Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sad

I'm sad. The House of Commons voted not to protect marriage today. When former Prime Minister Paul Martin forced the issue on Canadians with an undemocratic vote, we had same sex marriage because of a lack of democracy. Today we have same sex marriage because of a lack of will. I'm especially disappointed in those MPs who voted down the motion in a misguided attempt to make the issue go away. Sorry, it won't just go away.

36 comments:

Misanthropic Scott said...

I'm very confused by your post for a number of reasons.

What tradition of marriage do you think requires protection?

What makes you feel you have the right to impose your religious views on those who do not accept your religion, i.e. are you a crazy wacko Dominionist like Sarah Palin?

In what way does a same sex married couple weaken your marriage?

I've been married and faithful for 23 years in a heterosexual marriage. When my wife and I walk by a same sex couple with wedding rings, we don't worry that this will affect us.

Are you concerned that upon seeing same sex married couples looking happy that either you or your wife will suddenly get the idea to leave your current marriage and seek out a same sex partner?

I'm sure you wouldn't admit to that!

So, how exactly does this affect you so personally that it makes you sad to think of happy homosexual couples?

This does not affect your own life one iota. Unless ...

Misanthropic Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misanthropic Scott said...

I know I've already given you a lot to digest on this subject. One more post, then I'll let you attack my posts for a while.

Obviously, you have scripture on your side. However, your scripture is obviously self-inconsistent. And, you yourself are unlikely to feel about many subjects as the authors did 2,000 years ago. And, even though you have the Bible describing this guy Jesus, there really isn't even enough historical evidence to be sure that he ever existed as flesh and blood. So, perhaps a good look at God's creation will carry some weight over the scripture. After all, the real world, as God created it, is still here and, for those who believe in God, should provide some real insight into the mind of the creator.

Besides, it's not as if you read the scripture literally on other subjects. You've already talked of interpretation of the Bible on another thread. I doubt you get yourself into a frenzy over those who work on sabbath. I doubt you try to legislate against articles of clothing made from a mix of linen and wool, nor are you likely to advocate killing the wearers of said garments. Who knows? You probably even eat pork.

So, why this thing about homosexuality?

I've gone though tack 1, "why do you care", tack 2, "you're deliberately causing suffering and are therefore sinning", and have deferred to Jeff Goode with his excellent write up on what the tradition of marriage really means.

Now, I'm going to go for the hat trick (or at least the 3rd tack I will take, not counting Jeff Goode's.

If God (exists and) hates homosexuality, why on earth did he create so much of it??!!?

Not only is homosexuality quite common in humans*, but, it has been observed in nearly 1,500 species of animals and has been well documented in 500 of them.

Homosexual behavior in animals

Even if you're in denial about evolution (and you really don't want to get me started on that topic), you would still have to admit, as a theist, that God created all of the animals.

So, why is homosexuality so prevalent across so many species including our own*? Surely you don't believe that Satan has the power to create additional species. Surely you don't believe that Satan created a significant portion of the planet's human population.

So, why does God create so many homosexuals if he hates them so?

* Re: Homosexuality in humans.

Since humans tend to lie about sex and the definition of homosexual varies, the numbers of humans who are in the LBGT community are difficult to assess. However, here are some good discussions of the actual numbers. Even if you take the low end of all of these ranges, you are still talking about a large and statistically significant number of humans, especially for a universe where an all-powerful god hates homosexuality.

A good discussion on the issues with counting homosexuals and some numbers for Britain and the U.S.

Similar discussion with more numbers for the U.S.

A more comprehensive discussion with numbers from around the world as well as earlier studies and what may have been wrong with them.

Even if you take the very lowest estimates of just one percent, you're still looking at a world where 68,000,000 people are homosexual.

God sure did a bad job if he was trying to create a heterosexual species in humans.

Misanthropic Scott said...

I had another tack I wanted to take in talking about homosexuality statistics and homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Did you delete it? Did I do so by accident? Or, was it just too long and never got posted?

Oh well, I'll try to keep it a bit shorter and see if it sticks.

Homosexuality in Animals

With homosexuality observed in nearly 1,500 species of animals and well documented in 500, it seems to me that if your God really does hate homosexuals, he sure made an awful lot of them throughout the animal kingdom and especially in our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos.

As for our own species, due to the stigma of homosexuality and the fact that people often lie about sex, the numbers are difficult to obtain. However, even the low estimates seem to be about 1% of total population.

At that, it means that God, for those who believe in a deity, has created at least 60,000,000 homosexual humans, and probably a great many more, especially if one considers that scripture even calls those who merely experiment with homosexuality abominations worthy of death.

God sure did a bad job of creating a purely heterosexual species in humans. Oh well.

And, since you likely don't kill people who wear a mix of linen and wool, and possibly even eat pork, why do you choose to single out homosexuality as the section of the Bible that you still believe must be maintained in tact?

Patrick O'Neil said...

Scott,

Got an email about your post on animals. Not sure why it didn't post. Busy today. should have time to respond to your comments on Fri or Sat.

Misanthropic Scott said...

No worries. Take your time. I thought I might have offended you so also deleted one of the other comments that got a bit heated. I haven't checked whether you have an etiquette page and whether I might be breaking your rules. I keep the rules on my own blog fairly lax but realize that others have different opinions on the subject.

Patrick O'Neil said...

I haven't felt the need to post any etiquette rules. Although I was going to request a tad more civility.

Married for 23 years huh? That means you're probably much older than me and worthy of a little more respect. I liked it better thinking of you as a cocky 20 something.

No I don't see any immediate threat to my own marriage. The threat is to the institution itself. I see marriage as truly sacred (i.e. HOLY) by changing the definition to include clearly sinful behaviour we damage the holiness of the institution itself and by extension all marriages.

The comment you attempted to post, might have the most room for discussion. You noted:

Homosexuality in Animals

With homosexuality observed in nearly 1,500 species of animals and well documented in 500, it seems to me that if your God really does hate homosexuals, he sure made an awful lot of them throughout the animal kingdom and especially in our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos.

I find this logic completely ridiculous. Firstly from a religious perspective, I believe we were created in God's image, and thus set apart from the animals. That will drive you too bonkers, so I'll try saying this another way.

Often I hear people say, you shouldn't drink milk, we are the only species that drink another species milk to which I say (1) tell that to a cat and (2)we are also the only species that have learned how to control our environment so that we can survive on land, on sea, under the sea, in the air or in space.

Please explain to me why the behaviour of lesser mammals should have any impact on my morality.

Misanthropic Scott said...

Don't be intimidated by my age. It just means I've managed not to die just yet.

Marriage is far from holy. Marriage is a legal contact. That's it. If your church doesn't want to preside over the signing of one between two people of the same sex, I don't care.

If you want to legislate against the rights of others to enter into the legally binding contract of marriage, then I must ask why you hate them so much as to deny them this basic right. Does your Bible teach hate? (Actually, I have repeatedly claimed that indeed it does. It is you who assert that it does not.)

So, tell me again why your Bible instructs you to hate in this way?

As for the "institution of marriage", you need to back up that assertion as well. This has no affect on anyone's marriage, as you agree, so how exactly does it hurt the institution, which is a lifeless concept incapable of feeling any pain.

I think you're just looking for an excuse to legislate your own beliefs and morals on others.

As for animals, even if you do not believe in the fact of evolution or the theory of natural selection that explains the mechanism, you must recognize that the modern medical profession (often cruelly IMHO) performs tests on animals as a way of learning the effects of procedures and drugs on humans.

Certainly there is much to be learned about humans from the other sentiences with whom we share the planet, and even from the creatures who may not be sentient.

Even if you think that God created us in his image, rather than the other way around as seems far more likely given the manners and morals of a spoiled child on display by God repeatedly in the Bible, you must admit that the other creatures on the planet are, according to your beliefs, God's creatures.

Perhaps one can gain more insight into the mind of God by looking at all of his creation.

Personally, I do not believe in such a creature, as I have made plain numerous times now. But, you do. Why not learn more about your God?

As for the rest of my post that you read, why did you ignore all of the information about the number of homosexual humans? Are they not also God's creatures? Why did God make homosexuals if he hated them so? And, especially, why make so many?

As you have seen from the links I had posted before (and will repost if you need to read them again), estimates of human homosexuality are for a minimum of 1% of the human population, with some estimates much higher. That means that God created a minimum of 68,000,000 homosexual humans and probably far more if you include those who have engaged in homosexual behavior but are mostly heterosexual.

Why would God do that?

But, still, the most important question, and the one I do not see you really attempting to answer, is "why do you care"?

Please tell me exactly why you care enough about and hate so vehemently the homosexuals on the planet to the point where you desire to deny them the right to enter a legally binding contract with whomever they love.

Misanthropic Scott said...

Well, my first comment about your reposting of a part of my animals post is that you seem to have deliberately left off the whole discussion about humans.

The low end for estimates of human homosexuality seems to be about 1%. Most estimates are much higher, especially if you include those who have had homosexual relations but are largely heterosexual, say 1 or 2 on the Kinsey scale.

So, that means a minimum of 68,000,000 humans on the planet today are homosexual. If your God hates homosexuality so badly, at least in humans, why create so many homosexual humans.

Now on to the relevance of animals.

Misanthropic Scott said...

As you are likely aware, medical researchers often test medicines and procedures on animals before humans. There may be ethical questions regarding this. I personally believe that the benefit should be overwhelming before performing tests on animals capable of feeling pain.

But, that's just my respect for the other species on the planet and certainly has nothing to do with the Bible, which can't possibly be the source of that ethic in me.

That said, regardless of the ethics, why does animal testing work?

I'll assume from your prior comment that you would not believe even that evolution is the tool by which God created us, a belief held by many religious people.

On the assumption that you do not believe that we are related to other animals, I would still say that the usefulness of animal testing in all of modern medicine proves quite clearly that animals can teach us a great deal about ourselves.

Further, as one who believes God created these other animals, it seems to me that you would look to the others of God's creatures for additional insight into the mind of God. Do you not want to get to know God better through a study of his creation?

Misanthropic Scott said...

Back to my original questions to you though.

Why do you care if two homosexuals marry?

How does this affect you personally?

And, I'll add one more, what gives you the right to deny the rights of others?

Patrick O'Neil said...

Scott,

First thing I should note is I found your missing posts. I have a hyperactive Spam filter. It feels like I'm at work! Not sure how to fix this.

Now to the questions:

"Why did God create so many homosexuals if he hates them so?"

??? Who said any thing about hating them. God loves everyone even blaspheming bloggers. That homosexual sex is identified as sinful doesn't say anything about God's love for them.

As for why did God make so many homosexuals. The same reason he made the rest of us sinners, so that we could recogninze our sin and repent and choose HIM.

"Please tell me exactly why you care enough about and hate so vehemently the homosexuals"

I don't.

"So, why this thing about homosexuality?"

The only difference between homosexual sex and many other sins is the fact that it has any army of advocates that claim (1) it is not sinful (2) it is wrong/ignorant/bigoted to say that it is.

I also believe that pre/extra-marital sex is sinful. But I'm not aware of anyone being censored or threatened with a lawsuit for holding that opinion.

We all have faults, the really odious trend over the last 50 or so years is to pretend that sins are not sins.

"Do you not want to get to know God better through a study of his creation?"

Sure. All I'm saying is there are limits to the relevance of comparisons between animals and humans. Wouldn't you agree or are you part of the don't drink milk crowd?

"Why do you care if two homosexuals marry? + How does this affect you personally?"

I thought I answered these questions already. The link is that it damages the institution. As marriage becomes less valued by society than the social pressure to work on your marriage is reduced. It has been shown, although I don't have a link handy, that people are more likely to divorce as others within their social circles divorce.

So strong marriages generally strengthens my marriage specifically.

"And, I'll add one more, what gives you the right to deny the rights of others?"

How is there a 'right' to homosexual marriage? I assume you are American. There's no legal right to same sex marriage in your country, and your (much diminished) president opposes the so called right. There are very few countries worldwide that grant that as a legal right.

How is it a right at all? Does it flow from Natural Law? It can't from God's law since it is explicity forbidden. From an evolutionary perspective that's no way to ensure survival of a species.

I'm just not sure where you're coming from.

Misanthropic Scott said...

I'm going o start with your biggest error first, the one lat leads you to legislate against the rights of others.

First, legal rights follow. They do not lead. What do I mean by that?

Well, in 1850, black people in the U.S. had no rights. They were not human beings. They were property.

People realized that in fact they do have rights and should not be property. Brave people stood up for that belief and abolished slavery, or at least legal slavery.

In 1950 in the U.S., it was illegal for blacks and whites to intermarry. The law forbade it. They had no right to marry, according to the law.

Again, people stood up and asserted their rights and others stood up and asserted the rights of their neighbors.

20 years ago, my sister was legally allowed to marry the man she loves. They are still married and have 2 beautiful children.

Legal rights are a recognition of people's changing (and improving) attitude toward extending rights to others.

So, presumably, in 1950, you would have been against the legalization of intermarriages because it was not already a right and you want to stick to whatever rights exist now, or more accurately, existed 2,000 years ago.

Misanthropic Scott said...

Regarding natural law, yes. I would say that the right of homosexuals to marry those they love is a right flowing from natural law. Our marriage traditions began because of our biological tendency to pair for long periods, sometimes for life, sometimes not. So, yes, it flows from natural law.

As for God's law, nothing flows from God's law because God does not exist.

More importantly though, we live in secular societies with freedom of religion. So, it is even more important in order to maintain the right to freedom of (and from) religion, to avoid legislation that is based solely on one religion.

You fail to see that, I know. But, perhaps the point could be brought home to you more thoroughly by imagining that one particular flavor of Christianity were enforced by law. Imagine that you either do or do not believe in the rite of communion.

Whether you agree with this and think that it is a way to grok closer to Jesus or whether you think that the literal eating of a human being (yes, Catholics really do believe that the cracker literally transforms into long pork in their mouths), imagine that you are either forced to eat Jesus or prevented from doing so.

Therein lies the problem with theocracy. And, yes, by legislating from religion, you are indeed advocating theocracy.

You would set up your own country as a Christian Iran, assuming you carry your beliefs to their natural conclusion.

Misanthropic Scott said...

Now onto the angels on a pinhead type of disagreements.

You believe God loves homosexuals.

You believe homosexuals will go to hell for following their own nature.

I sure am glad that I don't believe God loves me. He sure doesn't treat those he loves very well. Does he?

Misanthropic Scott said...

As for stronger marriages, you are aware that the divorce rate for heterosexual marriages is over 50%, right? You are probably not aware that it is higher among the religious.

Anecdotally, I have a cousin who was married for 34 years. She is very religious. So is her ex. They split because one of their sons wanted to marry outside the faith. The father wanted the mother to disown her son. The mother refused.

The result is divorce ... because of religion.

BTW, the fiancee in question agreed to convert. That wasn't good enough for the father.

Religion strengthens marriages? I doubt it.

Perhaps, if you are looking for strong marriages, it would behoove you to look to those who love each other so deeply that they have fought for the right to marry. Perhaps when there is a statistical universe of homosexual marriages we will find out whether they are stronger, weaker, or about the same as any other marriages.

The important thing is that you cannot outlaw something just because you believe it is a sin in your religion. We do not all share your religion. We should not be subjected to its inequities.

Misanthropic Scott said...

And, since you're so curious about my views on milk, you may have missed the most obvious point about it. Lactose tolerance is most prevalent in people who come from societies that have been drinking milk for many generations.

People have now evolved to tolerate milk into adulthood.

Those who have only recently made the move to agricultural society have a high incidence of lactose intolerance.

Misanthropic Scott said...

BTW, Here's just once source stating that divorce is higher among the religious than among atheists and agnostics in particular.

Let me know if you'd like more sources.

Since you value strong marriages to strengthen the institution of marriage, perhaps conservative religious types should not be allowed to marry.

Misanthropic Scott said...

I wasn't going to bring this point up again. But, I have to; it has been gnawing at me since I read your last post.

You probably don't even realize how insulting you are being. First you prey on me (I mean pray for me, of course). Now, when asking where I think the rights of gay people come from, you actually suggested the possibility of God.

Of course, I would never say anything comes from God. I have repeatedly stated that I am an atheist. Why would you even hint at the possibility that I might care one whit about what God thinks when I don't believe he exists.

Further, now it's my turn to be a bit rude and call you on a major point.

God does not grant rights.

There are no God given rights.

Even if you believe in God, even if you read the Bible as literal or partial truth, where in the Bible does God ever grant anyone the right to do anything?

God's law, or more accurately, the law laid down by a bunch of misogynistic bastards unable to dream up a God with manners and morals better than those of a spoiled child, only says what we may not or must not do. Nowhere does God ever grant such things as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", for example. Compare the U.S. Bill of Rights to the Ten Commandments.

Which one grants freedoms and liberties?

Such rights came from enlightened secular individuals forming secular societies. Theocracies have far fewer legal rights regardless of which religion they are based upon.

Patrick O'Neil said...

You're link on marriages is a junk blog post from a hippy site that I'm unfortunately familiar with. One of my first (and best) blog posts was Marriages Last which highlights the findings of a Statistics Canada Study that uses exhaustive data sources to come up with very different conclusions. At least in Canada 50% of marriages do not end in divorce, the number is far closer to 1/3. People who attend religious services are less likely to divorce. And people who believe marriage is important are also much more likely to stay together.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Glad you're pro milk!

Patrick O'Neil said...

No. I don't think homosexuals will go to hell any more than gluttons or aduturers. Anyone who is sorry for their sin and repents will be forgiven.

Patrick O'Neil said...

I'm going to bed. I will have more to say about rights generally.

Misanthropic Scott said...

So, you think you don't think that homosexuals will go to hell, but in reality, you do.

The hidden assumption is that all homosexuals will repent and be forgiven.

Repent for what? They have hurt no one. Repent for being what God made them to be? That's silly beyond the extreme.

No. I'm sorry Patrick. You cannot assume everyone will repent in the face of Jesus. Some of us would, if he actually existed, spit in his face for the crimes he has committed against humanity. Instead, I fight the minions who believe in him and use said belief to commit atrocities or to deny the rights of others.

Out of curiosity Patrick, have you ever once considered the possibility that you are wrong? Have you ever once thought about the possibility that the 4.8 billion people who do not believe in Christ may be correct rather than the 2 billion who nominally do believe?

I bet not.

None of your arguments are at the level of one who has struggled with doubt and reached the conclusion that religion is the answer. Your arguments sound like those of a person who was brought up Christian and never had a doubt in his mind that this was the right way to go.

It leaves you as an extremely arrogant individual fighting against the rights of those who believe differently than you because you know beyond any doubt that you are Right, even though in fact, you are wrong. You speak of Obama's arrogance on another topic.

What of your own?

Patrick O'Neil said...

Scott,

I'm still trying to understand your comments on rights.

You say the 'right' of homosexuals to 'marry' someone from the same sex flows from natural law:

"Regarding natural law, yes. I would say that the right of homosexuals to marry those they love is a right flowing from natural law. Our marriage traditions began because of our biological tendency to pair for long periods, sometimes for life, sometimes not. So, yes, it flows from natural law."

But your missing a major point. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, "Our marriage traditions began because of our biological tendency to pair for long periods IN ORDER TO PROCREATE AND RAISE OFFSPRING . . ."

Also theorizing about how a tradition began doesn't explain how a right is conferred.

Next you make an interesting comparison between the Ten Commandments and US legal tradition.

I will make 2 comments. The commandments actually do infer rights. Rights and responsibilities are closely linked. Honour your mother and father infers parents have a right to expect respect from their children. Do not steal infers that people have the right to private property. Do not kill infers that people have the right to life and security of person. etc.

Second you include a reference to the declaration of Independence which states, "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Are you endorsing your law's assumption that rights are given to us by our Creator?

I don't expect so. Then are you saying that the rights exist because they were declared by men in law? If you are suggesting that how then can you insist that there exists a right that does not exist in your law? And then how can you say that I would deny that right since it does not exist?

Patrick O'Neil said...

To your last post. No I do not believe that everyone goes to heaven. Any unrepentant sinner will be punished.

I take exception to your suggestion that I have not struggled with my faith. I thought I had noted in an earlier conversation that I am a Catholic Convert. I had to take the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults twice because of my serious questions.

Tell me your story. Did a major event cause you to lose your faith? Or are you a cradle athiest?

Misanthropic Scott said...

But your missing a major point. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, "Our marriage traditions began because of our biological tendency to pair for long periods IN ORDER TO PROCREATE AND RAISE OFFSPRING . . ."

No. I don't think so. First, you just denied my child-free and very happy marriage thank you very much. Second, if you take the case of those who really do stay married 'til death do us part, even those who breed do so only for around half of their marriages, if that long. Next you'll be insisting that the purpose of sex in humans is procreation despite the large number of times we have sex and the very small number of children produced.

I will make 2 comments. The commandments actually do infer rights. Rights and responsibilities are closely linked.

And yet, are still different, hence the different words.

Honour your mother and father infers parents have a right to expect respect from their children.

Even abusive parents? What rights do the children have? Where are those rights spelled out? In the section where it says that it's OK to sell them into slavery?

Are you endorsing your law's assumption that rights are given to us by our Creator?

Of course not! There is no creator. Though some may mistakenly think so. Do you have a quote from any religious text that asserts these rights? Do you have a quote from any religious text that assert that humans have any rights at all? Certainly if you believe in "Thy will be done", the creator conveys no rights at all to humans.

I am suggesting rather that humans decide that humans have rights and later codify them into law. First though, the decision is made by humans for humans. Often, rights are hard fought and won and then become codified. Such is the case with gay marriage. The fight is still on. The right is there, but must be asserted then codified into law so that people with God on their side cannot take it away.

Rights are always difficult to win and easy to cede. You prefer to cede rights, especially rights you are not using. What about when your rights are ceded by someone else?

To your last post. No I do not believe that everyone goes to heaven. Any unrepentant sinner will be punished.

Wherein lies the sin when no one is harmed? Is it sin to love? How can that which causes no harm to others and creates only love and pleasure be sinful? What kind of book are you reading? Oh yeah! Probably the most amoral book ever written.

Misanthropic Scott said...

I take exception to your suggestion that I have not struggled with my faith. I thought I had noted in an earlier conversation that I am a Catholic Convert. I had to take the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults twice because of my serious questions.

What were your questions? Whether to be Catholic or Protestant? Did you seriously wrestle with non-belief? I'm truly surprised. You sound like one who has never known uncertainty of any significance in matters of religion.

What swayed you toward religion?

How did you choose which one?

Did you consider Islam? Judaism? Hinduism? Buddhism? Bahai? Wiccan? Pastafarianism? What age were you when you made up your mind?

I will answer very candidly about my searching. I hope you will return the favor. This is highly personal stuff you've asked me to spew on the web.

(to be continued due to length restrictions)

Misanthropic Scott said...

For my part, I was raised Jewish. I learned in Hebrew school that Shabbat (the sabbath) is a high holiday like Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kipur. I asked my father why we don't go to temple every week. He stated that "we're not THAT religious."

I guess I've always been sort of whole hog or none, even as a child.

So, that made me think. And think. And think.

And I read parts of the Bible in Hebrew school. And, they made no sense to me. They seemed rather harsh and cruel. Really, the Bible is not suitable reading for children. If similar stories were in some other book, you'd probably not let your kids read it 'til they were at least 16 or 18.

Then I started to read Heinlein in my early teens. Heinlein taught me to question everything. Stranger in a Strange Land was a real turning point for me. Suddenly, I started to consider the things that were spoon fed to me both explicitly and implicitly from birth.

Around my mid to late teens, I began to consider myself agnostic. My views remained the same for around 15 or more years. I later coined the phrase "Reformed Agnostic" to describe myself.

I had decided that I did not know whether or not there were a supreme being, but that if there were, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion had it all wrong. No supreme being would care about one's religion. Rather a supreme being would judge based on whether one had done good through their lives and not hurt, or at least neither deliberately nor recklessly hurt, others.

It was only in my early to mid thirties, through vehement but friendly debates with a close friend, that I arrived at the conclusion that atheism was far more self-consistent in my case than agnosticism. Several things changed my mind.

1) The realization that atheism is not an assertion about a deity or deities but rather about the evidence required to entertain a hypothesis. As I do not seriously entertain the hypotheses of Unicorns, Fire-breathing Dragons, or any other mythical creatures for whom there is no evidence, so too do I no longer entertain the hypothesis that there is a creator.

2) The realization that an atheist faced with evidence of a deity can change their mind. This does not make one agnostic. For me to become agnostic, I would need a shred of evidence that one or more deities exist. Being an atheist is not about arrogantly asserting that there is no god when miracles are afoot. It's simply a recognition that they are not.

3) I became comfortable with the concept of death. I do not fear death. I do fear lying in a hospital bed with air being pumped through the meat that was once me, but do not fear death. I have, by the way, witnessed fates worse than death, so know first hand that death is not the worst thing that can happen to anyone. You may think that you do not fear death, but in reality, you merely do not believe in death.

4) One thing did happen to me, or more accurately to a very close friend, one with whom I grew up from the age of two. My friend died of AIDS. Interestingly, at no point did I turn to religion as I watched my friend go from age 25 to age 97 in just 2 years.

My friend's death did not convert me from reformed agnostic to atheist. That was to wait quite a few more years. However, it did strengthen my resolve on the issue of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion as the Jewish Law strictly states that homosexuals are to be stoned to death and the Protestant religion of which he was a member states clearly that he is now burning in hell. Luckily for his parents who survived long after his death, his church was not one of the strict radical nut job churches and did allow him to be buried on church ground.

So, will you tell your story? What were your questions with which you wrestled and why do you have so little sympathy for those who chose differently? Why do you feel empowered to legislate your beliefs on those who disagree with you?

Misanthropic Scott said...

Afterthought:

From what I gather, The Bible has twisted your mind such that Hate is Love and arbitrary restrictions on life are rights.

Perhaps it's time for you to revisit your old doubts. Take them out of the closet (so to speak) and examine them. See if what you have become is really what you want to be.

The character of Jesus, regardless of whether he ever existed as flesh and blood, is usually portrayed as a radical left-wing long-haired free-loving commie pinko hippie freak. Jesus did not ask for citizenship papers or health insurance before healing the sick. Jesus hung around with a prostitute. Jesus said love thy neighbor and even love thy enemy.

Love does not deny people the right to be happy.

You might try to emulate Jesus more than the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin.

Love thy neighbor. Let him/her live his/her life as s/he chooses. If at some later time a deity decides it was a bad idea, leave that decision to a higher power. If you believe in God, let Him do His job. Don't try to do it for Him.

You are not God.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Scott,

I very much appreciate your openess in sharing your story. I owe you an apology for taking so long to respond, in the last week in particular I was involved in an intense legal case at a WTO hearing in Geneva. I'm back now and will respond today.

Let's start from the top you said, First, you just denied my child-free and very happy marriage thank you very much.

BULL SHIT. I know I just broke my own civility rules there, but I did not deny the sacredness of child free marriages.

Recongnizing the fact that answering any metaphysical 'why' question is inherently speculative. I think it's almost self evident that humans and animals (since you like the comparison) all a have a sex drive in order to reproduce. I understand that Bengal tigers will mate multiple times an hour, they won't conceive every time! Just because offspring aren't produced doesn't mean that's not where sex drive comes from. (I'm seeing a pattern of very spurious logic and non-sequitors in your arguments.)

On to rights which, to my mind, is still the central theme in the discussion on this post.

Do you have a quote from any religious text that assert that humans have any rights at all?

You really must read the Cathechism of the Catholic Church. It outlines the religious teaching and provides an important perspective on Scripture. Let's pick 3 rights. Say Life, Liberty and the the pursuit of happiness. . .

Life:The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.
(Paragraph 1747)
Liberty: The right to the exercise of freedom,especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man.
(Paragraph 1747)
Pursuit of Happiness:The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it:

We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.
How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.

God alone satisfies.

(Paragraph 1718)

Note that this section includes references to St. Augustine, who predates the Declaration of Independence. By more than 1000 years.

Rights GenerallyRespect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it.(Paragraph 1931)
If you are still curious. I do really recommend you look into the Catechism. It will give you a much better understanding of Chrsitianity than just reading scripture without context.

Finally, you say:
I am suggesting rather that humans decide that humans have rights and later codify them into law. First though, the decision is made by humans for humans. Fair enough. But if rights are merely what humans decide them to be, then what constitutes a right will always be a matter of legitimate debate.

Misanthropic Scott said...

I was just about to give up on watching the three threads of your blog on which I have posted and had long since decided not to overwhelm you further since I obviously have more time on my hands with which to blog, limited though my time feels to me.

First, here's the line you stated that made me think that you deny marriage that is not for progeny.

"Our marriage traditions began because of our biological tendency to pair for long periods IN ORDER TO PROCREATE AND RAISE OFFSPRING . . ."

To that, I would say, perhaps. It turns out that the 7 year itch is called that because that's just about the time when a woman in a hunter-gatherer society can raise her child by herself, once the child is 6 or 7. So, some men (no data on how many, sorry) would feel the desire to move on to another woman and raise one or more children with her. So, I don't know if real, till-death-do-us-part, marriage was required.

That said, the idea of sex, especially sex at the time when the female is not in estrus, is certainly not for reproduction. Rather, that is likely for strengthening the bond between partners. This requirement is strong enough in humans that few women even know when they are ovulating. Hidden ovulation is indeed a rarity in the animal kingdom. It may even be unique to humans, though I am not sure about this either way.

So, sex in humans is definitely not primarily for reproduction. It is for strengthening relationships. Though bonobos (one of our two closest relatives, the other being the chimpanzee) certainly also use sex far more frequently for other purposes as well, such as resolving conflict. Unlike humans and chimpanzees, bonobos have never been observed killing each other. They are the real "make love not war" species.

But, my point is that for at least humans (and also for bonobos) the primary purpose of sex is not reproduction. Certainly, reproduction is an important purpose for sex. But, for species that have few children over a long lifetime and very frequent sex, even during times of non-estrus, it is very difficult to make the case that reproduction is the primary purpose of sex.

So, from the standpoint of sex as a bonding mechanism for humans, it seems to work just as well in homosexual relationships as it does in heterosexual ones.

(Due to length constraints, rights will be discussed in the next post.)

Misanthropic Scott said...

Regarding rights:

Wow!! I am impressed. I've not previously heard of the Catechism. And, I have not heard anyone use it to refute the argument that there are no God-given rights before.

Well done!

So, why would you choose not to live by the Catechism?

Life:The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.

So, no more stoning homosexuals to death!! Yay!!!!

Liberty: The right to the exercise of freedom,especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man.

Great!! So, once again, homosexuals have the same rights and liberties as you and I. To say otherwise is to deny the dignity of man.

Pursuit of Happiness:The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it:

Right. So live and let live will bring all people closer to your God, if this is correct. perhaps you should try it. This means to me that homosexual marriage is a God-given right. How can you read this any differently?

Who are you to take away the rights that God saw fit to grant?

If you agree that these rights are God-given, then you should be a powerful advocate of granting these rights to all human beings. Anything less is as hypocritical as a lightening rod on/in a church steeple.

Perhaps I really have overstayed my welcome now and should let you have the last word when next you get around to blogging. You can probably see my email address as the administrator of your blog. If you really want me to continue to reply, email me. Else, I'm signing out now.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Scott,

I actually don't have your email address. But I'm sure I can look you up again at your blog.

My last word on rights. Is that our fundamental, God given rights cannot be designed. However, sinning is not a God given right. The God's law and church's moral teaching are not designed to limit our freedom but only to point us in the direction of true happiness.

Thanks again for letting me know who you are. I really respect logical consistency, and agree you should either believe whole heartedly or not.

I owe you my conversion story. I have had plenty of reason to doubt beginning when my father committed suicide when I was only 10 years old. I'll be honest, at that time I felt extremely comforted knowing that God loved me and that he would continue to take care of me and my family.

No the real struggle came in university and a couple years after. I was raised in the Anglican/Episcopal church, which then as now was being torn apart by those who would deny basic theological truths. I was actually at an Anglican seminary (in a secular stream studying Economics and Political Science) where I found many of the people studying in the seminary had an extremely poorly formed faith.

My mom and my step dad had changed to a new small evangelical protestant church. There were a few people there who told me I wasn't a "real christian" because I couldn't say when I was "saved" they also thought that most people who went to church weren't "real christians." I also came accross a lot of vehemently anti-Catholic sentiment from other evangelicals on campus. I did seriously ask whether I believed and why I would believe when so much of what I was hearing seemed either incoherent or angry.

I sort of looked into other religions. I had a muslim classmate who I really respected for his dedication to his faith. I had a Hindu roomate for several years as well. At the end of the day the Muslim concept of God seemed too angry and unforgiving; Hinduism was just too weird. Although I will say Indian fashion is pretty spectactular. Didn't look into Pastafarianism, although if it's a religion about Pasta, perhaps I should have been more thorough in my investigation.

Over time I realized that I just felt at home anytime I sat in a church. I took great comfort in Christ's prayer for his disciples, "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11) It seemed to me that Jesus knew his followers wouldn't always agree but he would still guide us.

Around that time I noticed that John Paul the Great was a beacon for life and virtue in the face of a very hostile world. I looked into the Catholic church more and more. There was some stuff I didn't quite understand such as the role of the Saints, but I could tell that the Catholic Church would stand firm in the face of its challenges.

I'm glad for my belief. Despite my many sins I feel truly loved and forgiven by God.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Last last word.

If you seriously haven't read the catechism I can't recommend it enough. It condenses the 2 millenia of Church teaching combining scripture and the writings of the early apostles, and various papal encyclicals.

Pope Benedict has made the link between faith and reason the cornerstone of his papacy. I don't suspect the catechism will bring you to belief, but it just might provide you with a better understanding of who Christians believe God is.

I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussion and thought of it often. Thanks for engaging me so fully!

Misanthropic Scott said...

I hope that you won't take this as reneging on my promise to let you have the last word. I think I'm not technically taking the last word here because I'm not going to make any point or refutation of your comments.

I just want to say thank you.

You have been a good host despite my seemingly endless ability to type long detailed messages and overwhelm some of your blog threads with shear content.

I also thank you for sharing your own story so candidly. I have now not only learned about the Catechism, but have also learned that there is another type of religious struggle than I had ever considered.

It had quite honestly never occurred to me that there were those who struggled so deeply over how to believe. I always assumed that the real struggle came only from wrestling with whether to believe. Thank you for sharing your story.