A reading from Henry VI, Part 2 4:2:73

A reading from Henry VI, Part 2 4:2:73 August 9, 2012

Yes, in context, the line has the opposite sentiment to most of the people quoting it.

Yvain asked, in good faith, a detailed question about Natural Law theology, but his comment is buried in the wilds of the comment policy discussion, where tempers are rising.  So I want to pull it out and give it its own thread, and also take the opportunity to do some of the wacky experimental comment moderation I was talking about yesterday.  Here’s how it’s going to go down:

  • Only make a top-level comment if you are trying to answer one of Yvain’s questions.  Yes, that means that  top-level commenting is reserved for people who know something about Natural Law. That’s what he’s asking about, so let’s get some data on the table, so people aren’t attacking strawmen.
  • Once Natural Law folks comment, anyone can reply to their comments, provided you’re asking questions/critiquing their post specifically, not any other comment about Natural Law you’ve heard.
  • For now, I won’t delete comments that break these rules, but I will use my mod powers to insert [Rulebreaker] at the top of the post.  I may revise my approach as necessary.

But there will be two exceptions.  I am making two top-level comments where the rules are different.  These will appear as the first two comments.

  • The first will say “How’s this going?” and you should give feedback there on how this experiment is working, quibble about what I designate as [Rulebreaking], etc.
  • The second will say “Grump, grump, grump” and it’s where you get to complain about natural law, about me, about other things people are saying in the rules-following threads.  This is where you get to say, “I’m not commenting on [linked comment] since it was rulebreaking, but I think it’s dumb and I thought it was very important that I go on the record with that opinion.”

Ok. So, from here to the end of the post, I’m turning it over to Yvain and his question:

This is the first place where I’ve seen philosophically sophisticated opponents of homosexual acts, and I must admit I’m still very turned off by “natural law” theory. If I promise not to jump into accusations of bigotry and homophobia and so on, can I get some natural-law-perspective answers to the following questions?

1. We seem to use things for other than their intended purposes all the time. For example, at the moment I don’t have a pantry and am using my microwave to store some perishable foods so the insects don’t get to them. I know someone else who, in a pinch, will use their microwave to dry clothes. This is a bit weird, and the clothes probably don’t end up looking very good, but surely it isn’t *immoral*.

Likewise, the foot evolved/was created/whatever for walking, which is pretty necessary for human survival. Soccer players instead use their feet to kick balls, which is totally useless except for personal pleasure and maybe group bonding. The reproductive system is also necessary for survival of the species, and gay people are using it for something that brings only personal pleasure and maybe group bonding. How come the one is harmless fun and the other is a violation of natural law?

The atheist viewpoint is that things may have purposes intended by evolution or (in the case of artifacts by their creators), but if the intended purpose isn’t immediately necessary and you can think of some other good use for them like drying clothes or playing soccer, then there’s no harm in turning them to a new purpose, even if that new purpose is something silly like having fun with your friends during a soccer game. What’s wrong with that viewpoint?

2. For evolutionists, one of the major design goals for the human body was hunting food animals, and I gather creationists agree that most societies went through a hunting stage before developing agriculture and that the body is uniquely suited for this. Hunting makes sense as a goal because food is necessary for survival of the individual/species.

However, as soon as society advanced to the point at which not everyone needed to hunt, some people stopped hunting and that was totally okay. They then used body parts adopted to hunting – like hands – for other purposes, some of them “frivolous” – like making music. They used long legs adapted to pursue game animals for…I dunno, interpretive dance routines. Because other people were producing food, the human species survived just fine, and people who liked music got to be happy too. The take-home lesson seems to be that if the species can support itself just fine without all humans exercising a certain natural human capacity, there’s no reason those humans should have to exercise that natural human capacity in exactly that species-supporting way if they don’t want to, and they can use that capacity for social bonding or personal enjoyment or any of a million other possibilities.

There are more than enough heterosexuals to continue the species without any help from gay people, so where does this chain of reasoning break down when thinking about homosexuality?

3. If a gay person is not planning to have heterosexual sex and children and procreation anyway, then assuming they practice sufficiently safe sex and aren’t going to get AIDS or anything, what exactly is the harm of him doing his not-children-having while having gay sex as opposed to while having no sex? It’s still the same amount of procreation either way.

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