Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene (by Simeon Solomon, 1864) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
This occurred on my Facebook page (24-26 July 2015), in a public post. My opponent (a “straight male”) was informed that I might use this in a later dialogue on my blog; but I won’t reveal his name. His words will be in blue. It also turns out that he was an atheist, so we briefly discussed that, and how his background was (in my opinion) an indicator or predictor of his loss of faith.
* * * * *
Woman and man are not objective scientific facts.
I’ll appeal to this “fact” the next time I inadvertently stumble into the ladies’ room or the women’s locker room. We’ll see how far I get with that.
Do so. If you can prove a pattern of living as a woman, you can use the woman’s bathroom. That’s legit.
From your perspective, that makes perfect sense. From common sense, it does not, and won’t work.
From common sense, you must understand that your religion saying something does not make it objective fact. Gay marriage is normal and right, just not in your faith. For people who do not follow your faith, that isn’t a barrier.
Likewise, you as an atheist [as I learned: see below] dogmatically and arbitrarily proclaiming that something is “right” or “natural” does not make it so. Just as you can express your opinion, I can express mine and say that “gay marriage” is abnormal and not natural; except in your faith-system, where you are taught to believe that it is, just because people arbitrarily say it is or “feel” it is right.
* * *
Female and male are, but woman and man is not the same as male and female. Biological sex is a genetic fact; gender is a social construct. We can see this by looking at non-Abrahamic societies where the genders are very different even though they have the same biological sexes. The hijas of India, the fa’afafine of Polynesia, the two-spirit people of many Native American tribes, these are all genders that exist in other societies. That’s without going into the complicated issues of alternative genetic sexes–xxy, xyy, xxyyy, etc. It’s all much, much more complex than the binary dichotomy encouraged by your religion, which is immaterial anyways as we don’t live on a society where your religion dictates facts or opinions for anybody except those who choose to follow it.
This is as convoluted reasoning as we have heard from the pro-aborts, who separate personhood from humanity in a preborn child.
No, these are facts. Gay marriage is a thing, to–lots of homosexuals have been married in other non-Abrahamic societies.
So what? Lots of societies now sanction the slaughter and genocide of the preborn and judges with impressive robes sanction it and say it is a-ok. Doesn’t make murder “right.” Likewise, “Gay marriage” doesn’t become fact or “right” because five judges say so.
* * *
Are you an atheist?
Does that matter?
Technically, no. I was just curious, given your remark: “a society where your religion dictates facts or opinions”. That sounds atheistic or agnostic to me. And if you are, be proud of it; don’t be ashamed of full disclosure. You’ll be treated charitably and with respect here.
I’m not ashamed of anything. My faith or lack there of is truly immaterial to this discussion.
A person’s belief-system is always “material” to discussion, because it tells us lots about their probable presuppositions.
In order to engage in constructive dialogue, it is important to know both 1) what is agreed upon: especially at the axiomatic (or, premise) level, and 2) what is disagreed upon from the outset.
Thus, knowing someone is an atheist changes a conversation. I would not (knowing that), for example, make arguments from the Bible (from the premise that it is inspired revelation), because that is no longer a shared premise.
Since [Name] won’t share with us his belief-system, I went over to his page to see (my guess was correct):
Religious Views: Atheist
Political Views: Libertarian Socialist. That’s right, there is no place for me in the American political system.
Sure there is: Bernie Sanders.
“And by their works you shall know them.” I am done here. Thanks for the discussion.
Thank you. Very illuminating. May God bless you.
[21 minutes later] I would actually like to engage more in this discussion, especially since your concept of what’s important in a debate is so messed up.
My atheism and politics don’t change the facts that I stated.
I never said that they did. You’re not comprehending what I am saying (I explained exactly why I asked if you were an atheist). I just ran across an old dialogue from ten years ago that I had with an agnostic friend. He wrote:
I think that if you dialogued with Dave and his blog friends you might recognize and even come to respect the sincerity [and] depth of Dave’s faith, and the thoroughness of his arguments on every topic, without necessarily agreeing with his theological, doctrinal and creedal premises concerning everything he currently believes.
I have learned a lot from Christians, by the way. Have you learned from an atheist?
It has been my experience in the past that, often, when my being an atheist becomes known the conversation shuts down – in extreme cases I’ve been told that talking to me is like talking to an evil spirit.
Yeah, I know. And I’ve been treated the same way many times by people who disagree with me: the worst of all from fellow Christians (of the anti-Catholic variety). I’ve been called every name under the sun. Everyone’s task is to rise above that nonsense and talk to each other with love and respect.
I have dialogued constructively with many atheists (got together with a group of them a few weeks ago for a fun evening of discussion).
On one occasion, I was invited to do a Q & A at an atheist group, with eleven atheists and myself. That was the most enjoyable evening I ever had, in 34 long years of doing Christian / Catholic apologetics. I consider several of them friends.
The topic of this thread is trans-genderism and “gay marriage.” I like to concentrate on one topic at a time. If you two [his female friend] will actually hang around long enough to become acquaintances and possibly friends, we could talk about any number of things, I’m sure (in other threads). I have about 500 posted dialogues with all kinds of belief-systems.
So here is the basic premise: man and woman are different and distinct concepts from male and female, and while related to each other they are not the same. While male and female relate to biological sex and are more or less fixed at birth, the terms are not all inclusive and the relatively fixed nature of these terms does not imply a similar fixed nature to the terms man and woman, which relate to cultural and societal roles and the perceived nature of a person rather than to biological sex.
There are many different human societies that have existed independently of each other for quite some time. All of these societies have some sort of division between people of different sexes—usually divided along genital lines. This shows in the languages—there is a reason that there is only ever one term for humans in every language, but there are specific terms for both primary biological sexes.
The specifics of which sex fulfills which roles in each society is often very different—with the obvious biological distinction that females always give birth. In some societies females raise the children; in others men do. In some societies women do the physical labor while men obtain food; in others it is the other way around. This shows that the roles assigned to the sexes are arbitrary and culturally dependent; that is, a great deal rests on which society you live in.
This, of course, extends to religion. Different religions in different societies have deemed different roles appropriate for males and females. In some religions females are the primary spiritual leaders and practioners—indeed, the oldest known example of a religious leader in the world is the 12,000 year old corpse of a female shaman. In others, females even seeing the religious rites occur is incredibly taboo. Religious institutions that evolved naturally in different places have all ended up with very different concepts of the appropriate rules for each primary sex, irrespective of any claims of universal truth made by these religions.
Man and Woman, on the other hand, are labels applied by societies to male-bodied and female-bodied human beings, very separate from the male or female label. This distinction is also built into the languages; masculino is not the same as hombre, mâle is not the same as homme. There is almost always a term for your biological sex, and then a term for your gender. And while every single society on the face of Earth always has exactly two terms for sex (and then specific terms for people born intersex), this is not true of gender. In some languages there are three different gender terms. In others there is only one gender term applied equally to males and females (despite that even in these languages there are still different terms for each biological sex).
There are many different concepts of gender in many different societies. I’ve already pointed out the hijiras and the fa’afafine. There’s the Two-Spirit People of various Native American cultures, the Waria of Indonesia, the Sekhet of ancient Egypt, and many many others. With the exception of the Egyptian example, these aren’t ancient terms no longer in use; the hijiras are alive and well in India today. The modern Western concept of a dichotomy of genders with no movement between them is just that; it’s a Western sociological concept. It’s not an objective fact. The mere existence of societies where the concept of gender is radically different—such as the Bugis people who have a concept of three sexes and five distinct genders with different societal roles—should in and of itself be more than enough evidence that gender is an entirely social construct with no objective reality.
That’s all fine and good but it doesn’t overthrow the Christian argument. Men and women have many different roles in various societies. When America was 90% rural, the women worked in the fields just as hard as the men did. It changed with the industrial revolution, when (typically) the men went off and the women often stayed home. But then, e.g., in WWII, the women went to work outside the home. Stuff like that can vary.
What doesn’t change, however, are the different, complementary roles of men and women with regard to childbearing and raising children. A man can’t breastfeed a child. The nurture and depth of love that a mother gives to a child cannot be matched by a father. Yet the father can be just as loving in his own way.
A man cannot bear children. There is an ontological difference that transcends culture, and is built-in by God. God has qualities of both male and female. In one passage, Jesus said He wanted to embrace Jerusalem like a mother hen and her chicks (but Jerusalem would not). But that is God. Human beings are split into two genders, and they’re different from each other. Equal, but different.
Try as they might, two women or two men can never raise a child like a man and a woman can. You can do the anthropological talk all you like. It doesn’t touch the facts of nature and humanity that I just outlined, because it is apples vs. oranges.
Proceed to Part II