Debate: Homosexuality, Liberty, God

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I posted a response under a video on Atheism.tv, “Sean Faircloth – Bullying, lies, and discrimination aren’t “religious liberty,” created by an atheist politician and author. In the video, Mr. Faircloth talks about Mitt Romney’s speech at Liberty University in May in which Faircloth makes several untrue claims, including one that Romney makes bigoted remarks about homosexuals.

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Mike

Calling creationism “lies” and a “con” without anything to back that up is not an argument.

When Mr. Faircloth demonizes the mentality of “the inside group vs. the outside group”, he should be aware that he is also demonizing himself. I doubt he would accept that the position he holds is inferior to or even equal to opposing positions. He excludes outside views just as everyone else does.

Did Romney really say “treat gay people unfairly” in his Liberty U speech? Or is that Mr. Faircloth’s interpretation? Discrimination is something everyone does every day, and it’s necessary. To make a claim that certain discrimination is done unfairly, you should quantify what you mean by unfairly. Military chaplains and others who oppose homosexuality are considering (or should be) behavior of an individual, not their skin tone—which is fair. The author’s comparison at 5:20 is rooted in the false premise that such behavior is no more under a person’s control than skin color. Religious liberty is the freedom to follow moral convictions, exactly what Mr. Faircloth does in discriminately condemning religious people based on his own moral convictions.

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NEGATIONofP

In my opinion Mr. Faircloth is only attempting to shed light on the misuse of public funds and hypocrisy by Mr. Romney and Liberty University. If you had evidence he is attempting to create an us vs. them mentality I would join you in condemning that type of behavior. However if you are truly concerned with “demonization” of groups I suggest you investigate how the religious have attempted to portrait the LGBT community. They continually attempt to portray gays as immoral and corrupt that has been demonstrated many times and continues to this day (the new constitutional amendment in N.C.). By definition ANYTIME YOU TAKE RIGHTS FROM A GROUP OF PEOPLE IT IS UNFAIR. So Mr. Romney supporting this type of behavior is proof of his convictions and bigotry.

Also, I am extremely interested in hearing your justification of the statement “Discrimination is something everyone does every day, and it’s necessary” Pleas respond & clarify what you mean by this.

I find it SAD that its 2012 and you seem to truly believe the homosexual lifestyle is a choice. I challenge you to engage in a thought experiment: First imagine an individual that when you personally imagine having sexual relations with them its is repugnant to you. To be clear you may like or even love this individual but having sex with them is unimaginable. Could you somehow “choose” to engage in sex with them? For the homosexual the thought of intercourse with the opposite sex is exactly the same as your reaction to engaging in sex with the person you imagined earlier.

If you can make the “choice” to engage in sex with a person of the same sex you are at least bi-sexual and I feel sorry for you knowing that you may feel your desires are somehow wrong.

Next, I would ask what part of the following do you find to be in error. “Have as much fun in your life as possible as long as your actions harm no one in the process.” With the in mind I ask you to evaluate the following assertion “Two human beings loving each other is the best part of humanity.”

Finally,

I suggest you that you revisit slavery, the U.S. civil war the jim crow laws of 1876-1965. I realize you made a pinot to distance yourself from racial bigotry. However I see no difference between them and the restrictions of both groups stem from (at least in part) a literal reading of scripture.

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Mike

NEGATIONofP, thanks for your reply.

Mr. Faircloth is holds a particular view that is at odds with the views of others. That is an “us vs. them mentality”. This is nothing special as that is true for everyone, which was my point there. Truth or fallacy is found in the particular view, but there is nothing inherently wrong in the fact that we hold different views.

People who understand a Biblical view of sexuality realize that God designed human relationships to work a certain way (Gen. 2:24), and when the “religious…attempt to portray gays as immoral and corrupt”, they are calling out homosexual behavior as the sin that it clearly is shown to be in Scripture. (Lev. 18, Rom. 1, etc.). But of course the assumption that a homosexual is beyond choice or moral responsibility is going to affect your conclusions about discrimination, bigotry and rights in general. For instance, you are assuming that people have some inherent “right” to pursue relationships with the same sex, but on what basis do you assume this to be a basic human right? Clearly you discard a Biblical view, so I’m curious as to how you discern what rights we all have.

The statement “Discrimination is something everyone does every day, and it’s necessary” is true because any time we make a choice about anything, we are discriminating. You were discriminative or prejudiced when you picked out a shirt and ate breakfast today. Some throw terms around in blind condemnation, but the fact is that some discrimination is good and some is bad. From parental discipline to criminal courts, there are many examples where discrimination against certain behavior is proper and expected.

Two problems with your thought experiment:

One is the false dichotomy in your assumption that a person who thinks they are gay is required to engage in sexual relations at all. If I knew I was made to relate to females but felt an attraction to males, maybe the best course of action is to be content in celibacy until such a time when my emotions align with my knowledge of how humanity is designed to relate, and there are many testimonies from people who have done just that. And if a person is unable to overcome same-sex attraction, that is no justification for doing something that is contrary to God’s design and purpose.

This leads to the second problem: the assumption that because someone has a strong desire for a course of action, the course of action is right. An individual can experience strong compulsion to a range of activities… Stealing, gambling, alcohol, codependency, anger, porn, etc. To some, it’s the only lifestyle they know and it’s out of their control. Does this mean that the compulsions are innate foe them and it’s impossible to change? Of course not, as many other testimonies will show. I have not always had the desire to forgive the man who sexually assaulted a friend of mine—it used to be unimaginable—but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to eventually do. I can’t imagine myself summiting Everest, ever, but that doesn’t mean the pursuit isn’t a good thing. I do, however, desire a 2nd donut, but that would not be a good course of action. Desire is just that, a desire.

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine a course of action that, if carried out to its fullest extent, would result in the self-destruction of the human race in one generation. Now imagine that the majority of the population carried out that course of action, the human race would survive but would only mostly be destroyed. Now imagine that really the only saving grace of this course of action is that very few people engage in it. Would you identify this course of action as a good idea? Mankind flourishes by the union of a man and a woman, and has for millennia.

The error in this worldview–“Have as much fun in your life as possible as long as your actions harm no one in the process” is that you cannot sin without ultimately harming yourself or others. Furthermore, what “harm” are we talking about? Because this view allows me to steal from others or slander them behind their back since this really produces no direct “harm”. And “Two human beings loving each other is the best part of humanity” is wonderfully poetic and true when love is acted out the way it was designed to be acted out. But if a pedophile loves a 10 year old girl, suddenly everyone has a problem with your assertion. If a brother wants to marry his sister, mother, or son, we have more issues with it. Obviously even a very liberal view of “love” has exceptions, and you can’t argue that there are no moral complications to doing things however you want so long as minimal criteria of “humans” and “love” and “harm no one” are met. And on what objective moral code do you ground your conviction that “harm no one” should be the only exception to uninhibited fun? And really, why limit the pursuit of “love” to “humans”?

From what part of Scripture do you find the teaching of racial bigotry? If race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by heritable phenotypic characteristics, geographic ancestry, physical appearance, and ethnicity, how do sexual habits have anything to do with race?

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NEGATIONofP

Mike,

No problem we will see if you still appreciate my reply after this response

I hope my comments don’t offend you. I have a writing style described by some as condescending and abrasive. I only wish to educate not belittle and/or embarrass. With that in mind ill jump in.

“Clearly you discard a Biblical view, so I’m curious as to how you discern what rights we all have.”

This seems like an attempt to use the old argument that without god we have no basis for morality. This is an argument that has been well trounced so I will save everyone the pain of rehashing it and just suggest If you really are not familiar with the multiple ways this argument has been proven to be erroneous that you search ”Human ethics” coupled with any/all of the following: evolution, science, logic, physiology, pack animals, herd mentality, society.

“discrimination against certain behavior is proper and expected”.

I feel you are being a little disingenuous in posing an argument by attempting to force us to use such a narrow definition of the word in this conversation. You clearly understand the way in which the word was being used and the context.

“Two problems with your thought experiment:

One is the false dichotomy in your assumption that a person who thinks they are gay is required to engage in sexual relations at all.”

This is not a false dichotomy due to the fact (as you have proven for me) the only way to increase the their options is to limit their freedoms. Following you line of reasoning why not just suggest they self restrict ALL their freedoms by suicide?

“This leads to the second problem: the assumption that because someone has a strong desire for a course of action, the course of action is right. “

No I in no way claimed this to be true. This is a straw man of epic portions and fails so completely that most people would not even bother to respond any further. However, I will address it if for no other reason that I hope you will learn something in the process and NEVER attempt such ludicrous tactics in the future.

1)    Identifying the straw man: You claim I asserted the stronger the desire somehow makes that desire valid. When,& where did I make this assertion?

2)    By earlier claiming I made use of a “false dichotomy” one could be fairly certain you have at least a basic understanding of logic and its most well documented fallacies.

3)    Therefore we are only left with a few options when attempting to discern how you could make such a statement.

a.    You are in fact not as educated in logic as I gave you credit for

b.    You are versed but lack the intellect to understand logic (rote knowledge only)

c.    Your are unbelievably disingenuous

d.    You believe I do not understand logic and therefore could slip this past me.

Let it not be said of me that I am without mercy. So, if in fact you do have another explanation for responding in such a fashion I would be willing to give it all the consideration is deserves.

“you cannot sin without ultimately harming yourself or others”

Really? Lets test that shall we.

I believe my god “XETHYG” is greater than Jesus and I am envisioning carving a statue of her riding an eagle who is holding a diamond in one talon and a jellyfish in the other. After doing this on the next Sabbath, I will bow down to her and serve her as she commands, I think I will use marble I am planning on stealing from the worker at the quarry that I am fantasizing about having sex with (I am married but not to her) and also planning to kill. After that I picture myself going over to my parents house and dishonoring them both verbally and physically. Then I plan on going to the police and telling the officers I witnessed my neighbor kill the worker at the quarry while longing for his house. But really I just think you are wrong God damn it!!

You do realize just by the very act of imagining this little diatribe according to Matthew 5:27-33 I HAVE just broken ALL Ten Commandments (sin x 10)!!!

If the god of the bible does not exist who did I harm?

If you assert god does exist you must prove that claim before you can even begin to argue I “harmed myself”.

Even if you could somehow demonstrate Jesus existed I could always be “saved” before I die. If this were to happen who did the sins I just committed harm?

“this view allows me to steal from others or slander them behind their back since this really produces no direct “harm”.”

WOW, now you cant even do simple math? Ok, lets do a little algebra. I have an amount of legally acquired wealth. It allows me certain freedoms that in turn bring me a certain level of happiness. Let’s label this total wealth “X” and the happiness “Y1”.

You steal some of my possessions thus decreasing my wealth; so, my “X” value will change. I will label my new wealth reduced by your action as “Z”.

Basic algebra tells us that if Y is a function of X and X is reduced leaving Z inserting the new X value (Z) we find Y2 is less than Y1.

Or:

Let: Y=f(x) where f(x) is monotonically increasing

If: 0 < z < x => f(z) < f(x)

So all we need to concern ourselves with the question “is the reduction of happiness harmful?” Well is it?

“on what objective moral code do you ground your conviction that “harm no one”

And there we have it the age-old argument without god we can have no basis for morality. Ok, just remember you opened this can of worms. If you have not researched the previously mentioned topics please do so. However if you want to read this first that’s fine with me also.

So, if we are using Biblical ethics to define our own ethics we must identify what the bible finds ethical.

The bible lets us know its ethical to:

Harm to others through inaction: Genesis 3:1-7 & 3:22-24

Engage in Bigamy: Genesis 4:19

Commit Mass genocide: Genesis 7:11-24

Offer your daughters to a mob to be raped: Genesis 19:8

Commit Incest: Genesis 19:32-38

Kill, rape, plunder, enslave: Genesis 34:13-29

Kill someone for masturbating: Genesis 38:9

If you notice I have not even included everything in Genesis but ill stop there due to the fact if I attempt to do this with Exodus your eyes would bleed due to the volume of atrocities committed in the name of your god or by your god himself.

Is this the morals you speak of and guide you?

“From what part of Scripture do you the teaching of racial bigotry?”

Genesis 9:25: In retaliation for Ham’s “sinful act” of seeing his father nude, Noah puts a curse on his grandson Ham, being ‘blackened by sin’ and ‘forced to become a servant’. (Ham’s son). Canaan: ?Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers” Over time, this curse came to be interpreted that Ham was literally “burnt,” and that all his descendants had black skin, marking them as slaves with a convenient color-coded label for subservience.

Leviticus 19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

Deuteronomy 7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

Deuteronomy 22:9: “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.”

“how do sexual habits have anything to do with race?”

The correlation is the bigotry your religion instills and requires of its followers not the specific acts.

I hope you did not take offense to my style. If so I apologize I realize I tend to get carried away.

C-yaz

NP

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Mike 

No offense taken at all, I appreciate you speaking your mind.

“You claim I asserted the stronger the desire somehow makes that desire valid. When,& where did I make this assertion?” You asked me to imagine what it would be like to do the opposite of what my natural desires would have me do, which led me to think that was your basis for justification of same-sex relations. Wasn’t that your point, that gays are unable to choose, or that it’s unfair to ask them to, thereby removing their responsibility for their actions?

“If the god of the bible does not exist who did I harm?” Previously I asked you to clarify what you mean by “harm,” (“…what ‘harm’ are we talking about?”). Apparently we’re including verbal offenses and hurt feelings from neglect of perceived ‘rights’. Sin in any form distances people from God because sin is an offense against God’s moral law. If we’re calling personal offense harm, then you harm God, and separation from God by eternal judgment falls under any definition of harmful.

But you’re right: If God doesn’t exist, I’m mistaken on the aforementioned and in the above diatribe you have harmed no one, nor would you have any rational basis for why there is a problem with harm in the first place. But more on that in a bit.

First, your equation makes a couple more assumptions: One is that happiness is supplied exclusively by monetary wealth, and two, you seem to think that I equate quantifiable harm by any definition to evil. Even if truth is given in a “tough love” fashion, the truth can offend and is basically considered harmful, but basically good. Consider that it’s still true that if I took money you would never miss, it’s still theft and therefore morally wrong. A wealthy man’s bookkeeper can steal $100 from his account that would really do nothing to affect his happiness. If the bookkeeper used a distraction to get away with the theft, and the distraction included a stock tip that ended up earning the rich man another $10,000, by your formula he is even happier, but nonetheless the victim of theft, and that theft is still wrong. Or, an unrelated lawsuit is filed and wealthy man loses millions, but his wife gives birth to a son, and he realized he is happier now than when he was wealthy. Is the rich man still harmed by pain he no longer feels from his loss of money, or the pain he never experienced by his bookkeeper’s pilfering? If the man later forgets the blessing his wife and son are to him and decides to leave them to pursue happiness with another woman. His disenchantment with his family can be called “harm” because he’s lost happiness there, and his newfound happiness with the mistress can be called “harm” of himself and others because by the endeavor he has destroyed his family and left behind what is truly good in his own life, becoming an unfaithful liar. But, as I said, the problem is not necessarily with perceived harm, but with moral right and wrong. And thankfully, algebra cannot solve all our problems (I suspected this in high school

Your ethical objections to the Bible are unfounded for a number of reasons.

1. Your conclusions are based on a misunderstanding of who God is. If God is the Creator and author of all life then He is ultimately justified whether He gives it or takes it away and doesn’t contradict His nature by doing so. He may take it away in judgment for evil and He may do it for reasons that are ultimately good in accordance to a plan that finite human minds would of course have no way of knowing or seeing beforehand.

2. Because the Bible contains descriptions of evil done by humans does not mean the evil is prescribed for us. For instance, it describes the acts of Lot’s daughters in Gen. 19:32-38, which were sinful, but doesn’t prescribe incest. One does not (& should not) take history books about the Holocaust to be instruction to kill Jews.

3. You have assigned alternate meanings to passages by misreading the text or an ignorance of context. It’s hardly possible to provide thorough exegesis on all the texts you reference, but here are a few…

– Adam and Eve had a free will and chose to sin; God allowing them that was not sinful.

– Canaan (not Ham) was “cursed” but if you read it carefully, Noah doesn’t say it was because of Ham’s act of seeing him naked and making a joke of him to his brothers rather than covering him up (which is what probably happened). The curse on Canaan and his descendants were because of the future sins of Canaan and his descendants as Noah’s words were prophetic, in a “like father, like son” manner. And nowhere in the Bible is it taught that the curse led to Africans in slavery, in fact Canaan’s immediate descendants were probably more of a middle brown.

– God judged Onan because he didn’t fulfill a cultural duty to marry his brother’s widow and produce offspring. In his selfishness he refused to take her as his wife and to give her children that would be credited to her brother’s line. The offense wasn’t masturbation. That isn’t even what Onan did.

– Re: Slavery, bigamy, polygamy, etc. God allowed certain conditions to exist in a fallen world, but He does not create or condone those conditions, people do.

– The confusion of ceremonial Levitical laws with moral laws is common in the OT, but the distinction becomes clear when you consider the context. There was a larger lesson for Israel in remaining separate from other nations because they were God’s chosen people, which God would naturally have the right to do.

I find it interesting that any atheist would have an opinion on the moral acts of a hypothetical deity and still believe they can reconcile their atheism. If morality evolved as a human convention, it would logically only govern the behavior of human beings. You speak of “the volume of atrocities committed in the name of your god or by your god.” How is it that you readily apply human ethical standards to not only ancient humans in far-off cultures, but to the hypothetical Creator of the universe (and aliens, whenever we write stories about invasions)? You do this because our moral obligations are objective, absolute and universal and you can’t even imagine them any other way. Evolution and atheism require the opposite, yet strangely, nobody lives as if morality is at all subjective or relegated to human beings.

Another thought experiment: Try to imagine the very first act or thought that we would consider to be morally good. The problem for moral evolution is, whatever that first moral good was and whenever it occurred, it would have required a pre-existing moral standard for good to already be in place. Otherwise we would have no way to look back on it and define it as morally good.

If you say that the first moral act began as, say, sharing food or protecting another species in order to gain a favor in return which would increase your survival chances, you still have a problem. Because today, when we are morally compelled to help a stranded motorist, we generally do not consider that the same motorist will likely one day return the favor if our car breaks down. Nor do we turn in a lost wallet in good will thinking it will increase our chances of securing a mate. We do those things because we think it’s the right thing to do (and likewise when we don’t do them we know that it’s wrong). If moral good began as reciprocity, at some point it stopped being about reciprocity and started being about good will. At that moment, we still need a moral standard by which to register and measure it.

And actually, if we’re considering that the idea that sharing became morally good because survival or reproduction was a good and right thing, we’re begging the question and again need a precluding standard for the moral good in survival and reproduction.

Such is the dilemma in attempting a naturalistic explanation for morality, or really any type of fundamental first principal that Christians understand as rooted in the nature of God. It makes sense that if we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and the God described in the Bible is a moral Being, we are moral agents, knowing innately of His law written on our hearts of which our conscience bears witness (Romans 2:15). Atheism has to find another way, so it shores up morality with a relatively shallow definition that simply doesn’t square with the morality we observe and interact with.

Of course I can’t prove the existence of God—I don’t discount that faith is a prominent element in what I believe, just as it is in what you believe. But considering that logically, the origin of morality had to be outside of humanity, apparently a law-giver that is transcendent, intelligent, complex, and of course, moral—and if moral, personal. If it isn’t God, it’s something a lot like Him.

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NEGATIONofP

Hey Mike,

This is getting way to long of most people interested in reading comments to follow. With that in mind I was wondering if you would like to participate as a guest in a live BlogTV show that me, AtheismTV, Livelife8072, & a few others are trying to get off the ground. You seem very well spoken, & your responses are well thought out , and I think this type of venue would better serve everyone in discussing such lengthly topics such as this. Also, BlogTV will allow us to reach a much larger audience. The show is NOT an attempt to bash religion &/or its followers. We truly want a to create a place where the free exchange of ideas and discussions of religious topics will allow the audience to consider BOTH sides of the beliefs while encouraging them to do further research for themselves.

What do you think?

NP

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Mike 

NP,

Thank you for the invitation! I will consider it for sure. I hesitate only because it’d be a completely new format for me, but I’m not above trying it out. Thanks again for the consideration, and for the discussion.

Mike

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It’s very tempting to see NP’s last post as a dodge and a concession to losing the argument, mainly because I have yet to hear a coherent answer from any atheist on the last point on morality I made. I looked at NP’s YouTube profile and noted that of religion, he invites viewers to “watch it die” and personally vows to “crumble those walls of arrogance” in his “Message to All Religious Fundamentalists” video) and he admits to an apparent “condescending and abrasive” argumentative style here. I also previewed the channel belonging to Livelife8072, an atheist comedian who routinely “bashes religion”. If the BlogTV show NP invited me to is to be hosted and moderated by these two, it seems likely that the intent would NOT be an opportunity for the free exchange of ideas, but probably just another forum in which to team up against theists. I will most likely not take him up on it.

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