. Well, let’s just imagine the world is which lying was regarded as okay. In every piece of communication you had, you had no idea of whether the person was telling the truth. It easy to see that this would result in a great amount of human misery. If someone actually doubted this, one could design some sort of scientific study to demonstrate this.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@22), come on. Please define “mental well-being” for me in a scientific way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@22), come on. Please define “mental well-being” for me in a scientific way.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    Get a dictionary? I don’t get your point. Is it that mental well being is hard to define?

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    Get a dictionary? I don’t get your point. Is it that mental well being is hard to define?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Because, in my experience at least, the whole medical community counts that way. That’s why they say “40 weeks”. Hello? Anyone?

    Yup, that’s right.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Because, in my experience at least, the whole medical community counts that way. That’s why they say “40 weeks”. Hello? Anyone?

    Yup, that’s right.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 24 re: mental well being

    It’s like porn. I know it when I see it. :D

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 24 re: mental well being

    It’s like porn. I know it when I see it. :D

  • Michael B.

    @sg@26

    heh! Good one.

    But there are scientific ways to establish mental well-being. One, you can just ask the person. Companies sometimes do this for their workers with anonymous surveys. But even beyond that, as I understand their are areas of the brain that respond to stress. So there isn’t this separation between the mental and physical world that people often claim.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@26

    heh! Good one.

    But there are scientific ways to establish mental well-being. One, you can just ask the person. Companies sometimes do this for their workers with anonymous surveys. But even beyond that, as I understand their are areas of the brain that respond to stress. So there isn’t this separation between the mental and physical world that people often claim.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd – evidence, vs baseless accusation.

    Her argument works like this:

    Right-wingers, especially Republicans, trust science less now than before (but she doesn’t give the numbers for lefties).
    Two or three Republicans have made ignorant remarks.
    Republicans are more likely to be anti-contraception.
    Thus anti-contraceptive folks are anti-science (strongly implied).

    That is a really, really bad argument. Pullitzer smullitzer. OK, maybe she is not an ignoramus. But her hold on logic is not so great.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd – evidence, vs baseless accusation.

    Her argument works like this:

    Right-wingers, especially Republicans, trust science less now than before (but she doesn’t give the numbers for lefties).
    Two or three Republicans have made ignorant remarks.
    Republicans are more likely to be anti-contraception.
    Thus anti-contraceptive folks are anti-science (strongly implied).

    That is a really, really bad argument. Pullitzer smullitzer. OK, maybe she is not an ignoramus. But her hold on logic is not so great.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@24), I’m finding it harder and harder to take you seriously here.

    Get a dictionary?

    Right, because a dictionary is (1) going to have a definition for a phrasal noun like that, and (2) is going to have a scientifically rigorous definition (i.e. capable of being subject to controlled measurement, testing, and duplication).

    Do you even know what thesis you’re defending anymore? Allow me to recap. Veith asked, “How can science determine a moral principle?” You replied (@2) with the rather dubious metric of “well-being”, assuming that this was a rigorously defined concept that was easily measured scientifically. That alone remains an unsubstantiated claim.

    Then you tacked on “mental well-being” to your claim (@22). I pointed out (@23) that mental well-being is even more nebulous than physical well-being. Please keep in mind that you are attempting to posit an objective method for measuring morality here, in the same way that science (when done right) is an objective method for determining how the world works.

    Is it that mental well being is hard to define?

    Gee, ya think?

    But there are scientific ways to establish mental well-being. One, you can just ask the person.

    Congratulations, you now have the science cred of a marketing major. (“But New Coke did great in all the test markets!” “But everyone at the screen test said they loved the happier ending!”)

    You can’t seriously expect me to take that answer seriously. You want me to base morality on the “scientific” method of just asking people what they want?

    But even beyond that, as I understand their are areas of the brain that respond to stress.

    Yes, but as you understand it, taking a poll constitutes scientific discovery. So, you know, a few grains of salt and all that.

    So, which areas of the brain should we monitor (and for what) in order to begin our Grand Survey of Morality?

    I thought theologically conservative Christians were supposed to be the ones who were terrible at science, logic, thinking, and all that. Wasn’t that the point of this article?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@24), I’m finding it harder and harder to take you seriously here.

    Get a dictionary?

    Right, because a dictionary is (1) going to have a definition for a phrasal noun like that, and (2) is going to have a scientifically rigorous definition (i.e. capable of being subject to controlled measurement, testing, and duplication).

    Do you even know what thesis you’re defending anymore? Allow me to recap. Veith asked, “How can science determine a moral principle?” You replied (@2) with the rather dubious metric of “well-being”, assuming that this was a rigorously defined concept that was easily measured scientifically. That alone remains an unsubstantiated claim.

    Then you tacked on “mental well-being” to your claim (@22). I pointed out (@23) that mental well-being is even more nebulous than physical well-being. Please keep in mind that you are attempting to posit an objective method for measuring morality here, in the same way that science (when done right) is an objective method for determining how the world works.

    Is it that mental well being is hard to define?

    Gee, ya think?

    But there are scientific ways to establish mental well-being. One, you can just ask the person.

    Congratulations, you now have the science cred of a marketing major. (“But New Coke did great in all the test markets!” “But everyone at the screen test said they loved the happier ending!”)

    You can’t seriously expect me to take that answer seriously. You want me to base morality on the “scientific” method of just asking people what they want?

    But even beyond that, as I understand their are areas of the brain that respond to stress.

    Yes, but as you understand it, taking a poll constitutes scientific discovery. So, you know, a few grains of salt and all that.

    So, which areas of the brain should we monitor (and for what) in order to begin our Grand Survey of Morality?

    I thought theologically conservative Christians were supposed to be the ones who were terrible at science, logic, thinking, and all that. Wasn’t that the point of this article?

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    How do you think psychiatrists diagnose depression? Much of it comes from asking the patient questions. Or how do think a physician diagnoses pain? If a person says they aren’t feeling any pain, most people take that as reasonable evidence that they probably aren’t feeling any pain.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    How do you think psychiatrists diagnose depression? Much of it comes from asking the patient questions. Or how do think a physician diagnoses pain? If a person says they aren’t feeling any pain, most people take that as reasonable evidence that they probably aren’t feeling any pain.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@30), congratulations, you have reduced morality to nothing more than popular consensus. How “scientific”! (To say nothing of your grasp of morality.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@30), congratulations, you have reduced morality to nothing more than popular consensus. How “scientific”! (To say nothing of your grasp of morality.)

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    Where did I say that it was popular consensus? That are studies that show the negative mental effects of say child abuse. Do you deny those?

    P.S. I responded to your post about literacy rates in Galilee in the other thread with a source, but for some reason it says “post is awaiting moderation”. Maybe it was the long URL. Hope Gene hasn’t banned me :)

    Cheers,
    Michael

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    Where did I say that it was popular consensus? That are studies that show the negative mental effects of say child abuse. Do you deny those?

    P.S. I responded to your post about literacy rates in Galilee in the other thread with a source, but for some reason it says “post is awaiting moderation”. Maybe it was the long URL. Hope Gene hasn’t banned me :)

    Cheers,
    Michael

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “That are studies that show the negative mental effects of say child abuse. Do you deny those?”

    Maybe. I would have to actually read them, not take some sloppy reporter’s word for what they mean. What kind of people abuse kids? What kind of kids annoy those people till they get abused? What kind of kids don’t learn from that experience? Generally, I would say that all experiences have some impact, and smart people learn more from them. The conscientious have more self control to modify their behavior to avoid abuse and refrain from abusing. However, generally people have kids much like themselves. So, people who have low impulse control have kids with low impulse control. Kind of a bad combination. Kid doesn’t obey due to low impulse control. Parent knocks him upside the head because parent has low impulse control. Kid repeats bad behavior because he has low impulse control. Parent repeats the abuse, and round and round it goes. So, a study that doesn’t control for such effects is probably crap and doesn’t distinguish between correlation and causation.

    Remember those studies that claim breastfed babies are smarter? Uh, huh. Well they didn’t control for the mothers’ intelligence, so it turns out that smart women are more often breast feeders, and the kids just inherited their parents’ intelligence. Duh.

    So, abused kids are dumber/crazier? Huh. Are their parents dumber/crazier, too?

    Hey, if Dr. Veith hasn’t banned Grace, you can be sure you’re okay. :D

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “That are studies that show the negative mental effects of say child abuse. Do you deny those?”

    Maybe. I would have to actually read them, not take some sloppy reporter’s word for what they mean. What kind of people abuse kids? What kind of kids annoy those people till they get abused? What kind of kids don’t learn from that experience? Generally, I would say that all experiences have some impact, and smart people learn more from them. The conscientious have more self control to modify their behavior to avoid abuse and refrain from abusing. However, generally people have kids much like themselves. So, people who have low impulse control have kids with low impulse control. Kind of a bad combination. Kid doesn’t obey due to low impulse control. Parent knocks him upside the head because parent has low impulse control. Kid repeats bad behavior because he has low impulse control. Parent repeats the abuse, and round and round it goes. So, a study that doesn’t control for such effects is probably crap and doesn’t distinguish between correlation and causation.

    Remember those studies that claim breastfed babies are smarter? Uh, huh. Well they didn’t control for the mothers’ intelligence, so it turns out that smart women are more often breast feeders, and the kids just inherited their parents’ intelligence. Duh.

    So, abused kids are dumber/crazier? Huh. Are their parents dumber/crazier, too?

    Hey, if Dr. Veith hasn’t banned Grace, you can be sure you’re okay. :D

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@32), I really get the feeling that you don’t know what thesis you’re even defending at this point.

    Where did I say that it was popular consensus?

    Again, your whole point is that science is able to determine morality. It’s able to do this, you claim, by determining what is “optimal” for a person, both physically and mentally (thus concluding that anything suboptimal is immoral? You really haven’t dealt with the implications of that at all). And how do we determine what is mentally optimal (and thus moral)? By asking people questions.

    Which, again, leads to one of two possible scenarios. Either we submit the results of such questioning to a vote, and let the most popular positions be determined as “moral”. Or we simply say that everyone gets to determine for themselves what is “moral” according to their own personal whims.

    Either way would make me question your understanding of morality. Feel free to tell me how I’ve misconstrued your argument here.

    Also, more than two URLs in a post gets you relegated to the moderation queue. So don’t do that, unless you want to wait several hours or days to see your comment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@32), I really get the feeling that you don’t know what thesis you’re even defending at this point.

    Where did I say that it was popular consensus?

    Again, your whole point is that science is able to determine morality. It’s able to do this, you claim, by determining what is “optimal” for a person, both physically and mentally (thus concluding that anything suboptimal is immoral? You really haven’t dealt with the implications of that at all). And how do we determine what is mentally optimal (and thus moral)? By asking people questions.

    Which, again, leads to one of two possible scenarios. Either we submit the results of such questioning to a vote, and let the most popular positions be determined as “moral”. Or we simply say that everyone gets to determine for themselves what is “moral” according to their own personal whims.

    Either way would make me question your understanding of morality. Feel free to tell me how I’ve misconstrued your argument here.

    Also, more than two URLs in a post gets you relegated to the moderation queue. So don’t do that, unless you want to wait several hours or days to see your comment.

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