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I’m trying to understand..

January 18, 2010

… the issues in this whole debacle. I’ll be honest, the whole sexuality issue is something I avoid on this blog for this very reason. In the past, I have been accused of being a flaming liberal for my stance on civil union/state marriage of homosexuals. Someone stated in the comment sections that gays and lesbians are more concerened about insurance, visiting their loved on in the hospital or other rights that might be afforded a married couple rather than the actual title of marriage. This had always been my impression from friends in the gay community, but maybe I misread them.  There are friends of mine from the conservative camp who don’t like my position on this at all and have questioned my Christianity over it.

I have had numerous conversations with those same gay friends and told them my position about not peforming a gay marriage. They are not fan of my position, but they understand where I’m coming from. The last thing they have called me is a bigot, homophobe or whatever names Knockgoats likes to apply to me. This is why I’m a bit floored by the reaction here and over at PZ’s place.

For the record, I don’t have a church, so it’s unlikely it will ever come up. I’m a campus minister. And indeed, it has never come up when I have been a pastor of a church. I would not presume to tell other churches can or can’t do. If one does gay ceremonies, then that’s what they do. I’m not going out of my way to tell them stop. As this is America, and not Nazi Germany, everyone has the right under the Constitution to live as they see fit. However, I still stand by my position that I wouldn’t peform a gay wedding. I hold this position because of what I believe the Bible teaches and the teaching of church tradition. Does that mean I hate gay people? No. Does it mean I want to see gay people beat up? No, and if anyone ever tried to do it around me, I would stand in front of the gay person to stop the madness. I would willingly give my life to save them in that instance. I’m not sure how else to express my love in a more direct way.

I understand that most people think that being gay is not a choice. Or, that is, that people can’t help being gay because their genetic makeup. Having done some reading on the subject the past few days, I think this is probably true,or at least, from what I can tell. Or, to state it more plainly, I think people  can be born with a genetic predisposition to being gay. I don’t think that gays and lesbians should be forced to be hetero.  However, the question then becomes, are we just a product of our genes? Do we have choices or are we a slave to our genes? To me, this is where the real question lies. I would say, no, we aren’t. We have choices.

I’m willing to have this conversation. I try my best not to avoid genuine, sincere questions that are put to me in a respectful manner. If this position still makes me a bigot in the eyes of some, fine. I try very hard to be respectful of people and treat them as human beings. I try to learn from them as much as I can. I try to have this blog be a place where different positions are stated and then discussed. I have gone out of my way to be as honest and straightforward as possible. Maybe I don’t always get it right, but I try.

Plus, not to mention, this blog isn’t my life. I have other things going on. In fact, this time last year, this blog only got ten hits per week, as it was just a way to advertise our student group on campus. I never asked for this blog to be what it has become. PZ linked to me after the SSA conference last August and that pretty much did it. I don’t go out trolling for new people and that’s why I have stopped commenting on the thread over there.  I read his blog all the time, but I hardly ever comment. I only did so in this case because I was a direct participant in the blog tv interview which I felt gave me the right to post.

I realize this will not be an explanation that will satsify everyone. Fine. I can live with that. As long as we can have some good, tough convesations without the namecalling, I say, talk on. You can call me whatever you want, but the moment you direct your nastiness at other people, you are gone. Period. This is a change in policy, I realize, but I have had enough of the ugliness.

I hope, now, that we can move forward in the conversation.

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152 Comments leave one →
  1. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 18, 2010 11:28 am

    Will you support legal, civil marriage for same sex couples, defined exactly the same way under law as marriage is defined for couples of the opposite sex? You have not given a yes or no answer to this question.

    You may deal with your personal demons and prejudices any way you chose. Obviously.

  2. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 18, 2010 11:30 am

    Yes, Sidhra.

  3. Richard Eis permalink
    January 18, 2010 11:56 am

    A funny thing to get stuck on. It is only a teeny weeny small step from being happy with other christians performing gay marriages to you doing it (if you could, so this is a rather hypothetical bust-up).

    I’m afraid we are far more at the mercy of our genetics than we would ever admit to. As they say “no-one would ‘want’ to be gay”.

    After much thought. I would be happy for you to perform the ceremonies you wanted if you give up the tax-free status of said imaginary church. That way you avoid government demanding that you show equality. We can take our business elsewhere and you get to avoid bending your doctrine.

  4. Knockgoats permalink
    January 18, 2010 12:00 pm

    Yes, Sidhra. – jon the homophobic hypocrite

    That’s not what you said on Pharyngula. Nor does it excuse this:
    “I think they are wrong in regards to sexual orientation”.

    Does it mean I want to see gay people beat up? No, and if anyone ever tried to do it around me, I would stand in front of the gay person to stop the madness. I would willingly give my life to save them in that instance.

    Talk is cheap.

    However, the question then becomes, are we just a product of our genes? Do we have choices or are we a slave to our genes? To me, this is where the real question lies. I would say, no, we aren’t. We have choices.

    So gays must be celibate because the psychopathic sadist you worship says so.

  5. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 18, 2010 12:03 pm

    Im fine with giving up my tax status, that doesn’t bother me.

    I didnt say I would be happy with other churches peforming it, but that I wouldn’t go out of my way to stop them. Again, tolerance, not acceptance.

  6. deepity permalink
    January 18, 2010 12:12 pm

    Ever heard of Godwin’s Law? Bringing Nazi Germany into an argument when it isn’t needed is a little ehhhh….

    No one is advocating that churches be made to preform marriages. I know you have been asked why it is that you wouldn’t preform them. Is there a specific bible passage that you use to justify your position?

    The civil union issue is a sticky one, it is better than having no rights or protection at all, but marriage is a legal institution and to withhold it from a population for purely religious reasons isn’t right. Separate but equal isn’t good enough, and as of yet it has yet to become even equal. Marriage is recognized federally, and if you move to another state you are still married. Civil unions do not have this right.

  7. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 18, 2010 12:21 pm

    Thank you. I hope and trust you mean that. I also hope that upon reflection, and prayer, you may further open your heart to see the essential nature of one’s sexuality, and one’s gender, and recognize divinity in diversity.

  8. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 18, 2010 12:26 pm

    That’s not what you said on Pharyngula.
    Maybe he thought about it?

  9. January 18, 2010 12:31 pm

    Re: “Slave to our genes.”

    You’re absolutely right our biology doesn’t have to dictate our behavior. However, you have to imagine where other people are coming from. I see absolutely nothing wrong with homosexual behavior. It’s a relationship between two consenting adults and is not harmful in any way. I see it as no different from having a genetic predisposition to have brown hair – I could dye my hair blonde and not be bound by my biology, but why should I since it’s not hurting anyone?

    There are certainly aspects of biology would should overcome. If you’re predisposed to be an alcoholic, which most of us can agree is not good for yourself or the people around you, you can take steps to control behavior. If you’re predisposed to be a pedophile, you have to control your behavior because it involves a non consenting individual. If you’re predisposed to have depression, you’re allow to take drugs to make it better. I think one of the major things that makes us human is being able to overcome our biology *some* of the time.

    But I guess since we’re starting from different moral viewpoints, I don’t know how I could change your mind. Since I’m not religious, I don’t have any justification to see homosexual behavior as wrong. I know you’re a good guy and would never actively do anything against homosexuals, but stigma alone can hurt. Just imagine if the majority of people thought having blonde hair was some sort of moral flaw. Even though they don’t act out against you, you’d be annoyed that they’re viewing you as having a fault, when you don’t see that trait as wrong at all.

  10. Knockgoats permalink
    January 18, 2010 12:32 pm

    sidhra,

    If so, then:
    a) It would have been honest to say so.
    b) “the ugliness” has achieved something, hasn’t it?

    By the way, I’ve had time to check in my copy of Christian Apologetics for Dummies, and the recommendation:
    “If you’ve lost the argument, whine about tone”
    is on page 3.

  11. AdamK permalink
    January 18, 2010 1:20 pm

    Our sexuality is our capacity to form romantic love. Christians focus on the icky sex, and forget all about the love. The hardest thing in the world is to get christians to value love.

    Romantic love leads people to find a spouse and to form a family between themselves and in the eyes of their community. This is a good thing. In fact, it is one of the highest goods to which a person can aspire in this life.

    So when you say to someone, I don’t approve of your sexuality, it might be a good idea to pause and think of the implications of your disapproval. It is saying, I don’t approve of your capacity for romantic love. For most human beings, this is saying, I don’t approve of your heart; I don’t approve of the core of your being; I don’t approve of what is most important in your life. I don’t approve of you. I don’t affirm you, in your capacity for love.

    It is profoundly hateful.

    So when you say, I love gay people, but I don’t approve of their sexuality, you are contradicting yourself; you are sending a confused, mixed message. You are phoney.

    Here’s how the unprejudiced heart reacts to the news that someone is gay: it leaps for joy. It is glad beyond measure that that person has discovered his or her capacity to love, that will open up their future to the joy of intimacy and the foundation of family.

    Here’s how the unprejudiced heart reacts to two people declaring that they have fallen in love: it leaps for joy, it celebrates, it wishes to declare this wonderful thing to the community.

    Your heart says, I tolerate. How sad for you.

  12. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 18, 2010 1:33 pm

    What AdamK said.

  13. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 18, 2010 5:02 pm

    Yes, AdamK said it very well.

    At some level, I appreciate that you do not wish to deny homosexuals their right to be married. How enlightened of you. At a deeper level, it’s very disappointing — and even though I’m not gay personally, I think it’s insulting and hateful — that you apparently aren’t so enlightened as to treat them equally as you would straight people.

    Some free advice: to avoid getting “angry” or “disrespectful” comments, support your claims (preferably with empirical evidence). I would expect several benefits if this were ever to occur.
    1) People would know WHY you make the claims you do, because there will be substance rather than vague assertions, so they could respond appropriately.
    2) People have the opportunity to EXPLAIN to you and the interwebs exactly why you are right or wrong about a particular claim, allowing them to show how it may be inconsistent with empirical evidence or internally inconsistent with your other claims and beliefs.
    3) You will probably be less inclined to make vague assertions which have no basis in fact or even basic logic. There would probably be less BS from you, and fewer angry comments and heated arguments as a result.

  14. Curious J permalink
    January 18, 2010 6:04 pm

    I wonder if this issue should actually be taken further. Religious and non-religious people definitely get hung up on it, but I wonder if it’s because the whole thing has gotten too specific.

    Technically Pastor’s shouldn’t be performing marriages for ANY non-Christians regardless of their race, gender, or sexual preferences. Legal ceremonies are fine, and should be granted to anyone, but a marriage in a church, in front of a Christian community, done by a faithful pastor, is NOT for non-Christians. Not because Christians are exclusive jerks (which some unrightfully are), but because no person should be forced to commit themselves to the vows and promises that Christians are expected to make if they themselves don’t believe in them.

    Now, If any person coming to a pastor asking for marriage is in a clear, honest, and restorative path to rightiousness (aka a Christian), regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation, then pastors should Marry the Hell out of them right away!

    In the courtroom, witnesses are made to swear a vow of honesty. This vow is taken extremely serious and has consequences if not followed. The vows one makes in a wedding ceremony should be equally as serious and equally as punishable. Sadly, people are so stuck on tradition (Religious and Non-Religious alike), that they commit to these vows without giving them a second thought, and end up breaking them withing a couple years of unhappiness. People should just stop taking these vows to begin with!! Leave these marriage vows to people who are willing to accept the consequences of them being broken.

    I feel it’s almost masochistic of people to complain about Pastor’s not wanting to marry people. Why would anyone want to commit themselves so seriously to a relationship? I say let the Christians deal with the epic vows that they are forced to take, and let everyone else who doesn’t believe in their deity make more lighthearted and superficial ones. This way if things don’t work out, who the hell cares.

  15. Reaper permalink
    January 18, 2010 6:35 pm

    You know, and I’m not trying to blow smoke here, I think you might be one of that most rare of creatures…. a Christian in action as well as name.

    That’s a compliment by the way, and I don’t often give them, but then I rarely stumble across followers of Christ. Usually they’re just unthinking fanatics wearing ‘yay Jesus’ paraphernalia to hide their bigotry behind.

    Thank you. I was losing hope.

  16. Cruz permalink
    January 18, 2010 9:32 pm

    A few points to y’all.

    Knockgoats – Name calling does not get you anywhere in lack of arguments, it just lets educated people know that you probably are not capable of making any decent ones.

    Adam K – I find the heart of your argument interesting, but it is based on an equivocation, so it is invalid. The contradiction cannot be proved because you are using love in a completely different sense than Jon is.

    Consciousness Razor – Jon did support the position he asserted; that he did not think that it was right for him as a Christian minister to marry gay people. The argument given is for the reason of what is taught in the bible and church tradition. Granted his Christian belief, this is a reasonable conclusion. (Obviously you can take the argument elsewhere against his belief, but that is not what this discussion is about, it is not plainly about his Christianity, but instead about how his Christian beliefs relate to his stance about marrying a gay couple in the church.) Yes he did not support his position on how our genes have control over us. I personally do not not think that a gay person can choose to be straight, but he wanted to leave this open for discussion. If you want to know why he thinks this ask him. When he gives you an argument either show that a premise is false or the conclusion does not follow from the premises. The evidence need not and ought not in this case be empirical. We are asking a question about ethics, one about how the world ought to be not about how the world is. Yes empirical observations can help us come to conclusions in ethics once we have certain ethical principles established, but it cannot give us the principles needed to establish an ethical system. Empirical studies often cannot be used to give reasons (or evidence) for certain propositions that we wish to hold to be true, there are many of areas where empirical or scientific evidence will be insufficient to support a position, though it may factor in.

  17. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 18, 2010 10:15 pm

    AdamK: “Our sexuality is our capacity to form romantic love. Christians focus on the icky sex, and forget all about the love. The hardest thing in the world is to get christians to value love.”

    As a rational, evidence based person, I assume that you have something to back this up?

    Considering that I am Christian, who fell in love with my wife based on romantic love, that I believe is a gift from God, I am quite unsure how you could possibly make a statement like that.

    and in reality, what you said is just as prejudiced as you believe Jon to be.

  18. Cruz permalink
    January 18, 2010 10:34 pm

    Oh and Knockgoats – I’m pretty sure calling someone who loves gay people and does not fear them in whatever way you are implying a homophobe is quite childish. Homophobe is not a word that should be lightly thrown around. It is like calling someone a racist who isn’t. So you’re use of it is either obviously wrong and insignificant or you are making light of a term that you ought not make light of. My best guess would be the latter. Which I must say I find quite appalling.

    Now as for calling him a hypocrite? On what grounds would Jon be anymore of a hypocrite than any of us? Is it because he is a ‘homophobe’? Well since it’s clear that he is not you also should have some decent reason for this accusation. But, I doubt that you do. It seems that instead of trying to enjoy a decent discussion or debate you would rather make inflammatory remarks without providing any rational support.

  19. deepity permalink
    January 18, 2010 11:28 pm

    It seems to be somewhat valid to call him a hypocrite with his stance on gay marriage. As someone who says they don’t have a problem with gays and yet still supports civil unions rather than actual marriages. Now this has nothing to do with whether or not he himself would personally marry them in a religious ceremony, but instead with if he thinks government should give them the exact same rights as they do heterosexual couples.

    However, I’m still curious as to why exactly he wouldn’t preform the marriages. He’s stated that it’s against church tradition and biblical teachings, but that’s still doesn’t explain a whole lot. Is it because it’s the official stance of the EPC? I’ve read their paper and I’m not impressed in the least (it’s a sin, genetic link tenuous, blah blah blah).
    Is it due to personal study of the bible? The verses given in the EPC paper are either old testament “homosexuals and sinful and should be put to death” or convoluted new testament passages. I’m really not seeing the reasoning 😦

  20. Cruz permalink
    January 19, 2010 12:57 am

    deepity,

    “It seems to be somewhat valid to call him a hypocrite with his stance on gay marriage. As someone who says they don’t have a problem with gays and yet still supports civil unions rather than actual marriages. Now this has nothing to do with whether or not he himself would personally marry them in a religious ceremony, but instead with if he thinks government should give them the exact same rights as they do heterosexual couples.”

    Good, so I understand what you are getting at here, but at this point it is a terminological misunderstanding. When Jon says marriage he means that he thinks the religious ceremony is something that should not occur for religious reasons. He thinks that gays rights should be EXACTLY (to every degree) the same as heterosexual couples. This is why Jon would not a hypocrite in that way.

    “However, I’m still curious as to why exactly he wouldn’t preform the marriages. He’s stated that it’s against church tradition and biblical teachings, but that’s still doesn’t explain a whole lot. Is it because it’s the official stance of the EPC? I’ve read their paper and I’m not impressed in the least (it’s a sin, genetic link tenuous, blah blah blah).
    Is it due to personal study of the bible? The verses given in the EPC paper are either old testament “homosexuals and sinful and should be put to death” or convoluted new testament passages. I’m really not seeing the reasoning ”

    Yeah I can see you not understanding why he wouldn’t perform the marriages because you think the reasons are bad. But my point was just that he HAD reasons, not whether or not they were good reasons given the context. I do think there are good reasons for someone in his stance to think that he shouldn’t perform gay marriages. I personally think that if one thinks that church tradition has any authority (like both Jon and I do), they would have to hold themselves to believe that performing a gay marriage is something they shouldn’t do. And then there are plenty of NT passages that support this. They may seem jumbled but the standard interpretation of these passages by nT scholars has almost always been that gay marriage is not permissible within the church. And honestly we ought defer to the authorities when it comes down understanding these kinds of things, just like we ought defer to a classics authority when trying to understand Homer or Caesar’s writings on the conquest of Gaul.

  21. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 1:20 am

    Cruz said:

    “Jon did support the position he asserted; that he did not think that it was right for him as a Christian minister to marry gay people. The argument given is for the reason of what is taught in the bible and church tradition. Granted his Christian belief, this is a reasonable conclusion. (Obviously you can take the argument elsewhere against his belief, but that is not what this discussion is about, it is not plainly about his Christianity, but instead about how his Christian beliefs relate to his stance about marrying a gay couple in the church.)”

    So, as a Christian minister, he doesn’t think it would be right for him to marry gay people because … Christians following the Bible and church tradition do not marry gay people? If this is not a True Scotsman wrapped up inside a bit of circular reasoning, then someone will have to explain it to me step-by-step.

    If there is an ethical reason why he should not do it, then exactly what is that reason? This vague stuff about “Christian beliefs”, “church tradition”, and references to “the Bible” just isn’t cutting it — at least cite some verses from Deuteronomy or Romans, or something. I wouldn’t accept the authority of Bible verses for ethical or empirical claims, but at least I’d know what you’re talking about. I’m assuming most of you don’t think gay people should be punished with death, meaning you don’t follow all the Bible’s ethical commands either. Whence then cometh the “tolerance, not acceptance” of gays? You’re somewhat close to accepting homosexuality, but there is something preventing that. I want to know what it is.

  22. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 1:28 am

    Also spake Cruz:

    “And honestly we ought defer to the authorities when it comes down understanding these kinds of things, just like we ought defer to a classics authority when trying to understand Homer or Caesar’s writings on the conquest of Gaul.”

    The kinds of things I’ve been thinking about are whether “Christians” (although maybe not your version of “True Christians”) can and should “marry homosexuals”. This is an ethical question relating to individuals and society in the present day. One thing is for sure, the very last thing on my mind at the moment was literary criticism of some ancient fairy tales.

  23. Cruz permalink
    January 19, 2010 1:52 am

    Here is the argument:

    1) If X is a part of church tradition or part of biblical doctrine and Y is an orthodox Christian (not an eastern Christian but one with orthodox beliefs), they should hold the doctrine (X) to be true (or follow the doctrine, etc.)
    2) X = gay marriage should not be allowed in the church and Y = Jon
    3) Therefore, if the view that gay marriage should not be allowed in the church is a part of church tradition or part of biblical doctrine and Jon is an orthodox Christian (not an eastern Christian but one with orthodox beliefs), they should hold the doctrine (that gay marriage should not be allowed in the church) to be true (or follow the doctrine, etc.) [This is just an instantiation of the first premise, supported by 2]
    4) The view that gay marriage should not be allowed in the church is a part of church tradition and part of biblical doctrine and Jon is an orthodox believer.
    5)Therefore, Jon should hold that gay marriage should not be allowed in the church to be true (or follow the doctrine, etc.).

    This is not circular by any means. It is just a case of modus ponens (if a then b, a therefore, b). So no doubt it is part of the tradition of the church to think that it is wrong to have gay wedding ceremonies in the church. A passage that supports homosexuality as immoral is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. There are plenty more. And the look I’m tired of the quick references to Dueteronomy. Before you want to pull out what the verse means make sure you go into some exegetical study on it instead of whipping it out like you’ve mastered it in the time that has been spent just trying to look for a counter-example. Defer to what biblical scholars claim the passages mean, they are the authority on the matter, not you not I, or learn how to interpret the book yourself instead of taking quick clippings out of context.

  24. Notagod permalink
    January 19, 2010 2:00 am

    Based on the statement in your post (thomas2026) I wouldn’t call your emotional state with respect to gays, love. It seems more like an ethical stand against physical violence.

    “I’m not going out of my way to tell them stop.”

    Which leads to the question, would you tell them to stop if it was on your way?

    “I still stand by my position that I wouldn’t peform a gay wedding.”

    Then you shouldn’t be stating that you love gay people because it is obvious that you don’t. You go on to give your reasoning as bible and church tradition. Which seems to suggest that you think that “bible and church tradition” has been static over a long time. It hasn’t. It is constantly changing, evidenced by the absurdity of a literal interpretation of what the christian handbook states. Just as you do with other bible statements you could hold the belief that any statements regarding homosexuality aren’t intended to be taken literally or that the statements only applied to the time when written.

    “I’m not sure how else to express my love in a more direct way.”

    Your statements to the contrary speak louder than you love.

    “I understand that most people think that being gay is not a choice. Or, that is, that people can’t help being gay because their genetic makeup. Having done some reading on the subject the past few days, I think this is probably true,or at least, from what I can tell. Or, to state it more plainly, I think people can be born with a genetic predisposition to being gay. I don’t think that gays and lesbians should be forced to be hetero. However, the question then becomes, are we just a product of our genes? Do we have choices or are we a slave to our genes? To me, this is where the real question lies. I would say, no, we aren’t. We have choices.”

    That paragraph really shows your true colors. You accept that there is a genetic link (or more correctly, maybe, you think it is possible.) HOWEVER (and that is a big ugly however), you aren’t comfortable with gays accepting and acting on their genetic predisposition. You clearly think that gays should suppress their gayness. In your subtle (hiding) way, you are projecting your life choice onto others for no other reason but your own personal dogma. It is your guidebook, your god-idea and, your church tradition – <== That is for those that accept the fairytale, don't project your choices onto others. It would be similar to gays stating that you need to suppress your sexual desires; just be gay because that is a gay tradition, if you don't you still have some work to do on your personal affairs. You can choose to NOT be heterosexual if you try.

    "I have gone out of my way to be as honest and straightforward as possible."

    Or are you just parroting what you think you should be without really honestly accepting it.

    "but the moment you direct your nastiness at other people"

    Personally, I consider some of the christian's comments above to be somewhat on the nasty side but, I'll bet you will forgive them. I wonder however, are you considering banning yourself?

    You might be better than the vast majority of christians but, that isn't a very high measure to compare to.

  25. Cruz permalink
    January 19, 2010 3:30 am

    NoGod,

    You are equivocating just like Adam K did. This makes your argument invalid and undercuts your justification for holding your position about Jon not loving gay people. There is no good reason to hold this.

    Also I believe you are conflating subtlety and ‘hiding’. Before making rash comments like you do, make sure you are capable of forming arguments to support your position. The name calling makes you look irrational. And is really only irritating not compelling in any sort of intellectual sense.

    Consciousness Razor,

    Yes the question that we are discussing is whether or not Christian ministers should perform gay marriage. But what I am and have been saying to you is that though you are right the question is ethical it does not just relate individuals and society in the present day, but individuals, society and religious beliefs in the present day. The consideration of religious beliefs are important and what I am making my arguments off of just as Jon does. This does NOT make it the case that there is circular reasoning involved, see my argument above.

    To both of you,

    You both make some unbacked statement about the Bible as fairy tales. I am really getting sick and tired of this nonsense and type of behavior. You wanna claim that you are rational, well you both should be rational! Learn to make arguments instead of continuing to play this recess style name calling game that you have been in your posts. It makes you not look at all like reasonable people, but instead angry, irrational and incapable of defending your position. Learn to actually critique peoples arguments instead of calling it stupid, or calling someone a hypocrite or whatever name-calling excuse for not having a critique that you guys give. It is ridiculous and just meaningless banter. If you want to engage us in discussion please do, I love getting into an intellectual discussion. But calling things like the Bible just a fairy tale without even pointing to support for such a ridiculous conjecture, is something I have little tolerance for. So please try to engage us instead of continuing down this irrational path of petty name calling.

  26. Cruz permalink
    January 19, 2010 3:31 am

    Sorry a correction to the original post I meant ‘NotaGod’ instead of ‘NoGod’

  27. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 7:20 am

    Cruz:
    “But calling things like the Bible just a fairy tale without even pointing to support for such a ridiculous conjecture, is something I have little tolerance for. So please try to engage us instead of continuing down this irrational path of petty name calling.”

    Well, I recognize the part about having “little tolerance”…. But fine, enough with the “petty name calling”, I guess. The Bible isn’t a bunch of ancient fairy tales. It’s a bunch of ancient ghost stories. Does that make you feel better?

    I’ve been fairly polite here, but the irony is thick. Somehow mine was a “ridiculous conjecture”. Yet I am apparently supposed to have more than a little tolerance for all the supernatural junk in the Bible? Is it too much for me to bluntly and succinctly describe nonsense as nonsense? Where exactly is the support for any of it, or for any kind of god whatsoever, Christian or otherwise? Just keep in mind that I’m not the one making the extraordinary claims without a shred of evidence.

  28. Andrew permalink
    January 19, 2010 7:31 am

    The bottom line here is this: is there any reason to think that homosexuality is wrong, other than “because Paul said so”?

    (bearing in mind that Paul had quite a bit of pretty dubious advice to give, such as recommending that people not marry at all, which is understandable in the context of a 1st-century doomsday cult but not such good advice in the real world)

  29. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 7:34 am

    And by the way, I still don’t buy the “Church doctrine” argument. I asked for an ethical reason why he should not marry gays. I’ll briefly summarize your response like this: “The church doctrine is that gays should not be married in the church. [missing premise: The church doctrine is a good thing to do, for some reason…] Therefore, it is not ethical to marry gays in the church.”

    So, why should anyone follow that doctrine? Other than the fact that it’s a religious doctrine, or tradition, or belief, exactly what makes it an ethical thing to do?

  30. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 9:12 am

    Yes the question that we are discussing is whether or not Christian ministers should perform gay marriage.

    Are ministers of the UCC Christian?

  31. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 9:56 am

    Cruz,

    I’m not interested in an argument with homophobic hypocrites like Jon, I’m interested in exposing them for what they are. Jon opposed giving gay people the same civil rights as straight ones on Pharyngula. That he has apparently reversed this here (I’m still suspicious there is equivocation above, given that on Pharyngula he said his preference is for the state to get out of marriage altogether) is a refutation of your claim that name-calling achieves nothing. I’d guess that no-one has called him out before as the homophobic hypocrite he is. I’ve made my grounds for calling him that quite clear: that he regards homosexual behaviour as wrong makes him a homophobe; that his nicey-nicey surface conceals the typical Biblical bigot makes him a hypocrite. Refusing to marry gay people is itself a homophobic act: it says quite clearly to the entire congregation that homosexual relationships are inferior and reprehensible. Jon the homophobic hypocrite has asserted that he loves gays: his actions give the opposite message, and actions speak louder than words.

    A passage that supports homosexuality as immoral is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10… Defer to what biblical scholars claim the passages mean, they are the authority on the matter, not you not I

    Oh, I do. You are quite right: the Bible is indeed a charter for bigots – and not only homophobes, but misogynists, and in the case of the NT, antisemites. That’s one reason – by no means the only one – why it is evil to use this collection of fairy tales as a guide to morality.

  32. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 10:22 am

    Knockgoats,
    I did no such thing on Pharyngla. Perhaps you misunderstood me, but I did not oppose giving gay people civil rights. I was very clear about having equal rights under the law. My statement here was to clarify that remark in a deeper sense, not reverse the position. I’m sorry you misunderstood me. I’m sorry you have to be suspicious of every damn thing people have to say, nor being willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    This is what I said for those who are curious:
    In seriousness, that would be correct. I favor, under the current system we have in this country, a civil union plan for gays and lesbians. I think they should have full access to rights under the law.

    So, tell me again, how this contradicts what I wrote here? I realized that I needed a fuller explanation of what I meant over at PZ’s place, so this is why I wrote what I did. No one made me reverse anything nor change my original position. Gays/Lesbians should have the same rights as hetero couples under the US consititution.

    And, I do think the state should get out of the marriage buisness, but not the civil partnership/union business. As someone pointed out, we need SOMETHING to ensure hospital rights, etc and so on.

  33. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:27 am

    The United Church of Christ and each of the following: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA, and the Reformed Church in America are in full communion.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_communion#Agreements_of_communion_complete

    The UCC permits church sanctioned marriage of gay couples. Are they not Christian?

    Where does the Nicene Creed say not to marry teh gai or you get cooties?

    Any person, religious or otherwise who perpetuates or justifies bigotry on the basis of tradition alone, written or oral is a bigot.

  34. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:33 am

    Perhaps you misunderstood me, but I did not oppose giving gay people civil rights.

    People’s civil rights are rights, not gifts.

  35. Mike permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:39 am

    This is what the man said on Pharyngula: “To be frank, I think the state should be out of the marriage business, period, hetero or otherwise. So, if you want to call it marriage, or civil union, it doesn’t really matter, as long as everyone gets equal rights under the law.” ( http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/01/video_conference.php#comment-2209693 )

    The position that homosexuality is morally wrong baffles me. I do not support the blogger’s view on the subject. But he clearly stated his position two days ago the he thinks everyone should have equal rights under the law. To say that “Jon opposed giving homosexual people the same civil rights as straight ones on Pharyngula” is not true.

  36. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 10:40 am

    I agree Sidhra. I was merely addressing Knockgoats critique.

  37. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:50 am

    I favor, under the current system we have in this country, a civil union plan for gays and lesbians. – Jon the homophobic hypocrite

    Under the current system, heterosexual couples can marry: the only way gays can have equal civil rights is therefore to have the legal might to marry, not to have a “civil union plan”. “Separate but equal” is a lie, as it always was; and you know it.

  38. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 10:53 am

    I do know it, Knockgoats, which is why I have stated, once again, that it should be equal. I never said seperate, but equal. I would prefer that marriage not be called marriage in the state system for either HETERO OR HOMOSEXUAL couples. Is that clear enough?

  39. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:06 am

    It’s still utterly dishonest. There is absolutely no chance that the state will “get out of the marriage business”, as you know very well. Why the fuck should it? Marriage has been a legal contract ever since there were legal systems – it doesn’t belong to the religious. In any case, you said “under the current system” – in which the state is in the marriage business. You’re clearly so deeply dishonest that you’re constantly lying to yourself as well as everyone else about your bigotry.

  40. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 11:12 am

    Dude, I really don’t know what else to say to you. I’m done.

  41. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:15 am

    I would prefer that marriage not be called marriage in the state system for either HETERO OR HOMOSEXUAL couples.

    And why is that? Would you claim the English word for your own religious realm exclusively? On what basis? Is Hindu marriage not really marriage? Buddhist? Muslim? Godless Red Chinese (as civil a marriage as ever there was)? Is a same-sex marriage performed by a Congregational minister (UCC) not a marriage?

    Do you wish to keep the word away from gays because of your religious beliefs?

  42. January 19, 2010 11:21 am

    Speaking with my roommate some time ago, she came up with a much better solution. Take legal marriage out of the hands of religion. It’s really a level of secular power that doesn’t belong there in the modern world. Religion can still have its ceremonies, based on the customs and biases of the individual sect (thus Buddhist marriage, Jewish marriage, Scientology marriage, Episcopalian marriage, etc.) but without legal force. That would be entirely a civic matter, since taxes, custody of children, hospital visitation, survivor benefits and so on are all civic matters to begin with.

  43. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 11:22 am

    Not a bad idea, Kelseigh. If I’m not mistaken, I think England has a similiar system. Am I wrong about this, English types?

  44. Richard Eis permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:37 am

    It is the only logical conclusion. The problem in the US is that marriage is apparently of super sacred importance within the christian sects and they have been more than willing to heavily fund anything which protects said sacred cow. Without of course realising the hypocrisy that a muslim or Jewish marriage undermines their position.

    I doubt such a thing would do well in the polls.

  45. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:39 am

    Kelseigh, I’m sorry, but that’s really begging the question. It would seem that fundamentally Jon does not choose to personally recognize a same sex union as a marriage. He is one of many who take this view: one of many who by taking this view excercise and encourage bigotry by semantics. It is not just to make a faith out of bigotry. One might even call it unchristian.

  46. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:52 am

    In all parts of the UK, what counts legally is the marriage certificate, a civil document. You don’t have to have a separate civil ceremony if you want a religious ceremony, but the mumbo-jumbo in the latter has no legal force. We don’t yet have gay marriage, unlike several more civilised European countries.

    None of this, of course, prevents religious discrimination against gays being homophobic, as sidhra noted. But then, as I noted, the Bible is indeed a charter for bigots.

  47. Notagod permalink
    January 19, 2010 12:32 pm

    Lose,

    It seems that you don’t know what equivocate means:

    e·quiv·o·cate – To use equivocal language intentionally.

    e·quiv·o·cal – Open to two or more interpretations and often intended to mislead; ambiguous.

    If you are seeing some double meaning within my comment, you are reading it wrong. However, it is likely that you want it to be there as equivocation is the language of the christian.

    Your comment doesn’t even address any of the statements in my comment, not even one. You are simply blathering on as is the christian tradition.

    Oops, silly me! Lose should be Cruz, sorry.

    [Now that (last sentence – what it refers to), I will allow, was equivocal.

    As you can see thomas2026 is so afraid he won’t address the statements in my comment either, its just traditional christian “la la la I can’t hear you”.

    Cruz, that last sentence, it is also equivocal, it is a call to thomas2026 to put up or shut up.

    Everyone else,

    I also agree with Mike’s statement concerning what Jon stated on Pharynula, and I agree – the government should only be interested in the legal aspects of a committed relationship and all such committed relationships should be seen and labeled by the government the same way. To me, marriage is an emotional and promissory commitment between the parties involved, that should be conducted as the committed parties choose, and the government should have no involvement there. The governments involvement should be to recognize the legal aspects – the civil union.

    However, that does not address the vagueness or uncertainty of thomas2026’s “love”. Which I did in my prior comment.

  48. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 2:16 pm

    I suspect those pastors and congregations that celebrate (and sanctify) same sex unions think of themselves as unequivocally christian in agreeing to celebrate a marriage that is, as Notagod puts it, “an emotional and promissory commitment between the parties involved”. It’s sad that priests and preachers of some others broadcast their subtle approbations, clinging to citations of ancient prejudice and bigotry to justify their own fears. What’s even sadder is they lead entire congregations into the same errors.

  49. Cruz permalink
    January 19, 2010 4:22 pm

    Notagod,

    Behaving like a child does not address how you were not equivocating. The point is either you are equivocating what Jon meant by the word love to make your argument or the premise you need to make your argument tick is just plain false. You are missing the logical fallacy that I tried to point out. Unlike the dictionary definition when someone is accused of equivocating it does not mean that the language they use is intentionally meant to be deceptive it just rather is accusing them of conflating two meanings to try to make an argument. The argument is invalid because the two meanings are conflated. There is no ‘lalala I can’t hear you going on’ only the accusation that you have failed not only to make a valid argument but to make any other argument then the one that is clearly not valid!

    So you tried to rebut by saying that you did not equivocate the word ‘love’ between what Jon meant and you are using in your argument. Fine then your argument is not sound.

    Kelseigh, I’m sorry, but that’s really begging the question. It would seem that fundamentally Jon does not choose to personally recognize a same sex union as a marriage. He is one of many who take this view: one of many who by taking this view excercise and encourage bigotry by semantics. It is not just to make a faith out of bigotry. One might even call it unchristian.

    Sidhra,

    I find it hard to think that Kelseigh is begging the question when she only made a suggestion and no argument.

    Jon sees both as equal all things considered besides in the context of religious ceremonies. Whether he uses marriage or civil union he means just this, in the eyes of the law the union between homosexuals and heterosexuals should not be considered as being of any different kind, deserving of any different rights, etc. The unions between heterosexuals and homomosexuals should be seen as identical in the eyes of the law. You may say we not only support the legal equality of heterosexual and homosexual unions but the identity of them!

    To everyone,

    The accusation of bigotry is really quite vacuous. In doing so no one is doing anything constructive. So, instead try to convince us otherwise about our views instead of trying to point fingers. Really it just makes this look like some sort of witch hunt.

    Knockgoats,

    Try to understand what Jon is saying before you accuse him of saying something that he clearly isn’t. He seems to agree with a lot of what you say in this comment:

    “Marriage has been a legal contract ever since there were legal systems – it doesn’t belong to the religious. In any case, you said “under the current system” – in which the state is in the marriage business.”

    He just is using different language. To mean roughly the same thing.

    Sure you say that you are just interested in exposing Jon for what he really is, but you kind of half to provide an argument to show thats what he really is, which to this point you have not shown that you are capable of doing.

    Consciousness Razor,

    “Well, I recognize the part about having “little tolerance”…. But fine, enough with the “petty name calling”, I guess. The Bible isn’t a bunch of ancient fairy tales. It’s a bunch of ancient ghost stories. Does that make you feel better?”

    Once again cute name-calling used in lack of having any sort of argument or reason.

    “I’ve been fairly polite here, but the irony is thick. Somehow mine was a “ridiculous conjecture”. Yet I am apparently supposed to have more than a little tolerance for all the supernatural junk in the Bible? Is it too much for me to bluntly and succinctly describe nonsense as nonsense? Where exactly is the support for any of it, or for any kind of god whatsoever, Christian or otherwise? Just keep in mind that I’m not the one making the extraordinary claims without a shred of evidence.”

    No, it is not too much for you, it is too little to be considered remotely close to intellectually satisfying, what we have is you describing something as nonsense without any sort of support for you belief. Congrats you produced a conclusion without making explicit (or even implicit for that matter) why you arrived at it. Conclusions without arguments are no way to make yourself known as a rational person, instead it makes you look like you are not capable of going about the reasoning needed to be warranted to come to such a conclusion.

    “And by the way, I still don’t buy the “Church doctrine” argument. I asked for an ethical reason why he should not marry gays. I’ll briefly summarize your response like this: “The church doctrine is that gays should not be married in the church. [missing premise: The church doctrine is a good thing to do, for some reason…] Therefore, it is not ethical to marry gays in the church.”

    So, why should anyone follow that doctrine? Other than the fact that it’s a religious doctrine, or tradition, or belief, exactly what makes it an ethical thing to do?”

    Okay, good this is something that is engaging. What I did earlier is provide you reasons why Jon should think his conclusion was rational in virtue of his Christianity. You are wondering whether or not he can reach his conclusion based on purely ethical reasons. Of course I think it may be silly for a Christian to not accept your hidden premise can he make an argument not using tradition etc.? This is a great question. I know that there are some theories in ethics such as natural law theory which can enable one to make this sort of conclusion. I am about to head to class right now, so let me get back to you on those arguments because I would enjoy discussing whether or not they are any good.

  50. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 5:21 pm

    Cruz-

    Cut the bull. Is the United Church of Christ, a denomination in full communion with Presbyterians, a Christian Church or not? If it is, then by what reasoning can you show me that one Christian Church, Holy and Catholic, can celebrate gay unions as marriages within the Church while another Church may not? How does God figure out who to send to Hell here?

    Jon bloody well chooses not to marry Gays, and it’s his bloody choice. It is most certainly not God’s explicit commandment: merely Jon’s understanding of the texts. Other affirmed Christians ordained in their denominations see the matter otherwise based on their understanding of texts, or perhaps they’ve reached the conclusion that homophobia is as much an affront to justice as is racism and religious bigotry.

    Because Jon whines about having to use the word marriage when referring to gay unions, and because Jon refuses to perform the same, Jon is a bigot. If his faith demands he does so, his is a bigoted faith. Others who proclaim the faith of the Nicene Creed have no problems including gays in their faith, and celebrating their marriages, so why not Jon? Because he is a bigot. I really don’t care why he’s a bigot, or who told him to be a bigot, or whether the scratchings of Paul or Leviticus say it’s ok to be a bigot in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek or the New Revised Bigot Translation. The plain fact is, he is, and he’s teaching that bigotry to college students in the name of “faith”. And that just plain sucks.

  51. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 5:24 pm

    Cruz:

    Go ahead and muster up some ethical justification for not allowing gay marriage in your church. I’m not expecting anything good anyway, but it’s better than nothing. In the meantime…

    You said, “Once again cute name-calling used in lack of having any sort of argument or reason.”

    I thought the reasons were rather obvious. There’s no evidence for any of the following things:

    The existence of a god
    The existence of a soul or souls
    The existence of an afterlife
    That anything supernatural exists, or has or ever will exist
    That prophesies and miracles have ever occured
    That any of the above are even possible or knowable
    That faith is a valid form of knowledge
    That prayer works, for any religion whatsoever

    Not mention how inaccurate and inconsistent the Bible is on non-supernatural topics. Here’s one of those, in case you’re interested: other than the Bible itself (which I’m probably not allowed to call “mythology”, but to be charitable I’ll say it’s severely factually-challenged), there’s no evidence that Jesus was a historical person. I certainly think it’s possible that he was a real person, but that’s all we know: a mere possibility, because he was written about in some old stories.

    Here’s a fun project for you: pick your favorite translation of the Bible, start at Genesis, and read each book. If you find a single one lacking in supernatural events and which could possibly be historically accurate, let me know what it is and it will be duly noted.

    So, I’ll repeat myself, just in case you missed it somehow or find it more worthy of response this time: “Where exactly is the support for any of it, or for any kind of god whatsoever, Christian or otherwise? Just keep in mind that I’m not the one making the extraordinary claims without a shred of evidence.”

    If there’s some reason why I should support my belief that the Easter bunny, Poseidon, or the FSM do not exist, then let me know what that is. At this point, that’s how seriously I take the “god” idea. It’s up to you to show that your own idea, whatever it may be, should be taken more seriously. I can’t do it all for you.

  52. Notagod permalink
    January 19, 2010 5:31 pm

    Cruz,

    I can see that you are pounding on your keyboard but its the same dance.

    Don’t know what your problems are but I can easily understand Knockgoats position. It is emotional but with good reason. The equality of rights is above the correctness of the labels that are applied. The gays only rational choice is to keep demanding marriage equality because that is the official government stand at this time. It would be unconscionable to expect them to fix the system and then demand equality later. Knockgoats is correct. You however are off in never-never land. Perhaps you could take a remedial kindergarten class or some such thing.

    Please forward a copy of your dictionary and I will use it in an attempt to communicate with you in your language whatever you call it.

  53. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 5:38 pm

    Cruz,

    He just is using different language. To mean roughly the same thing.

    Crap. If he had meant what he is now pretending he meant, he would simply have said, on Pharyngula: “Yes, I support civil marriage for gays”. What’s so fucking difficult about that?

    but you kind of half to provide an argument to show thats what he really is, which to this point you have not shown that you are capable of doing.

    Reading comprehension’s not your strong point, is it? To quote myself:
    “I’d guess that no-one has called him out before as the homophobic hypocrite he is. I’ve made my grounds for calling him that quite clear: that he regards homosexual behaviour as wrong makes him a homophobe; that his nicey-nicey surface conceals the typical Biblical bigot makes him a hypocrite. Refusing to marry gay people is itself a homophobic act: it says quite clearly to the entire congregation that homosexual relationships are inferior and reprehensible. Jon the homophobic hypocrite has asserted that he loves gays: his actions give the opposite message, and actions speak louder than words.”
    Now, if you have a reasoned response to that argument rather than a whine, make it.

    No, it is not too much for you, it is too little to be considered remotely close to intellectually satisfying, what we have is you describing something as nonsense without any sort of support for you belief.
    It’s pretty stupid to say this right after quoting the justification given:
    “Where exactly is the support for any of it, or for any kind of god whatsoever, Christian or otherwise? Just keep in mind that I’m not the one making the extraordinary claims without a shred of evidence.”
    Where is that support, Cruz? Where is that evidence?

    Incidentally, doctrinally orthodox Christianity is in fact necessarily false – i.e., false in all logically possible worlds. The doctrine of the hypostatic union is that Jesus was “wholly man and wholly God”, or “fully man and fully God” or “true man and true God”. However, “man” and “God” have incompatible attributes: God is supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and the same at all times, while a man is none of these things. Nothing can have incompatible attributes, therefore doctrinally orthodox Christianity is necessarily false. AFAIK, it is unique among religions in this respect.

  54. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 5:57 pm

    Knockgoats:

    “Nothing can have incompatible attributes, therefore doctrinally orthodox Christianity is necessarily false. AFAIK, it is unique among religions in this respect.”

    I don’t think that’s the only reason doctrinally orthodox Christianity is necessarily false, but it’s certainly a good one. It could also be argued that the problem of evil forces a similar conclusion. The beliefs that God is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent cannot both simultaneously be true, because “moral evil” and “natural evil” exist in the world. The whole concept of Original Sin, salvation though faith in Jesus, and the existence of an afterlife (or two or three) is undermined; because God’s supposed omnipotence means no amount of sin or suffering ever had to have occurred.

  55. Eric R permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:07 pm

    Marriage has been a legal contract ever since there were legal systems – it doesn’t belong to the religious. In any case, you said “under the current system” – in which the state is in the marriage business

    This is most pertinant in my mind. There should be one definition, for the sake of argument call it marriage. The State licenses marriage, not the church, the State must provide equal rights to all under the law and as such it must be provided to gays just as it is provided to heterosexuals.

    However, the state has no jurasdiction over churches, they cannot force churces to wed gays if the churches refuse to do so, this is part and parcel of the 1st ammendment “freedom of religion”. If Jon decides he would not wed gays because his church forbids it, he is perfectly allowed to do so. He accepts that their rights are being infringed upon, however he is not in any way required to perform ceremonies if he decides not to based on his membership in a given church.

    Equally however churches should accept that they have no right to try to dictate to the State who can or cannot be wed, which they at present do with great effect.

    I fully support Jon’s right to not perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, I disagree with his reasons, and think it only reflects negatively on the supposed morality of religion, but thats his business, as an athiest I’m not overly impressed with religious morality to begin with. But under our constitution it is his right to do so.. It was stated so well in the movie “The American President” –

    America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

    Funny that something from hollywood would hit the nail so accurately.

  56. Andrew permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:09 pm

    Here’s a fun project for you: pick your favorite translation of the Bible, start at Genesis, and read each book. If you find a single one lacking in supernatural events and which could possibly be historically accurate, let me know what it is and it will be duly noted.

    1 Maccabees is probably the closest to that.

    Of course, that gets left out of most people’s bibles…

  57. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:10 pm

    Eric R.,
    For the record, I agree that the state (in the USA or anywhere else) should not attempt to force churches to marry gay couples.

  58. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:19 pm

    I don’t think that’s the only reason doctrinally orthodox Christianity is necessarily false, but it’s certainly a good one. It could also be argued that the problem of evil forces a similar conclusion. The beliefs that God is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent cannot both simultaneously be true, because “moral evil” and “natural evil” exist in the world. – Consciousness Razor

    I haven’t seen any formulation which closes off all possible loopholes: that would require showing that the three premises:
    1) God is omnipotent.
    2) God is omnibenevolent.
    3) Evil exists.
    when appropriately formalised, lead to a contradiction. Theists have never put forward a convincing argument that the three premises are compatible, and the blethering and special pleading that goes on under the name of “theodicy” is both pitiful and contemptible – but I’d say the existence of evil is only very strong empirical evidence against the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being.

  59. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:09 pm

    Knockgoats:

    Thanks for keeping me honest. I agree it might not be the kind of proof that can be made against an idea like hypostatic union. There may only be very strong empirical evidence against. Still, I strongly doubt the premises could ever be rationally and “appropriately formalised” to everyone’s satisfaction. It looks like a contradiction and walks like a contradiction, so until theists show otherwise that is what I will consider it.

    An excerpt from Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”, part XI:

    There may four hypotheses be framed concerning the first causes of the universe: that they are endowed with perfect goodness, that they have perfect malice, that they are opposite and have both goodness and malice, that they have neither goodness nor malice. Mixed phenomena can never prove the two former unmixed principles. And the uniformity and steadiness of general laws seems to oppose the third. The fourth, therefore, seems by far the most probable.

    What I have said concerning natural evil will apply to moral, with little or no variation; and we have no more reason to infer, that the rectitude of the Supreme Being resembles human rectitude than that his benevolence resembles the human. Nay, it will be thought, that we have still greater cause to exclude from him moral sentiments, such as we feel them; since moral evil, in the opinion of many, is much more predominant above moral good than natural evil above natural good.

    But even though this should not be allowed, and though the virtue, which is in mankind, should be acknowledged much superior to the vice; yet so long as there is any vice at all in the universe, it will very much puzzle you Anthropomorphites, how to account for it. You must assign a cause for it, without having recourse to the first cause.

  60. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:24 pm

    Consciousness Razor,

    Aye, but auld Davy Hume had a bonnie turn o’ phrase, did he naw?

  61. January 19, 2010 8:27 pm

    It’s been mentioned up there a couple of times, but what question am I begging, considering I didn’t mention Jon at all, and was speaking of marriage in general terms? I’m a bit confused there.

  62. Notagod permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:44 pm

    How could any of the christian gods permit a perfect plan that included installing child rapists as authoritarians within any of their own houses. If I were any god let alone a perfect god I would’ve scrapped the plan right there, even without considering all the other injustices to be visited by the children of the cracker.

  63. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:46 pm

    I understand that most people think that being gay is not a choice. Or, that is, that people can’t help being gay because their genetic makeup. Having done some reading on the subject the past few days, I think this is probably true,or at least, from what I can tell. Or, to state it more plainly, I think people can be born with a genetic predisposition to being gay. – Jon the homophobic hypocrite

    Whether this is true is not, of course, of much moral significance. The point is, those who moralise about others’ sexual practices that do not involve lack of full consent, dishonesty, or lack of concern for the health of others, are contemptible.

  64. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:55 pm

    Kaleigh, you acting for Jon in answering a question not asked, as to how best to elide the description of a same sex union as a marriage.
    Begging the question (or petitio principii, “assuming the initial point”) is a logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise.

    Proposition to be proved: Using the term “marriage” is unfit for same sex couples
    Premise: The same.
    Kaleighs argues:
    Take legal marriage out of the hands of religion. It’s really a level of secular power that doesn’t belong there in the modern world. Religion can still have its ceremonies, based on the customs and biases of the individual sect (thus Buddhist marriage, Jewish marriage, Scientology marriage, Episcopalian marriage, etc.) but without legal force. That would be entirely a civic matter, since taxes, custody of children, hospital visitation, survivor benefits and so on are all civic matters to begin with.
    Begs the question of why all this maneuvering is needed, if you reject the premise that marriage is unfit for same sex couples. Clear?

  65. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 19, 2010 9:03 pm

    Nah, he called them “Anthropomorphites”. That sounds a bit derogatory, so it probably counts as a form of petty name-calling. Thus, by force of that single word, everything else written can be ignored by rational people. You know, those who really care about the “substance” and having a productive dialogue.

  66. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 9:08 pm

    I fully support Jon’s right to not perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, I disagree with his reasons, and think it only reflects negatively on the supposed morality of religion, but thats his business, as an athiest I’m not overly impressed with religious morality to begin with. But under our constitution it is his right to do so

    Perfect.

  67. Knockgoats permalink
    January 19, 2010 9:23 pm

    Consciousness Razor,
    That’s true, that’s true. While Jesus, of course, was always the epitome of politeness: “generation of vipers” was a term of great respect in 1st century Palestine!

  68. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 9:41 pm

    Knockgoats, I figured that since he was applying that term to religious people, I thought you would like that he used that language.

  69. January 19, 2010 10:40 pm

    sidhra: Given that I was not making an argument about gay marriage whatsoever but providing a counterpoint to Jon’s comment regarding removing marriage from the civil sphere, your criticism falls on its face. Better luck next time.

  70. deepity permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:10 pm

    @ Eric R
    I don’t think anyone here has made a case for Jon not to legally be able to refuse to marry gays. I’m really not sure how you came to that conclusion unless you just skimmed.

    Now, as much as it is his right to refuse to marry gays everyone else has just as much of a right to criticize him for doing so.

  71. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 19, 2010 11:22 pm

    Deepity,
    I think people have every right to criticize me not marrying gays and lesbians. I’m fine with the critique, just not so fine with some of the things I’m being called. I don’t expect people to agree with me on this one or even saying people have to do so. If you notice, I have not edited anyone or deleted anyone’s posts. So, if i was trying to stifle critique, I’m doing a pretty piss poor job at it.

  72. Mike permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:25 pm

    Kelseigh neither assumes the premise that nor comes to the conclusion that “[u]sing the term ‘marriage’ is unfit for same sex couples.”

    Forgive me, Kelseigh, for taking your part unsolicited, but I believe the full construction of the argument is:

    1: Assumed: There is a particular social conflict between those in favor of recognizing the civil rights of homosexual people and those who believe that homosexuality is immoral.
    2: Assumed: The cause of this social conflict is the overlap of government and religious control of ‘marriage.’
    3: Assumed: Eliminating this cause will eliminate the effect, i.e., the particular social conflict.
    4: Kelseigh proposes a political solution to eliminate the cause.
    5: Therefore, on Kelseigh’s view, the proposal would eliminate a particular social conflict.

    There are questionable assumptions to be sure, but Kelseigh hasn’t assumed the starting point.

    This is why I dislike message boards. Statements and arguments are found in close proximity to each other, they use the same terms, and they are often about related issues, but this doesn’t mean they address the same thing. Kelseigh’s post makes a related political argument, but not an ethical one. As such, the post is about something unrelated to whether using the term ‘marriage’ is unfit for same sex couples.

  73. deepity permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:41 pm

    I think people have every right to criticize me not marrying gays and lesbians. I’m fine with the critique, just not so fine with some of the things I’m being called. I don’t expect people to agree with me on this one or even saying people have to do so. If you notice, I have not edited anyone or deleted anyone’s posts. So, if i was trying to stifle critique, I’m doing a pretty piss poor job at it.

    Nor was I accusing you of doing so. But really the “i don’t like what they are calling me” simply does not work, especially on the internet. It seems that you spend more time addressing people’s language rather than their arguments. You have heard of “don’t feed the trolls”? And saying how you don’t like being called a hypocrite or a homophone and then insinuating that knockgoats has a knee-jerk dislike of religious people? Talk about eye for an eye. Sure KG may be being unnecessarily rude in places, but it’s still within the limits of being able to have an actual discussion. If KG was typing in all caps, ignoring everything you said, and doing nothing but leaving comments calling you names then maybe you would have a case. But the comments here have been amazingly on-topic and respectful for what the subject matter is.

  74. deepity permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:45 pm

    Bah, my quote tags didn’t work. Damned XHTML.

  75. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 19, 2010 11:49 pm

    Why won’t perform a celebration of marriage for a same sex couple? Hmm? Because Christians don’t do such things? Well, they do. You won’t perform the ceremony because you bloody well don’t want to. Because you don’t believe homosexuals are fit for marriage. Otherwise, you would bless such a union. All this firedancing is so much tosh.

    The question in this thread has always been about marriage and its suitability for same sex couples. You bullshit when you pretend otherwise.

    Good luck to you.

  76. Notagod permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:31 am

    How many thomas2026s are there:

    “You can call me whatever you want”

    “I’m fine with the critique, just not so fine with some of the things I’m being called.”

    Ssssh! Don’t tell (the)thomas2026(s) that (t)he(y) make(s) incompatible statements, (t)he(y) doesn’t(don’t) want to know about it. (T)he(y) doesn’t(don’t) want anyone to notice.

  77. fauxrs permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:50 am

    @ Eric R
    I don’t think anyone here has made a case for Jon not to legally be able to refuse to marry gays. I’m really not sure how you came to that conclusion unless you just skimmed.

    Indeed no one has made such a case and I didnt conclude that anyone had, however I felt it a point worth mentioning in the heat of the ongoing digladiation.

    Now, as much as it is his right to refuse to marry gays everyone else has just as much of a right to criticize him for doing so.

    Indeed so, and I never said otherwise.

  78. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:00 am

    Knockgoats, I figured that since he was applying that term to religious people, I thought you would like that he used that language. – jon-thh

    I understood he was applying it to hypocrites.

  79. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 8:17 am

    Notagod,

    I think you’re being unfair to jon-thh here:

    “You can call me whatever you want” I interpreted as simply giving permission, and saying you won’t be banned or edited for it (and credit where it’s due, he’s kept to that as far as I’m concerned); he didn’t say he wouldn’t complain about it.

  80. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:42 am

    Sidhra-
    This is an answer for you finally!

    I can’t speak for Jonathan, but I am going to anyways, because in my proud Lutheran heritage we do, and ask forgiveness later (see glbt policies), as someone that is more liberal in this position than Jonathan is, I think he would still affirm my Christianity, because homosexuality is something that the Church does not rise or fall upon, we rise and fall upon the cross of Jesus. Sexuality is an ethical doctrine, and as Peter showed in Acts, “what was once unclean is now clean”. I don’t necessarily fully affirm it, or deaffirm, but here is the point that most people do in fact miss:

    Orthodox Christians do NOT believe that homosexuals are going to hell, much like we don’t believe that people who are divorced are going to hell, or that people that who have had abortions are going to hell, or people who don’t give food to the guy on the corner. Ethical behavior is not what qualifies for salvation, sanctification, or justification. Those are matters of God, and while certainly in a few areas Paul speaks to things that are “stumbling blocks”, the words of Jesus to the criminal on the cross are poignant, “today, you will be with me in paradise”.

  81. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 20, 2010 11:51 am

    Eric and Sidhra,
    Eric said it perfectly. I wasn’t avoding your question, I just got slamed with real life.

  82. Consciousness Razor permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:55 am

    Eric said:

    Orthodox Christians do NOT believe that homosexuals are going to hell, much like we don’t believe that people who are divorced are going to hell, or that people that who have had abortions are going to hell, or people who don’t give food to the guy on the corner. Ethical behavior is not what qualifies for salvation, sanctification, or justification. Those are matters of God, and while certainly in a few areas Paul speaks to things that are “stumbling blocks”, the words of Jesus to the criminal on the cross are poignant, “today, you will be with me in paradise”.

    Great. So who’s going to hell then? Also, who’s going to heaven? How do you know?

  83. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:26 pm

    I don’t. Paul says work out your salvation with “fear and trembling”

  84. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 20, 2010 12:43 pm

    To further that, Jesus said no one comes to the Father except through me. How that gets applied is entirely up to God, not me, not Eric, not anyone else.

  85. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:46 pm

    I can’t speak for Jonathan, but I am going to anyways, because in my proud Lutheran heritage Eric Worringer

    Your proud of your theological descent from that loathsome scumbag? Luther was the author of Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants (1525), encouraging the merciless murder of peasant rebels in the name of the Divine Right of Kings:
    “”If the peasant is in open rebellion, then he is outside the
    law of God, for rebellion is not simply murder, but it is like
    a great fire w hich attacks and lays waste a whole land. …
    Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab,
    secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more
    poisonous, hurtful or devilish than a rebel. It is just as
    when one must kill a mad dog. If you do not fight the
    rebels, they will fight you, and the whole country with you.
    These times are so extraordinary that a prince can win
    heaven more easily by bloodshed than by prayer.””

    He also wrote On the Jews and their Lies (1543), in which he advocated destruction of all synagogues in Germany and destruction of Jewish prayerbooks, suppression of rabbis’ right to teach, abolition of their right to safe passage on the roads, confiscation of all Jewish property, and forced labour or expulsion, even including the sentence “We are at fault for not slaying them”. Now, which more recent historical figure does that remind you of? He was a great fan. I must admit the Lutheran Church repudiated this latter work – in 1983.

    What will probably worry jon-thh more is that he considered that polygamy was permissible:
    “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.”
    He advised Philip, landgrave of Hesse, to marry the second wife he desired in secret, and “tell a good strong lie” about it.

  86. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:47 pm

    So, Jon — if Eric said it right, then you would refuse to perform marriages for divorced people, people who have had abortions, and people who don’t give to beggars? Because they’re right there in the same list with homosexuals, and you’re no hypocrite when you say you love gay people? This conversation has lost me.

  87. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:48 pm

    On Pharyngula you said you wouldn’t marry gay people and adulterers. Are there other sinners who don’t deserve your ministry, or just these special few?

  88. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 12:56 pm

    Paul says work out your salvation with “fear and trembling” – Eric “I love Luther” Worringer

    The evil of Christianity in a nutshell, from arch-bigot Paul of Tarsus. Scare people shitless, make them consider themselves filthy sinners who deserve eternal torture, and at the same offer them “salvation” if they abase themselves. The aim is to induce a condition of helpless dependence on the pushers of Christianity, or “pastors” as they prefer to call themselves.

    Oh BTW Eric, I forgot this gem from Luther:

    “Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”

  89. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:19 pm

    I am not here to cover the obvious sinfulness of Luther’s later years, just because I am proud of my heritage doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have skeleton’s in the closet, for example, the relative silence of the Church in Nazi Germany. But Knockgoats, to think that your own philsophical/theoretical heritage doesn’t have problems too is a joke.

  90. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:21 pm

    Adam, I wasn’t trying to list sins.

  91. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:25 pm

    And Knockgoats, you should know that he said this too:

    “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian. They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property. When they baptize them they show them nothing of Christian doctrine or life, but only subject them to popishness and monkery…If the apostles, who also were Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles … When we are inclined to boast of our position [as Christians] we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord. Therefore, if one is to boast of flesh and blood the Jews are actually nearer to Christ than we are…If we really want to help them, we must be guided in our dealings with them not by papal law but by the law of Christian love. We must receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us, that they may have occasion and opportunity to associate with us, hear our Christian teaching, and witness our Christian life. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either”

  92. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:28 pm

    Luther despised everybody, including himself. What an appropriate leader to name your church after.

  93. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:30 pm

    and on the reason comment, you mean he was against reason like 95% of the world in the 15th and 16th centuries.

  94. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:31 pm

    Adam- I literally have no rebuttal to that, because on some level it is true, but he was a brilliant man, but for some reason, his later years became filled with hatred and anger towards everybody, including himself. It may have been the multiple assassination attempts to burn him at the stake, I could see how that could be quite a bitch.

  95. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:34 pm

    Eric “I love Luther” Worringer,

    You call your “heritage” by this disgusting pusbucket’s name; I don’t call myself by anyone’s, I take responsibility for my own views and actions and no-one else’s. What the fuck do you think you know about my “philosphical/theoretical heritage” anyway?

    The Lutheran Church was not “relatively silent” in Nazi Germany: it was enthusiastic in its support of the Nazis. Lutheran Bishop Martin Sasse published a compendium of Luther’s writings shortly after Kristallnacht. Sasse applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, “On November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.” The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words “of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.”
    On 17 December 1941, seven Protestant regional church confederations issued a statement agreeing with the policy of forcing Jews to wear the yellow badge, “since after his bitter experience Luther had already suggested preventive measures against the Jews and their expulsion from German territory.”

  96. Eric Worringer permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:37 pm

    It was not as simple as that, especially considering the many Lutheran leaders that were executed or imprisioned by the Nazis, or even turned in by the church to the Nazi authorities, for their vocal refusal to tow the line.

  97. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:45 pm

    on the reason comment, you mean he was against reason like 95% of the world in the 15th and 16th centuries. – Eric “I love Luther” Worringer

    [citation needed]
    What the fuck do you know about the world of the 15th and 16th century, you ignoramus? You think you would find pornographic polemics against reason like that in Ming China? Mughal India? Safavid Iran? The Ottoman empire? That’s where most people lived in those centuries.

    Incidentally, Luther’s diatribe against the peasants dates from 1525, more than 20 years before his death.

  98. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:49 pm

    the many Lutheran leaders that were executed or imprisioned by the Nazis, or even turned in by the church to the Nazi authorities Eric “I love Luther” Worringer [emphasis added]

    Rather seems to support my point. Your church, no doubt drawing on its experience of grovelling to tyrants both earthly and imaginary, kissed Hitler’s arse. and you’re proud of that heritage.

  99. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:59 pm

    He did pen a decent hymn, I’ll give him that, at least after Mendelssohn got his hands on it.

  100. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 1:59 pm

    Eric “I love Luther” Worringer,

    Just to remind you once more, your church got round to repudiating On the Jews and their Lies in 1983,/b>. So for more than four centuries, covering multiple pogroms and the shoah, your church officially supported a tract which the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, described as the most radically anti-Semitic tract ever published. Truly, a heritage to be proud of!

  101. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 2:01 pm

    (Mendelssohn, the conveniently converted Jew.)

  102. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 2:05 pm

    Which you can read on the Internets!

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Luther_on_Jews.html

    History can boast of no viler human being than Martin Luther.

  103. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 2:06 pm

    A vile human being, but a great christian.

  104. Notagod permalink
    January 20, 2010 3:32 pm

    Knockgoats,

    He is the representative of perfection, I make no such claim as to myself. So, yeah, I stand corrected.

  105. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 3:36 pm

    Eric “I Love Luther” Worringer,

    Your “nicey-nicey” quote from that stinking mound of putrescent filth Martin Luther comes from his early period, when he thought he could convert the Jews. Once he found he couldn’t, the vile murderer turned on them, as he did on the peasants after it became convenient to do so.

  106. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 3:45 pm

    “a tract which the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, described as the most radically anti-Semitic tract ever published.” – Me

    Of course, the psychopathic shitbag did have Biblical warrant for his attitude:
    Matthew 27:25:
    Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
    A true follower of the gospel, indeed!

  107. January 20, 2010 4:00 pm

    Adam K, you said:

    “So, Jon — if Eric said it right, then you would refuse to perform marriages for divorced people, people who have had abortions, and people who don’t give to beggars? Because they’re right there in the same list with homosexuals, and you’re no hypocrite when you say you love gay people? This conversation has lost me.
    and:
    “On Pharyngula you said you wouldn’t marry gay people and adulterers. Are there other sinners who don’t deserve your ministry, or just these special few?”

    I can understand your confusion, but the conversation has lost you indeed. If all of those people you list are on that list because they exhibit behaviors that Christian doctrine appears to deem a direct result of our sin nature, then it is precisely the actions that are a consequence of that nature with which Christians are concerned. They do not accept such behaviors as a part of their lives; though they tolerate, forgive, and love all of these people the same. They are not to treat any of these people any differently than they do anyone else, except in regard to, specifically, the behavior that Christian doctrine considers to be a direct result of their sin nature. And what this means is that they will not take part in that kind of behavior. So, while I take it that Jon would not perform an abortion, would neither encourage divorces for others nor get one himself, and would neither turn his back on homeless persons nor advocate others doing so, the act of these people getting married is a separate act that is not directly related to their behaviors that result from their sin nature. So these other types of behaviors are not something that Jon ought to concern himself with when worrying about whether or not to marry the people in question. The difference with homosexuality is that, given Christian doctrine, marrying homosexuals would be to take part in behaviors that are a direct result of our sin nature. And therein the difference lies.

    This does not mean that all Christians are adamantly opposed to all behaviors the Christian doctrine claims are consequences of our sin nature, just that they do their best to avoid taking part in such behaviors.
    It is the behavior that Christians feel they ought not play a direct role in. This does not entail that they love any type of sinner less than any other type.

    I hope this clears up your confusion.

  108. Jerome permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:20 pm

    Jonathan, I’ve been following your blog on and off since the visit to Ken Ham’s Shame last year; made a few comments, but mostly just read. However, since the BlogTV drive, I’ve read and followed all of these threads with surprise. As another atheist, there are things we obviously disagree on substantially, but for the most part you seem to be reasonable; I am really surprised at your response to all of this, and actually your position in general.

    However, seeing as above you have been willing to do further reading and consideration (re: the Nature vs. Nurture debate (it’s a bit of both, btw)), I would highly recommend reading through the testimony at the currently running (since last Monday) Prop 8 trial in California.

    It’s obviously a huge case, seeking to overturn the referendum and declare that gays need judicial protection to receive equal rights. Before reading through the testimony, I admit I was lukewarm, for equal rights, but not being a directly affected party, had always rather considered domestic partnership or civil unions to be just as good. But the points raised in the testimony cover a very broad range of topics, from financial impact of allowing marriage, to emotional impact on the parties in love and their surrounding family and community, comparing and contrasting the situation with US states and foreign countries who allow it, with facts, figures, financial impact. Basically, it covers it from angles I had never even thought were relevant. And I have to say, it’s very compelling.

    There is a ton of testimony, and since I’ve been following it from the start, it’s just a few posts a day for me, but to go back and read it all would be a bit of (very elucidating) work. However, at the very minimum, the testimony yesterday from the San Diego mayor, Jerry Sanders, I think is directly equivalent to your position, albeit for non-religious reasons, and I think is an excellent and considered piece.

    From 8:45am – 11:00am:
    http://prop8trialtracker.com/2010/01/19/liveblogging-daily-summary-day-6/

    Full disclosure: As IANAL, I don’t know when or if the documents of the testimony are or will be made public, so I am relying on this site which very obviously has a dog in the race. But I think the merits of the testimony itself, and the effect these rules have on real people, right here and now, stand on their own.

    I hope you have a chance to read all of it, regardless of the outcome, as it really does cover a ton of ground.

  109. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 20, 2010 6:06 pm

    Jerome,
    I confess, I have been cranky on this whole issue. There are number factors for that, namely, this past weekend our whole family had the stomach flu, including myself. So, while not cleaning up kid puke, I was in bed with a very nasty stomach ache. Is that an excuse? Probably not, but it was enough to put me in a very shitty mood. I wasn’t inclined to be charitable and confess that freely. Most likely, it contributed to my quick, half ass reponses that have led some to believe I’m either lying or just a stupid moron.

    Plus, as I’m about to post, I’m feeling under the gun with the Pirate Atheist book. I’m trying my hardest to represent atheists fairly while maintaining my perspective on things. That is giving me fits at the moment because it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Trying to walk two worlds when one misstep will piss a bunch of people off is not a fun task, especially after this weekend. I wanted to scrap the whole fairness bit and be as nasty as possible. Then, I had to repent of that and stop writing for a bit.

    Thankfully, after listening to the Hemant talk at Ohio State from last year, my good has been largely restored.

    Thanks for the link and i promise to do my best to check it out. That’s about all I can promise at this point.

  110. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 6:10 pm

    jon-thh,
    No, a stomach bug is not an excuse for being a homophobic hypocrite.

  111. AdamK permalink
    January 20, 2010 6:21 pm

    “I hope this clears up your confusion.”

    It compounds it.

    There is nothing “sinful” about being gay, in nature or in act. There is nothing sinful whatsoever about being gay, any more than it is sinful to be heterosexual. They are equal, though they vary in frequency in the population, like right- and left-handedness. There is nothing sinful about being left-handed. If you believe there is, it’s a problem of prejudice, not a problem internal to the person being discriminated against. Christian doctrine that says otherwise is wrong, and should be entirely eliminated. It is one of the primary reasons people outside your faith think you are wrong-headed and obnoxious, if not entirely nuts.

    It’s about who you fall in love with. Love is not sin. Love is a good thing. It’s even mentioned once or twice in the gospels, if I’m not mistaken.

  112. January 20, 2010 6:43 pm

    Adam K — I was not taking a stance on the issue of whether or not it is, in fact, sinful to be gay. I actually don’t think that it is. I was merely explaining that, if one is Christian and takes the Christian doctrine to hold that that kind of behavior is part of our sin nature (given passages in the bible and tradition), then that is a relevant difference for a minister not to marry one type of sinner, yet marry another type.

    Whether or not what the doctrine/tradition holds on this matter should be eliminated is a different question, and I agree it is a legitimate worry. But I contend that my answer to your original question does explain why it is reasonable for Jon to hold his position.

  113. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 6:54 pm

    Pushers of Christianity like to batten on people when they are weak – sick, or bereaved, or depressed, or in prison; or as an alternative strategy to make them weak by convincing them they are “sinners” in need of “salvation”; that their lives are barren and empty, meaningless, absurd; that their “sin nature” means there is no hope for them outside the “loving arms of Jesus”.

    Here, try this, it’ll make you feel better. No charge, no, really, I’m your friend, and so is Jesus! Yeah, don’t worry, 100% pure crystal Jesus, no shit, it’s harmless, what have you got to lose?

    Then before the poor sucker knows where he is, he’s hooked. He’s mainlining Jesus every day, but somehow more and more “sins” keep coming to light. The pusher will prey on his every weakness: make him see his sexual desires as dirty, his ambitions as selfish, his self-esteem as wicked “pride”, all proceeding from his “sin nature” – even if they do no harm to any. The pusher will tell him again and again about this “sin nature”: how it will lead him to his destruction, how hopelessly evil he is, how his only hope is to up the dose of Jesus yet again. By this time the pusher has him right where he wants him, and tells him he must start recruiting more victims. And so the scam has continued for two millennia, feeding the egos and often the purses of those at the top, almost always allied with the rich and the powerful – many of whom see through it, but find it very useful nonetheless.

  114. ferret wrangler permalink
    January 20, 2010 6:58 pm

    Knocksupgoats “Village Fuckwit”: STFU already, we get it that you’re only looking for attention and are a closeted homophobe yourself, go drown some puppies or something more constructive if you ever stop pulling your miniscule pud.

    Take your meds as directed, and put some clothes on before leaving your mama’s basement, mkay?

  115. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:04 pm

    Jo,
    Bigotry is not reasonable, nor is it justifiable by what you believe. Hitler quite genuinely believed that Jews were vermin – it’s one of the few things we can be certain he was completely sincere about. Hendrik Verwoerd was absolutely convinced that God wanted the races separate, with whites in charge.

  116. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:11 pm

    ferret wrangler,

    I see you have no response to my points. I’m here by invitation. If that invitation is withdrawn, I’ll go.

    Knocksupgoats

    Trying to mock what’s obviously already a self-mocking handle doesn’t really work, does it?

    you are a closeted homophobe yourself

    *snort*. I’ve got to give you that that’s an original one!

  117. January 20, 2010 7:17 pm

    Knockgoats,

    My point was this: IF one takes the bible to be the word of God (I know you’ll take issue with this, but try to separate yourself from your biases and listen to the pull of the argument), then one has reason to follow what it prescribes. Since Jon does seem to hold that the antecedent of this argument is true (i.e. that the bible is the word of God) he is justified in holding his position, and it is reasonable for him to hold.

    The question then becomes, should we accept all passages in the bible as the word of God? Or should we reconsider which passages to take literally and which not to? These are important questions, but are separate questions from the one I was addressing.

  118. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:26 pm

    Jo,

    It is morally wrong to obey evil commands, even if one believes they come from a supernatural source. “God says so” is not a good reason to do anything. This would be true even if the God of the Bible were not, as he clearly is, a genocidal, pathologically jealous, dishonest, sadistic tyrant.

    It is also morally wrong to fail to assess truth-claims with significant practical consequences for others according to the evidence: we can see this clearly if we look at holocaust deniers, or people like Peter Duesberg and Thabo Mbeke, whose efforts to undermine the use of antiretrovirals – because they refuse to believe that HIV causes AIDS – has led to hundreds of thosands of premature deaths and immeasureable suffering.

  119. January 20, 2010 7:35 pm

    Oh, I have another point to address, Knockgoats. Christians who prey on the weak are obviously doing something wrong. No Christian I know of is claiming that all Christians or all churches are moral all the time (or in some cases, even most of the time). The Christians who attempt to weaken people to bring them to Jesus are getting the Christian message wrong. So I agree with you that that is messed up. But you really shouldn’t attribute wrong behavior that a few Christians might exhibit to ALL Christians, or you are making a hasty generalization, which is fallacious.

  120. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:37 pm

    To clarify, “God says so” is not be a good reason to do anything even if there is a god.

  121. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:46 pm

    Jo,

    I refer you to the thread “Atheist Bible Study” in December. Here’s part of what “thomas2026”, whom I take to be jon the homophobic hypocrite, said:

    “On this last idea, I pointed out that for Christians to use this a moral guide book would be mistaken. It’s not. The Bible tells us that we aren’t good, not, that you need to be good. Think about the stories in the Bible. It’s full of people, who even though they love God, mess up in ways we can only imagine. David’s adultry with Bathsheba and then killing her husband. Abraham’s lying about Sarah. Peter’s denial of Jesus. On and on it goes.

    The Bible is meant to show us the desperate nature of our situation.

    So, with that, I backed up to show what the story of the Bible actually is by using some very familiar categories:

    Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.

    To be it simply, God created the world good. He created us in His image to be his “idol” on the planet, that is, to do what He would do in cultivating the earth. We fell from that image bearing role by sinning against Him and there is nothing we can do to restore that image.

    [emphases added]

    I responded:

    “Congratulations! You have identified a key reason why the Bible is such an evil book, and Christianity such a vile belief-system. They are designed to produce feelings of barrenness, anxiety and despair, by representing human beings as hopeless, miserable sinners deserving of unlimited punishment – at the same time peddling the “solution” of surrender to an external force. The core message is that we cannot help ourselves, or each other. The intended effect is to produce a compulsive, dependent attachment to the “faith”: an addiction, in the fullest sense of the word. A “pastor” is just another word for a pusher.”

    This is clearly not, by thomas2026’s account, a peripheral feature of Christianity. It’s very core is to tell people they are wicked, weak, hopeless, and thus to prey on them. I’m not using hyperbole when I describe Christianity as evil, or metaphor when I call pastors pushers.

  122. January 20, 2010 7:47 pm

    Knockgoats,

    Surely, it is wrong to obey evil commands, regardless of where they come from. However, if you believe that the source from which these moral rules come is an infinitely moral being, then you have reason to think that the rules are not evil and that you ought to follow them. This was my original point. (Again, this gives rise to further, yet separate questions that ought to be considered.)

    As for the separate, but related issue you’ve addressed, I agree that we ought to assess all truth claims, especially when they have significant practical consequences for others. Of course, your examples are MUCH more extreme than the claim that gays ought not be married in the Christian church, so I’m inclined to say should not be in the same category. Another interesting question, but let’s try to keep separate question separate.

  123. Knockgoats permalink
    January 20, 2010 8:15 pm

    Jo,

    However, if you believe that the source from which these moral rules come is an infinitely moral being

    To believe that is itself wicked, as it does have enormous consequences for others, and the empirical evidence against it, from the existence and extent of evil in the world, is immensely strong. I happended to hear the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, blathering about Haiti on BBC Radio 4. In the UK, unlike the US, journalists will sometimes ask religious leaders awkward questions. He very clearly had no defence against the charge that God, if there is such a being, doesn’t give a shit about the Haitian people (the interviewer didn’t use quite those words).

    Then there is the evidence from its central message, as repeated by jon the homophobic hypocrite: that people are evil, cannot help themselves, need “salvation”: that is an evil lie, a deliberate undermining of people’s self-worth and autonomy, the core of the pusher’s strategy.

    Moreover, most Christians believe in eternal punishment: a being that would inflict infinite suffering on anyone is infinitely evil.

    Christianity is rotten to the core.

  124. Johann permalink
    January 20, 2010 8:41 pm

    Hmm.

    I think I’ll stay out of the discussion of the spiritual and legal aspects for now. But as a bisexual man, I can’t help but be curious, Jon…

    You can keep thinking that I hate gay people. I don’t. I think they are wrong in regards to sexual orientation but I think they are human beings worthy of my respect and love. Not sure what I can say beyond that. I’ll take responsiblity that maybe Im not communicating clearly. Allow me to quote Mr/Mrs Garrison, “Look, just because you have to tolerate something doesn’t mean you have to approve of it”

    …what specifically is it that you find “wrong” in this context? I’d like to know what this means to you, in your own words – what specifically you are talking about here and how you feel about it. From your comments, I get the sense that you think gay people should have the right to do things that you disapprove of, but I’d like to know more about the disapproval itself.

    If I see a beautiful woman and a handsome man in a coffee shop, is it wrong for me to strike up a conversation with the man rather than the woman?

    Is it wrong for me to buy him a coffee?
    To talk to him for a minute? …five minutes? …an hour?
    To get his number so we could continue the conversation later?

    Is it wrong to call him?

    Is it wrong to meet him again – or is that only wrong if there are butterflies in my stomach the entire time?

    Is it wrong for me to fall in love with a man at first sight – or is it wrong to cultivate a friendship to the point where calling it anything but love does a grave injustice to the word?

    Is it wrong to invite him to my place for a game of chess a few weeks after?
    Is it more wrong if we don’t get past e2-e4?

    Is it wrong for me to celebrate his body with my hands and my mouth and perhaps some supplies from the fridge?
    Is it wrong to do so in the bedroom? In the laundry room? On the kitchen table?

    Is it wrong for us to go on a vacation together?
    Is it wrong to take a single tent when we go camping?

    Is it wrong for us to get married before a justice of the peace?
    A priest?
    A minister?
    A rabbi?
    A hippie aunt with a mail-order Church of Life certificate, surrounded by friends and family?

    Is it wrong to merge our finances?

    Is it wrong to have friendly arguments over how to decorate the house?

    Is it wrong for us to adopt a son?
    A daughter?
    …a kitten?

    Is it wrong to throw a party for our wedding anniversary?

    Is it wrong for us to pose together for our first child’s graduation picture?

    Is it wrong for us to dote over our grandchildren?

    Is it wrong for one of us to want the other to be by our side in our final hours?

    Christians hold a wide variety of positions on these questions; there are those who would answer “yes” to my every question, and those who would answer them all with “no”, and most fall somewhere in between.

    And like you, I’m trying to undertand.

  125. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 20, 2010 10:57 pm

    Knockgoats,

    It seems you have now not only pissed off some of the theists here, but also some of the atheists. You are getting close to being a distraction to what we are trying to build on this blog. Scale back the attack language towards others, please, or I will enforce my right to ask you to leave. Not ban, but ask you to do what you promised.

    This is not PZ’s blog. If you want to keep talking in the way you are doing, then go back to PZ’s blog. We have different rules of engagement here.

    So, consider this a warning

  126. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:11 pm

    Johann, good luck in getting a (pardon the expression) straight answer out of Jon or his acolytes. I’ve gotten two: one satisfying, the other less so, addressed to the very side issue of who gets to go to hell. The defensive sophistry here is stifling.

  127. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:21 pm

    Oh, and Jon? Didn’t you say you were fair game, but other posters were not? How’s this fit in to that policy?
    ferret wrangler permalink

    Knocksupgoats “Village Fuckwit”: STFU already, we get it that you’re only looking for attention and are a closeted homophobe yourself, go drown some puppies or something more constructive if you ever stop pulling your miniscule pud.

    Take your meds as directed, and put some clothes on before leaving your mama’s basement, mkay?

  128. Notagod permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:45 pm

    Jo,

    The topic of your spectulation has already been covered up thread. I would point you to relevant comment numbers, since you aren’t able, but there aren’t any. Possibly it is a christian sin, I don’t know.

    However, only christians can commit sins that are outlined by the christian handbook. If a person isn’t a christian they cannot commit a christian sin. You need to understand that your guidebook only applied to those that agree to be controlled by your jebus idea. That is one of the most irritating characteristics that christian have, you think your god idea applies to everyone, it doesn’t, it only is applicable to you. When you think of sin you need to confine yourself to those who accept your god idea.

  129. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 12:47 am

    Ferret has been addressed, Sidhra.

  130. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 12:57 am

    Johann,
    Email me and we can talk by email if that’s ok with you.

  131. Knockgoats permalink
    January 21, 2010 4:30 am

    Jon,

    As far as I recall (I’m sure someone will tell me if I’m wrong), I have not personally attacked anyone but you, apart from once calling Eric an ignoramus (in response to a remarkably ignorant comment of his) – unless accusing him of loving Luther is an attack. I’ve attacked Luther, the Lutheran church, and Christianity. I think what you really object to is that I’m clearly winning all the arguments. However, having made my point, I’ll drop the soubriquets for you and Eric.

    I confirm that if you ask me to leave, I will do so. I’ll regard it as a sign that you are admitting the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Christianity, and that my purpose has therefore been achieved.

  132. Knockgoats permalink
    January 21, 2010 4:35 am

    Is it more wrong if we don’t get past e2-e4? – Johann

    Now that’s truly disgraceful!
    😉

  133. Knockgoats permalink
    January 21, 2010 4:51 am

    Johann,

    Jon has already made it clear above that you are “wrong in regard to sexual orientation”. So even if you had resisted the temptation to talk to that handsome man, you were condemned already. I’d guess, though, that you’re even wronger than a gay man, as you could, consistent with your sexuality, have chosen to approach the beautiful woman instead, so you don’t even have the excuse that you would have been condemned to celibacy. There’s probably a specially nasty part of the Seventh Circle for you and your loving husband, I’m afraid!

  134. Richard Eis permalink
    January 21, 2010 6:37 am

    I confirm that if you ask me to leave, I will do so. I’ll regard it as a sign that you are admitting the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Christianity, and that my purpose has therefore been achieved.

    No, we just think you are annoyingly loud and over the top sometimes. On Pharyngula it is cute, here it is jarring and unnecessary.

    However, if you believe that the source from which these moral rules come is an infinitely moral being…

    Then you will quickly run into all manner of logical messes. Morality is a human concept.

  135. Ash permalink
    January 21, 2010 9:25 am

    I must admit, having read your blog for a while, I’ve been a tad shocked at your position on this subject. To appreciate why, and to understand why Knockgoats comes over as so hostile, please do imagine that you had said this (civil unions fine; marriage no way by my hands) about any other minority group (e.g. blacks, mixed-race relationships) that have no choice in the matter of how they are (which you appear to have accepted). I’ve heard plenty of this kind of ‘oh yeah, they have a right to live here…just not on my street’ rubbish from my otherwise lovely and loving Gran. And, TBH, it confuses and distresses me.

    Jon, you may believe stuff I think is nonsense, but you have never (AFAIK) run away from difficult questions, or from exploring what you think you know + examing the reasons you believe it. Take this as a further opportunity to question what you think and why.

    As to being gay, I would love to know what exactly it is about homosexuality you think is ‘wrong’. And why. ‘Scuse me for being an atheist wanting to look at a biblical perspective, but…

    Romantic, yet non-physical, love between men has precedent in the bible, and is not condemned. For instance, 2 Samuel 1:26, where David comments on his feelings for the now slain Jonathan. Hell, aren’t all male Christians supposed to have a deep and abiding love for Jesus? You may notice that I’m not addressing lesbian relationships specifically, but it generally seems (and the bible certainly has less to say on this subject) that it tends to be male2male relationships people are more concerned with. So can it be that it is not the love aspect of a gay relationship that bothers you/your form of Christianity?

    So is it the sex? If so, I would note that a more appropiate question for you would be; are you willing to ask anyone in a hetero relationship if they’ve had anal sex, and would only allow for civil unions, rather than marriage for those that had/are planning to? If that sounds ridiculous (which it does to me!) it may be time to re-examine what your prejudices (and those of the bible) are really directed at.

    I suspect that in the times the bible was written, men were generally perceived as having a ‘eat it, fuck it, or kill it’ mentality. And it also being written in times when patriarchy was generally held as not only ‘good’, but natural and desirable. If that was the case, it is understandable then that male2male relationships, and male2male rape would be viewed as being positively detrimental and harmful to their society, and should be discouraged at all costs and by any means possible. Women were often referred to at this time as being chattel and property, gay relationships could have inferred men not only being, but happy to be, in lesser roles (perhaps, *gasp*, even akin to women!) than their societies demanded.

    Jon, I realise that this may not be the most comfortable conversation ever, thanx for sticking in here. I hope you change your mind, but at the very least understand why I have called you prejudiced, and others have called you bigoted. Once again, please take this as an opportunity to examine (and hopefully reassess) what you think and why.

    Hope you and yours feel better soon.

  136. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 10:06 am

    Ash,
    Thank you for your comments. No, I don’t normally like having this particular conversation. It’s not fun for me and it’s one that I generally avoid. One of the few, as you pointed out.

    It’s not really the sex at all, let me just say that. In fact, I think the actual sex is probably the least of the questions involved. I think it goes to the wider picture of what I believe God has asked of us.

    I will attempt to explain more in the coming weeks, but as I have said in my post, I have to really concentrate on writing. As you have been around, you know why. I have a contractual obligation to get this book finished, so it has to be my full attention. Sadly, because my time is limited, some things have to be cut out, which includes giving good thoughtful responses here. I’m not going anywhere or shutting down the blog, just taking it easy for a few weeks to get this book done.

  137. January 21, 2010 10:13 am

    Notagod,

    I was merely responding to a comment/question posed on the same day I responded to it. The specific comment I addressed had not yet been addressed. My subsequent comments were either clarifications about my first comment or were responses to comments on my comments. I did not myself bring up any of the topics I addressed, but was responding to others.

    Further, you ought not attribute views to people who did not advocate them. I was merely providing reasons, from a Christian perspective and did not say anything about what I, personally, considered to be sinful. You seem concerned with my not reading the whole thread. Well, you might notice ‘up thread’ that I said I do not think homosexuality is wrong.

    However, if one believes in God, the creator of all things, then of course one will also believe that His word applies to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Whether one should believe in the Christian God is the question, then. Not whether IF one believe, should they apply his teachings to everyone. The answer to the latter question seems obviously to be yes. The answer to the first question, I admit, is less clear to most.

  138. Ash permalink
    January 21, 2010 10:29 am

    Jon; cool, look forward to a considered response when you have more time. Good luck with the draft 🙂

  139. Notagod permalink
    January 21, 2010 12:03 pm

    Jo,

    By your line of reasoning the atheist dominated societies should condemn christians and at a minimum put them in prison, although that would be much less radical than burning them for eternity, I’ve been burned before and I assure you it is very painful once the adrenalin wears off. To know that you love that concept is enough to make me dislike you.

    Unless you take your handbook totally literally, you are guessing at what the meaning should be. Therefore, the positions that you take whether literal meaning or symbolic or otherwise, are a reflection of your own likes and dislikes. Your decision to apply your guidebook to those that don’t want anything to do with it is your decision to, attempt to, exercise authority over them. Ethically that is a very bad thing to do. And another reason I don’t like you.

  140. AdamK permalink
    January 21, 2010 12:24 pm

    Christians follow that “Do unto others…” bit in the bible, don’t they? How does that go again? “Do unto others as the bible, your conservative christian friends, and christian tradition instruct you to do.” A basic moral precept we all can live by, I’m sure.

  141. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 12:56 pm

    I agree with that, by and large, Adam. I hope to write more in depth at some point, but to help you along the way to see where I’m coming from, I think reading C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves would be a good idea.

  142. AdamK permalink
    January 21, 2010 1:08 pm

    I recently forced myself through all of those nauseating Narnia books. I don’t think I can stomach any more Lewis for a while.

    (Because I wanted more context in which to enjoy a second reading of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. For that purpose, it turned out to be worth it.)

  143. AdamK permalink
    January 21, 2010 1:10 pm

    I don’t know if I need to see where you’re coming from. Wherever that is, the place you’ve gotten to is a dead end.

    Prejudice is evil. Sexuality is good.

  144. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 1:22 pm

    Unlike many Christians, I think the Narnia books are some of Lewis’ “worst” works. His Sci-FI trilogy is vastly superior.

    I like the Grossman book a lot. The man can write.

    Sexuality is good, in of itself, I’ll give you that.

  145. AdamK permalink
    January 21, 2010 1:47 pm

    Christianity’s finest:

    (I haven’t read the “scifi” trilogy in years, but I enjoyed it in my youth. I’ve read some of his essays, and learned just how pompous and cloying sophistry can be.

    Narnia is a good primer if you want to raise racist, sexist, logic-free children.)

  146. AdamK permalink
    January 21, 2010 2:11 pm

    More on the topic Jon likes to avoid:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/samesexmarriage/ci_14229632?nclick_check=1

  147. deepity permalink
    January 21, 2010 3:00 pm

    @AdamK
    Perhaps you shouldn’t reread the trilogy if you have fond memories of it. I read for the first time as an adult and found it as just as pompous as the rest of his stuff. About the only thing I remember clearly now is how he described an island to be shaped like a woman’s breast…

  148. ferret wrangler permalink
    January 21, 2010 3:06 pm

    The “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series from Douglas Adams is more my style. Just watch out if a bowl of petunias lands at your feet…

    His “Last Chance to See” should be required reading.

  149. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 21, 2010 4:42 pm

    An audio link to an “In Our Time” (BBC Radio 4 History of Ideas) program from a while ago, entitled “Marriage”. 42 minutes. RealAudio format.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/aod/playlists/4c/84/50/0p/RadioBridge_0902_bbc_radio_fourfm.ram

  150. January 22, 2010 11:48 am

    Notagod, you said: “By your line of reasoning the atheist dominated societies should condemn christians and at a minimum put them in prison”
    Unless this is a part of all atheists’ moral code (and I’m confident that it is not), and they have some ethical system where it turns out to be objectively true that Christians ought to be condemned and incarcerated (which seems implausible, to say the least), then no — this does not follow from my line of reasoning. You seem to be, once again, attributing views to me that I don’t have. I understand that attributing extremely harsh views to me makes it easier for you to attack my position, but it is not an effective way to argue, considering that it is false that I hold such views.

    And I do not love the concept of burning — another view you have taken the liberty of attributing to me that I do not, in reality, hold.

    Then you wrote: “Unless you take your handbook totally literally, you are guessing at what the meaning should be. Therefore, the positions that you take whether literal meaning or symbolic or otherwise, are a reflection of your own likes and dislikes.”

    Both false statements. If one does not take the bible literally, then they are not simply guessing. I admit interpretations are thorny issues, but there is certainly more to it than a mere guess. If it were simply guessing, it’s hard to see how there would be sects of Christianity, rather than just individual Christians, all holding different beliefs about the bible’s message. Since there is agreeement (among all sects, on some matters; and on most matters within sects), this is not the case.
    As for you second sentence: If taken literally, then it is not a reflection of subjective likes/dislikes but is deference to what would be considered authority. And if not taken literally, then it is a matter of interpretation, which is more than just a guess/individual preferences (as stated above).

    Then you say: “Your decision to apply your guidebook to those that don’t want anything to do with it is your decision to, attempt to, exercise authority over them.”
    I certainly do not feel that I am in any position to tell anyone else what they should do. I never said anything like that. I do not expect atheists to abide by Christian principles. I simply said, IF one holds the view that the Christian God is the creator of all things (believers and non-believers alike), then one would also hold that what is considered to be the word of God applies to everyone (believers and non-believers alike). This is not an attempt to exercise authority over anyone, it is a statement about a belief about the scope of God’s word. These are two different things. Saying that one believes that something is applicable to all does not entail that one attempts to exercise authority over all.

    And you conclude with: “Ethically that is a very bad thing to do. And another reason I don’t like you.”
    Given my clarification above, there is nothing I have said that warrants your accusation of my being unethical. I’m pretty sure making a claim about one belief entailing another is not unethical. Another reason you do not have not to like me — your reasons for this are based on falsehoods and views that I do not hold.

  151. Knockgoats permalink
    January 22, 2010 5:57 pm

    Jo

    And I do not love the concept of burning — another view you have taken the liberty of attributing to me that I do not, in reality, hold.

    Well your god certainly does!

    Matthew 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
    13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (13:41-42, 49-50)
    13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

    Tell me Jo: why do you worship a psychopathic sadist?

    If it were simply guessing, it’s hard to see how there would be sects of Christianity, rather than just individual Christians, all holding different beliefs about the bible’s message.

    Not at all: the majority of Christians are desperately looking for someone to tell them what to do, what to believe: they have been successfully robbed of their moral and intellectual autonomy, their self-worth. After all, they are happy to describe themselves as “sheep” – which of course, the shepherd fleeces repeatedly, then slaughters when they are of no further use. In any case, there are estimated to be over 30,000 sects.

    IF one holds the view that the Christian God is the creator of all things (believers and non-believers alike), then one would also hold that what is considered to be the word of God applies to everyone (believers and non-believers alike).

    Why would creating a living, feeling being give you the right to tell it how to behave?

  152. Notagod permalink
    January 23, 2010 11:38 am

    Jo,

    You should thank Knockgoats for taking the time to read your handbook for you, a vile book indeed and, it is understandable that you wouldn’t want to become intimately acquainted with it.

    And I do not love the concept of burning

    Then you might love your god idea but, you don’t love the christian gods because according to the christian guidebook that is what the christian gods do. (I realize that you consider only one christian god but, come on, the mormon christan god is not the same as other christian gods, which aren’t the same either. How many spouses do you have?

    If one does not take the bible literally, then they are not simply guessing.

    Either guessing or creating your god in your own image, in practice it works out the same.

    I admit interpretations are thorny issues, but there is certainly more to it than a mere guess.

    Oh? Do tell. I’m ready for another lol.

    all holding different beliefs about the bible’s message.

    The different christian cults all started because of different guesses regarding how the christian handbook should be interpreted, as it became painfully obvious that the words of the christian god idea could not be taken literally. If you were a christian god would you hand out different plans to different cults so that they would fight over which was the one true plan?

    I certainly do not feel that I am in any position to tell anyone else what they should do.

    That’s good! Many christians feel they can tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. It is good to know you aren’t one of them. I commend you for at least being able to think through that one on your own. However, you do state that your god idea does apply to everyone so you do have an unresolved conflict there within your mind.

    I do not expect atheists to abide by Christian principles. I simply said, IF one holds the view that the Christian God is the creator of all things (believers and non-believers alike), then one would also hold that what is considered to be the word of God applies to everyone (believers and non-believers alike). This is not an attempt to exercise authority over anyone, it is a statement about a belief about the scope of God’s word. These are two different things. Saying that one believes that something is applicable to all does not entail that one attempts to exercise authority over all.

    Ah yes, you create a god idea so that you don’t need to take responsibility. Terrorists do the same, just like you, they think their god idea applies to you even if you don’t have any faith. Ethically, you and terrorists have a lot in common.

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