[Turing 2013] Atheist Entry #6

This is the sixth entry in the Atheist round of the 2013 Ideological Turing Test.  This year, atheists and Christians responded to questions about sex, death, and literature.  

 

Polyamory

The partnership aspect of a marriage becomes a case of shareholders with legally recognized polyamorous relationships. I’d have difficulty finding ground to ethically criticize 3 or 4 or 5 people having an equal stake in a shared life, however this does not seem to be how these arrangements turn out. It seems far more often than not that that this arrangement would be 1 man and multiple wives rather than vice versa. I see no reason for the law to support an arrangement of a king and his harem. Were this not the case, it still seems unlikely that each would share an equal stake in their shared life. This undermines a sense of equality that is ingrained in our way of thinking. Should medical decisions need to be made, would this be up for a vote? ’2 for pulling the plug, 1 against… the yay’s have it’. Too many cooks in the kitchen in situations that are fairly straight forward with a 2 party marriage. The law shouldn’t be changed on a whim. There should be strong compelling reasons for doing so, as is the case with homosexual marriage, which fits in cleanly with existing laws and frankly, common sense. Perhaps there is an argument for polyamorous relationships in an official sense. I haven’t heard it yet.

 

Euthanasia

It is permissible to end a life when requested by a person of sound mind though I would reserve the right to refuse to do it myself. I feel this should only be permissible in a medical facilities of sort under the supervision of trained individuals and that the state of the persons mind would need to be evaluated thoroughly. There is potential for abuse here that would need to be addressed in a serious way, however I don’t see a substantial ethical difference between this and a DNR (more on that below). We owe people in perpetual pain or the terminally ill who wish for life to be over a better option than throwing themselves in front of a train or a self-inflicted gun shot. We also need to balance someones choice to do with their lives as they see fit without making it acceptable for people to end their lives on a whim.

Obligatory is a little different, and really more a matter of personal judgement. Should the person be in such perpetual pain that enough morphine to knock out a horse has no effect, then I feel there might be an obligation to act. Beyond that, I’d have a tough time saying someone was obligated to oblige.

There’s the situation where 5 people on a runaway train headed off a cliff and to save them you must press a button that leads them to a track where they’ll stop at the cost of running over someone tied to the tracks. It’s said that most people would push the button. Yet were we to change the scenario from pushing a button to pushing a person onto the tracks to stop the train (leading to effectively the same results), the number of people who would do it drops, fairly dramatically. This same phenomena is core to the debates about drone warfare. We convince ourselves that inaction is different taking action, which is a half-truth at best, and find it easier to push a button from a thousand miles is easier than pulling a trigger from 1000 feet which is easier than slitting a throat. Most of us have a built in aversion to getting our hands dirty, yet on what ethical grounds are we differentiating here? In fact were we to factor in things like collateral damage, or certainty that your target was actually your target, the argument that slitting throats was the more ethical option even if it might be the most difficult to stomach for the average person. Which leads me back to the euthanasia issue. It might be easier to turn off a feeding tube, or other life support mechanism, but is this distanced action or inaction, which is done with the full knowledge that the person will die as a result any different ethically from doing it yourself? Personally I see no difference. When you factor in a body then starving to death or lingering in pain, it seems to me that euthanasia is ethically preferable.

 

You can vote on whether you think these answers were written by a Christian or an Atheist here.  Comments are open to discuss the substance of the post and for speculation about the true beliefs of the author, so please vote before looking at the comments.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • Randy Gritter

    I see no reason for the law to support an arrangement of a king and his harem.

    You don’t understand the new world. You have to support everything or you are a bigot. That is the new standard. Change the law to support any sexual arrangement anyone might want affirmed. If you don’t you are on the same level as a racist. The king and his harem? Do you have a problem with Arabs?

    • Anonymous

      We’re allowed to have a problem with Arabs… because they’re religious. Religion don’t real; therefore, their sexual arrangements don’t real, either.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Oh, I’ve been yelled at as a bigot against Arabs too, even though my position is extremely nuanced and limited to those sects that accept the Sixth Pillar in an individualistic fashion.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/hallq/ Chris Hallquist

    Not sure about this one. “Homosexual marriage” instead of “gay marriage” seems like a tell of being written by a Christian. In general, the writing style was very awkward, like the author was grasping for what to say, which makes me think Christian… except I’d think a faker would put the effort in to sounding natural, and some people really do write this awkwardly when expounding their own views. Voted “likely Christian” but really not sure.

  • James_Jarvis

    Very likely a Christian, the arguments sound like a progressive Christian. The drone argument is the tell.

  • http://YouMadeMeSayIt.com PhillyChief

    Since the person in questions sounds like they’ve rationally and objectively looked at the issues and then based their opinions on that research, it doesn’t matter whether they’re a god believer or not.

  • Dan

    The polygamy answer seemed a bit flippant to me so I’m guessing Christian. As a side note, I think–based off the writing style–that it is the same person who wrote Christian Entry #5.

  • Brandon B

    I thought this one was way too stream-of-consciousness, almost to the point of incoherence. There’s a collection of relevant points, but the whole essay needs improvement both in logical structure and grammatical structure.

    Here’s an example of how the grammar is bad: in the first paragraph, it says,

    (A) “I see no reason for the law to support an arrangement of a king and his
    harem. Were this not the case, it still seems unlikely that each would
    share an equal stake in their shared life.”

    The second sentence begins with “Were this not the case”. I think that “this” is supposed to mean “a king may legally have a harem”. If you substituted that into the second sentence, it says something equivalent to this:

    (B) “If the law [allowed a king to have a harem], it [would be unlikely] that each share an equal stake in their shared life.”

    But this is not what it actually says! As it is written, “this” refers to the proposition stated in the previous sentence – which says “I see no reason for [something relevant].” If you substituted for “this” in the second sentence, you’d get something equivalent to this:

    (C) “IF I SAW A REASON for the law to [allow a king to have a harem], it [would be unlikely] that each share an equal stake in their shared life.”

    Which is nonsense.

    EDIT: GAAAAAH. The amount of bad argumentation in these entries is incredibly frustrating. I’d rather have something obviously wrong but well-stated than this possibly-reasonable-possibly-stupid awkward mishmash of ideas.

    • Brandon B

      I voted “likely Christian”, by the way, as part of my policy of assuming poorly-written entries are fakes.

    • stanz2reason

      While I sympathize with frustrations over grammar errors and some lack of clarity, that wasn’t how I read that portion.

      “It seems far more often than not that that this arrangement would be 1 man and multiple wives rather than vice versa. I see no reason for the law to support an arrangement of a king and his harem. Were this not the case, it still seems unlikely that each would share an equal stake in their shared life.

      I think the ‘this’ refers to a situation of a husband with numerous wives as opposed to a wife with numerous husbands. The ‘king & his harem’ portion appears to be a comment on that point. The following sentence suggests that even in situations where a wife has multiple husbands, an underlying inequality would probably still exist.

      • Brandon B

        In the phrase “were this not the case”, “this” must refer to a proposition (something that is either true or false). A situation is not a proposition.

        • stanz2reason

          Hate to crudely note what’s ultimately semantics rather than substantive but:

          The case —> ’1 man and multiple wives…’

          Not the case —> ’1 woman and multiple husbands’ or ‘multiple wives & multiple husbands’

          • Brandon B

            Here’s the distinction I meant to convey: “one man and multiple wives may legally marry” is a proposition, but “one man and multiple wives” is not a proposition.

            In deciding what “this” might mean, only propositions are candidates. When I look back for recent propositions, the whole previous sentence is a candidate, but not “an arrangement of a king and his harem”.

          • stanz2reason

            Again, the ‘this’ doesn’t appear to refer to the sentence with the note about ‘a king & his harem’, but to the sentence prior that first brought up a scenario with 1 man and multiple wives. A polyamorous relationship might be 1 man + multiple wives or 1 woman + multiple husbands or any other combination of both (2mx3w, 4wx3m, 7m, etc.). In this instance, ’1 man and multiple wives’ is 1 of numerous polyamourous arrangement options, making it (the ’1 man & multiple wives’ option) compatible with the true/false aspect you’re looking for.

            In other words the way I’m reading this is: ‘It seems far more often than not that this arrangement would be 1 man and multiple wives rather than vice versa, which conveys a sense of inequity comparable with that of a king and his harem that I am not in favor of recognizing legally. Were this relationship not 1 man & multiple women, it still seems unlikely that each would share an equal stake in their shared life…’

          • Brandon B

            Oh, I see what you mean. It would make sense if the intervening sentence, “I see no reason for the law to support an arrangement of a king and his harem,” were removed entirely. However, that just underscores my point that the entry is poorly written. There are many parts that, if re-written, could convey a sensible argument. Since it is not well-written, I am skeptical that the author knows what ze is talking about. The poor writing is deplorable regardless.

          • stanz2reason

            The ‘stream of consciousness’ you noted gives the impression it was hastily written and that the author would have been better suited giving it an additional pass to clarify points that were unclear and correct errors. Deplorable seems a little harsh. Clunky perhaps. Some of the sentences ran on… and on. But I wouldn’t dismiss someones points for their lack of skill with a quill (or keyboard).

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Another atheist I’d like to have coffee with.

  • Kristen inDallas

    Many have noted the grammar/writing style issues, but overlooking that, the logic itself seems pretty coherent. Written like someone who is confident enough about their own views that they don’t feel obligated to sell it with a bunch of fluff. So I’ll guess atheist, but I could be wrong…

  • Jakeithus

    I will go likely atheist. The brevity of it helps, as I imagine a fake would try harder to make their point


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