Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/27/2010 (5:33 pm)

What Is Marriage? The Birch Tree Challenge Redux

birch-this one smallerIt was almost a month ago that I launched the Birch Tree Challenge, and the discussion is still raging. It was a simple, tongue-in-cheek jibe at the main arguments raised by gay marriage advocates, implying that the same arguments could be applied to advocating marriage between a human and literally anything for which a person might feel affection. Objectors succeeded at pointing out that additional barriers exist when we step outside of marriage to humans — like finding legal avenues to make it possible to form contracts with plants. The main point, though, was to note that the very concept of gay “marriage” does violence to a universal human institution, and attempts to redefine “marriage”; worse, that it attempts to redefine marriage for no reason other than that somebody wants it to be so. So I pretended to want just as badly to wed my birch. Why should I not also be permitted to alter the meanings of words at my whim?

The central question here is what marriage is at its core. That’s what I’m doing here today: attempting to establish exactly what marriage is. It’s not easy.

One of my commenters, a philosophy professor called Joe H., posted what he considered to be a philosopher’s test for the core of a practice. Sadly, he posted this after I had turned my attention elsewhere, so it was never addressed soundly. Here’s some of what he said:

Philosophers spend most of their time distinguishing between the core or essential concepts informing a complex concept, and those concepts that, although they may have an enduring connection to the complex concept, and play an important role in the majority of concrete examples of a complex concept, are, nonetheless, nonessential.

One way they do this is by considering which of the informing concepts can be abandoned while still preserving the basic idea. Of the informing concepts I listed above, I’m confident you’ll agree that the existence of love, a license, procreation, male authority, and/or monogamy, although all intimately related to the concept of western marriage, are not essential to the concept. A marriage can exist without their presence.

The question is whether the limiting concept “opposite sex partners” can be abandoned without losing the basic idea of marriage. The answer to that question is, surprisingly, “yes…” This is proven by the fact that we can, and do, recognize that some same sex couples are married -while others are not.

What Joe actually accomplishes in his “test” is to make human institutions subject to modern public relations campaigns: if any activist can make a phrase common enough in peoples’ minds that they’re no longer shocked by the sheer inconsistency and stupidity of it, then naturally that phrase must be part of the core concept. I hope I don’t have to explain at length why that’s intellectually unacceptable, which it plainly is.

The reaction of the contemporary, advertising-saturated Western mind to the phrase “gay marriage” is hardly a sound test for the core human practice of marriage. I don’t mean to denigrate philosophy as a practice, nor the West as a culture, but marriage is a human practice that occurs in every civilization, so the core of it should be defined by anthropologists and sociologists, not contemporary Western philosophers, and it should be based on a comparison of all human occurrances of marriage, not just what sounds congruent in Western ears.

So, I set myself to find a good, comprehensive anthropological survey of marriage practices around the globe throughout history. I don’t think I’ve found it yet, though I think Kingsley Davis’ 1985 opus Contemporary Marriage: Comparative Perspectives on a Changing Institution may come close to what I want. I did not have time to hunt down Davis’s book — I’ll get to it eventually — though I did find an enlightening article in the 2001 Louisiana Law Review by Maggie Gallagher that was based in part on Davis’ definition, which I will quote below.

Before that, though, I did a survey in my own mind of literature that depicts marriage through history and around the globe. I thought about the Islamic model shown in Moolaade’, film by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène, in which a dominant male subjugated multiple wives by sex, beating, and genital mutilation. I thought about Tevye and Golde and their many daughters, the couple on which the musical Fiddler on the Roof was based; Tevye trying to preserve traditional control over his children while his daughters ran off and married for love. I thought about the Bible’s Jacob providing labor for his bride’s family for 14 years (a practice that was apparently mirrored in ancient Japan as well,) and how his wives competed with each other for his affection by producing children as rapidly as possible. I thought about Mary Renault’s heavily-researched recreation of ancient Greece (titles include The Bull From the Sea, The Mask of Apollo, The Praise Singer, and several others), in which ordinary families stuck to a nuclear model while the upper crust diverted themselves with heteiras (courtesans) and lovers and ignored their nuclear families — which families nonetheless held absolute rights to both property and surname. I thought about the Bengali marriage in the film The Namesake, where a traditional Indian family attempted to raise their children and preserve their culture in America.

DoYouLoveMeThe thing that leapt out at me as I thought about all these different practices was the children. Joe was absolutely wrong when he asserted with confidence that procreation is not central to marriage. We may be able to envision marriages without children, but the practice around the world is clearly about creating a social and legal environment where children are produced and trained. To say that the existence of couples who marry but don’t reproduce means that reproduction is not central to marriage, is as sensible as saying that the existence of people who collect, restore, and show historical automobiles means that automobiles are not about transportation. Historically, a childless couple was a curse, like an automobile that wouldn’t run. The modern, deliberately childless couple is an historical aberration. Tellingly, the appearance of the cultural acceptance of childless marriages corresponds perfectly to nations where the birth rate has fallen below replacement level.

Marriage is about much more than just reproduction, though; it’s about the passage of property by inheritance, and about passing along cultural norms and history. Marriages in most cultures provide the legal structure within which family property is preserved, and by which family fortunes are enhanced and strengthened. Marriages in most cultures create the environment where the passing of cultural traditions to children takes place, or at least where the authority for doing so remains centered. Marriage, at its core, is about perpetuating species and culture.

Moreover, marriage is about the legal recognition and endorsement of the means of perpetuating species and culture. In every complex culture where it appears, marriage is endorsed and officially recognized by the ruling legal authority; Joe was also absolutely wrong when he voiced his confidence that a license was not part of the core concept of marriage. Gay advocates actually conform to this view when they insist that the state must formally recognize gay unions as “marriage” — otherwise, they would be content with gay unions without formal legal recognition.

Gallagher, cited above, condenses the anthropological picture this way:

But what every known human society calls marriage shares certain basic, recognizable features, including most especially the privileges accorded to the reproductive couple in order to protect both the interests of children and the interests of the society. As Kingsley Davis sums up the anthropological impulse of marriage: “The unique trait of what is commonly called marriage is social recognition and approval . . . of a couple’s engaging in sexual intercourse and bearing and rearing offspring.”

Marriage is everywhere the word we use to describe a publicly acknowledged and supported sexual union between a man and woman which creates rights and obligations between the couple and any children the union may produce. Marriage as a public tie obligates not only fathers, but fathers’ kin to recognize the children of this union. In every society, marriage is the sexual union where childbearing and raising is not only tolerated but applauded and encouraged. Marriage is the way in which every society attempts to channel the erotic energies of men and women into a relatively narrow but highly fruitful channel…

While marriage systems differ, marriage across societies is a public sexual union that creates kinship obligations and sharing of resources between men, women, and the children their sexual union may produce.

She also notes that historically, marriage is normative. That is, each culture’s law surrounding marriage not only protects the ability of the culture to reproduce itself, but declares to the culture at large what is the appropriate and expected behavior of its members.

Above all, normal marriage is normative. Marriage is not primarily a way of expressing approval for infinite variety of human affectional or sexual ties; it consists, by definition, of isolating and preferring certain types of unions over others. By socially defining and supporting a particular kind of sexual union, the society defines for its young what the preferred relationship is and what purposes it serves.

The last point is important. Not all love relationships deserve the legal preference called “marriage,” nor do all sexual relationships. It’s the ones that perpetuate the species and the culture in a manner that benefits society at large that deserve that preference. Other relationships may produce children, may train children, may celebrate love and personal commitment, but not all such relationships are called “marriages.” The legal imprimatur “marriage” says to the culture, “This is the vehicle we prefer for reproducing ourselves, and for the passing of culture and property to future generations.” It involves a clear statement of social approval.

By noting that marriage is normative, we recognize that marriage is not a universal human right; on the contrary, it is a near-universal human obligation. Individuals may choose not to marry, or may choose to engage in social relationships that do not reproduce; but a general, social approval remains for those who actively engage in reproducing the species and the culture, and that approval appears in all cultures as the legal endorsement of marriage. Those who choose not to marry, or who choose to marry but not to reproduce, step outside the primary cycle of life, and adopt practices that do not deserve full societal recognition. We Americans approve of individual liberty, and will not punish those who freely choose such practices; but neither ought we reward them. Marriage is something special.

Honesty requires that I add a personal note: I’m taking a self-deprecating position here. You see, both Shelly and I reproduced in previous marriages, and then chose (separately) to divorce our reproductive spouses, and later (together) to marry each other. Furthermore, we chose deliberately for our new union to be childless; I underwent a vasectomy. So my current “marriage” is one that actually violates the norm I’m advocating here. A public blog is not the place for me to defend my choice to divorce the mother of my children, nor to defend Shelly’s choice to divorce the father of hers, but I will say this much: Jewish jurisprudence would recognize both our reasons as legitimate, though modern evangelical Christian opinion may not. I would be willing to accept lower legal status than that of reproducing couples, if the culture decides to adopt such a legal structure; but that’s cheap martyrdom, since I’m certain the American culture will not so decide.

So there we have it. Marriage is a normative cultural expression for channeling sexual drives into reproduction, creating a legal and social construct in which humans reproduce their culture and their species and pass along their property. It always involves legal recognition, and it always involves opposite genders. What gays do with each other may be loving, may be sexual, may be legal, but it is not marriage. That’s not a moral or religious assessment, but a human, sociological one.

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255 Comments »

April 27, 2010 @ 6:46 pm #

Always “essential” is simply the wrong way to look at it, even if the discussion is philosophical only. Something can be essential in principle without being present 100% of the time. Procreation is essential to marriage in principle. That does not mean it ceases to be so when procreation does not occur. -jweaks

April 27, 2010 @ 7:12 pm #

“What Joe actually accomplishes in his ‘test’ is to make human institutions subject to modern public relations campaigns . . .”

Don’t even need a public relations campaign. Just need the mentality of the mainstream media as cited by Mont in the comments of your previous blog: MSNBC News Flash: Arizona Law ‘Makes it a Crime to be Illegal Immigrant’
;)

April 27, 2010 @ 7:41 pm #

What Joe actually accomplishes in his “test” is to make human institutions subject to modern public relations campaigns: if any activist can make a phrase common enough in peoples’ minds that they’re no longer shocked by the sheer inconsistency and stupidity of it, then naturally that phrase must be part of the core concept. I hope I don’t have to explain at length why that’s intellectually unacceptable, which it plainly is.

An approximation of what someone recently said in another topic:

What you’re doing, Mr. Phil, is attempting to end a debate by simply dismissing the other side. Not that this is something new, it’s one of your favorite tactics, but we’re on to you. Sorry, won’t wash. You actually have to debate the point, not simply assert that your side is right and dismiss anybody who disagrees with you as “stupid.”

But seriously….the point he made (and IMO, he made it well) was not that “it’s valid because people think it is.” It was a counterpoint to what you had said first — which was that the concepts of “gay” and “marriage” were completely indivorcible (to coin a pun~), and that to mention them together would be complete conceptual nonsense. When in fact, as Mr. Joe demonstrated, it is very possible to understand the idea of a gay person “marrying” another person. There is nothing “stupid” or intellectually “unacceptable” about this; you’re going to have to do better than just say that it’s “obviously” so.

(assuming that didn’t make you angry enough to just delete everything I’ve written here, I have more~)

Joe was absolutely wrong when he asserted with confidence that procreation is not central to marriage.

Again, I don’t think Mr. Joe’s point was that reproduction *has absolutely nothing to do* with marriage; rather, the point was that it’s not a qualifier to determine whether someone is fit for marriage or not (as evidenced by the fact that women and men who are fertile are still allowed to enter into straight marriages, knowing full well that they are certain never to have children).

Also, I don’t think it’s *the* central point to marriage, simply because there are other concepts that feature just as prominently — if not moreso — such as love and companionship between partners, as well as tax and legal benefits (which exist regardless of whether the couple has children), such as hospital visitation rights and tax deductions.

The modern, deliberately childless couple is an historical aberration. Tellingly, the appearance of the cultural acceptance of childless marriages corresponds perfectly to nations where the birth rate has fallen below replacement level.

I dare say that’s a good thing….I’m not “against” having children by any means, but if a person is simply unable to produce children, I don’t think it’s fair in any sense for them to be ostracized by the community….but whatever 0.0

Gay advocates actually conform to this view when they insist that the state must formally recognize gay unions as “marriage” — otherwise, they would be content with gay unions without formal legal recognition.

That’s why I say it makes no sense to even *have* a legally-recognized institute of marriage. ESPECIALLY if the biggest reason is “because it’s a tradition” or “people have been doing it for a long time.”

April 27, 2010 @ 7:47 pm #

P.S.

I can’t help but notice that you completely did not address the issue of adoption (gay or straight) at all in your entire post….

April 27, 2010 @ 8:36 pm #

Tim wrote:

you’re going to have to do better than just say that it’s “obviously” so.

I did, and at great length, too. If you read the entire post, you know that I supplied argument and anthropological support upholding the claim that procreation and legal recognition are central elements in the historical notion of marriage, and also that opposite genders are present in all historical instances, all in contradiction to what Joe claimed are not central elements. I think it’s pretty obvious that if procreation is central to the concept of marriage, then what same-sex partners do together can never properly be called “marriage.”

Tim wrote:

When in fact, as Mr. Joe demonstrated, it is very possible to understand the idea of a gay person “marrying” another person.

Sure… in exactly the same sense as I made it possible to understand the idea of a person marrying a birch tree.

Take a closer look at Joe’s last paragraph, and notice the evidence he supplies for his thesis: it’s that we can fathom a legal distinction between a “married” same-sex couple and an unmarried one. But where does this distinction come from? It comes from a legal decision created by a court in response to a public relations campaign by gay activists. It didn’t exist before that.

And what was it that Joe was trying to establish? he was attempting to establish which aspects of marriage are central to very concept of marriage.

So, Joe’s argument is this: if we can create a legal status for same-sex couples that’s publicly recognizable, that automatically makes it proper to abandon gender opposites as an essential aspect of marriage. Or in other words, anything we can actually force through the courts automatically becomes correct, by virtue of our having forced it.

Do you believe this is logically correct, Tim?

What if I succeed in passing through the court, or creating a general public perception, a principle that no person named “Tim” is actually a human being? or that no person who adheres to the Jewish religion is actually a human being? Does that automatically change the essential core definition of “human being?”

Now do you see why I dismissed Joe’s argument so quickly?

the point was that it’s not a qualifier to determine whether someone is fit for marriage or not

Sorry, but you’ve completely missed the point of this discussion. Nobody is talking about any person’s fitness or qualification for any particular marriage. We’re talking about concepts that are essential to the nature of the practice we call “marriage.”

As jweaks pointed out, something can be essential without being present 100% of the time. Throwing a ball through a hoop is very much part of the essence of basketball, but I assure you that I’ve played plenty of basketball games in which I never once put the ball through the damned hoop.

I can’t help but notice that you completely did not address the issue of adoption (gay or straight) at all in your entire post….

And again, our topic is the essence of marriage. Adoption is peripheral, not essential.

April 27, 2010 @ 8:59 pm #

I wish I had followed my first instinct and posted a serious response to your previous blog. I cannot accept your argument based on full societal recognition. I fall under “the appropriate and expected behavior of its members” category but I cannot see other types of relationships as valueless to the goals of our society. “We may be able to envision marriages without children, but the practice around the world is clearly about creating a social and legal environment where children are produced and trained.” How true, and the fact that many gay families include adopted/foster children negates your “gay ‘marriage’ does violence to a universal human institution”. The process of heterosexual/homosexual families adopting and fostering is in fact is a repair to those who have failed in their commitment. Ultimately, marriage is about children and that mirrors our biological destiny to produce offspring. Your sexuality does not influence the need or the fact that our society must offer the right of protection via the institution of marriage and to include all who participate in this barter called society.

April 27, 2010 @ 9:12 pm #

Mary Stack wrote:

the fact that many gay families include adopted/foster children negates your “gay ‘marriage’ does violence to a universal human institution”.

Nonsense. “Gay marriage” does violence to the definition because opposite sex and cohabitation with the object of reproduction are essential to the nature of marriage. Just because particular couples can mimick certain aspects of marriage, does not mean the essence of marriage is different from what it is.

One of the couples I considered when writing this post was Marissa and Matthew Cuthbert from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables. Marissa and Matthew adopted Anne Shirley, who was an orphan. The Cuthberts are an interesting outlier in this discussion, because they loved each other deeply, shared a surname, shared all their earthly property and granted each other rights of survival, and created a home and family that was considered highly suitable for the nurturing of a child — they did everything a married couple ought to do.

Only, they were not married. They were siblings — brother and sister. And in fact, the only thing that they did not do that was marriage-like was cohabit sexually for reproduction (or for any other reason) — for which reason their relationship was never considered a marriage. This suggests pretty clearly that sexual cohabitation for the purpose of reproduction is essential to the concept of marriage — or at least, was essential in that particular culture, but I think you’ll find that their example has parallels in every major culture on the planet.

It also illustrates how the culture adjusts to the unfortunate occurrence of orphanhood. Orphanhood is not a planned occurrence, it’s the result of less-than-optimal circumstances, always. That’s why considering adoption is always peripheral to any discussion of what constitutes the essential nature of marriage.

April 27, 2010 @ 10:16 pm #

Wow. First, 13 minutes to respond! I’m still in the middle of my ‘societal contract’ and It takes me forever to organize my thoughts, even with one away in college. I think you glossed over my most important point: Why our society, and indeed every society, has developed the concept of the protected institution of marriage. This universal principle could not flourish without the participation of members and the desire to satisfy a mutual goal. Other reciprocal needs can persist in the circle of agreement and you made the case with L. M. Montgomery’s Cuthbert brother and sister characters (This Canadian loved the book). All participants must have ‘une raison pourquoi’, and due to their age and kinship, it was not marriage. Their adoption of Anne fulfilled the need of a ‘son’ to work the farm. Society bartered for the care of Anne in exchange for labor! It seems obvious, to all, that the ideal would be protected marriage in exchange for the biological need to love children. All other peripheral agreements should come second, and does not require the protection of marriage.

April 27, 2010 @ 10:21 pm #

and also that opposite genders are present in all historical instances, all in contradiction to what Joe claimed are not central elements.

Problem is, you’re equivocating with the word “central.” The argument was that reproduction is not a qualifier to determine whether or not someone is fit for marriage. Nobody ever said that it wasn’t relevant, just that it wasn’t a qualifier.

Then again, IIRC you did say you’d support “demoting” the marriage status of humans who can’t reproduce, so I guess you’re at least consistent….0.0

Sure… in exactly the same sense as I made it possible to understand the idea of a person marrying a birch tree.

Not at all. You yourself admitted to conceding the way(s) in which the birch tree relationship differs greatly from that of a gay marriage.

Take a closer look at Joe’s last paragraph, and notice the evidence he supplies for his thesis: it’s that we can fathom a legal distinction between a “married” same-sex couple and an unmarried one.

It’s not a “legal” distinction; it’s a conceptual distinction. We have to bend our minds moreso to pretend we don’t understand what “gay marriage” refers to than we do to just acknowledge the concept. I dare say that the one who is the most intellectually dishonest is the person who claims the concepts are intrinsically inextricable.

It comes from a legal decision created by a court in response to a public relations campaign by gay activists. It didn’t exist before that.

Do you mean to say that before “gay activists,” we didn’t have consent as an aspect of marriage? I’m not really sure what you mean.

This does make me think of something that occurred to me at work today (due to an oddly unrelated conversation)….you say that there are so many things that make up the definition of “marriage,” such the ability to reproduce. You argue that if we were to remove any one of these things as a matter of public standing (i.e. remove them as expectations from the idea of marriage), that it would completely demolish the concept such that it was no longer the same thing.

By this logic, we are lead to assume that if marriage consists of a particular concept, then that concept is *intrinsically inextricable* from the definition of marriage itself, such that to remove it would “undermine the definition of marriage.”

And where do you get the definition you currently accept? You refer to old societies, Biblical literature, and tradition. Basically, you’re trying to establish a case based on what has been done before — “that’s how it’s always been, so that’s how it should be now.” Neverminding that this is utilizing the same logic as the naturalistic fallacy….if we look at it this way, we can *still* see that consent — in some form — has *always* been a part of marriage, as well. Call it legal or call it divine, there has *always* been *some* form of consent that must be given by some party — either god himself, or someone who has some means of authority over the person being married off, if not the person him/herself. There are not many instances of people just grabbing random strangers off of the street and saying, “We’re getting married.” Like it or not, you can’t — and you never have been able to — get married to someone without the consent of either that person, that person’s “owner” or parent/guardian, or god himself (in the case of Biblical lit). Given that, I think we’ve solidly established that consent is an inextricable aspect of marriage. Maybe not the consent of the marrying party, but consent on behalf of them by *someone.*

In fact….I pose a challenge to YOU, Mr. Phil; I bet that you can’t come up with one documented instance of someone whose marriage has been recognized, EVER, without the consent of both parties or some representative(s) thereof.

And what was it that Joe was trying to establish? he was attempting to establish which aspects of marriage are central to very concept of marriage.

Maybe I didn’t read it right, then. Because it was my understanding that he was saying there are *many* focal aspects of marriage, yes, but that removal of any one by itself does not automatically, by definition, “undermine” or “destroy” the entire concept of marriage. Hence the examples of straight couples who can’t have children; no society has ever fallen because of the mere existence of women (or men) who couldn’t reproduce.

So, Joe’s argument is this: if we can create a legal status for same-sex couples that’s publicly recognizable, that automatically makes it proper to abandon gender opposites as an essential aspect of marriage. Or in other words, anything we can actually force through the courts automatically becomes correct, by virtue of our having forced it.

Not at all. Perhaps Mr. Joe can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe his point was that removing the concept of opposite gender in some cases — the cases in which gays marry, not in all cases or even in most cases — does not automatically lead to a universal trivialization of the definition of marriage, any more than allowing a fertile woman to marry would. It actually seems more like common sense — we wouldn’t expect reproduction from gays because they can’t reproduce, just like we wouldn’t expect a woman who can’t bear children (or a man who can’t get her pregnant) to do so.

Do you believe this is logically correct, Tim?

I believe that the point, as I explained it above, is logically correct, yes. As for what you said, it was mostly a strawman that is based on assumptions you drew from loose implications based on things that Mr. Joe may or may not have said/meant. I’ll leave it to Mr. Joe to decide which interpretation was closer.

Sorry, but you’ve completely missed the point of this discussion. Nobody is talking about any person’s fitness or qualification for any particular marriage. We’re talking about concepts that are essential to the nature of the practice we call “marriage.”

Yes, we are. And if a concept is absolutely essential for marriage, then it stands that any marriage which does not in some way honor that concept is “invalid.”

Mr. Phil….if you are using fertility as a logical exclusor for gays in a relationship — if you are claiming that it’s the matter of fertility, and not the matter of gayness, vicariously, i.e. “if gays could reproduce it’d be no problem, but they can’t, so there” — then you *must* apply the same logic to straights who can’t reproduce, even through no fault of their own. Otherwise you are being inconsistent.

An example/experiment….take away all the knowledge you have about a given couple. All you’re told is that they can’t have children — you don’t know if they’re straight or gay, or how old they are, or what ethnicity, or anything. You’re asked, “should they be allowed to marry?” If you would answer “no” on that basis, then that applies to the couple regardless, whether they turn out to be straight or gay. If you answer “yes,” then likewise.

As jweaks pointed out, something can be essential without being present 100% of the time. Throwing a ball through a hoop is very much part of the essence of basketball, but I assure you that I’ve played plenty of basketball games in which I never once put the ball through the damned hoop.

Actually, what you’re describing would be more like “playing basketball without a hoop.” If it’s necessary to play the game, then it’s in there somewhere, whether you use it or not. Likewise, if it’s essential to marriage, it’s in the marriage somewhere — a marriage can’t be a marriage if it doesn’t hold to all aspects of the definition. I mean, why would we call it that if it wasn’t *quite* what we were calling it?

And again, our topic is the essence of marriage. Adoption is peripheral, not essential.

I just figured you’d approach it since you’re apparently so very fixated on the topic of reproduction. Ms. Mary Stack pointed out how this is relevant so I wouldn’t have to:

ow true, and the fact that many gay families include adopted/foster children negates your “gay ‘marriage’ does violence to a universal human institution”.

Nonsense. “Gay marriage” does violence to the definition because opposite sex and cohabitation with the object of reproduction are essential to the nature of marriage.

So how is it, then, that you can believe a marriage is valid (even a straight one) if it lacks THE core element of the concept of marriage? That would be like saying, “It’s a light bulb, but it doesn’t have a filament.” A filament is a significant part — perhaps THE MOST significant part — of what makes a light bulb a light bulb.

I guess what I’m saying, Mr. Phil, is, how many aspects of marriage can you remove from an individual marriage before it “stops being a marriage?” Think along the lines of, “how many parts can you take away from a light bulb before it stops being a light bulb?”

If you can take away the act of reproduction in a straight marriage and still have it be a marriage, then I don’t see why you couldn’t do the same in the case of a gay marriage.

April 27, 2010 @ 10:22 pm #

I SWEAR I am gonna flip out on this HTML editor….I want my easy buttons :(

and also that opposite genders are present in all historical instances, all in contradiction to what Joe claimed are not central elements.

Problem is, you’re equivocating with the word “central.” The argument was that reproduction is not a qualifier to determine whether or not someone is fit for marriage. Nobody ever said that it wasn’t relevant, just that it wasn’t a qualifier.

Then again, you did say you’d support “demoting” the marriage status of humans who can’t reproduce, so I guess you’re at least consistent….0.0

Sure… in exactly the same sense as I made it possible to understand the idea of a person marrying a birch tree.

Not at all. You yourself admitted to conceding the way(s) in which the birch tree relationship differs greatly from that of a gay marriage.

Take a closer look at Joe’s last paragraph, and notice the evidence he supplies for his thesis: it’s that we can fathom a legal distinction between a “married” same-sex couple and an unmarried one.

It’s not a “legal” distinction; it’s a conceptual distinction. We have to bend our minds moreso to pretend we don’t understand what “gay marriage” refers to than we do to just acknowledge the concept. I’d say that it’s the person who claims the concepts are intrinsically inextricable who is being intellectually dishonest.

It comes from a legal decision created by a court in response to a public relations campaign by gay activists. It didn’t exist before that.

Do you mean to say that before “gay activists,” we didn’t have consent as an aspect of marriage?

This does make me think of something that occurred to me at work today….you say that there are so many things that make up the definition of “marriage,” such the ability to reproduce. You argue that if we were to remove any one of these things, that it would completely demolish the concept such that it was no longer the same thing.

By this logic, we are lead to assume that if marriage consists of a particular concept, then that concept is *intrinsically inextricable* from the definition of marriage itself, such that to remove it would “undermine the definition of marriage.”

And where do you get the definition you currently accept? You refer to old societies, Biblical literature, and tradition. Basically, you’re trying to establish a case based on what has been done before — “that’s how it’s always been, so that’s how it should be now.” Neverminding that this is utilizing the same logic as the naturalistic fallacy….if we look at it this way, we can see that consent — in some form — has *always* been a part of marriage, as well. Call it legal or call it divine, there has *always* been *some* form of consent that must be given by some party — either god himself, or someone who has some means of authority over the person being married off, if not the person him/herself. There are not many instances of people just grabbing random strangers off of the street and saying, “We’re getting married,” without anyone saying or doing anything to stop them. Like it or not, you can’t — and you never have been able to — get married to someone without the consent of either that person, that person’s “owner” or parent/guardian, or god himself. Given that, I think we’ve solidly established that consent is an inextricable aspect of marriage. Maybe not the consent of the marrying party, but consent on behalf of them by *someone.*

In fact….I pose a challenge to YOU, Mr. Phil; I bet that you can’t come up with one documented instance of someone whose marriage has been recognized, without the consent of both parties or representatives thereof.

And what was it that Joe was trying to establish? he was attempting to establish which aspects of marriage are central to very concept of marriage.

Maybe I didn’t read it right, then. Because it was my understanding that he was saying there are *many* focal aspects of marriage, yes, but that removal of any one by itself does not automatically, by definition, “undermine” or “destroy” the entire concept of marriage. Hence the examples of straight couples who can’t have children; no society has ever fallen because of the mere existence of women (or men) who couldn’t reproduce.

So, Joe’s argument is this: if we can create a legal status for same-sex couples that’s publicly recognizable, that automatically makes it proper to abandon gender opposites as an essential aspect of marriage. Or in other words, anything we can actually force through the courts automatically becomes correct, by virtue of our having forced it.

Not at all. Perhaps Mr. Joe can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe his point was that removing the concept of opposite gender in some cases — the cases in which gays marry, not in all cases or even in most cases — does not automatically lead to a universal trivialization of the definition of marriage, any more than allowing a fertile woman to marry would.

Do you believe this is logically correct, Tim?

I believe that the point, as I explained it above, is logically correct, yes. As for what you said, it was mostly a strawman that is based on assumptions you drew from loose implications based on things that Mr. Joe may or may not have said/meant.

Sorry, but you’ve completely missed the point of this discussion. Nobody is talking about any person’s fitness or qualification for any particular marriage. We’re talking about concepts that are essential to the nature of the practice we call “marriage.”

Yes, we are. And if a concept is absolutely essential for marriage, then it stands that any marriage which does not in some way honor that concept is “invalid.”

Mr. Phil….if you are using fertility as a logical exclusor for gays in a relationship — if you are claiming that it’s the matter of fertility, and not the matter of gayness, vicariously, i.e. “if gays could reproduce it’d be no problem, but they can’t, so there” — then you *must* apply the same logic to straights who can’t reproduce, even through no fault of their own. Otherwise you are being inconsistent.

As jweaks pointed out, something can be essential without being present 100% of the time. Throwing a ball through a hoop is very much part of the essence of basketball, but I assure you that I’ve played plenty of basketball games in which I never once put the ball through the damned hoop.

Actually, what you’re describing would be more like “playing basketball without a hoop.” If it’s necessary to play the game, then it’s in there somewhere. Likewise, if it’s essential to marriage, it’s in the marriage somewhere — a marriage can’t be a marriage if it doesn’t hold to all aspects of the definition.

And again, our topic is the essence of marriage. Adoption is peripheral, not essential.

I just figured you’d approach it since you’re apparently so very fixated on the topic of reproduction. Ms. Mary Stack pointed out how this is relevant so I wouldn’t have to:

ow true, and the fact that many gay families include adopted/foster children negates your “gay ‘marriage’ does violence to a universal human institution”.

Nonsense. “Gay marriage” does violence to the definition because opposite sex and cohabitation with the object of reproduction are essential to the nature of marriage.

So how is it, then, that you can believe a marriage is valid (even a straight one) if it lacks THE core element of the concept of marriage? That would be like saying, “It’s a light bulb, but it doesn’t have a filament.” A filament is a significant part — perhaps THE MOST significant part — of what makes a light bulb a light bulb.

I guess what I’m saying, Mr. Phil, is, how many aspects of marriage can you remove from an individual marriage before it “stops being a marriage?” Think along the lines of, “how many parts can you take away from a light bulb before it stops being a light bulb?”

If you can take away the act of reproduction in a straight marriage and still have it be a marriage, then I don’t see why you couldn’t do the same in the case of a gay marriage.

April 27, 2010 @ 10:53 pm #

A fishing boat sitting in a dry-dock with holes in its hull is still a boat. It is not sea-worthy but it still has everything essential to claim its place as a boat. It was designed and built, in principle, to go to sea. The fact it cannot in its condition go to sea does not keep it from still being a boat. Because some boats are unseaworthy does mean you can point to a tree or a cat or a mailbox and say “those are unseaworthy too, therefore they are also boats.”

A system may have a component that is essential for intended function that also may not be present for the system’s mere existence. The component is essential in principle, but not in fact for every existence. The lack of the component’s presence in every instance does not negate the fact that the component is essential in principle.

Joining of the reproductive type is essential, in principle, for it to be marriage.

April 28, 2010 @ 12:31 am #

Phil reduxed:

“It’s the ones that perpetuate the species and the culture in a manner that benefits society at large that deserve that preference.”

I wanted to say that I appreciate your attempt at consistency with your admittance that your current marriage fails this test.

But I’d like to offer a follow-up challenge to the Birch Tree Challenge:

Does society have any reasons, outside of all the traditional ones that you cite surrounding procreation, to promote marriage among non-procreative couples?

I think there are HUGE reasons to do so, and I think most of them are self-evident.

The challenge, then: Which of these reasons for promoting marriage among non-reproductive couples could not also be good reasons to promote marriage among homosexuals?

_____

I fail to see, also, what your purpose is in making statements like, “Joe was absolutely wrong when he asserted…X”.

First X – procreation – Tim D. pretty brilliantly addressed your misrepresentation of Joe here.

Second X – License – If you had any interest in being fair to Joe’s argument at all, you would ask the same kind of questions he was asking – is a license essential to the concept of marriage. Of course not! IF your “complex societies” did not exist (and often, they have not), we have no problem conceiving of marriage as recognized by the parties involved, their religious authorities, etc.

April 28, 2010 @ 5:36 am #

A simple question for everyone, just asked out of interest. Which of the following do you think is more like a normal marriage.

1) Two gay women or men, who have known each other all their lives, are monogomous to each other, living in a country where gay marriage is allowed, go to a church that is happy to perform the ceremony, and consent to be each other’s partners in marriage.

2) A man grabs a random 12-year-old off the street, takes advantage of a new law that consent is not required in marriage, forces her to marry him, and then forces her to produce children for him (which she is physically mature enough to do).

Now the latter has the children part without the consent (a minor legal inconvenience), the former has the consent but involves gays and therefore produces no kids (who are an essential component in marriage).

So which is more like a proper marriage? And if you had to allow one but not the other, which would you allow?

April 28, 2010 @ 6:00 am #

Ok, Tim, first of all:

1600 words — you’re WAY too committed to this, and you lack the habits of mind that lead to concision. I have a life outside of this blog. If you’re going to write so much, you’re simply not going to get answered.

On ESSENCE:

Tim wrote:

I guess what I’m saying, Mr. Phil, is, how many aspects of marriage can you remove from an individual marriage before it “stops being a marriage?” Think along the lines of, “how many parts can you take away from a light bulb before it stops being a light bulb?”

Wrong question. As I said, you’ve completely missed the point of the discussion. I’ll be gracious because in truth, we’re groping around for a good definition of “essence.”

Just about everything in your comment gets answered by jweaks’ observation that the essence of a thing does not mean it appears in 100% of the cases. You keep talking about “qualifiers,” as though you’re looking for those items that we can take away from a particular situation and still manage to call the thing “marriage.” This is not the same as looking for the essence of that thing.

I’m asking the question: as a general practice, what is marriage about? Why does every human society do it? What’s the primary goal they’re seeking? There’s no equivocation there; I’ve been consistent throughout (well, I did muddle things a bit when I brought up the Cuthberts. Oh, well…) And I explained pretty clearly — we do it to pass things along. Our species, our property, our culture. Marriage is how the human species perpetuates itself. You’ve utterly missed the point when you talk of qualifiers.

Compare my question to yours. The essence of a light bulb is to illuminate by passing electricity through a treated filament. If you crack a particular light bulb, it ceases to illuminate — but even though this particular bulb is not functioning, it’s an instance of the object we call “light bulb.” If you make something that looks like a light bulb but is not designed to illuminate, it’s not a light bulb.

Dullhammer got it in the last discussion by discussing scissors. The essence of scissors is to cut paper by crushing it between sharp, oppositional blades. You can have dull scissors that don’t cut, but they’re still scissors. The oppositional blades aimed at cutting paper make it so. If you pass two knives in opposition through a pot roast to shred it, you’re making a scissors-like motion; anybody would recognize the resemblance. However, if you assemble two left-hand blades, you don’t have scissors; the opposition of the blades is essential to scissors. People would recognize the attempt to make scissors, but nobody would accept them as “Just a different design” because they deliberately foil the essence of scissors. People would call the “two-left-blades” scissors a joke, and laugh about it — and if they saw a factory deliberately assembling such scissors, they’d call them insane.

Joe also missed the point — thanks to you, I now see that his test is simply off the mark — and in the process, used an argument that’s really flabby. His criterion was “we can conceive.” So was yours: “We have to bend our minds moreso [sic] to pretend we don’t understand what ‘gay marriage’ refers to than we do to just acknowledge the concept. ” This makes his argument turn on habits of mind. You can write 8,000 words, or 20,000, and still not avoid the simple fact that his argument, and yours, turns on habits of mind. Habits of mind are not sufficient basis on which to establish the essence of a universal human behavior. Our culture is not the definitive culture. Our habits are not the definitive habits.

On CHANGE:

Tim wrote:

Basically, you’re trying to establish a case based on what has been done before — “that’s how it’s always been, so that’s how it should be now.” Neverminding that this is utilizing the same logic as the naturalistic fallacy….

Again, you completely miss the nature of this exercise. Tim, seriously, I’m going to stop answering you if you can’t get the topic straight.

I’m performing an anthropological analysis; I’m asking “What does the human species do?” One answers that question only by observing the human species. An anthropological analysis is not the same as constructing and analyzing logical syllogisms (though they have many things in common), so the handy list of logical fallacies to which you’re referring does not strictly apply here. What you’re doing is like complaining about the abuse of surgical tools when you’re observing a carpenter: “You didn’t use the retractor properly!” Carpentry and surgery are two different things. Anthropology and systematic logic are two different things. Get them straight.

And no, you’re not going to succeed at painting me as mindlessly or religiously conservative, if that’s what you’re about. I’ve been clear all along that the specific practices of marriage that vary from culture to culture do not change the essence of the act. I have no problem with variation; I’m simply trying to discover and articulate the essence of the thing.

A few minor errata:

Do you mean to say that before “gay activists,” we didn’t have consent as an aspect of marriage?

Huh???

I was as clear as clear could be. I meant that before gay activists, nobody would have considered calling the cohabiting of gays “marriage.”

You yourself admitted to conceding the way(s) in which the birch tree relationship differs greatly from that of a gay marriage.

Because of a thorny legal barrier that could have been overcome. I offered several possibilities for overcoming it. Joe’s argument simply points out that in the case of gay “marriage,” certain courts did overcome just such barriers, namely the clear definition of marriage as cross-gendered. Just because they overcame it (by unconstitutional and tyrannical means) does not change the essence of marriage.

April 28, 2010 @ 6:14 am #

BTW, I’m working on getting a friendlier comment engine installed. I’m planning on using Disqus. If you have some other preference, now’s the time to state it… ’cause I’m probably going to get this done in the next few days.

April 28, 2010 @ 6:23 am #

1600 words — you’re WAY too committed to this, and you lack the habits of mind that lead to concision. I have a life outside of this blog. If you’re going to write so much, you’re simply not going to get answered.

Sorry, Mr. Phil. Didn’t realize there was a limit to how much we’re allowed to think about it. I’ll keep that in mind in the future~

To wit, that does explain a lot, though 0.0

Just about everything in your comment gets answered by jweaks’ observation that the essence of a thing does not mean it appears in 100% of the cases. You keep talking about “qualifiers,” as though you’re looking for those items that we can take away from a particular situation and still manage to call the thing “marriage.” This is not the same as looking for the essence of that thing.

Well, it’s easy to equivocate because you use the word “essence” in such a vague and loosely-defined way. So let me rephrase in a way that considers such equivocation: IF reproduction is in fact ESSENTIAL to marriage, and IF it’s possible to remove reproduction (or the capability thereof) from the relationship and still call it “marriage,” then that means gay marriages are *not automatically* ruled out simply because there is no reproductive capabilities. That is what I meant by the term “qualifier.”

As for Mr. jweaks or whatever, his analogy is pretty inaccurate; I’m not saying that “a boat with holes in it is not a boat,” or that “if a boat with holes in it is a boat, then anything else with holes in it is also a boat.” That’s a flawed misrepresentation of the logic in play here. No, it goes more like, “SINCE a boat CAN STILL BE a boat, even if it has holes, then THE FACT THAT IT HAS HOLES does not automatically disqualify some other structure from being a boat.” Just change “boat” to “marriage” and “holes” to “reproductive capability” and you have the point.

You’ve utterly missed the point when you talk of qualifiers

Not at all. I’m saying assuming what you say is true, that doesn’t change anything about gay marriage (or sterile straight marriages).

If you reverse one of the blades, though, you don’t have scissors; the opposition of the blades is essential to scissors.

Then what, pray tell, would you call such a device, if not scissors? I’d call it “scissors with the blade turned around.”

To me, it seems like a semantic difference as to “whether or not it was intended” to do whatever. The point is, it can’t.

This makes his argument turn on habits of mind. You can write 8,000 words, or 20,000, and still not avoid the simple fact that his argument, and yours, turns on habits of mind. Habits of mind are not sufficient basis on which to establish the essence of a universal human behavior. Our culture is not the definitive culture. Our habits are not the definitive habits.

No, of course not, society 2000+ years ago was “the definitive culture,” right?

But seriously. “Turn on habits of mind?” Nobody’s arguing that it’s “true because people think it.” It was a counterpoint to your original point that the concepts were inextricable from one another. They clearly are. Problem solved; you were incorrect. That’s all that was said. I suppose if you change the goalposts then you can claim his point is now irrelevant, but the fact is that when he presented it, it *was* relevant.

I’m performing an anthropological analysis; I’m asking “What does the human species do?”

Well, it’s more that you’re saying “what SHOULD the human species do?” and you’re basing that answer on what the human species HAS done, traditionally.

An anthropological analysis is not the same as constructing and analyzing logical syllogisms, so the handy list of logical fallacies to which your referring does not strictly apply here.

If observing was all you were doing, that would be true. But you are also postulating (and based on much of your own assumption, at that). Hence, fallacy.

P.S. Feel free to stop responding to me at any time.

What you’re doing is like complaining about the abuse of surgical tools when you’re observing a carpenter: “You didn’t use the retractor!” Carpentry and surgery are two different things. Anthropology and systematic logic are two different things. Get them straight.

Maybe if the carpenter was trying to perform surgery while also trying to convince me that he was performing carpentry….

And not, you’re not going to succeed at painting me as mindless or religiously conservative, if that’s what you’re about. I’ve been clear all along that the specific practices of marriage that vary from culture to culture do not change the essence of the act. I have no problem with variation; I’m simply trying to discover and articulate the essence of the thing.

That’s not my goal at all; I just want to know what your *true* motives are, not these shabbily-established logical fallacies (such as the naturalistic one) you keep using to defend “traditional marriage.”

Because of a thorny legal barrier that could have been overcome

So you refuse my challenge? You can’t come up with one single instance of a marriage which has been recognized without consent from both parties or representatives thereof?

If that’s true, then my point stands~

April 28, 2010 @ 10:31 am #

My analogy is quite accurate. You cannot deny that which is essential in principle and continue to say that the thing is what it is supposed to be.

The non-seaworthy boat is still a boat because the essential principle that boats are made to go to sea still applies. It still has its recognizable “boat-ness” even if it never goes to sea.

If one says that it is not essential, in principle, for boats to be able to go on the seas, then one has removed the “boat-type” or “boat-ness” from the definition and one would no longer be able to say that a boat is a boat, on land or sea. It would be something else.

Reproduction is essential, in principle, in marriage. This essence, in principle, is recognizable when male and female join in marriage even if that particular union does not produce children.

How does one know and claim that the non- seaworthy boat is in fact a boat? Because one recognizes that it still has the essence of a boat, in principle. Other structures are not boats if they do not have “boat-ness” or the essence in principle. -jweaks

-jweaks

April 28, 2010 @ 10:58 am #

Nathan:

Scenario 1 is not marriage, but has similarities.

Scenario 2 is not marriage, but has similarities.

Which is more like marriage? It is moot. A statue of a person is more like a person than a tree, but neither is a person.

Scenario 1 lacks a clear essential. Scenario 2 has the reproductive essential, but lacks other essentials and is in fact rape not marriage.

That is far more than a minor legal inconvenience.

It is not “kids in every union” that is essential but rather that the reproductive essence, in principle, is present.

Moot.

False dilemma, neither one is a marriage.

April 28, 2010 @ 10:59 am #

Nathan:

Repost… I obviously used the tags wrong, sorry.

Scenario 1 is not marriage, but has similarities.

Scenario 2 is not marriage, but has similarities.

Which is more like marriage? It is moot. A statue of a person is more like a person than a tree, but neither is a person.

Scenario 1 lacks a clear essential. Scenario 2 has the reproductive essential, but lacks other essentials and is in fact rape not marriage.

“Now the latter has the children part without the consent (a minor legal inconvenience)…”

That is far more than a minor legal inconvenience.

“…the former has the consent but involves gays and therefore produces no kids (who are an essential component in marriage).”

It is not “kids in every union” that is essential but rather that the reproductive essence, in principle, is present.

So which is more like a proper marriage? Moot.

And if you had to allow one but not the other, which would you allow? False dilemna, neither one is a marriage.

April 28, 2010 @ 11:11 am #

“That is far more than a minor legal inconvenience.”

Unless I’m misunderstanding Phil’s argument, he seems to view it as such, as he didn’t see the consent issue as a major challenge to his ‘marry a tree’ idea.

Are you saying that you would see marrying a tree and marrying a man as differing in a major way on this ‘consent’ issue?

“And if you had to allow one but not the other, which would you allow? False dilemna, neither one is a marriage.”

It’s not a false dilemma, it’s a simple question that I’m asking you.

April 28, 2010 @ 11:15 am #

“Other structures are not boats if they do not have “boat-ness” or the essence in principle”

If I can get my car to float, then one could philosophically argue that I’m using it as a boat, even if it wasn’t designed as such, doesn’t look like most people’s common idea of a boat, and doesn’t look like a boat when it’s on land. Bottom line, if you were drowning and I came floating past in my car/boat, you’d be more than happy to call it a boat.

But this argument is the kind that ends up disappearing up its own ear. You end up arguing what the definition of ‘is’ is.

April 28, 2010 @ 11:30 am #

Nathan,

Which of the follow do you think is more like a normal toaster? A broken down metal box that browns bread but might burn your house down, or a polished, shinny, metal box with slots in the top and everything!!! Everything except– the electrical circuitry plugs into itself and therefore produces no toast. But it won’t burn your house down, that’s for sure.

It’s not a false dilemma, it’s a simple question that I’m asking you.

April 28, 2010 @ 11:38 am #

Dullhammer, so I take it that you also find it too difficult to say “I’d rather that two guys married than a young girl got raped”? Or to put it another way, you can’t say “I think that consent is an important issue, which tree marriage would broach”.

April 28, 2010 @ 11:46 am #

Indeed, you would be using it as a boat, but it would not be a boat. Just as a log floating down the river is not a boat. Similarities do not make for the same in essence. Put your temporarily floating car back on the road and it would be recognized for what it is, a car.

“You end up arguing what the definition of ‘is’ is.”

Not I. I am arguing in the opposite direction. That is, that things are not simply arguments over what you name them or what the definition of “is” is, but rather things are what they are as a matter of essence.

The cat can have kittens in the oven, but we would not call them biscuits. -jweaks

April 28, 2010 @ 11:56 am #

Nathan, you gave me a false dilemma. I gave you one back. The difficulty is all yours.

April 28, 2010 @ 12:10 pm #

All of the above is of interest, but I still come up with two questions:

What is the State’s interest in licensing marriage?

Why do gays want the State’s to give them such a license?

In other words…what is the purpose of including a relationship between gays as one recognized by society as “marriage”?

April 28, 2010 @ 12:23 pm #

” “That is far more than a minor legal inconvenience.”

Unless I’m misunderstanding Phil’s argument, he seems to view it as such, as he didn’t see the consent issue as a major challenge to his ‘marry a tree’ idea.

Are you saying that you would see marrying a tree and marrying a man as differing in a major way on this ‘consent’ issue?” ”

>> I am saying the whole scenario is more than a minor legal inconvenience. Your hypothetical “law” is immoral. If such a law did exist, it would still be wrong and the end result would most likely get someone shot as parents armed themselves and protected their children. It still wouldn’t be a marriage.

” “And if you had to allow one but not the other, which would you allow? False dilemna, neither one is a marriage.”

It’s not a false dilemma, it’s a simple question that I’m asking you. ”

>> It is a false dilemma, but I will answer anyway. In scenario one, two consenting adults chose to do something that is legal in their country. I am unclear how I would have the power to allow or disallow, but I will play along…

I would allow them to do what they chose to do, with one exception… I would not create or allow a state license for their non-marriage “marriage.”

Or in other words, there would be no state recognized, same-sex “marriage,” but the two people are still free to associate however they see fit, get a “church” to “marry” them if they like and consent to be partners.

In scenario 2, I would revoke the law and not allow any of it.

-jweaks

April 28, 2010 @ 12:58 pm #

This is a question of design. If I design and build a boat, it’s still a boat even if when I put it in the water it sinks. If on the other hand I drive my truck into a lake and it floats, it is still a car because that’s what it was designed to be. Please note that it’s a question of design, and not a question of how it’s being used.

It turns out that this discussion is all about God. Did God design us, Man and Woman, or are we just a random product of nature without design. For if there is design there has to be a intent. And, if God created us, man and woman, then marriage is a reflection of that intent. If on the other hand there is no God then marriage can be whatever we want it to be.

Some may say that they believe in God and also believe that gay marriage is ok, but in order to believe that you have to believe that God is ok with us using our body’s in a way that God did not design us for. It’s sort of like finding your wife using one of your wood chisels as a pry bar. That’s not what it was designed for, and it will offend you.

April 28, 2010 @ 1:42 pm #

Gentlemen,

Lots of posts – great discussion!

For the record, my argument was addressed to those who believe that Gays should not be allowed to marry, because allowing gays to marry is contrary to the very idea of marriage. They argue that “‘marriage,’ by INALTERABLE DEFINITION, is a relationship between a man and a woman.”

My very simple point is as follows: if “marriage” were, by INALTERABLE DEFINITION, a relationship between a man and a woman, it would be impossible to allow gays to marry. The very idea of “gay marriage” would be inconceivable. “Gay marriage” would be as inconceivable as “entering a marriage without entering into some sort of relationship with another person.”

“Gay marriage” is a perfectly coherent idea, and not merely because western ears have gotten used to the idea. It was always a coherent idea, despite the fact that, for many people, it was a repugnant idea. But “Repugnant” is not the same thing as “incoherent.” Familiarity with the idea of “gay marriage” has rendered the idea less repugnant – for which we can thank the opponents of gay marriage, who couldn’t stop talking about it over the last 20 years. But it has not made the idea more coherent.

Consider the following argument. Suppose:

P = Marriage, BY INALTERABLE DEFINITION, is a relationship between a man and a woman.

Q = The very idea of “gay marriage” is inconceivable.

Premise 1. P implies Q [if P is true, Q will be true]

Premise 2. Not Q.

Therefore: Not P.

Anyone familiar with logic knows that this form of argument is logically impeccable. The form even has an official Latin name – Modes Tollens. Thus, if the argument is flawed, it must be because one of the premises is false.

Premise 2 is undoubtedly true. We understand the notion of “gay marriage.” It is a perfectly coherent idea. “Gay marriage” is not inconceivable. Therefore Not Q.

What about premise 1? This is the key point. Consider the concept “even number.” “Even number” refers to “a whole number equally divisible into two equal whole numbers.” Notice that nothing in the definition of “even number” can be removed. The concept “equal number” requires ALL of these ideas to be coherent. Remove any of these ideas from the definition of “even number” and the entire concept collapses. By INALTERABLE DEFINITION, “even number” means “a whole number equally divisible into two equal whole numbers.”

But this demonstrates that premise 1 is true. If “marriage, by INALTERABLE DEFINITION, were the union of opposite sex partners,” removing “opposite sex” from the definition would destroy the concept. Thus, P implies Q.

But, if the logic is valid, and the premises are both true, the conclusion [that marriage is not, by INALTERABLE DEFINITION, a relationship between opposite sex partners] is necessarily true.

This means that one cannot appeal to the definition of marriage as necessarily “opposite sex” to mount a defense for excluding gays. If there are other reasons, so be it. But the “definition” of marriage is not a sound basis for resistance.

That’s all I’m saying.

Joe H.

April 28, 2010 @ 2:30 pm #

Joe: “The very idea of “gay marriage” would be inconceivable.”
——–

Besides the irony found in the last word, I think your argument breaks down at this point. Or I should say, fails to even start.

Gay marriage is not in the “inconceivable” category at all. It is a perversion of marriage (I’m not trying to be pejorative; I’ve actually avoided that word up to this point.), a parody if you will, which renders it outside the definition, yet strangely connected to it. It’s the ‘scissors’ with the backward blades, the truck boat, the hoopless basketball game, . . . it’s not inconceivable at all. And if it is taken seriously it becomes a tragedy and an indictment of great foolishness.

April 28, 2010 @ 3:00 pm #

Dale: “but in order to believe that you have to believe that God is ok with us using our body’s in a way that God did not design us for.”

Who are you to say you know God’s plans and designs?

jweaks: “Are you saying that you would see marrying a tree and marrying a man as differing in a major way on this ‘consent’ issue?” ”

Absolutely, and obviously.

April 28, 2010 @ 3:01 pm #

“Nathan, you gave me a false dilemma. I gave you one back. The difficulty is all yours.”

So again, Dullhammer, so I take it that you also find it too difficult to say “I’d rather that two guys married than a young girl got raped”?

April 28, 2010 @ 3:03 pm #

“It turns out that this discussion is all about God. Did God design us, Man and Woman, or are we just a random product of nature without design. For if there is design there has to be a intent. And, if God created us, man and woman, then marriage is a reflection of that intent. If on the other hand there is no God then marriage can be whatever we want it to be.”

Ah! You are on to something there. :)

April 28, 2010 @ 3:13 pm #

Joe:

P does not imply Q

jw

April 28, 2010 @ 3:16 pm #

Nathan:

You quoted me quoting you, so I assume there is no other question there for me. Sorry, I tried the quote tags, but they didn’t work as expected. -jw

April 28, 2010 @ 3:26 pm #

Dullhammer,

The word “perversion” is question begging. It asserts wrongfulness without argument. I’d say gay marriage is a “variation” on the traditional idea – that is a neutral description.

The rest of your post asserts that gay marriage is bad and/or wrong without giving any reason. That is not argument. Explain why you think taking the idea of gay marriage seriously will be a tragedy?

But recall. The my P implies Q argument is only meant to show that opponents cannot retreat behind the “definition” argument.

Joe H.

April 28, 2010 @ 3:39 pm #

Jweaks

You claim that P does not imply Q. Shouldn’t you give a reason for coming to this conclusion?

I’ve written several posts explaining why P implies Q – why the proposition P (“Opposite sex pairing” is an inextricable informing concept of marriage) implies Proposition Q (Gay marriage is inconceivable). The proof is in the examples where an informing concept is truely inextricable – “even number.” Try thinking of an even number that is not equally divisible into two equal whole numbers. You can’t. And this rule holds for every informing concept that is an inextricable informing concept of another more complex concept.

If you disagree, explain why?

Joe H.

April 28, 2010 @ 4:03 pm #

I absolutely agree with Dale on this one, Phil. This argument will just go on in circles because people (or groups of people) are using their own ideas as a frame of reference to define a concept like marriage. I think it’s a waste of time trying to argue about the wrongness or rightness of gay marriage on any basis other than the Creator’s will, because without a Creator, then anything DOES go. Institutionalized pedophilia? Hey, it’s been done. Ask Mohammed. (I still don’t know why people get so shocked by those who suggest that legalized pedophilia is what’s next if you allow gay marriage. It’s already happened in plenty of societies.) In fact, I actually think polygamy has been quite popular in many historical societies. It’s even in the Bible (understandable, considering Abraham’s pagan background). Why not let polygamy in, since there’s reproduction there AND consent. Without religion, I’d say its near impossible to make a good argument for supporting “traditional” marriage.

A person may say, trying to argue without the use of religion, “well, society will break down if we allow gay marriage because of such and such a reason.” But the response could very well be: “Maybe so, but who cares?” Or you might argue that reproduction is essential to marriage, and I’d respond: “Why? And Who says?” Because ultimately all questions lead back to the big WHY question: who’s setting the rules?

Anyway, I understand why you’re arguing apart from Judeo-Christian morality and divine intent, since most liberals don’t recognize that in full anyway. You’d have to have a whole other argument! But the truth is, for those interested, that the Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, declared that “God made man in His image, male and female He created them. FOR THIS REASON a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus Christ, the Jewish prophet and (for the Christians) a divine messenger declares the Creator’s intent and even gives a reason: the image of God. In the Union between male and female, the couple expresses the divine image to the world (with or without children, though the production of a child is a physical embodiment of what happens when a man and women “become one” spiritually). BOTH sexes are equal and absolutely important to the expression of the divine image. Declaring that “the image of God” can consist only of one gender, dishonors the other gender and simply disagrees with the Jewish scriptures (the validity of which would have to be argued elsewhere). In fact, in the gay community, we have a whole group of people saying, in effect, that the opposite gender is unnecessary for their sexual, societal, and religious fulfillment. I find it interesting that at the tail end of women’s liberation and the gender equality movement, we have the same people arguing that both genders are not needed to form the nuclear family.

No God? Then who cares, right? Who cares if we exclude a gender or not? But it’s God who declares that both sexes were created IN ORDER that they be unified as one divine image.

Of course, now you’d have to get into arguments with people like NATHAN BARLEY above as to how it’s possible to determine the Divine Will. But that’s a whole other, and I’d argue, foundational argument to this post on the nature of marriage.

April 28, 2010 @ 4:07 pm #

I ask again:

What is the State’s interest in licensing marriage?

What is the purpose served by calling the relationship between gays “marriage” and specifically, what interest does the State have in licensing that relationship?

April 28, 2010 @ 4:27 pm #

Before I start this post, I’d like to take a moment to thank Mr. jweaks and Mr. dullhammer for not cluttering their posts with excess ad hominem attacks. It makes it much easier to read and comprehend your longer posts and makes all of our lives easier :D I am always appreciative for the opportunity to prove that it’s possible for two or more people to disagree on fundamental issues without portraying each other as complete morons.

And now we commence arguing to the death once again XD

My analogy is quite accurate. You cannot deny that which is essential in principle and continue to say that the thing is what it is supposed to be.

Your analogy is incorrect is because it falsely represents the logic behind my original statement. I explained in my previous post why I feel that way.

If one says that it is not essential, in principle, for boats to be able to go on the seas, then one has removed the “boat-type” or “boat-ness” from the definition and one would no longer be able to say that a boat is a boat, on land or sea. It would be something else.

Its intent does not really bear significance as to what it is, though — the definition of a boat is rooted in physical reality and matter, not in thoughts or languages. We can point to an object, without any knowledge whatsoever of the intent of its builder, and say, “that’s a boat,” or “that’s not a boat,” because a boat is:

1. a small, open vessel or watercraft propelled by oars, sails or engine;
2. a large vessel, ship;
3. a boat-shaped dish (e. a gravy bowl)

Nowhere in the definition of a “boat” is the prerequisite that “it was designed by someone with the intent of sailing.” The only questions we need to ask when determining whether or not something is a boat are, “is it a watercraft propelled by oars, sails, or an engine?” Or perhaps, “Is it a large vessel or ship?” It doesn’t even need to be ABLE to sail or move at all to be a boat. If you design a boat that doesn’t have a mast, it can still be a hull. It’s just a boat without a hull. Really, anything with the *shape* of a boat could arguably be called a boat. A non-functional boat, but a boat nonetheless.

Likewise, in the instance of a gay (or infertile straight) marriage, we could say, “that’s a marrage without the capability to reproduce.” As we would say, “that’s a boat that has never had the capacity to sail.”

Reproduction is essential, in principle, in marriage. This essence, in principle, is recognizable when male and female join in marriage even if that particular union does not produce children.

How is it recognizable if they can’t produce children? That’s like saying that a boat’s ability to sail is apparent, even if it doesn’t have the ability to sail….it seems kind of contradictory.

That is far more than a minor legal inconvenience.

why is consent “not an issue” in the case of the tree, but not in the case of the child?

It is not “kids in every union” that is essential but rather that the reproductive essence, in principle, is present.

In what way is this “reproductive essence” present in a straight marriage that cannot produce children?

If by “essence” you mean, “intent to produce children,” then I’ve got to ask you, what about a gay couple that really wants to have children but cannot produce them? They would if they could, they just can’t. Is that not the same as a straight couple who would if they could, but don’t have the capacity to?

Not I. I am arguing in the opposite direction. That is, that things are not simply arguments over what you name them or what the definition of “is” is, but rather things are what they are as a matter of essence.

I don’t have a problem with the *idea* of the “essence” of something (if by “essence” you mean “set of qualities that define what it is”)….rather, the part that gets me is that you seem to be equivocating with that term. Sometimes, you say, an essence is a literal trait, and other times it’s based on intent. In reality, those are generally two different things — intent to create something, or intent towards a specific purpose, is not a quality of that something. If anything, it’s a quality of its creator.

It seems to me that the intent behind the construction of, say, a chair (or a boat), is probably necessary to make that thing, yes — you won’t find many boats or chairs generating themselves naturally — but then that is not part of the DEFINITION of a chair or a boat. The boat and chair are categorized based on the qualities they have, not the methods (or intent) by which they were produced. If, by some freak phenomenon of sheer chance, you DID see a “chair” or a “boat” in the wild, you wouldn’t say that it’s not a chair or a boat because it wasn’t produced with the intent to be seaworthy (or to be a comfortable seat); you’d say, “holy crap, there’s a chair/boat in the wild for no reason!”

A better example….a rock. You don’t consider the intent of the rock’s “maker” when you define it. We call it a rock because of its physical attributes.

What is the State’s interest in licensing marriage?

That’s exactly *my* question. I’ve heard Mr. Phil argue that it’s in the interest of the government to promote reproduction, but really, do we think people need to be *told* to reproduce?

…personally, I want to say that’s a bit too much moral authority to bestow upon the government…but then, endorsing marriage doesn’t even really give the government any authority with respect to making people reproduce, anyway. People can get married and never have children, and there’s no government penalty whatsoever; the government doesn’t seem to care one way or the other if you reproduce (which, IMO, is how it should be). So it seems odd to argue that the state’s interest in marriage is justified by reproduction, when the government has absolutely *no power whatsoever* to regulate whether or not people reproduce, or to what extent. They’re mostly endorsing unions, not children…there are benefits if you DO choose to have children, but that’s mostly to offset the cost of raising children — it’s not like you get a huge cash award for having children.

So really, it just seems to me like unnecessary government intervention…

Why do gays want the State’s to give them such a license?

Can’t speak for gays, but the reason *I* think we should have it is because, really, I’d rather just do away with legal recognition of religious marriage (it’s unnecessary, for reasons I already wasted space describing in the other Birch Tree thread). But since that’s not a practical option at this point, in the interest of equality I think gays should be able to get married. Basically….if marriage did not require government recognition, then gays would be able to get married at any church that would marry them, and you and I would be just as free to endorse (or reject, or speak out against, or accept or whatever) that union. This way, everybody’s happy and nobody’s rights are infringed upon. As it stands, people who think gay marriage is immoral have the legal advantage, even over other Christians who have more gay-friendly views about marriage. So in a sense, the government is legally mandating how we should interpret our religious beliefs (they’re requiring that we accept the idea of marriage as more fundamentalist-leaning Christians do). Which infringes on the religious freedoms of people who do not hold to that interpretation.

It’s sort of like finding your wife using one of your wood chisels as a pry bar. That’s not what it was designed for, and it will offend you.

How would that be “offensive?”

Gay marriage is not in the “inconceivable” category at all.

What are you talking about when you say “gay marriage?”

And, if God created us, man and woman, then marriage is a reflection of that intent.

Not necessarily….something can have an intent and still have valid uses that do not fit that intent. For example, if I burn a CD and then later on I get tired of it and don’t want it anymore, and nobody else wants it, then I might use it as a coaster. It works great as a coaster, even though that’s not what I intended when I burned it.

April 28, 2010 @ 4:29 pm #

(I still don’t know why people get so shocked by those who suggest that legalized pedophilia is what’s next if you allow gay marriage. It’s already happened in plenty of societies.)

Yeah, like that Christian compound that was busted a couple years ago for marrying pre-teen girls to 30+ year-old men. That was pretty weird.

Anyway, illegalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope….if you illegalize one kind of marriage, you’ll have to illegalize them all, and what’s next? Then you’ll illegalize unions of any kind, and then it’ll be illegal to have relationships or sex at all! It’ll be like in 1984 where we make kids in tubes. Nobody wants that!

:/

April 28, 2010 @ 4:58 pm #

Everyone,

The State’s interest in licensing marriage is to provide a public and accurate record of who is married to whom – this was historically a function of the Church.

The State’s interests in promoting and protecting the institution of marriage are legion. Marriage is, by far, the most beneficial social institution in the world.

Spouses are the first comforters in a tragedy; the primary care-givers in sickness, the suicide hotline first responders in despair, they are the primary supporters in difficulty . . . I could go on and on. What other social institution provides, or could ever hope to provide, such widespread benefits?

And consider the positive benefits that the mere expectation that one will eventually marry have on the pre-married, and on the rest of us through them. Most of the investments we make in ourselves during our youth, as well as much of the caution and restraint we exercise during that time frame, is done in preparation for marriage. Imagine growing up without the prospect, or the expectation, of eventual marriage. Imagine how much more immature our culture would be? Imagine how much harm we would do to ourselves in our youth, were we not concerned to make (or keep) our selves marritable?

Wait, we don’t have to imagine this. There is a population that grew up in precisely this situation – gays! And look at the results. How many times have we heard the statistics linking being homosexual to all kinds of social pathology? How many times have we heard criticism of the (hitherto) juvenile sexual culture among homosexuals? How much of this could be resolved if Gays grew up in a welcoming environment where there was a strong expectation that they would eventually get married?

As I’ve already said, proponents of gay marriage do not want to destroy marriage – we want to strengthen it by de-legitimizing “marriage lite” alternatives – alternatives that decouple the benefits of marriage from the responsibilities and legal entanglements of being a spouse. Alternatives to marriage, not gays, are the biggest threat to marriage. Proponents of gay marriage want to extend all the benefits – pre and post nuptual, to gays.

Why anyone would oppose doing that based on the “definition” of a word is hard for me to fathom.

Joe H.

April 28, 2010 @ 4:59 pm #

Joe,

One does not need to accept my assertion that same-sex ‘marriage’ is a perversion in order to get my point that something does not need to be inconceivable in order to be a violation of the definition– even specifically regarding marriage.

A more general point was being made: that something does not need to be inconceivable in order to be in violation of the definition. And that alone undermines your Premise 1 that P implies Q. If P implied Q then it would also imply that there is no such thing as a perversion or parody of P, which, in the case of marriage, there obviously are many. (I don’t know of any perversions or parodies of ‘even numbers’ though. So maybe you should reexamine your whole argument.)

In short, jweaks was right. P does not imply Q.

April 28, 2010 @ 5:10 pm #

If P implied Q then it would also imply that there is no such thing as a perversion or parody of P, which, in the case of marriage, there obviously are many. (I don’t know of any perversions or parodies of ‘even numbers’ though. So maybe you should reexamine your whole argument.)

Wow….the “no true marriage” argument :)

April 28, 2010 @ 5:19 pm #

>>The State’s interest in licensing marriage is to provide a public and accurate record of who is married to whom>>

Why does it matter? To whom does it matter?

April 28, 2010 @ 6:49 pm #

Dullhammer,

Phil has argued that “opposite sex pairing” is an inextricable aspect of the concept of marriage. I have argued that “opposite sex pairing” is an extricable informing concept, but not an essential defining aspect of marriage, based on the observable fact that we can think about marriage outside the context of opposite sex pairings. This is something we could not do if “opposite sex pairing” was a necessarily defining aspect of marriage.

Try it this way. Think of Clark Kent without thinking of Superman? Can’t be done. The concepts are inextricably linked because they constitute the same fictional character. Now think of Superman without thinking of Lois Lane. Lois certainly informs our concept of Superman, but she’s not central to it. You can think of superman without thinking of Lois Lane. She’s related, but not essential.

My contention was that when a concept is at the core of another concept, it is impossible to separate them. That’s the form of P implies Q. P implies Q is another way of saying “if P then Q.” I said if “same sex pairing” was an essential component of the concept of “marriage,” (Proposition P), gay marriage would be inconceivable [in that gay marriage removes “same sex pairing” from the concept of marriage], (Proposition Q).

And because gay marriage is not inconceivable, (Proposition Not Q), we can infer Not P.

So I renew my contention that anyone insisting that “opposite sex pairing” is an inextricable and defining element of “marriage,” an element that the concept of marriage cannot do without, is doing this as an act of the will. They are refusing to separate the concepts because they feel the definition argument is important.

By the way, I didn’t contend that “something needed to be inconceivable to be a violation of a definition.” I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement.

Joe H.

April 28, 2010 @ 9:07 pm #

Wow… this has gone in so many directions… I don’t have the time to continue. However I will make this final post in order to answer Joe’s question as to why I think his syllogism is wrong.

Joe proposes a modus tollens and a modus ponens. In order to critique them, we must make sure they are properly formed.

The modus tollens form is: If P, then Q. Not Q therefore, Not P.

The modus ponens form is: If P, then Q. Q therefore, P.

Joe’s argument:

P = Marriage, BY INALTERABLE DEFINITION, is a relationship between a man and a woman.
Q = The very idea of “gay marriage” is inconceivable.
Premise 1. P implies Q [if P is true, Q will be true]
Premise 2. Not Q. Therefore: Not P.

This first problem is that this is not a fully formed argument. What we have so far is:

If marriage, by unalterable definition, is a relationship between a man and a woman, then the idea of “same-sex” marriage is inconceivable.

The syllogism must be completed by determining if it is Q or Not Q (tollens or ponens) and then determining what is the conclusion or logical assertion (the “therefore”).

The completed modus ponens:

If marriage, by unalterable definition, is a relationship between a man and a woman, then the idea of “same-sex” marriage is inconceivable. The idea that “same-sex” marriage is inconceivable is true (Q) therefore, marriage is, by unalterable definition, a relationship between a man and a woman.

The completed modus tollens:

If marriage, by unalterable definition, is a relationship between a man and a woman, then the idea of “same-sex” marriage is inconceivable. The idea that “same-sex” marriage is inconceivable is false (Q) therefore, marriage is not, by unalterable definition, a relationship between a man and a woman.

The arguments can be flawed in either validity or in soundness. In this case, both syllogisms appear to be validly formed. So, are they sound?

The next problem is indeed one of soundness. The problem is the “inconceivable” or “Q” part. The idea of something being conceivable or inconceivable is too vague and subjective.

Joe assumes “Not Q” by saying:

Premise 2 is undoubtedly true. We understand the notion of “gay marriage.” It is a perfectly coherent idea. “Gay marriage” its not inconceivable. Therefore Not Q.

But I do not agree that this is true (and I far from alone). My belief and understanding of what marriage is, in principle, is not in line with what Joe conceives. I in fact cannot conceive of a “same-sex” marriage that is the same, in principle. Even if I could conceive such a thing, the notion is still too vague for the syllogism to be sound. Inconceivable, defined as not conceivable, unimaginable, unthinkable, unbelievable, incredible, etc… is not a discernible truth statement but rather a belief statement (that something is not true). Something could really be inconceivable, but in actually be true.

(Another problem is the use of “unalterable.” Either that is true or it is not true. If P is false then the “unalterable” part is false as well and you have a premise that is compromised. However, I am essentially ignoring this problem and assuming that we can agree that the premise can hold up without the “unalterable” part. Either the definition is true or it is false.)

Both syllogisms, the ponens and the tollens, are flawed at this point by the unsoundness in Q. We could however correct this by switching to a non-subjective term. This is not Joe’s syllogism, of course, but I would suggest the following:

The completed modus ponens:

If marriage, by definition, is a relationship between a man and a woman, then a “same-sex” marriage is impossible. That a “same-sex” marriage is impossible is true (Q) therefore, marriage is, by definition, a relationship between a man and a woman.

The completed modus tollens:

If marriage, by definition, is a relationship between a man and a woman, then a “same-sex” marriage is impossible. That a “same-sex” marriage is impossible is false (Q) therefore, marriage is not, by definition, a relationship between a man and a woman.

Now we have two validly formed syllogisms. And the subjective Q problem is removed (and the “unalterable” problem). One of these is false (unsound) and the other is true or both of them are false (unsound) due to some error. The latter option (both unsound/false) appears to be eliminated. So, either Q is true (Q) or Q is not true (Not Q).

Which leads one back to the essence of the problem: What is a marriage? Is a “same-sex” marriage possible or impossible? I think opposite-sex is one of the essentials (among others) for marriage and therefore Q is true, “same-sex” marriage is impossible.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for the lively discussion, I’m out.
-jweaks

April 28, 2010 @ 9:14 pm #

Whoa, folks! I go enjoy my wedding anniversary for a day, and I get a flood!

The changes to the comment engine here are not permanent, but I think just numbering the comments is an improvement, no?

I’m still looking for a way to give you all some editing and formatting controls.

April 28, 2010 @ 9:30 pm #

Phil, I prefer a date/time stamp on comments (“friendlier comment engine”). It is easier to remember what I have read by scrolling though time rather than sequential numbers.

Thank you,
I am enjoying reading diverse POV

April 28, 2010 @ 9:35 pm #

Joe,

Just a minor point or two: I think you meant to say “opposite sex pairing” in two places where you said “same sex pairing” in your comment to me (April 28, 2010 @ 6:49 pm). I also am not quite sure about your last sentence either, but that might just be me at this time of night. A little further clarification from you would be helpful.

Thanks.

April 28, 2010 @ 9:39 pm #

jweaks,

Thanks for all your input. That was refreshingly clear. I never could have evaluated it like that. Don’t disappear forever.

April 28, 2010 @ 10:26 pm #

Jweaks, a few points:

1. The argument form “Modus Ponens” is: If P then Q, P, therefore Q.

The argument form: If P then Q, Q, therefore P, is a logical fallacy known as “asserting the consequent.”

2. The truth of “Not Q” is established by the basic fact that we understand the concept “same sex marriage.” Phil said that “opposite sex” was an inextricable aspect of the definition of “marriage.” I said it wasn’t central to the core idea of marriage, because we can understand and apply the notion of marriage to same sex couples. This established that the idea of marriage survives the deletion of the requirement of opposite sex pairing. To even talk about “same sex marriage” establishes the truth of “Not-Q.”

You and Phil can insist that opposite sex pairing is essential to the definition of marriage, but the facts say otherwise. You are refusing to seperate the concepts in your mind and/or moral reasoning. That’s understandable, given that the “Marriage is by Definition” argument falls apart once the extricability premise ["Not Q"] is conceded. But it is not a conclusion reached by argument – it is an act of your will.

3. I only made the Modus Tollens argument. I take no responsibility for the others. :).

Joe H.

April 29, 2010 @ 3:44 am #

“Whoa, folks! I go enjoy my wedding anniversary for a day, and I get a flood!”

It’s pretty ironic that you can’t comment on a thread where you argue against marriage rights for others, because you’re busy celebrating your own enjoyment of that right.

Frank: “Without religion, I’d say its near impossible to make a good argument for supporting “traditional” marriage.”

This is a strange argument given that in the same paragraph you point out lots of religion-sanctioned ‘NON-traditional’ marriage such as peodophilia and polygamy.

Jteaks: “You quoted me quoting you, so I assume there is no other question there for me.”

Yes, you made it clear that you refuse to say ‘I’d rather that two guys got married than a young girl got raped’. To be fair, if you turned the question around then I’d be quite happy to say that if STOPPING two guys marrying was the only way to save the girl, then I’d stop them.

My point was that consent is a more important issue to me. I’m surprised that it doesn’t seem to be for you. My point was that two guys marrying is of a completely different magnitude to allowing marriage without consent (eg a tree).

April 29, 2010 @ 5:46 am #

By the way, a genuine happy anniversary to you Phil.

Dale, Jweaks and Frank – I apologize for the glibness of my “Who are you to say you know God’s plans and designs?” response.

Here’s a longer explanation of why I think the ‘going against God’s plan/design’ argument is so problematic.

Human ‘design’ carries a lot of variance. You can, of course describe an average, or to be more accurate, a MODE human – two eyes, arms, legs, right-handed etc, and then start extrapolating a plan from that. But aside from the naturalistic fallacy, this ignores that not everyone conforms to the mode. You get people born without legs, with poor eyesight, or left-handed, or infertile. Hormone imbalances can make some women grown facial hair, or make a man grow breasts. Some people are even born with both sets of sexual organs – what’s God’s plan for them – Arthur or Martha?

From a theistic view, you can say that God had a specific plan for these people, or you can say that God has set up a system where thing happen seemingly randomly, or perhaps the individual is being tested in how they deal with it. What I don’t think anyone would argue is that these are “God’s mistakes”.

Now, suppose there’s something in women’s brains that attracts them to men, and something similar in men’s brains that attracts them to the fairer sex. Well, given the variance we see in humans, I don’t find it implausible that people could be born with the ‘wrong bit’. Not as easy to spot as a man who grows breasts, or a woman with an Adam’s Apple or a beard, but no more implausible.

If that happens – a good enough explanation for gays as any – then it becomes difficult to say what God’s plan for them is. It’s not always obvious how such people ‘outside the normal curve’ are supposed to ‘conform to their design’. For a silly example, what if you’re a woman with excessive facial hair? Is the right thing to shave it off – because women aren’t supposed to have beards, or should you leave it – because women aren’t supposed to shave? Are glasses for the myopic against God’s plan? If you’re born without legs does that mean God doesn’t want you to move around fast?

Someone else could use the same ‘design argument’ to push the opposite view. You could argue that if a woman is born with the same attractions that I have – in other words attracted to women – then THAT is her design, and she’d be going against it if she entered into a marriage with a man she could never fancy. This argument is equally fallacious.

[as a side point, I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter to marry a man whose genuine leanings are to other guys]

You could also argue that, starting from first principles, we’re meant to have kids, and gays are going against that. This doesn’t work either – if you’ve even kept bees you’ll know that only a fraction of a percentage of the hive actually reproduces. In fact it’s very rare in any pack of animals for ALL the animals to bear or father young. My great Aunt never had children of her own, but if she hadn’t been around to help I doubt my Granny would have been able to raise six kids. If you say ‘well animals kill each other – does that mean we should too?’, then I’ll agree with you – this is just another reason why the ‘natural design’ argument is poor.

Ditto, arguing that pedophiles’ desires are natural too – I can construct a very good argument for protecting children against predators that has nothing to do with our design.

April 29, 2010 @ 7:51 am #

Dale,

You can also argue that if one is a strict Evolutionist, the whole “survival of the fittest” thing, that only profitable mutations remain, you can then argue that same-sex coupling is an aberration. It can not produce offspring, therefore it is not a survivable mutation or variable that promotes the species.

April 29, 2010 @ 8:23 am #

Hi Gary, accepting that the process of evolution occurs doesn’t have any bearing on what you think SHOULD occur, or how you think animals SHOULD act.

Though I guess you might be saying that if you accept evolution, then you are faced with a problem of how homosexuality continues if it is a genetic thing – the old joke of ‘infertility is hereditary’.

1. For a start, genetic doesn’t have to mean hereditary. People keep getting Down’s Syndrome, despite the fact that they don’t go on to have kids.

2. As I said before, female siblings of gay men tend to have more children than average. It’s possible (and the evidence suggests it’s likely) that there’s a set of genes that in men increases the likelihood of homosexuality, but in women increases fecundity. Thus the set of genes that leads to men being gay will have an advantage in the gene pool, even if the men themselves don’t reproduce.

3. And of course there’s the separate point that even if you don’t have kids yourself, if you support your siblings, you are still aiding your genes being put forward to the next generation, as your nephews/nieces will have 50% of your genes.

April 29, 2010 @ 9:04 am #

Thanks for explaining the problems with the God’s plan/design argument, Nathan. It took a while to surface in this discussion, but I believe it’s been at the root of most objections to same sex marriage.

If you portray homosexality as a defect in nurture rather than nature, then you can legitimize comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and beastiality(and arboriphilia?). It becomes a pathological disorder rather than design discrepancy. Once you believe that, it becomes a moral obligation to object, and the slippery slope becomes precipice.

Now I get it.

April 29, 2010 @ 9:07 am #

I can’t resist… one more comment…

Joe:”The argument form: If P then Q, Q, therefore P, is a logical fallacy known as “asserting the consequent.””

Yikes! I can’t believe I did that. You are correct and I erred. I would have to go back and correct the logic, but the points I was getting at are still correct. I could, if time allowed, form the valid syllogism. I will not however bother to that… as you point out the only argument you are positively asserting is the tollens.

Joe: “The truth of “Not Q” is established by the basic fact…”

Negative Joe… your syllogism is busted because your Q is not a truth claim. Conceivability/Inconceivability is a claim to what one thinks or believes. Something could be conceivable and false or inconceivable and true.

This might actually be invalid as opposed to unsound. Unsound implies the premise is false, but if there is no claim to actual falsity or truth, then it is invalid. It must be one or the other.

-jweaks

April 29, 2010 @ 9:09 am #

Nathan,

Are you intentionally putting homosexuality in the category of being born without legs or poor eyesight? Or am I reading too much into your argument?

April 29, 2010 @ 9:33 am #

“Are you intentionally putting homosexuality in the category of being born without legs or poor eyesight?”

Well that’s quite a wide category! Few people have 20:20 vision, we an many people just wear glasses to correct the problem. So that’s at one end of the scale of inconvenience, with missing limbs obviously being at the other.

I’d say that only being attracted to and falling in love with people you can’t have kids with is quite an inconvenience. It’s not as bad as missing a limb (though I doubt amputee parents would give up their child to get their limb back), but it’s not something that a pair of glasses can correct either.

Jackson, I’d argue that even if one could show that it is nurture rather than nature, it would still be fallacious to compare it to those other things you mentioned (bestiality etc), as they all (again!) remove consent from the equation, the importance of which I’d hope we are now all in agreement about.

April 29, 2010 @ 10:16 am #

Nathan said: “Well that’s quite a wide category! Few people have 20:20 vision, we an many people just wear glasses to correct the problem. So that’s at one end of the scale of inconvenience, with missing limbs obviously being at the other.

I’d say that only being attracted to and falling in love with people you can’t have kids with is quite an inconvenience. It’s not as bad as missing a limb (though I doubt amputee parents would give up their child to get their limb back), but it’s not something that a pair of glasses can correct either.”
———

Is that a yes?

April 29, 2010 @ 10:32 am #

Dullhammer – That’s a yes.

As in yes, I would put having a pre-disposition to being attracted to your own gender, and not being attracted to the opposite gender, in a very wide category that I could loosely describe as ‘traits fixed at birth that vary from the mode/average that can inconvenience you to varying degrees’.

As I said, it’s wide category that would include being left-handed, being short-sighted, having a hormone imbalance that gives you traits of the other gender, all the way up to being born with missing limbs or with both sets of male and female genitals.

Does that clarify?

April 29, 2010 @ 11:10 am #

Actually Nathan, I see a lot of problems with your argument. I’ll try to keep it brief. First, I’m saying that it is the will of the Jewish/Christian god that declares and defines His will for marriage: one man and one woman. So other cultures I mentioned that involve themselves in “non-traditional” marriages still must be judged by the will of the creator god, even the Biblical patriarchs who, despite having already married multiple wives, began to follow a god who expected otherwise.

And I didn’t make an argument based on design because I didn’t want to get into it, although I actually think that’= it’s a valid argument and your points don’t hold up under scrutiny. Example, if someone is born with one leg, it would be ludicrous to suggest that this means we’re not “designed” to have two legs. You’d say that we are still designed for two legs but this one person happens to be born with one; an aberration has occurred. But since I don’t believe homosexuality is a genetic aberration, the argument from design can become moot quite quickly. (More on that below).

So again, here’s the problem with discussing the religious argument with you and others who hold your view: we’d have to have a discussion as to why the scriptures are authoritative, and how it is that anyone can believe that the christian god is, in fact, the only true god who has anything to say to human kind. Those are HUGE and provocative statements that deserve more space than I’m afraid this blog can handle now. But the question is of extreme importance. If you look at “christian” churches that accept gay marriage and approve of homosexuality, you’ll see that many of them have adopted a humanist, anti-supernatural theology that demystifies the scriptures and rejects their authority as the word of god, infallible in its original texts, etc, etc. And this is important since the declared will of a creator god trumps all else (if you believe this creator god exists). So if the creator god declares “such and such shall be so” and something other than that emerges, then you can see that in fact there IS an aberration in creation that has occurred to thwart the creator’s initial plan. Of course, this leads you into other theological discussions. The judeo-christian explanation for this is “sin”, and its expressed in way more than just homosexuality, but also adultery, pedophilia, incest and then a hundred other ways the human species has become broken and has twisted the divine image. Just because people argue that “we’re born this way” doesn’t mean that it’s the creator’s will if the creator has, in fact, spoken elsewhere. People might say “God made me this way so it must be okay” but they’re invoking another god, not the one that reveals himself to Israel and then the Christians, distasteful and morally knitpicky as that god might be to some.

And just a quick statement regarding the genetic argument. Even if its proven that it is genetic, I still don’t think this means that the scriptures are therefore wrong – as there are genetic conditions that are unnatural and not to be desired. However, given that, there is no current proof that homosexuality is a genetic condition. All attempts thus far have failed or have been twisted to show that we’ve found “the gene” when in fact we haven’t. Case in point: In the mid nineties a study came out saying that 80% of identical twins shared the same homosexual orientation, showing that there is a distinct correlation between genetics and human sexuality. People really jumped on that. What they didn’t tell you is that 1) identical twins are 100% genetically identical so anything less than 100% correlation shows that there is a different factor than genetics at play. And 2) a separate study conducted right after wards compared identical twins who were raised in separate households. The correlation between their genetic identity and their sexuality was 0%. While the study was published, it was never talked about in the media. Of course, this shows that environment determined their eventual orientation, not their genetics. They tried the same thing in the 80s, trying to find an alcoholic gene. They never found one. The above tests are only a couple out of many conveniently kept out of the limelight but still being published.

April 29, 2010 @ 11:26 am #

Frank: “I’ll try to keep it brief. First, I’m saying that it is the will of the Jewish/Christian god that declares and defines His will for marriage: one man and one woman.”

Hmm, aren’t those from the same parts of the bible that men quoted from for decades to justify slavery? Forgive me if I’m not convinced by that.

“People really jumped on that. What they didn’t tell you is that 1) identical twins are 100% genetically identical so anything less than 100% correlation shows that there is a different factor than genetics at play. ”

No Frank, the studies showed that Identical twins were much more likely to share a sexual orientation than NON-identical twins. So that CERTAINLY points to a genetic component.

“They tried the same thing in the 80s, trying to find an alcoholic gene. They never found one. ”

We don’t even have a ‘gene for tallness’, but no-one denies that there’s a strong genetic component to your height. Generally, basketball players have tall kids, jockeys have small ones.

“Example, if someone is born with one leg, it would be ludicrous to suggest that this means we’re not “designed” to have two legs.”

Yes, but it shows that regardless of what you might think of as our ‘design’, some people are unlucky enough to have conform to it. It wouldn’t make sense to bash the one-legged man for not walking properly, and certainly it’s no easy answer to say HOW he should walk.

April 29, 2010 @ 11:29 am #

P.S. When I was in sex-ed classes in the nineties, learning from my all wise and all powerful public education system, I was taught that homosexuality can be measured on a psychological scale. (I forget the name of that scale). This was before the genetics argument came into fashion. This scale showed that everyone to some degree (from 0 to 100 percent) was homosexually inclined based on differing psychological factors. I still think this makes the most sense given the complexity of the human psyche and the existence of currently “disenfranchised” groups like the transgender, transexual, and bisexual “communities”. No one’s trying to prove there’s a bisexual gene, yet thousands claim to be so. The genetics argument presents a black and white explanation to a concept, human sexuality, that is much more complex and varied. You might argue (actually, as Dr. Phil does…hehe…who believes the evidence DOES show homosexuality is psychological – guess it must be true then, right? ;)) that if this scale is true, then you should just let them be anyway and let them live their lives. Maybe so. But you could also argue that if, by dealing with psychological causes (abuse, emotional neglect, early childhood trauma, or lack of bonding), you could undo their sexuality and provide people with another choice, then wouldn’t you want to do that? It may be a difficult process but that choice should be left up to the individual.

But again, I stick with my main point that in the end it all comes down to the will of the creator god. Do with that what you will. Thanks for engaging in the discussion, though.

April 29, 2010 @ 11:33 am #

Again nathan, you might not be convinced and that’s fine. But I’m not sure phil would appreciate a full on discussion about the scriptures. You disregard them as valid. That’s your choice. And that’s why you can hold to (and I think its logically consistent for you to do so) your views on sexuality.

When you said that the test CERTAINLY shows that there’s a genetic component, that’s completely untrue. Did you disregard the SECOND study that showed a 0% correlation for twins raised in separate households??? Both studies together showed that twins were much more likely to share the same sexual orientation IF RAISED IN THE SAME HOUSEHOLD. The environment is the defining factor there.

April 29, 2010 @ 11:36 am #

Oh, and read up on your genetics if you don’t think there’s a gene for height. “Tallness” is actually a dominant genetic allele. Shortness is recessive. There are also genes for weight.

April 29, 2010 @ 12:11 pm #

Frank said:

“Again nathan, you might not be convinced and that’s fine. But I’m not sure phil would appreciate a full on discussion about the scriptures. You disregard them as valid. That’s your choice. And that’s why you can hold to (and I think its logically consistent for you to do so) your views on sexuality.”

Frank, even if the world was created by God, and his purpose for the Bible was to remove the necessity for thinking in certain areas (a little jab there, I’m a theist myself), you should be able to demonstrate, in the world, that certain things are true without reference to the Bible. This is what Phil has been trying to do all along with the Birch Tree Challenge.

And I think you need to read the Identical Twin study (and Nathan’s response to you) more carefully – identical twins in the same household are far more likely to have the same sexual preference than fraternal ones. This is important not to gloss over.

You also said:

“Oh, and read up on your genetics if you don’t think there’s a gene for height. “Tallness” is actually a dominant genetic allele. Shortness is recessive. There are also genes for weight.”

You misread Nathan again – he was pointing to the fact that we have not isolated any gene for tallness yet, not that we aren’t pretty sure there’s a genetic component.

April 29, 2010 @ 12:19 pm #

Nathan, I’m going to make one more comment before I get back to work. You said,

“Hmm, aren’t those from the same parts of the bible that men quoted from for decades to justify slavery? Forgive me if I’m not convinced by that.”

Phil wrote a very good article on why we should not judge the Old Testament by modern standers, and he directly discussed the issue of slavery. You may want to take the time to look up that post. Also, you should acknowledge that it was the Judeo/Christian religion that finally said that slavery was always wrong. We were the first.

And yes, people have used the bible to justify all kinds of things, but that is not the fault of the bible, it’s the fault of the people misusing the bible for their own ends. Some people have even tried to use the bible to justify redefining marriage.

April 29, 2010 @ 12:26 pm #

Gordon, you wrote: “And I think you need to read the Identical Twin study (and Nathan’s response to you) more carefully – identical twins in the same household are far more likely to have the same sexual preference than fraternal ones.”

I don’t get it. This study isn’t about identical versus fraternal twins. Both sets of twins (both the twins which were raised in the same household and the twins which were separated at both and raised in different household) were IDENTICAL twins. So once more, what the study was saying was that IDENTICAL twins raised in the same household are far more likely to have the same sexual orientation than IDENTICAL twins which have been separated at birth, each twin being raised in a different household. Again, same household = 80% correlation for the identical twins. Different households = 0% correlation.

Am I missing something? It seems quite clear to me. No fraternal twins involved in this study. It’s a study ONLY involving genetically identical subjects.

April 29, 2010 @ 12:41 pm #

“I was taught that homosexuality can be measured on a psychological scale”

Really? How long ago was that, because that idea has no acceptance in psycology today.

“This study isn’t about identical versus fraternal twins.”

Nevertheless, such studies do exist, and they point to strong genetic component. I haven’t got time to research and post right now, but may do later.

“Phil wrote a very good article on why we should not judge the Old Testament by modern standers”

I agree. But it’s hypocrasy to cherry pick the parts of the OT we want to bolster our arguments. And like it or not, the ‘Lemon test’ states that all our laws need a secular justification for them.

April 29, 2010 @ 1:00 pm #

Here’s just one example Frank, but there have been many such studies. Google to read the whole thing:

“Gay Men in Twin Study
A new study of twins provides the strongest evidence yet that homosexuality has a genetic basis, researchers say, though they say other factors like social conditioning may be important.

The study, published in the December issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, adds to evidence that sexual orientation does not result from a maladjustment or moral defect, one author said.

“We found 52 percent of identical twin brothers of gay men also were gay, compared with 22 percent of fraternal twins, compared with 11 percent of genetically unrelated brothers,” said J. Michael Bailey, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, “which is exactly the kind of pattern you would want to see if something genetic were going on.” By “unrelated,” Dr. Bailey was referring to brothers by adoption.

“The genetically most similar brothers were also the ones most likely to be gay, by a large margin,” he added.”

Gordon: “You misread Nathan again – he was pointing to the fact that we have not isolated any gene for tallness yet, not that we aren’t pretty sure there’s a genetic component.”

Quite so Gordon.

April 29, 2010 @ 1:19 pm #

Nathan, your point about the Lemon test is well taken. Except that many of our laws have a moral component to them.

And now I really do have to get back to work. Sincerely, Dale…

April 29, 2010 @ 1:25 pm #

“80% correlation for the identical twins”

Frank, have you a cite for this study?

April 29, 2010 @ 3:08 pm #

Frank -

Come out and be fair…admit that you did not specify what study you were referring to. I had read the study that Nathan referred to, but you cannot expect me to know the details of your mystery study.

Go find the study, as Nathan suggested, and have the decency he showed in posting the one HE was referring to.

You had said, by the way: “there is no current proof that homosexuality is a genetic condition. All attempts thus far have failed or have been twisted to show that we’ve found “the gene” when in fact we haven’t. ”

Nathan’s posting is just the proof you are denying exists. No twisting necessary, no matter how much you may WANT the opposite to be true.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:02 pm #

Nathan – for you, I’d be glad to find the citation. It’s actually in a book on Human Psychology and Sexuality, that’s buried in my house. I’ll try to find it and find the info you’d like.

Gordon’s attitude and tone, however, leaves much to be desired.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:22 pm #

And btw, I have read that study. And read counter-interpretations of the results. So our argument here could be pointless. I’m not going to convince you, I’m sure. This study was conducted by Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, one a gay rights activist, the other an openly homosexual psychologist. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a hint there that their conclusions MAY be biased.

So first, Pillard and Bailey’s findings actually indicate that something besides genes must account for homosexuality. If 48 percent of those identical twins do NOT share the same sexual orientation, then genetics alone CANNOT account for homosexuality. So while I’m willing to admit that some genetic causes may be present, this is far from an open and shut case as claimed by the two scientists.

Second, all of the twins Pillard and Bailey studied were raised in the same household. In fact, this is a common factor for a few twin tests that have been done and used to claim that it’s genetic. If the sets of twins in which both brothers were homosexual were raised in separate homes, it might be easier to believe genes played a role in their sexual development. But since they were all raised in the same households, it is impossible to know what effect environment played, and what effect, if any, genes played.

Third, Pillard and Bailey (the same problem with other tests in the same vein). As stated above, their personal feelings about homosexuality certainly do not disqualify them from doing good research on the subject. But they must be, at the very least, considered.

Fourth, a later study on twins yielded results different from Pillard and Bailey’s. Look up the March 1992 study in The British Journal of Psychiatry. It published a report on homosexuals who are twins (both fraternal and identical) and found that only 20 percent of the homosexual twins had a gay co-twin, leading the researchers to conclude that “genetic factors are an insufficient explanation of the development of sexual orientation.”

So not only has Pillard and Bailey’s work not been replicated, when a similar study was conducted, it had completely different results.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:25 pm #

Pardon my frustration, Frank, but you were speaking as if I should have known all about the study you were referring to (“I don’t get it…Am I missing something? It seems quite clear to me. No fraternal twins involved in this study. It’s a study ONLY involving genetically identical subjects.”)

Now, forgiving my TONE (since you can’t see my attitude, no? : ) , would you agree that your “there is no current proof” statement might be untrue?

Again, thanks for pardoning the tone.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:30 pm #

You can also argue that if one is a strict Evolutionist, the whole “survival of the fittest” thing

What is an “evolutionist?”

Or are you perhaps referring to the ridiculous (and hypothetical) idea that anyone who believes evolution as a biological theory is somehow obliged to construct their moral ideas from the naturalistic fallacy?

Phil wrote a very good article on why we should not judge the Old Testament by modern standers

And yet, we seem to have no problem judging the modern world by Old Testament standards….interesting, that.

Also, you should acknowledge that it was the Judeo/Christian religion that finally said that slavery was always wrong. We were the first.

Even if that were true, it wouldn’t justify or excuse the fact that Christians who came before that time were still unrepentant slaveowners.

And yes, people have used the bible to justify all kinds of things, but that is not the fault of the bible, it’s the fault of the people misusing the bible for their own ends.

Who’s to say who is interpreting the Bible “correctly?” Even Biblical scholars can’t agree on every detail.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:32 pm #

and one more note: Before we bother wasting our time, remember that one of the debators (eh, me) believes that genes, even if they are ever proven to be the dominant factor, do NOT determine whether behaviors are moral. There have been attempted studies to link alcoholism, obesity, pedophilia, and even infidelity to genes and yet these are still considered undesirable states. Anyway, we’ve actually gone on a tangent from my main point (which was just to back up what Dale said about god): that a divine will is the best argument against it. Without a divine will, then anything DOES go.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:33 pm #

Sorry, Frank, I was writing my note above before your last one came in…

You quoted: ““genetic factors are an insufficient explanation of the development of sexual orientation.”

I don’t think anybody here is arguing that they know that genetics are the sole cause of homosexuality. But your statements have the feel that you are completely trying to rule them out, no (“no current proof”)? Almost all the studies quoted so far seem to point to a genetic component.

Genetics may not be completely sufficient as an explanation (or they may be), but I don’t think gay marriage is defeated on that basis.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:35 pm #

Gordon, point well taken. As you can tell from my last point, I think we’re going to end up arguing in circles, so I’m about to sign off. But I should have been more gracious with you about it. My tone was UNCOOL. :) Guess it’s a “judge not lest ye be judged thing” eh? Thanks for the pardon on that!

April 29, 2010 @ 4:36 pm #

and I agree with you about the defeating gay marriage thing not being defeated on that basis…same with homosexuality as a whole. We’ve been swept away on a tangent.

April 29, 2010 @ 4:37 pm #

AARRGGHH…Frank, I should sit back and wit for all your posts to come through!

“Anyway, we’ve actually gone on a tangent from my main point (which was just to back up what Dale said about god): that a divine will is the best argument against it. Without a divine will, then anything DOES go.”

Are you arguing, then, for writing laws that force non-Christians to live as if they were? Or are you arguing that Americans should base their laws specifically on Christianity, with no other basis necessary?

I’m a theist, and that is repugnant to me. I can only imagine the fear this kind of thinking puts into the atheists among us! : )

April 29, 2010 @ 5:05 pm #

Without a divine will, then anything DOES go.

Completely false~

April 29, 2010 @ 5:14 pm #

They SHOULD fear….and TREMBLE before the WILL of the THEISTS!!! muahahaha!

hehe. jk. :)

I honestly can’t answer that question. I entered the discussion of whether or not gay marriage is morally right or not, but actually, I’m not quite sure about where to stand on public policy regarding it! Weird, right? I’m politically an independent, leaning towards libertarianism…and side on the separation of church and state for the most part. So while I don’t mind arguing for true morality within the Christian community, I haven’t thought it as to how to apply that morality to a secular country, other than the fact that I believe Christians can and should state their positions and try as best they can to persuade people as to what would make a stable more prosperous society. I guess I should leave that to Phil! I’ve actually had this conversation with Phil before.

I side more on the “My kingdom is not of this world” mentality and don’t side with the Pat Robertsons of the world on this issue, with the one exception that I DO believe Christianity is more than just an individual spiritual experience. Christians are called to bring His kingdom to the world by preaching Christ’s message of love and reconciliation with God, showing God’s love to others by acts of service, and rectifying social injustice when they can. How this fits into public policy in a secular State, I haven’t yet figured out (though my ideas are slowly coming together…I need more time though! :P)

April 29, 2010 @ 5:57 pm #

What Frank Capitanio just said in his last post goes for me too. Except I would add that I think it’s almost impossible to completely separate public policy/morality from religion. And how many people are really happy about the direction our country seems to be going in while trying to do so?

April 29, 2010 @ 6:11 pm #

Frank,

I have to say, I pretty much enjoy right where you are : )

Dale, you said: “Except I would add that I think it’s almost impossible to completely separate public policy/morality from religion. And how many people are really happy about the direction our country seems to be going in while trying to do so?”

I think the problem in your statement is that you’ve spoken about two issues, and then inferred that one caused the other. I think both are a result of a general moving away from spirituality and toward materialism.

As for me, I think the bulk of this country’s laws through history (the US – sorry Nathan) have been libertarian in nature, and not specifically moral except in the respect of the rights of others. I think the ones that were specifically based on religious morals (Sunday liquor laws, for example) are being tossed out, and rightfully so.

April 29, 2010 @ 6:29 pm #

For what it is worth, I think it is a terrible idea to cite religious premises in support of particular public policies.

A policy can either be justified by appeal to its merits (public benefit, justice, etc.) or it cannot. A policy that is justified on its merits is justified, irrespective of whether any religious teaching endorses or requires it.

But if a policy cannot be justified based on its merits, citing religious teaching as a justification for imposing the policy upon those who don’t share the religious convictions amounts to sectarian tyranny.

In short, religious premises are either irrelavant to public policy or tyranical. Either way, they should be avoided.

That’s why I don’t think we should appeal to God’s word or God’s law to decide the issue of gay marriage. We should decide the way forward on the merits of allowing gays to marry verses continuing to exclude them.

Joe H.

April 29, 2010 @ 6:42 pm #

Joe H, my belief is that the state is promoting parenting, and not marriage. The act of caring, comforting, and support is the first job of a parent, regardless of their sex or sexuality. Our maturity and investments in our future corresponds to our natural desire to parent. My experience with parenting and observation is that sexual preference, is defined early in life. I would like to see a study that links home life to sexuality. It is my view, that homosexual children are just as present in religious, conservative families as any other type. Though, I suspect that they have difficulty with acceptance in the former.

Nathan Barley, Women who conceive males increase the likelihood of a homosexual son, with respect to the number of pregnancies. The fact that fraternal birth order relates to homosexuality is conclusive of a biological connection. It also follows that fecundity leads to gay male children. Blanchard, R., Zucker, K.J., Siegelman, M., Dickey, R. & Klassen, P. (1998). The relation of birth order to sexual orientation in men and women. Journal of Biosocial Science, 30, 511-519.

Frank Capitanio, I don’t believe homosexuality is a genetic aberration either. God must have considered this in his plan.

April 29, 2010 @ 7:05 pm #

Tim,

You said:

“What is an “evolutionist?”

Or are you perhaps referring to the ridiculous (and hypothetical) idea that anyone who believes evolution as a biological theory is somehow obliged to construct their moral ideas from the naturalistic fallacy?”

What?

Are you arguing that naturalism/materialism (the a priori viewpoint of evolution) is a fallacy? If so, I agree.

Two questions then arise:

If so, then where do you get your basis for your position that same-sex marriage is okie-dokie?

If I have misread your point then:

From whence would one construct their moral ideas?

If one is a believer in evolution, then it should follow that he bases his world-view on that belief.

If one is a creationist, then one should build his world view from that belief.

If not either, what a miserable man he is! He has no coherency in his life. He believes a thing to be true, but lives his life by some other code.

Phil has explored this dilemma extensively and excellently in his “Not enough Faith to be an Athiest” series. You should take a look.

But, please, clear up the conundrum I have.

Are you saying that naturalism is a fallacy? Or that it is somehow ridiculous to expect someone to live their lives by what they beleive?

Or are you saying that although evolution is true, you recognize that the moral code or ethos that can be derived from that worldview is too difficult to explain without co-opting the Judeo-Christian model?

It reminds me of the challenge God placed with the Darwinist. Asked by God to construct the Universe by the rules and theory of evolution, the Darwinist reached down for a handful of dirt. God said “No No Nope, use your own dirt.”

April 29, 2010 @ 7:57 pm #

Are you arguing that naturalism/materialism (the a priori viewpoint of evolution) is a fallacy? If so, I agree.

Evolution does not mandate that the person who accepts it believe anything, with regard to morality. I don’t understand how you draw that conclusion — for one, you’ve misapplied the term “survival of the fittest” to be a statement of how things “should” be (i.e. a moral statement), when in fact it is a statement of how things “are” (a scientific statement). “Survival of the fittest” means that the systems of the world naturally weed out those who are unfit to survive. Human interaction is not above this system, it’s a part of it — you make it seem as though we can control this system. Evolution says that we cannot control this system, but rather that we’re a part of it, that WE are affected by IT.

For example, if we all believe that murdering the weak and defenseless is wrong (and people who do it should be punished), and we create a society which reflects that belief, then people who are not “fit” (i.e. not able to adapt) to this society will not survive as well as people who can adapt to it. That would mean that even the weak and defenseless are “fit” to survive in the society because it favors them (in the same way that wild nature favors the fast and strong).

Simple point: All evolution does is describe the natural methods by which the processes of nature influence the growth and development of life. To say that it implies *anything whatsoever* about morality is simply false.

And yes, the naturalistic fallacy IS a fallacy. Hence the name. Whether or not something is natural does not determine its morality (or lack thereof); that’s why I find this entire debate about what “natural behaviors” humans tend toward with regard to marriage is moot — you seem to agree that what is natural is not necessarily what is right, after all.

From whence would one construct their moral ideas?

From a combination of rational judgment, emotional response, personal experience, and information received from others based on their personal experiences. Among other things.

If one is a believer in evolution, then it should follow that he bases his world-view on that belief.

One does not “believe in” evolution. One “accepts” or “denies” evolution. It is a scientific theory, not a religion, contrary to what the popular soundbytes imply.

If not either, what a miserable man he is! He has no coherency in his life. He believes a thing to be true, but lives his life by some other code.

That’s nonsensical. That would be like me saying to you, “you believe the sky is blue, but you don’t base your morals on that! What a miserable man you are!” The fact that you believe a physical theory about the way the universe works does not mandate any sort of moral decision as a direct result.

Phil has explored this dilemma extensively and excellently in his “Not enough Faith to be an Athiest” series. You should take a look.

Frank Turek did it first. I’ve been at Turek’s blog longer than I’ve been here; it’s been discussed.

Are you saying that naturalism is a fallacy? Or that it is somehow ridiculous to expect someone to live their lives by what they beleive?

I’m saying that you are presenting a profoundly false dilemma. And if by “naturalism” you mean, “the idea that something is right just because it is natural,” then yes, I believe that is a fallacy. That’s part of the reason why I see Mr. Phil’s argument about the “natural” sexual habits of humans to be so particularly bunk, to be blunt.

Or are you saying that although evolution is true, you recognize that the moral code or ethos that can be derived from that worldview is too difficult to explain without co-opting the Judeo-Christian model?

Hah! XD Funny.

But seriously, no, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that evolution is not a source for morality (and nobody has made the case that it is…and if they ever do, then they are incorrect, because evolution is an “is” statement, not a “should” statement). Morality and evolution are completely separate departments. To equate evolution with a source of morality is itself a fallacy.

It reminds me of the challenge God placed with the Darwinist. Asked by God to construct the Universe by the rules and theory of evolution, the Darwinist reached down for a handful of dirt. God said “No No Nope, use your own dirt.”

God’s challenge is self-defeating, then. If the “Darwinist” (should I call you a “blue sky-ist?”) has to create the universe, then that means the universe doesn’t exist. Which means there can be no space, and therefore no matter, and therefore no Darwinist. But then who is god talking to?

The whole thing is nonsense :) But yes, it is cute.

April 29, 2010 @ 8:53 pm #

Mary,

Encouraging marriage, the state is encouraging better parenting – but it is also encouraging a host of other behaviors that benefit us as well.

Joe H.

April 29, 2010 @ 9:23 pm #

Phil,

I read your post again and noticed the following argument:

“Joe was absolutely wrong when he asserted with confidence that procreation is not central to marriage. To say that the existence of couples who marry but don’t reproduce means that reproduction is not central to marriage, is as sensible as saying that the existence of people who collect, restore, and show historical automobiles means that automobiles are not about transportation.”

Phil, we were not talking about the practice of marriage. We were talking about the concept of marriage. I did not say that procreation is not central to marriage. I said it was not central to the concept of marriage.

Recall, you were making the “marriage is by definition” argument. You were arguing that “opposite sex pairing” is essential to the definition of marriage. I was arguing that it was not. My point was that the idea of marriage remains if we remove “opposite sex pairing” from the definition.

And it obviously does! We know this because we can talk coherently about same sex marriage.

I realize that pro-creation is an important aspect of the institution. But it is not an essential aspect of marriage – not of any particular marriage or of the concept of marriage.

One thing I’ve noticed about the various attempts to “define” marriage – they emphasize those aspects of marriage that their proponents think will justify keeping gays out. The problem is that these attempts seize on aspects of marriage that everyone knows are not essential to the idea. Let me propose that the best understanding of “marriage” is expressed when we say things like “we are going to a marriage seminar to improve our marriage.” When we use “marriage” in this aspirational sense, we’re getting at the essence of what a marriage is in its fullest sense, and what we think it ought to be.

The only problem I see with this definition is that it provides no reason to exclude gays.

Joe H.

April 30, 2010 @ 3:46 am #

Gary: “Asked by God to construct the Universe by the rules and theory of evolution”

Given that evolution is an observable theory that explains bio-diversity on earth, it is nonsensical to apply that to ‘constructing the universe’. Furthermore, evolution describes a process, it doesn’t really have ‘rules’, any more than soil erosion does.

Mary: “Nathan, The fact that fraternal birth order relates to homosexuality is conclusive of a biological connection.”

Thanks Mary, good post.

Frank, I’ve no problem with your tone or Gordon’s, and I enjoyed our discussion. Cheers.

April 30, 2010 @ 6:12 am #

Frank: “one of the debators (eh, me) believes that genes, even if they are ever proven to be the dominant factor, do NOT determine whether behaviors are moral.”

I agree. I see that as being part of the same argument against ‘natural law’ arguments for what is moral, including arguments against homosexuality as being ‘unnatural’, and therefore immoral. You agree with me on the pedophilia issue – that are arguments for it being immoral have nothing to do with whether it is natural or not, but instead concern our desire to protect children.

Likewise, arguments about the morality of homosexuality don’t really have anything to do with whether it is ‘natural’ or not. The only ‘harm principle’ arguments I’ve seen about homosexuality concern the spread of disease. I see this as being an argument for safe sex and for monogamy, which if anything SUPPORTS the argument for gay marriage.

April 30, 2010 @ 7:47 am #

Nathan,

You said:

“Given that evolution is an observable theory that explains bio-diversity on earth, it is nonsensical to apply that to ‘constructing the universe’. Furthermore, evolution describes a process, it doesn’t really have ‘rules’, any more than soil erosion does.”

I know it is not pertinent to this thread, but that is just a false statement. There is NO observable evidence for Macro-evolution (species to species). No fossil record, no transitional species, no dust to man mechanisms. It is just baseless theory used to convince oneself that God does not exist.

Now, if you meant Micro evolution, (changes within a species) then, yes of course there is ample evidence of adaptation.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:00 am #

Tim,

If this isn’t a moral statement, what is?

“For example, if we all believe that murdering the weak and defenseless is wrong (and people who do it should be punished), and we create a society which reflects that belief, then people who are not “fit” (i.e. not able to adapt) to this society will not survive as well as people who can adapt to it. That would mean that even the weak and defenseless are “fit” to survive in the society because it favors them (in the same way that wild nature favors the fast and strong).”

You used a scientific observation “wild nature favors the fast and strong) to justify a moral statement “killing the weak is wrong”.

The rest of your argument unfolds from this disastrous construct, try again.

Further, you reject the concept of a worldview, which would happen to be a worldview!

“But seriously, no, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that evolution is not a source for morality (and nobody has made the case that it is…and if they ever do, then they are incorrect, because evolution is an “is” statement, not a “should” statement). Morality and evolution are completely separate departments. To equate evolution with a source of morality is itself a fallacy.”

Tell that to the Nazis, Fascists, Communists. They operated from the base that evolution is true, therefore they will be the strong devouring the weak.

“God’s challenge is self-defeating, then. If the “Darwinist” (should I call you a “blue sky-ist?”) has to create the universe, then that means the universe doesn’t exist. Which means there can be no space, and therefore no matter, and therefore no Darwinist. But then who is god talking to?”

Ignoring the strawmwn:

Exactly! Darwinists cannot create the universe. Or a galaxy, or a planet. The postulate is that whenever Darwinist argue a point(scientific or moral), they must stand on the shoulders of what was here before. God the Creator, and His revealed morality, Judeo-Christian ethics.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:10 am #

“no transitional species”

You’ve not heard of tiktaalik then? Or Pronothodectes matthewi, which split into Nannodectes intermedius and Plesiadapis praecursor? Proganochelys? Deinonychus?

Gary, natural history museums are FILLED with transitional fossils – please don’t tell me you think that they are all fakes? What exactly are you EXPECTING to see that you aren’t seeing?

Google:”Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ”

April 30, 2010 @ 8:16 am #

“Tell that to the Nazis, Fascists, Communists. They operated from the base that evolution is true”

Nonsense, Hitler dismissed evolution and put Darwin on his banned books list. Try again.

“They operated from the base that evolution is true, therefore they will be the strong devouring the weak”

Except that’s not what evolution means. It is often the weakest, slowest or smallest that are the most successful. There’s nothing in evolutionary theory to say the the stronger animals will be more successful. Plenty more rabbits in the world than wolves, plenty more ants than elephants. And turtles live a lot longer than leopards.

And you are at any rate committing the is/ought fallacy. I can accept that the holocaust happened without believing it to be a positive thing. And accepting the evolution occurs does not mean you think that it SHOULD happen.

And mixing evolution up with atheism ignores that most of the people in the world who accept the science of evolution are theists.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:22 am #

“Darwinists cannot create the universe”

You’re confusing biology with physics, Gary. Evolution has nothing to do with cosmology.

At any rate, your syllogism makes no sense. If I can’t make something from scratch myself, that means I can’t posit ideas on how it is made? I can’t make a snowflake, that doesn’t mean I can’t explain how it snows.

A geologist can’t make an earthquake happen, does that mean plate tectonics is nonsense? Vets can’t give birth to a rabbit. Does that mean you shouldn’t trust a vet who tells you how rabbits are born?

April 30, 2010 @ 10:37 am #

Gary: “Darwinists cannot create the universe”

Nathan: “You’re confusing biology with physics, Gary. Evolution has nothing to do with cosmology.”

Me: Okay, so just shift your discussion to evolution’s part in going from Physics to Biology. That should take care of everything.

April 30, 2010 @ 11:01 am #

“Shift your discussion to evolution’s part in going from Physics to Biology”

DH, you’ve lost me. Evolution discusses bio-diversity, for example how complex life developed from simple life. It has nothing to do with physics. It doesn’t even have anything to say about how life began, let alone what happened before life. So ‘evolution’s part in going from Physics to Biology’ doesn’t really mean anything to me.

April 30, 2010 @ 11:20 am #

Nathan,

I actually agree with you.

(o)>(o)
This is me looking around to see if the world is ready to end now.

Trouble is Evolution has ‘evolved’ into something it has no business being– and that is — a creation story. And a lousy one at that.

April 30, 2010 @ 11:23 am #

Cool Dullhammer! You’d probably be surprised how much we agree on. Or perhaps not…

April 30, 2010 @ 4:42 pm #

You used a scientific observation “wild nature favors the fast and strong) to justify a moral statement “killing the weak is wrong”.

You’re *completely* missing the point; I pulled that particular society out of a hat, so to speak (because it reflects ours and is therefore easy to understand). I am not arguing that such a society is “right” or “wrong,” I just needed an example to show you what evolution refers to.

To clarify: in the case of the system of “wild nature,” the weak and slow are *not* favored by the system. In the case of the system of “civilized society that specifically favors the weak and slow based on moral principles,” the environmental factors have changed such that the weak and slow now *are* favored by the system. This will affect the rates at which the species’ members survive (as in a civilized society, more weak members of society will survive than in a completely wild “society”). Whether or not that is “good” or “bad” is completely NOT the point of discussion, because that is a moral question. This is not a question of what “should” be, it’s a description of how it “is.”

The rest of your argument unfolds from this disastrous construct, try again.

False. You try again~

Further, you reject the concept of a worldview, which would happen to be a worldview!

May I suggest you start by calming down and stop acting like you *want* me to be some homicidial maniac just because I accept evolution? In the meantime, perhaps you’d let me try to explain something…

1) I never said anything about “not having a worldview,” so I have no idea where that’s coming from. I have a worldview, but that worldview is not evolution; I have a separate worldview, which allows me to accept the scientific theory of evolution.

2) Does your “worldview” stem from the fact that you believe the sky is blue? Or is that an observation that you’ve made, that you’ve come to accept is true about the world? That is how evolution-accepters view evolution. It is not a “worldview” — for it is possible to have almost any worldview and still accept evolution, in a sense, such as the many millions of Christians who have come to accept evolution worldwide. Evolution is no more a “worldview” than gravity is.

Tell that to the Nazis, Fascists, Communists. They operated from the base that evolution is true, therefore they will be the strong devouring the weak.

1) Except that’s false~

2) Even if it wasn’t…so what? They would’ve been operating on a very false understanding of evolution. Just like everyone around where I live keeps telling me that Christian compound that was marrying 40+-year-old men to 12-16-year-old girls “wasn’t operating on a true understanding of Christianity.”

3) Since you mentioned him….Hitler quoted Divine Providence rather frequently as an influence and a justification for his acts of murder and conquest. Does that make the Bible “bad?” Or would you say that Hitler had no idea what he was talking about?

Exactly! Darwinists cannot create the universe. Or a galaxy, or a planet.

Unfortunately for you, that’s irrelevant. Nobody is saying they can “create the universe.” Or a galaxy, or a planet, especially not someone who understands and accepts the theory of evolution.

The postulate is that whenever Darwinist argue a point(scientific or moral), they must stand on the shoulders of what was here before. God the Creator, and His revealed morality, Judeo-Christian ethics.

I’m curious how you suddenly jump from “everything must have an origin” to “Judeo-Christianity is 100% correct.” There’s definitely…something missing in between, there…

April 30, 2010 @ 5:07 pm #

Tim said:– Just like everyone around where I live keeps telling me that Christian compound that was marrying 40+-year-old men to 12-16-year-old girls “wasn’t operating on a true understanding of Christianity.”–
———-

Do you believe that compound was operating on a true understanding of Christianity, Tim, or not? Just curious, though. I’m not going to go into a debate on it.

April 30, 2010 @ 6:58 pm #

Do you believe that compound was operating on a true understanding of Christianity, Tim, or not? Just curious, though. I’m not going to go into a debate on it.

The short answer is, “probably not.” Although, it certainly does seem that the vast majority of them did *believe* they were acting morally.

April 30, 2010 @ 7:13 pm #

Tim,

Knock off the “Blue Sky” strawman. You seem to be eruditious, now act like it.

You said:

“To clarify: in the case of the system of “wild nature,” the weak and slow are *not* favored by the system. In the case of the system of “civilized society that specifically favors the weak and slow based on moral principles,” the environmental factors have changed such that the weak and slow now *are* favored by the system.”

How can a system based on MORAL principles be described as “environmental factors”.

In what wonderland do Moral principles spring from environmental factors?

Will there be a moral change in the Gulf of Mexico now? How about in Iceland? Has the volcano changed the environment enough that Moral changes will occur?

Non-sensical. You cannot argue Morality springing forth from the environment. Lions eat gazzelles, probably because they are tasty, not from any moral judgement. They didn’t just say, hey, Giraffes are cute, don’t eat them, eat the gazzelles.

As for your transitional species, the dating of fossilized rocks are very controversial. Mainly because nowhere on the planet is there an intact column like we are shown in books. Further, the rocks are dated by the fossils found within which are dated by the rocks in which they are found. Circular reasoning? And don’t pull the Carbon dating mirage, it’s not accurate beyond a couple of hundred millenia.

Further, there is fresh problems for precious evolution. soft tissue like blood vessels, has been found intact in T Rex fossils. Oops. that’s not supposed to last millions of years!

And then there is the prroblem of irreducible complexity. And DNA. Oh, DNA, the million page encyclopedia of life. It just sprang forth fully formed out of some primordial soup.

And you accuse me of Blue Sky worldview.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:05 pm #

Knock off the “Blue Sky” strawman. You seem to be eruditious, now act like it.

That’s not a strawman. I did not portray you as having a certain belief and then attack that belief as though it reflected your position; I was stating a point about scientific belief informs one’s worldview.

If you’d prefer to replace “Blue Sky” with some other thing that you accept as truth, feel free; the exact term is not the point. The point is that moralistic worldviews are not mandated by scientific beliefs; science specializes in “is” statements, morality specializes in “should” statements.

How can a system based on MORAL principles be described as “environmental factors”.

Again, you’re missing the point….HOW that society came to exist, or what it means, or what it stands for, or what it’s based on, is not what is being illustrated — none of it is relevant to this point. If you prefer, you can use the following situations instead of the ones I provided earlier:

-A dry, hot climate, such as a desert, which favors organisms that can easily find water and make it last a long time (and which is hostile to organisms that are large and powerful but require a lot of water to survive) — a fast and powerful creature such as a Cheetah would not survive here long, because its body cannot adapt as well to the new environment, whereas a camel would thrive, because of its ability to store and utilize small amounts of water over a long period of time;

-A moist, lush climate, such as a prairie, that favors fast, powerful and sleek creatures, such as a Cheetah — a creature like a camel would not survive long here, because water is plentiful and thus its natural advantage over other creatures — the ability to preserve and maintain a water supply — is not as useful, and it’s also a fairly slow animal, so it will be caught easily by predators.

My point was to demonstrate that evolution is about how a creature relates to its environment, regardless of what that environment might be or what factors make it necessary to survive. In the case of the “moral society” and the “wild” examples from earlier, the difference is that in one society — for whatever reason — people have chosen to uphold laws that punish people who kill. So if a person is unwilling to “bend” their will to fit that society’s standards, then they will not survive (because they may be executed for committing repeated murders). Whereas the same person would thrive in the wild because the advantage that they have is practically applicable to their environment.

In what wonderland do Moral principles spring from environmental factors?

I was making no judgment as to where morals come from; I was considering the morals/laws themselves to BE “environmental factors” in the sense that they form the standard for what is necessary to survive.

Evolutionary factors are not always based on “environments” in the static, nonliving sense — social habits contribute to the “environment” as well. For example, if humans develop a desire to protect each other from what they see as unwarranted killing, then they will “evolve” into a society that reflects that belief. And anyone who does not “bend” their own will to reflect that new standard will not survive as long, and thus they are “not favored” by the “environment.”

Will there be a moral change in the Gulf of Mexico now? How about in Iceland? Has the volcano changed the environment enough that Moral changes will occur?

Non-sensical. You cannot argue Morality springing forth from the environment. Lions eat gazzelles, probably because they are tasty, not from any moral judgement. They didn’t just say, hey, Giraffes are cute, don’t eat them, eat the gazzelles.

Hopefully, after reading my above paragraphs, you will realize that this is not anything even *remotely close* to the point I was making.

And then there is the prroblem of irreducible complexity. And DNA. Oh, DNA, the million page encyclopedia of life. It just sprang forth fully formed out of some primordial soup.

Evolution makes no statement whatsoever about the *origin* of life. Evolution, in fact, assumes that life already exists because it is the study of the adaptation and change of life. Such a study would, understandably, assume that the object of its….well, study….already exists.

I believe what you are thinking about is “abiogenesis,” or the theory of a naturalistic origin to life. Which is something entirely different from evolutionary theory.

And you accuse me of Blue Sky worldview.

I accused you of nothing; I said that the fact that you believe a particular scientific theory has no bearing whatsoever as to what kind of moral system you can adopt.

Perhaps a better example….let’s say there’s Adolph Hitler on one side and me on the other. Adolph Hitler understands that if you put a bullet in someone’s head, they will die (that’s a scientific fact). I also understand and accept that fact. So we both agree on that, me and him. However, I have a belief (for whatever reason) that to cause someone to die would be “wrong” or “undesirable.” Contrarily, Hitler believes that if the person isn’t of a certain race, then it’s okay to kill them. We both believe and accept the exact same scientific information, but we have two very different worldviews, which in turn give us very different ideas of what to do with that information.

Likewise, whether or not we accept evolution and what morals we think it implies, are two separate issues. Evolution is the data; morality is the interpretation of the data. Evolution says, “[x] is happening.” Morality says, “[y] should be happening.” They are different topics entirely.

So with regard to the blue sky metaphor….what you’re saying about evolution would be like me telling you, “You believe the sky is blue, therefore you MUST believe [x moral idea]!” When in fact there is nothing about the fact that something IS that requires you to believe that something SHOULD. To imply that there is is called the “Is/Ought Fallacy.”

April 30, 2010 @ 9:30 pm #

Tim,

This illustrates the difficulty in conversing about evolution. The constant slipping between the two types of evolution. Macro-evo = species-to-species change, Micro-evo = change within a species or adaptation. Never mind Cosmological evo!

“My point was to demonstrate that evolution is about how a creature relates to its environment, regardless of what that environment might be or what factors make it necessary to survive. ”

This is an example of micro-evo. I have previously acknowledged that species adapt to their surroundings.

I strongly reject Macro-evo, there is no evidence that one species can become another species. And my points about DNA, irreducible complexity etc. show that to be true.

“Evolution makes no statement whatsoever about the *origin* of life. ”

Tell that to Darwin, Dawkins and the other evolutionists of today. Darwin attempted to explain the “Origins” of the world around him with the a priori assumption that there is no God. Carl Sagan used evo to explain the beginnings of the universe, you know the Big-Bang theory and such. Naturalism is what is espoused by Dawkins, and Eugenie Scott et al and is taught in schools today.

“I said that the fact that you believe a particular scientific theory has no bearing whatsoever as to what kind of moral system you can adopt.”

And I stated that a person who lives a life disconnected from his beliefs is a miserable person. Rudderless, he has no basis to make decisions. Or perhaps he is unable to even see the inconsistencies in his life and is at a loss to explain the world around him.

Inconsistency? or Imprecision?

” For example, if humans develop a desire to protect each other from what they see as unwarranted killing, then they will “evolve” into a society that reflects that belief. ”

You are giving yet another example of a moral position. Who is to say a killing is “unwarranted”? That is not a scientific statement, it is statement of moral beliefs. And the society does not evolve, it decides to take a moral stand. ie it is not organic, it is a purposeful decision, one made with design and intent. It is not a random change, ala Macro-evo, nor is it an adaptation of an environmental change, ie the medievel warm period or the mini- ice age of the 18th and 19th centuries, both of which brought adaptation in living arrangements by humans.

Again, this is so far afield. My point to Dale, waa that one need not appeal to Theism to question Same-sex marriage (that is what this thread is about, no?) But the arguement from an Evo point can be made that Homosexuality is abberrent and abnormal in the correct usage as “away from the norm” or “antithetical to the survival of the species”. Thia is self-evident.

April 30, 2010 @ 10:05 pm #

Carl Sagan used evo to explain the beginnings of the universe, you know the Big-Bang theory and such.

The Big Bang Theory has nothing to do with evolutionary theory — Big Bang is physics and cosmology, evolution is biology. Completely different fields.

BTW, irrelevant fun fact: Did you know that Big Bang Theory was first formally founded by a Catholic priest? George Lemaitre.

Naturalism is what is espoused by Dawkins, and Eugenie Scott et al and is taught in schools today.

Dawkins has openly spoken out that there is no current naturalistic explanation for life. Sure, he hasn’t said it’s impossible (because it’s not), but it’s a bit of a stretch to say it’s “espoused” by him.

I strongly reject Macro-evo, there is no evidence that one species can become another species. And my points about DNA, irreducible complexity etc. show that to be true.

All I see is you asserting to that effect…

And I stated that a person who lives a life disconnected from his beliefs is a miserable person.

Oy….my life is not “disconnected from my beliefs.” I don’t understand what you mean by that. That’s like saying that you’re a “miserable person” because your belief that the sky is blue does not inform your moral decisions — it’s a complete non-sequitur. The two things are completely unrelated.

I believe the reason you still can’t understand that is that you are still equating evolution with a moral center — you’re trying to view evolution in the same way that Christians view god and the Bible. That’s not the role that evolution plays in a secular worldview at all — it is not a founding aspect of one’s worldview, like god and the Bible are for Christians. It’s a scientific theory for why and how life interacts with its environment. I don’t know how to put it any simpler than that.

You are giving yet another example of a moral position. Who is to say a killing is “unwarranted”? That is not a scientific statement, it is statement of moral beliefs.

You’re *still* missing the point….the morals themselves are not the relevant thing here (see my non-moral example). The morals themselves may not be “scientific statements” (I never said they were), but the effect they have on the society IS a scientific effect — they cause the conditions for survival to change, from “wild nature/every man for himself” to “people who commit acts of violence that go against the public’s standards are executed or removed from society.” The important fact here is not the existence of morals; it’s the effect they have on society. The sociological implications of the morals on the society, and how they cause change within the society, are the focus of the example.

And the society does not evolve, it decides to take a moral stand. ie it is not organic, it is a purposeful decision, one made with design and intent.

It doesn’t matter WHY the decision is made; that is all irrelevant. However you explain it, what happens is that the conditions for survival in that society are different now because of the actions of people. That is what evolutionary theory attempts to explore — how the creatures respond to changes in their environment in order to successfully survive. Even if those changes are brought on by the creatures’ own behavior, in part or in whole, it’s still a part of the “environment” that makes up the system.

But the arguement from an Evo point can be made that Homosexuality is abberrent and abnormal in the correct usage as “away from the norm” or “antithetical to the survival of the species”.

The very point is that the only way you can make that argument from an evolutionary standpoint is if you use the naturalistic fallacy — that what is “natural” is necessarily right on that basis. That is something that Christians assert regularly, but it is not something that evolution-accepters believe.

For example, we do a lot of things as a species that are “unnatural” but also helpful; remember the age of the Wright Brothers? “If man were meant to fly, he’d have been born with wings.” It’s “unnatural” for humans to fly, but we do, and it’s helpful to us.

April 30, 2010 @ 10:16 pm #

P.S.

A good example of how evolution considers the actions of the organism, and not just the changes in the organism’s natural/nonliving environment/habitat…the predator-prey relationship. In a standard “wild” habitat, weak and slow humans would fall prey to strong and fast humans, and ultimately strong and fast humans would hold most of the power. So weak humans would be “prey” and strong humans would be “predator.”

However, in a society driven by moral convictions that murdering people for personal gain is wrong (for example), that relationship is altered in a manner that is very similar to the way a symbiotic parasitic relationship affects wildlife — in the case of humans, the strong humans have to watch out because now they have the strength-of-numbers of the weaker humans to count against them, as well as some of the other strong humans who have adopted the same morals as the society.

In the case of animals…take the Remora, for instance, which latches onto animals in the ocean (such as whales). The bigger animal provides physical protection from predators on behalf of the smaller animal (like the humans do in the case of the moral society — the strong humans protect the weak humans from other strong ones), while the smaller one “returns the favor” by picking off parasites, dead skin, biological waste and other drift matter that would be harmful or unpleasant if allowed to remain intact (in the way that the smaller humans may contribute to society through labor or expertise, in exchange for the benefits of the society’s protection).

Hope that makes a little more sense :)

May 1, 2010 @ 2:17 am #

Tim, if Gary continues to insist that evolution has something to do with cosmology, then it is obvious he doesn’t understand what evolution actually means. Therefore it’s pointless discussing the subject with him – if such a basic point can be misunderstood, how can you discuss more complex ideas, or evidence such as fossils?

And regarding ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘controversial carbon dating’ – anybody can argue against ANYTHING in science if they assert without evidence that all the scientific paradigms are wrong. That route leads to moon landing hoaxers etc. There’s not a single piece of evidence that they’d accept – their viewpoint is unfalsifiable.

May 1, 2010 @ 8:30 am #

Nathan, What you are missing is that by denying that God created Man you are also denying God created the Universe, therefore there must be a cosmological component to evolution. It is not enough to say life changes, you must also account for how life started and how the material for life to begin got here. Otherwise you get back to well something happened that caused all this other stuff to happen. The evolutionist that denies this is holding fast to a false claim.

May 1, 2010 @ 11:08 am #

Nathan, What you are missing is that by denying that God created Man you are also denying God created the Universe, therefore there must be a cosmological component to evolution.

No, no, no….that’s wrong, too. Cosmology (the origin of the universe) is a different subject than evolution. It’s not evolution’s purpose to explain the universe’s origin. Evolution deals with life and its development.

What you’re saying here would be like saying that a guy whose job is to wash dishes is “holding a false job” because he doesn’t know how the dishes were made. It’s not his job to make them; whatever happened, they’re here *now* and that’s what his job is dealing with. It’s someone *else’s* job to make them and understand how they’re made.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter how life came to exist, by creation or by abiogenesis; that has nothing to do with whether or not evolution is true or false. Evolution assumes that life already exists and then works off of that, much like a guy that washes dishes assumes that dishes already exists and washes them.

It is not enough to say life changes, you must also account for how life started and how the material for life to begin got here.

Doesn’t matter how life got here, we’re talking about what life did after it got here.

Otherwise you get back to well something happened that caused all this other stuff to happen.

The reason that’s irrelevant is because the “stuff” is obviously here. So there’s no need to explain how it *first* appeared because we’re talking about what it did after it appeared.

May 1, 2010 @ 12:03 pm #

I’ll go on record right now, to help Gary and Rodney out, as follows:

1. I believe God is the creator of the universe and all the material within it, and that He involves himself as often as He wants in its affairs and its workings.

2. I believe fully that evolution has occurred over long periods of time and continues to occur. I believe most scientists, both theists and otherwise, also believe that evolution is a true theory.

Number 1 has to do with cosmology (among other things); Number 2 has to do with development of life. Number 2 IN NO WAY rules out the existence of the creator or his continuous involvement.

Tim has been very patient with the continued attempts to muddle these two…more patient than I would be : ) I respect Gary and Rodney’s desire to retain their strong faith; I share that faith.

However, if you cannot both hold to that faith and also see the amazing process that evolution represents (and, in my view, God is fully involved in), then you need to broaden your imaginations a little bit.

I say that in good nature : ) I’ve been where you are before.

May 1, 2010 @ 12:35 pm #

Rodney,

Thanks.

Tim,

“It’s not evolution’s purpose to explain the universe’s origin. Evolution deals with life and its development.”

Then how in blazes did life start? Isn’t the beginning of something part of its development?

Are you saying life sprang up fully formed?

Then who/what did the forming?

You are colliding with the ultimate problem evo’s have. First cause.

Gordon,

Are you referring to Micro or Macro evo? Please be specific.

Are you referring to millions of years as long periods of time? If so, there are theological problems with that position, namely the entrance of death into the world.

May 1, 2010 @ 1:42 pm #

Gary asked Tim:

“Then how in blazes did life start? Isn’t the beginning of something part of its development? ”

The theory of evolution isn’t concerned with the start, Gary. You are acting as if the theory says somewhere in it: “And life sprang up spontaneously, from nothing.”

That is a misunderstanding on your part; the theory of evolution deals ONLY with what happens to life once it’s here.

You asked: “You are colliding with the ultimate problem evo’s have. First cause. ”

Just look at me. I’m an “evo”. I don’t have any ultimate problem at all – God is the first cause for me.

Evolutionists who are not theists may have any one of many other options for how life started – including spontaneously, from a chance assembly of molecules. But THAT BEGINNING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION. Come on, it’s time to actually hear what Tim is saying (and now, me).

You asked me:
“Are you referring to Micro or Macro evo? Please be specific.”

It sure appears to me like Macro and Micro are both pretty evident in the record. Honesty question: do you think this should threaten my faith?

Further, you asked:

“Are you referring to millions of years as long periods of time? If so, there are theological problems with that position, namely the entrance of death into the world.”

Here is a key that changed my thinking, Gary: I moved away from the position that I KNEW every word of the Old Testament was intended by God as a Science Book. I don’t know that, and nobody else does either.

Once I humbled myself in that way, I was free to actually look at the science of history and think like an actual scientist — that is, let the facts speak for themselves instead of only allowing facts in that fit my pre-fit filter.

And I can tell you: If God used evolution to bring the world to where it is today, it doesn’t threaten my faith in the slightest.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:12 pm #

I’ve obviously missed a lot in the last 3 days, and there’s no way I can catch up and read everything now, although I’ll make an attempt.

However, I have to address simple errors in logic when presented by philosophy professors.

Here’s Joe’s argument:

P = Marriage, BY INALTERABLE DEFINITION, is a relationship between a man and a woman.

Q = The very idea of “gay marriage” is inconceivable.

Premise 1. P implies Q [if P is true, Q will be true]

Premise 2. Not Q.

Therefore: Not P.

And thus does Joe fail Philosophy 101.

If he were arguing correctly, Q would be “The very idea of gay marriage would be a violation of the definition of marriage.”

Make that substitution, and it becomes obvious that the logic is sound, and so is my position.

For Joe’s representation to be correct, one would have to maintain that it is simply and completely impossible to imagine a violation of a definition. That’s clearly absurd:

P: 2 + 2 = 4, by INALTERABLE DEFINITION.

Q: The very idea that 2 + 2 = anything other than 4 is INCONCEIVABLE.

Premise 1: P implies Q.

Premise 2: Not Q.

Therefore, not P.

So I can prove that “2 + 2 = 4″ is false if I can prove that it is possible to CONCEIVE of 2 + 2 being anything other than 4.

Can I say “2 + 2 = 5,” or “2 + 2 = 7?” Of course I can. I could even pass a law saying it if I could gather enough votes.

Therefore, by Joe’s argument, “2 + 2 = 4″ is false.

(Besides, 2 + 2 = 5 for unusually large values of 2. Any mathematician can tell you this. ;) )

Joe, I like you, but your handling of simple philosophy continues to disappoint me.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:13 pm #

Then how in blazes did life start? Isn’t the beginning of something part of its development?

Are you saying life sprang up fully formed?

Then who/what did the forming?

I’m not saying *anything* about how life was formed, because I don’t know.

You are colliding with the ultimate problem evo’s have. First cause.

You are correct that it is a problem. However, it’s not a problem with evolution, it’s a problem that exists independently of evolution — we would lack that same knowledge of life’s origin, with or without the theory of evolution.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:15 pm #

If he were arguing correctly, Q would be “The very idea of gay marriage would be a violation of the definition of marriage.”

So what are you talking about, then, when you refer to “gay marriage?”

May 1, 2010 @ 2:31 pm #

Frank Capitanio wrote:

I think it’s a waste of time trying to argue about the wrongness or rightness of gay marriage on any basis other than the Creator’s will, because without a Creator, then anything DOES go.

Not exactly. I was not arguing so much about gay marriage’s rightness or wrongness as I was about the essence of human institutions, from a sociological point of view.

I happen to agree that nothing essential has any meaning at all unless it originates in God. However, I also think that one will inevitably reach the right conclusion by examining what God has made, because natural law reflects the law of God. So I have no problem approaching things from the standpoint of examining what’s essential in human conduct.

Tim D completely munged this in his usual fashion, declaring the entire field of anthropology useless by confusing anthropology with systematic logic. Tim, give me an example of a sociological or anthropological claim about human beings that is not, in your bizarre nomenclature, a “naturalistic fallacy.” Humans eat? Fallacy: we can’t infer from the fact that they always have, that this is of the essence of being human, in the world of Tim. Why must we be oppressed by the need to eat, just because it has always been thus? And so on. Your brains are scrambled, son.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:40 pm #

If he were arguing correctly, Q would be “The very idea of gay marriage would be a violation of the definition of marriage.”

So what are you talking about, then, when you refer to “gay marriage?”

Same thing you’re talking about: the absurdity produced by the violation of a human definition by social progressives, who think they can change human nature by simple fiat. Or, in jweaks’ marvelously lucid explanation, the truck boat, the two-left-blade scissors, 2 + 2 = 7: this insane attempt to declare by force that the union of a man with a man, or a woman with a woman, is the same as the universally practiced human institution we call “marriage.” It isn’t, and no amount of demonstrating, voting, or improper syllogism-forming will make it so.

It is SIMPLE to conceive of things that violate sound definitions; to say that the mere ability to conceive of a thing makes it a meaningful part of the definition of that thing, is insane. I could make noses an essential part of boats, using that logic, simply by conceiving of a boat with a nose. What utter nonsense!

May 1, 2010 @ 2:42 pm #

Tim D completely munged this in his usual fashion, declaring the entire field of anthropology useless by confusing anthropology with systematic logic. Tim, give me an example of a sociological or anthropological claim about human beings that is not, in your bizarre nomenclature, a “naturalistic fallacy.”

Unfortunately, you’re the one doing the, er, “munging”….a naturalistic fallacy concerns morality. I don’t know where you’re getting this stuff about eating from.

The fact is that it’s a naturalistic fallacy to say, “homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural.” Regardless of whatever ad hominem diversion you try to break out, that’s still true.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:44 pm #

It is SIMPLE to conceive of things that violate sound definitions, and to say that the mere ability to conceive of a thing makes it a meaningful part of the definition of that thing, is insane.

Hmmm….now who’s “munging?” Earlier, you said that the idea of a man marrying anything other than a woman is “inconceivable!” So which is it? Can you conceive of the idea or not?

May 1, 2010 @ 2:45 pm #

P.S. If you could make a boat with a nose, that still functioned as a boat, it would very probably still be a boat. Just a boat with a nose. So I don’t know what you’re trying to get at with that 0.0

May 1, 2010 @ 2:46 pm #

“homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural.”

Who said that?

What I said was that the essence of the human practice we call “marriage” is the passing along of existence, culture, and property by conjoining male with female in a legally-recognized union.

Frank C. introduced the question of right and wrong. I was merely producing an analysis of human practice.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:48 pm #

Earlier, you said that the idea of a man marrying anything other than a woman is “inconceivable!”

Where did I say that?

Tim, I continue to regard even answering you as a complete waste of time. You’re not even capable of reading, in my humble opinion.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:51 pm #

Where did I say that?

You don’t remember? It follows naturally from this post:

So I can prove that “2 + 2 = 4″ is false if I can prove that it is possible to CONCEIVE of 2 + 2 being anything other than 4.

Can I say “2 + 2 = 5,” or “2 + 2 = 7?” Of course I can. I could even pass a law saying it if I could gather enough votes.

Therefore, by Joe’s argument, “2 + 2 = 4″ is false.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:53 pm #

Tim, you are simply incapable of reason.

You’re mistaking Joe’s error with my refutation of it.

You complete, frakking MORON!!! Get the hell off my blog. I mean it.

May 1, 2010 @ 2:58 pm #

Phil,

Tim D. understands my point perfectly. You claim:

“And thus does Joe fail Philosophy 101.

If he were arguing correctly, Q would be ‘The very idea of gay marriage would be a violation of the definition of marriage.’”

You continue to assert that the “definition” of marriage excludes gays. I then show you, by example, that what we meant by our use of the term “marriage” does not exclude same sex marriage. This is proven by the fact that we all understand the idea of “same sex marriage.” This shows that we must have meant more than “opposite sex paring” when we used the term “marriage.”

You continue to insist that “opposite sex pairing” is essential to “the definition” of “marriage.” But you don’t argue. You simply insist.

Insist all you want, but the term “marriage” is not, by definition, limited to opposite sex couples. If it were, we couldn’t understand the idea of “same sex marriage.”

Joe H.

May 1, 2010 @ 3:03 pm #

Joe:

You posited an argument. I showed how the argument you posited makes it possible to prove that “2 + 2 = 4″ is false, with an example. I also supplied a correction to your argument that would have made it true.

In this current statement, you’re treating my one-sentence correction of your argument as though it were the substance of my entire argument. This is tantamount to changing the subject, not to mention that it’s a misrepresentation of my argument.

If my rebuttal of your argument is invalid, please explain how. If you intend to abandon your argument, please say so.

(Correction after the fact: I also supplied a correction to your argument that would have made it a more accurate representation of what I had argued.)

May 1, 2010 @ 3:12 pm #

Phil said:

“Why must we be oppressed by the need to eat, just because it has always been thus? And so on. Your brains are scrambled, son.”

For some reason, this statement made me very, very hungry.

May 1, 2010 @ 3:14 pm #

For some reason, this statement made me very, very hungry.

Tell me you were not hungry for scrambled brains…

May 1, 2010 @ 3:16 pm #

Funny, I usually prefer my brains over-easy. No, that is not an invitation : )

May 1, 2010 @ 7:52 pm #

Phil,

Let:

P: “2+2 = 4″ follows from the inalterable definitions of “2,” “4,” and “plus.”

Q; It is inconceivable that 2+2= anything other than 4.

Now here’s the argument

Premise 1. If P, then Q;

Premise 2. Q;

Conclusion. Therefore, P.

In other words, given the truth status of these propositions (both are undeniably true), we can infer, by a rule called Modus Ponens, that P is in fact true. That is, we know that P implies Q and we know that Q is true. That means, logically speaking, we can infer the truth of P from the syllogism.

If Q were false, that is, if we could conceive the sum of 2+2 being anything other than 4, we would know that P was false. The argument form would be Modus Tollens:

If P then Q, Not Q, therefore Not P.

The reason we don’t accept the second argument, although it is logically valid – its logical form is correct – is that Q is, in fact, obviously true.

Now . . . let:

P: “Opposite sex pairing” is an in inalterable part of the definition of “marriage.”

Q: It is inconceivable that we can think of “marriage” without it being limited to opposite sex couples.

Now here’s the argument:

Premise 1. If P then Q

Premise 2. Not Q

Conclusion. Therefore Not P.

If Q were true, that is, if we could not conceive of marriage without thinking of it being limited to opposite sex parings, we would know that P was true. The argument form would be Modus Ponens.

If P then Q, Q, therefore P.

The reason we don’t accept the second argument, although it is logically valid – its logical form is correct – is that Q is, in fact, obviously false. It is proven false every time we use the term “gay marriage,” which was what Tim D was trying to tell you.

In short. The argument that reflects reality, in each case, is determined by the truth value of Q. If Q is true, the Truth of P is demonstrated. If Q is false, the falsity of P is demonstrated.

The problem with this discussion is that you think the definition of “marriage” is as clear and obvious and “2+2=4.” But numerical values are the result of the idea of “zero” and the successor function. They are one of a very limited set of concepts whose definitions are fixed, clear, and definite.

“Marriage” is a far more complex concept than “2,” or “plus,” or “4.” It turns out that, in the definition of marriage syllogism, Not Q is obviously correct. And Not Q implies Not P. You insist that P is true, but you don’t argue for that proposition. You just keep insisting.

I understand why you want Q to be true. But it is not. The “Marriage is by definition” argument doesn’t work. Give it up already.

Joe H.

May 1, 2010 @ 8:09 pm #

Joe:”The argument form: If P then Q, Q, therefore P, is a logical fallacy known as “asserting the consequent.””

. . . from an earlier part of the discussion.

May 1, 2010 @ 8:15 pm #

Phil said:

“So I can prove that “2 + 2 = 4″ is false if I can prove that it is possible to CONCEIVE of 2 + 2 being anything other than 4.

Can I say “2 + 2 = 5,” or “2 + 2 = 7?” Of course I can. I could even pass a law saying it if I could gather enough votes.

Therefore, by Joe’s argument, “2 + 2 = 4″ is false.”

Phil, anyone can “say” anything. Saying something is true won’t make it true if it is, in fact, false. And the fact of the matter is, we cannot conceive of 2+2 equalling anything other than 4.

But I did not merely “say” that “opposite sex pairing” is not an inextricable aspect of the the concept of marriage. I made an argument. I demonstrated that the idea of marriage does not disappear when we extend marriage to same sex couples.

Your argument (above) only works if we assume that marriage is an inextricable aspect of the definition of marriage. If that were true, you’d be right. We could prove anything simply by declaring a changed definition, or voting.

But you seem to forget that this is what is in dispute – whether “marriage” is, by inalterable definition, limited to opposite sex pairs. You’re supposed to prove that it is. So far, you’ve simply insisted that it is and, then, misstated my arguments.

You need to argue. We’re all waiting.

“Flunked Philosophy 101.”

You’ve got some pretty big cahonies.

Joe H.

May 1, 2010 @ 8:23 pm #

Hold up. Hold up I made a terrible blunder!

The form of Modus ponens is P implies Q. P, therefore Q.

The argument I drafted on the modus ponens part of the argument was a fallacy called “asserting the consequent.”

Ignore the Modes Ponens stuff – it is logically invalid – I don’t know what came over me. You cannot infer the Truth of P from the Truth of Q in that argument.

My point about the Modus tollens form is correct – it is correct because you can infer not P from not Q in that argument, and Not Q is demonstrably correct.

I’m glad I read the post again before signing off. Then I would really have flunked Philosophy 101.

I need a beer.

Joe H

May 1, 2010 @ 10:49 pm #

(*knows this will probably just get deleted and not acknowledged, but feels the need to try again anyway*)

(Correction after the fact: I also supplied a correction to your argument that would have made it a more accurate representation of what I had argued.)

See, that’s exactly what I was saying to you that you said was incorrect. You “corrected” him by showing him what a “more accurate” version of your argument was — which, in your own words, was:

And thus does Joe fail Philosophy 101.

If he were arguing correctly, Q would be “The very idea of gay marriage would be a violation of the definition of marriage.”

Make that substitution, and it becomes obvious that the logic is sound, and so is my position.

It is neither dishonest nor logically unsound to point that out to you.

And secondly, nobody has made the following argument:

It is SIMPLE to conceive of things that violate sound definitions; to say that the mere ability to conceive of a thing makes it a meaningful part of the definition of that thing, is insane.

The case has never been made that gayness is a “meaningful part of the definition of marriage.” Rather, that gayness does not negate the so-called “definition.” It’s not been said that gayness is in any way required to constitute marriage, just that — like the inability of a straight couple to reproduce for biological reasons — it’s not an inherent disqualifier, conceptually or literally.

May 2, 2010 @ 4:24 am #

I think a better example would be ‘a blue Tuesday’, or ‘a square circle’, or as I read this morning, ‘Fidel Castro’s autobiography, written by one of his friends’.

These are all an adjective attached to a noun in a non-sensical way.

May 2, 2010 @ 7:39 am #

Imagine that a neighbor comes to a council meeting to argue that the speed limit on a nearby street should be reduced by 5km/hour. They give several reasons – it’ll decrease noise, lessen pollution, and will make fatalities less likely in the event of a car hitting children as they cross the road.

Which of the following do you think is the bset way of addressing their concerns?

1. Argue that reducing the limit from 60 to 55km/hour is a slippery slope to reducing the speed down to 2km/hour.

2. Take each of their arguments and deal with each in turn – slower cars will increase congestion, won’t make much difference to noise levels, and will make people get home late. And regarding safety, instead why not get the parents in the area to teach their kids to use the crossing rather than dashing in front of cars?.

I’d say the latter method is better and more honest. Presenting the spectre of a 2km/hr speed limit addresses none of your neighbor’s arguments. Arguments for or against each change in the law should rest on their own merits.

May 2, 2010 @ 8:34 am #

Joe,

Blunder forgiven and understood. I’ve been playing softball all my life, and I still drop pop flies now and then. Hope you enjoyed the beer.

I understand the form of the argument, and thank you for the refresher course in systematic logic, corrections applied.

Regarding the explanation, though, my problem is not with the form of the argument, it’s with the inclusion of the word “inconceivable” in Q. I do not believe that to be a useful premise to test a definition. My objection, in general, is that “no other definition is CONCEIVABLE” is not, in reality, a characteristic of an inalterable definition, so your argument commits a category fallacy. That’s been my objection from the beginning. Jweaks (who seems, from what I can see, a better philosopher than either of us) made the same objection, and so did dullhammer. The counter-example I supplied was written to illustrate that by demanding that no other definition be conceivable, you make every definition easily falsifiable.

So, you reply by asserting a difference between SAYING that a thing can be, and CONCEIVING it. You claim to have made an argument demonstrating that. I do not recall that argument. Correct my memory.

From where I sit, the only argument you’ve offered so far is that we can imagine two men “married” to each other. A number of us have pointed out that we can imagine a scissors with two left blades, and while it’s easy to conceive, and we understand that there’s a sense in which everybody would recognize that as a scissors, it would be a JOKE scissors: it violates the essence of “scissors-ness.” If done deliberately, we’d make it into an ethnic joke: “Hittite scissors.” In precisely the same way, same-sex “marriage” is conceivable, and we recognize that there’s a sense in which this might be called “marriage,” but in terms of human practice it’s a joke marriage: it violates the essence of “marriage-ness.”

It seems to me that the scissors example (or the truck boat example that jweaks and timd volleyed up) directly rebut your argument. They do so by demonstrating that the mere fact that we can conceive of thing A, and even agree that in some sense thing A serves some part of the purpose of target concept B, does not make it right to call thing A by the name of target concept B, except metaphorically.

Yet another example: in the historically accurate film Apollo XIII, the astronauts lose the functionality of their craft, and as an emergency measure they hustle into the attached Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) and attempt to return to earth in it. The engineers in Houston say to each other, “The LEM has just become a lifeboat.” It was an apt name, because the LEM was in fact at that moment serving the purpose of a lifeboat — a smaller, emergency craft to keep them alive if the main craft sinks. Only, we all know that the LEM is not a lifeboat, because it was not designed for that; it’s intention was to land on the moon, then lift off and carry the astronauts back to their main craft. In fact, it’s a not a boat of any kind, because spacecraft are not boats. But they used the name, because at that moment, it was serving a purpose analogous to that served by a lifeboat on an ocean-going ship. Just because we can plausibly apply the label “lifeboat” to a LEM, does not make the LEM a lifeboat in fact. Language permits us to apply names where we know they really don’t belong, for comparison’s sake. And thus do we demonstrate that the ability to conceive of a thing does not necessary confer any definitional status.

The essence of the human practice of marriage is the perpetuation of the species by creating progeny and passing on status, property, and culture. I established this in the post on which this discussion is taking place, by way of a brief survey of human practices around the world, and by quoting a sociologist or two who performed more thorough surveys. I’ll grant that it was sketchy, but so far, you’ve treated the post as though it does not exist and I’m just asserting something out of the blue.

I maintain that the examination of human practices that fall under the heading “marriage” is a better way to establish what is the essence of the thing called marriage than is positing what can be conceived of as marriage. I think this is true because sometimes, we can conceive of ridiculous things, and sometimes, names can be applied where they clearly do not belong. I also think this is true because the essence of marriage is an anthropological question, and the best way to establish what is the essence of a human practice is to examine that practice.

You’ve got some pretty big cahonies.

What I’ve got that’s big is my mouth. My cahonies belong to Shelly, and she’s not giving them up. But, yeah, sometimes I talk big. Take it as part of the essence of Phil-ness.

May 2, 2010 @ 9:03 am #

Allow me to add as a postscript that we need to talk about the difference between “definition” and “essence.” By “essence,” we seem to be talking about a thing’s primary purpose, what it was created to do. By “definition,” we appear to be talking about a linguistic formal name.

I don’t think they’re identical. I think it would be correct to say “A good definition is one that captures the essence of a thing,” but that correct sentence illustrates that “definition” and “essence” are not the same: one could write a poor definition that includes non-essentials, or includes within the definition things that do not reflect the essence of the thing.

I believe I’m seeking the essence of marriage, and I believe you’re arguing it’s definition. If that’s true then we’ll be talking at cross-purposes until we get our nomenclature straight.

May 2, 2010 @ 9:44 am #

I’d say that if a state grants two people marriage who want to be marriage, and those two people then have the rights of a married couple, then for better or worse (not to mention richer or poorer), they are ‘married’.

Whether you think they SHOULD be married or not, for me they would be married. They’ve got the state’s recognition for their union, they’ve got the rights that go with that – they’re married.

If the state refuses to recognise their union for whatever reason, then they’re not really married. If the state decides that felons can’t marry, or OAPs or whatever, then it’s a simple statment of fact that they now can’t marry.

Now you might say, ‘what if the state declares that two bowls of fruit are now married’, then sure, I’d have problems with that, and you might say you’d feel the same way about gays marrying.

But in the former case my objection would be along the lines of not understanding what ‘those fruit bowls are married’ actually means in practical terms with regards to the bowls’ ‘rights’, and how fruit can ‘declare love for each other’.

I wouldn’t have that issue with two men marrying – whether I agreed with their union, I could understand what their union actually means in legal terms, and I’d know what it meant in terms of their declaration of union to each other. That’s because it would mean the same thing as with me and my wife.

May 2, 2010 @ 10:18 am #

Phil: ” Jweaks (who seems, from what I can see, a better philosopher than either of us) made the same objection, and so did dullhammer.”

I hope the fact that Shelly has a firm grasp on Phil’s cajones means he at least doesn’t get away with personal digs (meant to damage a person as much as possible) under his own roof.

May 2, 2010 @ 11:39 am #

…he at least doesn’t get away with personal digs (meant to damage a person as much as possible) under his own roof.

I don’t consciously engage in digs for the purpose of causing damage. Is that how you see me?

I do sometimes say harsh things that I believe are true, for the purpose of confronting someone with uncomfortable truth in the hope that they’ll recognize it and change. Perhaps that’s not my right.

And you’re right, I don’t say harsh things under my own roof. In fact, I seldom win arguments here, as I remember that if I do, I have to go to bed with the loser.

May 2, 2010 @ 3:11 pm #

Phil said:

“I don’t consciously engage in digs for the purpose of causing damage. Is that how you see me?”

Technically speaking, I don’t “see” you at all, and barely know you from Adam : )

However, you just need to know that it doesn’t advance your argument a millimeter to say something like, “Everything Gordon has engineered must be ready to fall down and kill a bunch of people” when you are arguing. It’s a tactic called “poisoning the well”, and it’s very bad form.

Saying Doctor Huster “flunked Philosophy 101″ is this kind of strategy – ignore the argument for just long enough to pause and question a person’s ability to perform in the very area of their livelihood. It would be one thing if a fellow Philosophy professor did it…but they normally have the decency not to do that even to each other – they stick to the arguments.

It is comforting to know, however, that there is a realm where you can’t practice that habit : )

May 2, 2010 @ 11:25 pm #

Phil said,

“From where I sit, the only argument you’ve offered so far is that we can imagine two men “married” to each other. A number of us have pointed out that we can imagine a scissors with two left blades, and while it’s easy to conceive, and we understand that there’s a sense in which everybody would recognize that as a scissors, it would be a JOKE scissors: it violates the essence of “scissors-ness.” If done deliberately, we’d make it into an ethnic joke: “Hittite scissors.” In precisely the same way, same-sex “marriage” is conceivable, and we recognize that there’s a sense in which this might be called “marriage,” but in terms of human practice it’s a joke marriage: it violates the essence of “marriage-ness.”

Phil, you cannot imagine a scissors with two left blades. You can imagine a devise that moves like scissors and looks like a scissors with two left blades. But you’re absolutely right to say that the two left blade scissors are no scissors at all. Scissors are designed to cut things. You cannot imagine scissors that are not designed to cut things. You’re imagining something else and calling it “scissors.”

At this point you’re undoubtedly ready to retort, “you’re doing the same thing with marriage.” I say I am not. The question is, how do we determine who is right? We do it by performing the test I proposed. If a concept can be stripped away from a more complex concept without harming or destroying that concept, it is not essential to it. If it can’t be stripped away without destroying the more complex concept, it is an essential element of the more complex concept.

Applied to the two examples:

SCISSORS:

“Designed to cut things” is essential to the concept of “scissors.” The concept of “scissor” vanishes when you strip out “designed to cut things.” That’s why I said you are thinking about something else and calling it “scissors.”

“Designed to cut things” is essential to the concept “scissor” in a way that “metal blades” is not. In my experience, the vast majority of scissors have had metal blades – but strip out “metal blades” and the concept “scissor” remains intact. Scissors need not have metal blades – therefore “metal blades” is not part of the essence of “scissor.”

Example: “I’ve designed a new type of scissors that won’t cut anything.” The statement is incoherent for the reasons stated. That’s how we know that “designed to cut things” is an essential part of the concept of “Scissors.”

MARRIAGE:

Opposite sex pairing is not essential to the concept of marriage, because removing the “opposite sex pairing” element of the traditional definition does not destroy the concept of marriage. This is demonstrated every time someone uses the term “gay marriage.”

Example: “My wife and I met this gay couple at a marriage seminar. We were both there to improve our marriages.” That statement is perfectly coherent to most people – each couple was referring to the same thing when they used the term “marriage.” That means they were referring to something other than opposite sex pairing.

Now, you can claim that you don’t understand what the gay couple was referring to when they used the term “marriage,” whereas you would have understood it, had it been uttered by an opposite sex pair. But you’d be hard pressed to convince me. I’m pretty sure you understood that all three couples were referring to their “relationships” as couples. You can counter that the gay couple can’t have a “marital” relationship, but then you’re simply asserting your original premise – that marriage is by definition between a man and a woman.

As I said, you can insist that this premise is right and refuse to separate the “marriage” and “opposite sex pairing” concepts. But that is what you’re doing – you’re refusing.

I do note that you propose an alternative test to determine whether “opposite sex pairing” is essential to the concept “marriage.” Your test is “historical practice.” But the question we’re debating is whether we should extend marriage rights to gays. Everyone concedes that this is novel practice. The specific argument we were discussing is whether the so called “definition” of marriage precludes this innovation.

Your position amounts to insisting that (1) marriage is defined traditional practice, and (2) the definition that emerges from the historical/anthropological analysis rules out the innovation. But that posture amounts to a refusal to even consider the issue being debated. You’ve intentionally selected the “anthropological/historical practice” method of defining marriage, so that you don’t have to get to the merits of extending marriage rights to gays.

My position is that, while traditional practice certainly informs the concept “marriage,” historical practice is not definitive. When we’re trying to identify the essence of a concept, the method I propose is far superior. Discovering the essence of a concept is a “philosophical quest,” not an anthropological or historical quest. This is because in the real world, concepts get associated to one another in ways that seem essential and necessary, but which are not so associated.

Read any dialogue of Plato and you’ll see this as clear as day.

Sorry that this is so long. But no one’s got a gun to anybody’s head.

Best wishes. If you don’t buy what I say after reading this, I think we’re not going to agree (and I do have law to practice).

Joe H

May 2, 2010 @ 11:54 pm #

Sorry Phil, let me respond to your postscript.

Phil Said:

“Allow me to add as a postscript that we need to talk about the difference between “definition” and “essence.” By “essence,” we seem to be talking about a thing’s primary purpose, what it was created to do. By “definition,” we appear to be talking about a linguistic formal name.

I don’t think they’re identical. I think it would be correct to say “A good definition is one that captures the essence of a thing,” but that correct sentence illustrates that “definition” and “essence” are not the same: one could write a poor definition that includes non-essentials, or includes within the definition things that do not reflect the essence of the thing.

I believe I’m seeking the essence of marriage, and I believe you’re arguing it’s definition. If that’s true then we’ll be talking at cross-purposes until we get our nomenclature straight.”

Phil, I agree with most of what you say , but would clarify as follows. I use the term “essence” in the sense that it was used by Aristotle – the “essence” of a thing is that which makes it what it is – and without which, it wouldn’t be what it is. “Essence” is used in contrast to “accident,” which is a non-essential feature of a particular thing. There are “marriages,” which are defined by their essence – whatever that is – and there are “childless marriages.” “Childless’ is an accident of a particular marriage.

The primary purpose of thing, in my opinion, does not necessarily constitute its essence, although it sometimes does and the two are often closely related. Still, there is usually a difference between what a thing is and what it is supposed to do. I agree that “a good definition is one that captures the essence of a thing,” and I, too, am seeking to define marriage in terms of its essence – not the other way around.

Joe H.

May 3, 2010 @ 12:44 am #

(A round earth) is not essential to the concept of (a flat earth), because removing the “round earth” element of the traditional definition does not destroy the concept of (our solar system). This is demonstrated every time someone uses the term “flat earth.” (alternative nonsense added)

Odd, I could have swore that Phil once pointed out that saying something so much that it becomes “normal” doesn’t actually make it so but here it is -some hundred + posts later- and this “truth” is still being represented. Then again, it was just Phil after all and he relies on logic and other silliness. Could it be you would listen to rationale thought? No, didn’t think so…

May 3, 2010 @ 3:21 am #

Thanks for your insightful comments Mark 13:31. I guess that settles that!

Joe H.

May 3, 2010 @ 9:36 am #

Uh, for Joe (and others of the “illustrations with arrows required” set), the key word in your assertion is demonstrated. That whole statement not only (accurately) demonstrates the inanity of the argument for SSM, it is a very literal demonstration of “the big lie” technique of mind control – and its oh so rotten fruit.

May 3, 2010 @ 10:28 am #

Mark,

Once again, you called someone with at least one, and possibly two Doctorate degrees stupid. ‘Nuff said.

May 3, 2010 @ 10:46 am #

The argument people are using here by the way is called ‘essentialism’. It works much better for maths and geometry than with laws.

As for scissors, neither side will convince the other with such a metaphor – it doesn’t prove your point, merely helps explain your viewpoint.

Imagine you’ve just invented the left-handed scissors – you show it to people, and after failing to make it work they declare it to be useless ‘joke scissors’. But of course it works perfectly if you are left-handed.

So the metaphor can work for both sides – it comes down to what you consider to be an essential component of marriage.

May 3, 2010 @ 11:09 am #

…and yet another great mind, sans a single clue as to the emperors’ state of “clothedness”, steps up to the plate to smack a Grand Salami for the opposition.

Hi, Gordon, how are you and all the little Cubbies? Oh, and thank you for the help.

p.s. G. Bush 43 is a Harvard grad -w/better GPA than algore- and former fighter pilot – do you think his intelligence is unassailable?
(not nearly) “‘Nuff said” but, does there exist “’nuff” words in the English language to persuade a mind so shut of its own accord? Not emanating from this “un-doctored” oaf, that’s for sure. Oh well, pointing and giggling at the naked guy sashaying down the Boulevard de Paris will have to suffice for now – till every tongue does confess, till every knee does bow.

May 3, 2010 @ 11:19 am #

For some puzzling reason, Mark asked:

“p.s. G. Bush 43 is a Harvard grad -w/better GPA than algore- and former fighter pilot – do you think his intelligence is unassailable?”

I don’t care. The only thing is, Jesus told me not to call him stupid back around the time I voted for him, and not to call him stupid now that I am frustrated with him.

Do you care about that reasoning? Apparently not, because questioning intelligence is your VERY FAVORITE weapon, even if you almost never take it upon yourself to actually engage in argument.

To the athiests here, I apologize on behalf of Christians everywhere for behavior like this.

May 3, 2010 @ 12:15 pm #

Nathan,

your “left-handed” scissors comparison is insightful. But it’s weakness is that it is not funny. Seriously. There is no incongruity in the left-handed devise. They even work for right handed people, just not as well. Same-sex marriage (like the left-bladed scissors) has an incongruity about it. This is reflected in at least two ways:

1) many people have very strong negative emotional reaction to the very thought of same-sex marriage, and

2) people laugh at it (even those sympathetic to it sometimes).

Your statement that “… the metaphor can work for both sides – it comes down to what you consider to be an essential component of marriage…” is genuinely helpful, but it is not accurate. Cutting is indeed one of the essentials to being ‘scissors’; cutting with the left or right hand is not essential at all.

May 3, 2010 @ 12:37 pm #

Joe said: “Phil, you cannot imagine a scissors with two left blades. . . . You cannot imagine scissors that are not designed to cut things. You’re imagining something else and calling it “scissors.””
————-

Joe,

I think you are being seriously pinched by the scissors analogy. You got here by trying to evaluate the compatibility of marriage and same-sex coupling by examining whether marriage could be meaningfully imagined, discussed and counseled when pertaining to same-sex ‘married’ couples. The weakness of your peculiar line of reasoning is self-evident when applied to the backward bladed scissors– especially when you find yourself on the defensive end making appeal to the essence of true scissors!

First, you find yourself in the position of having to tell Phil what he can and can not subjectively imagine regarding those scissors. This should remind us that jweaks long ago criticized your syllogism for using the vague and subjective word “inconceivable” at the very heart of your argument. (The term ‘imagine’ is no improvement, btw.) I think he should have made more of that point.

Secondly, you have to attach the name ‘scissors’ (even temporarily) to a devise which you claim can not be so attached, which means that if you are correct your statement will be incomprehensible to Phil and you’ll never get your point across to him in the first place.

Thirdly, your all or nothing evaluation of “conceivable” vs “inconceivable” is needlessly narrow for our discussion– be that of “backward scissors” or the more important “same-sex marriage”. For both have more than one essential element and it makes a difference if only one element is being violated as opposed to all (whatever number that may be).

The left bladed scissors is in the state of being half true and half false according to the essence of ‘scissors’. For the nature of scissors is not merely that it is designed to cut, but that it cuts with two blades coming together. (Otherwise it would be a knife.) This devise indeed has two blades which come together; they can even be sharp. They just are put together in a way that contradicts the cutting essence of scissors. This allows the devise to be both included and excluded in the category of scissors.

Someone who refused to call the devise ‘scissors’ would be within reason to do so. Someone who still called the device ‘scissors’ would be understandable in doing so, but with the qualification needed that he or she was referencing a CORRUPTION of scissors, a perversion or even a joke. Such a corruption, you will note, does not involve a total destruction of one’s ability to imagine the device as scissors at all. Yet the essence of scissors is indeed compromised and effectively insulted.

All this is analogous to same-sex marriage where you have two human beings seeking to be committed to one another as in marriage (i.e. there are two blades in relation to one another), yet they are both “left bladed” or “right bladed” sexually and therefore contradict a key essential element of what “marriage” means.

——

In summary, Joe’s syllogism has fallen apart. Scissors, as with marriage, has more than one essential element to it. The compromise of one of those elements indeed compromises the “scissorness” or “marriedness” of the thing in question and should not be treated equally with that which retains all the essential elements. But to say that the compromise of one element must necessarily render the thing incomprehensible, inconceivable and/or unimaginable is needlessly narrow and just plain wrong.

The refusal Joe speaks of later to Phil as refusing “to separate the ‘marriage’ and ‘opposite sex pairing’ is reasonable, IMHO, on the part of Phil, myself and others. What is not so reasonable is Joe’s refusal to allow Phil to imagine a pair of scissors with two left blades.

May 3, 2010 @ 12:43 pm #

I notice I did not complete the quotes in my last paragraph.

Along with that close to the quote I would rewrite the paragraph with a couple of words for slightly better clarity. So here it is again. New and improved, I hope:

——–
The refusal Joe speaks of later to Phil as refusing “to separate the ‘marriage’ and ‘opposite sex pairing’” is a reasonable refusal, IMHO, on the part of Phil, myself and others. What is not so reasonable is Joe’s refusal to allow Phil to imagine a pair of scissors with two left blades.
——–

May 3, 2010 @ 1:40 pm #

“people laugh at it”

So? People laughed at the idea of giving women the vote.

May 3, 2010 @ 9:39 pm #

It was easier for you to say that than to address my point wasn’t it.

May 3, 2010 @ 10:05 pm #

And, many people had “very strong negative emotional reaction to the very thought of” interracial marriage. Nathan was addressing one of the two main points of your argument. That just addressed the other, dullhammer.

May 3, 2010 @ 11:04 pm #

Just because he used the word laugh doesn’t mean he addressed the point.

May 4, 2010 @ 3:37 am #

What IS your point beyond ‘some people find it a joke’.

…Many people laugh at marriages with an age discrepancy. Incongruous perhaps, and amusing for many. In fact I’m sure you could argue that the majority of people find the idea of the elderly engaging in their conjugal duties faintly unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, just that some people need to grow up.

By the way, the image of someone sniggering at someone else’s marriage… I feel lucky that I’ve known true love, such that I’d never be so callous. Call this ‘moral posturing’ if you want.

“Cutting is indeed one of the essentials to being ’scissors’; cutting with the left or right hand is not essential at all.”
Right, so it just brings you back to arguing about what the essential is. You’ve said that elderly people are ‘blunt scissors’. They can’t do the ‘essential’ but still they are scissors. Other people might say ‘They can’t cut any more – they are no longer scissors!’, in the same way that a boomerang that doesn’t come back is just a stick.
But this is all just word games. Either you think producing children is essential or you don’t.

May 4, 2010 @ 9:47 am #

Nathan said: “What IS your point beyond ’some people find it a joke’.”
———

You addressed my point further down in your feigned protest of not knowing my point. Then you go on to make the incredible observation that my being right about the essence of scissors and you being wrong about the essence of scissors somehow brings us back to some kind of neutral ground for arguing the essentials of marriage!!???

And as if that’s not insult enough to the concept of discussion, you summarize by projecting, “But this is all just word games.”

It sure is on your part. Makes me thing of ‘Calvinball’.

May 4, 2010 @ 9:52 am #

DullHammer, you haven’t addressed my post at all, which did address yours. If you think the reverse, then we don’t really have anything to discuss.

May 4, 2010 @ 11:52 am #

Dullhammer said:

“In summary, Joe’s syllogism has fallen apart. Scissors, as with marriage, has more than one essential element to it. The compromise of one of those elements indeed compromises the “scissorness” or “marriedness” of the thing in question and should not be treated equally with that which retains all the essential elements. But to say that the compromise of one element must necessarily render the thing incomprehensible, inconceivable and/or unimaginable is needlessly narrow and just plain wrong.”

Dullhammer, what we are trying to do is determine which concepts are essential to a more complex concept. The fact that a complex concept may have more than one essential informing concept is irrelevant to the question of whether A PARTICULAR COMPLEX CONCEPT IS ESSENTIAL.

“Scissors” has more than one essential informing concept. But one of these concepts is – “designed to cut.” My point was that, if you removed that concept from the concept of “scissors,” the idea of scissors was destroyed, and the use of the term “scissors” to describe the two left bladed thing in Phil’s example was incoherent.

Marriage probably has more that one essential informing concept. But that does not effect my argument one whit. I do not need to account for all the essential informing concepts of marriage to know that “opposite sex pairing” is not one of them. I know this by the test I proposed. I can use the term “marriage” outside the context of “opposite sex pairing.” I cannot coherently use the term “marriage” where “marriage does not refer to a “relationship.” Therefore, “relationship” is an essential informing concept of “marriage,” whereas “opposite sex pairing” is not.

Joe H.

May 4, 2010 @ 6:51 pm #

This seems to be an appropriate footnote:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8658327.stm

May 4, 2010 @ 8:22 pm #

Thank you, suek. The first official “beasty-o-phobe” to enter the conversation. So, why do you hate cats and who are you to judge another mans’ love for one, hm?

(my apologies to Gordon, Joe H., NB, Tim D. and all the others of the enlightened set here. It’s so sad that you must witness such hate for decent, red-blooded, British animal love.)

May 4, 2010 @ 11:13 pm #

Consent. Firmly established already. Yer’ spinnin’ yer’ wheels, bro. Mark.

May 5, 2010 @ 9:26 am #

BTW Mark,

If it helps your world to assume you know what I believe, go right ahead, I don’t want to be the source of your discomfort.

And, if your assumption allows you to ignore anything I say, you know what they say…you can take a kid to class…but you can’t make him listen.

May 6, 2010 @ 10:29 am #

Joe,

I was going to do a point by point answer to your post, but that gets unwieldy fast. More unwieldy, I should say, than what this post already is. I believe the heart of your post revolves around your last paragraph where you apply your syllogism’s yardstick to “relationship” vs “opposite sex pairing.” So I will address that as a way to challenge your reasoning.

You want to know whether “relationship” is essential to “marriage” or not. So you ask whether marriage can be reasonably talked about without any reference to relationship. This indeed would be difficult (even taking into consideration things like arranged marriages of total strangers, artificial insemination between total strangers and other present strangeness in our world today).

You want to know whether “opposite sex pairing” is essential to marriage or not. So you ask whether marriage can be reasonably talked about without any reference to “opposite sex pairing”. And this you conclude is not difficult at all. And you give an example of a gay couple going for marriage counseling and consider that to be perfectly reasonable and coherent. (Even though one could also speak of a single person going for marriage counseling as well. He could be going alone without his wife; he could be going before being married, etc. He could just be crashing the party.)

But let’s continue.

Suppose you now want to know about the essential informing concepts of “scissors”. And you start with wondering whether a bonded “relationship” of two blades must be present. So you ask whether scissors can be reasonably talked about without any reference to the blades being in relationship with each other. This indeed would be difficult.

Then you move on to whether the concept of “design to cut” (as you put it so well earlier) is an essential informing concept of scissors. So you ask whether scissors can be reasonably talked about without any reference to the blades being in relationship with one another in such a way that they are in keeping with “design to cut”. (Notice that “design to cut” and “relationship” have a “relationship” to each other. I make nothing of it here, but I do find it interesting. Maybe for comment at a later time.)

Here there seems to be a noticeable problem. You encounter a person, who we’ll call Phil, who says he actually owns two pair of scissors which are designed NOT to cut. You object. You politely tell Phil that he is imagining things which are unimaginable and incoherent. But he persists. So, you insist that Phil is not really able to call those things scissors, even though he very much does. One of them seriously and one of them as something of a joke.

To be consistent you should be eliminating “design to cut” from the essential informing concept of “scissors” as soon as you realize that Phil not only can talk about these devices as scissors without being incoherent, but they can physically exist as well and can be recognized by ordinary people as scissors.

The one pair of scissors mentioned above, BTW, are the backward bladed devices which are obviously designed NOT to cut and have been referred to as scissors throughout two very long threads. Admittedly they have an incongruity about them as scissors and would not stand alone as such. But they stand well enough to bring your yardstick into question.

And the other pair are those obnoxious scissors given to children which indeed are designed NOT to cut fingers (and seemingly not to cut paper either) and are indisputably found in the family of “scissors”.

In the light of these cases, you would have three or four unattractive choices before you. Maybe more.

1.) Eliminate “design to cut” from the essence of “scissors”.
2.) Keep a close eye and hand on Phil, and everyone else who thinks like him.
3.) Retain “opposite sex pairing” as essential of “marriage”.
4.) Dump your syllogism as inadequate for measuring essentials of anything.

And please, keep in mind that I am not making a case here against reasonable marriage and traditional scissors; I am making a case against your syllogism as it seems to be coming up short as a yardstick.

In summary, your syllogism tries to employ everyday language as if it were mathematically singular and precise. And it is not. Your syllogism not only can be used to ‘measure’ “opposite sex pairing” right out of marriage but also has the same effect in cutting “design to cut” right out of scissors. And who knows what else might be lost if that thing was let lose in public.

May 6, 2010 @ 10:53 am #

The whole metaphor isn’t particularly appropriate as scissors only have a singe use, so it would indeed be pointless in most circumstances asking for scissors that don’t cut.

But marriages obviously have more than a single purpose.

Therefore it’s closer to saying that if you can remove one design element from a multi-purpose object, you may as well chuck out the whole object.

“your syllogism tries to employ everyday language as if it were mathematically singular and precise.”

I’d say that’s the whole problem with trying to relate single-purpose objects to something as complicated as a law/institution that has evolved over thousands of years. You can argue with people whether certain phones nowadays are still worthy of the name, when they can also take photos, send texts, surf the net etc. At the end of the day, it’s purely a philosophical discussion, as distinct from being married, where you either are or are not married.

May 6, 2010 @ 11:34 am #

Nathan,

The analogy is extremely apt as I see it. Upon examination it even addresses Joe’s two questions regarding “relationship” and “opposite sex pairing”. Scissors have relationship in the ‘two-ness’ of the blades being as one and they have opposite ‘sex’ pairing in their design to cut. No analogy is perfect; it wouldn’t be an analogy if it were perfect. But the imperfections of this one do not undermine any of the points I’ve made thus far. I have tried to be careful of that.

May 6, 2010 @ 12:10 pm #

No analogy is perfect, but you’re stacking the deck by coming up with a single-use item.

A better analogy would be Champagne being restricted by legal definition to fizzy wine that comes from a specific region of France. Or Parma Ham, or Melton Mowberry porkpie etc.

May 6, 2010 @ 12:59 pm #

Homer says: “Mmmmm….Melton Mowberry porkpie…”

Even though he hasn’t the slightest cue exactly what that is : )

May 6, 2010 @ 1:02 pm #

Where would a woman born without a uterus fit in with the analogy? A missing blade? Isn’t that ‘joke scissors’ territory too?

It all comes across as ad hoc reasoning to fit your claim that ‘ability to produce kids’ is essential, but that somehow that claim doesn’t apply to infertile opposite sex couples.

May 6, 2010 @ 2:01 pm #

Gordon, just go to porkpie.co.uk. If it’s not made in Melton Mowbray, it’s isn’t a Melton Mowbray pork pie.

Oh, now I need to go eat.

May 6, 2010 @ 3:21 pm #

Nathan said: “A better analogy would be Champagne being restricted by legal definition to fizzy wine that comes from a specific region of France. Or Parma Ham, or Melton Mowberry porkpie etc.”
———-

DH:
I suppose someone might see it that way, if they ignored any and all differences between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships and reduced the whole subject of marriage to a trademark dispute. Ya, then your analogy is way better. Oh, and if you also change the definition of “better”.

May 6, 2010 @ 3:24 pm #

Nathan said: “Where would a woman born without a uterus fit in with the analogy? A missing blade? Isn’t that ‘joke scissors’ territory too?”
——–

DH:
Her and her husband’s marriage would be scissors with a broken blade such that it can not cut. (She is still a blade by virtue of her being a woman.) No joke necessary. They would still be rightly called “scissors”. And no special ad hoc committee was involved in researching the answer.

May 6, 2010 @ 3:38 pm #

“No joke necessary.”

Isn’t it a matter of personal opinion what one considers a joke?

“by virtue of her being a woman”

And what makes this anything but an arbitrary distinction?

“and reduced the whole subject of marriage to a trademark dispute”

…Or a legal dispute – which is what it is.

May 6, 2010 @ 3:50 pm #

“Isn’t it a matter of personal opinion what one considers a joke?”

Like “marriage” you mean?

“And what makes this anything but an arbitrary distinction?”

Consistency with the original analogy.

“…Or a legal dispute – which is what it is.”

Merely?

. . . Are we there yet?

May 6, 2010 @ 3:59 pm #

“if they ignored any and all differences between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships”

Go on, tell me all you know about those differences.

May 6, 2010 @ 5:24 pm #

Testing testing 123

{Webmaster’s note: this comment appears to be the work of a fellow who was banned from this blog a few days ago calling himself TimD. It was submitted through a proxy server using the webmaster’s email address, and does not express the opinion of the webmaster, author, or really anybody associated with this blog. He posted using the name “Phil”; I have changed the name to “Pseudo-Phil” so you can distinguish his comments from my own.}

May 6, 2010 @ 8:27 pm #

Uh, I would classify those last several posts as more like: Test pattern – test pattern – Z Z Z

May 6, 2010 @ 8:33 pm #

I know, let’s try this analogy:
This whole argument is as if the pro-SSM types were saying that we trash the natural order of things and supplant it w/ a perverse, and very unnatural societal structure. All for sake of the “happiness” of those desiring to normalize their perversity.

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

May 6, 2010 @ 9:18 pm #

Your last post aren’t exactly thrilling either, Mark.

{Webmaster’s note: this comment appears to be the work of a fellow who was banned from this blog a few days ago calling himself TimD. It was submitted through a proxy server using the webmaster’s email address, and does not express the opinion of the webmaster, author, or really anybody associated with this blog. He posted using the name “Phil”; I have changed the name to “Pseudo-Phil” so you can distinguish his comments from my own.}

May 6, 2010 @ 11:40 pm #

Nathan said: “Go on, tell me all you know about those differences.”
——

DH:
You can’t be serious.

I will give you three to sleep on, or wake up to.

Opposite sex relationship, particularly in marriage:
is the basis of the existence and continuation of the entire human race;
is the basis of the human race being civilized;
is the image of loving one different from oneself.

Same sex relationship, in contradiction to marriage,
is none of the above.

There’s more, but I see no reason to do all your homework for you. I feel like I’ve just told you what the difference is between “up” and “down” or something. I feel like I and others, especially Phil, have been explaining that concept to you for weeks now– to no avail.

May 7, 2010 @ 2:16 am #

“Phil”

I understand that things like what “thrills” us are relative and all but, to find the foregoing compelling is beyond comprehension. Witness, if you will, a summation of the last few dozen posts or so:

(pro-SSMer) “Hey like, ya know, love is love and like, we all should like love one another. Ya know?”
(anti-pro-SSMer) “Man, like, scissors don’t like, ya know, “scis” if ya gets ‘em from some bass-akwards factory or somethin’, ya feelin’ me? But a little rust er somethin’ is okay on account of it bein natural and all.”

What’s wrong w/ merely stating the obvious fact that two men having sex is disgusting enough w/o putting the U.S. govs official stamp of approval on it? It’s sick, folks. That’s why the founders didn’t consider it – not because it didn’t happen to occur to them (sorry for this harsh intrusion of reality on you, Joe) – because if the thought had crossed their minds, they would have prayed until it left them. And if they could have possibly conceived that Americans (or ANYONE -even the FRENCH- for that matter) would someday be discussing the “merits” of such insanity they might have rethought the whole idea of emancipation from the Brits.

You are living in insane-ville folks. You may as well be discussing the pros and cons of cultural suicide – literally. Which, you in fact are. I realize the insane always take offense to being identified accurately and if that is grounds for removal from here, around here, then, so be it. Just don’t ask me to take this hogwash seriously. Trying to convince a lunatic that he is not Napoleon Bonaparte is an exercise in futility that can only end w/ the sane one joining him in the loony-bin and I offer the foregoing discussion as proof of that fact.

But hey, what do I know? I think that we were actually meant to be as we were created so, that’s how nutz I am.

May 7, 2010 @ 3:21 am #

“Same sex relationship, in contradiction to marriage,
is none of the above.”

Oh right, I thought you might try to argue that same sex relationships were different in terms of the love felt between the couple, or the devotion, or the longings to dedicate their lives to one another, or perhaps the need to support each other through illness (a need currently often frustrated by their not being able to marry) – all good reasons to allow them to marry in my book.

But you didn’t attempt to argue any of those things, instead falling back on the same argument you used before – ‘tradition’, and ‘they can’t have kids’. Sorry, I thought you were about to offer something new that actually engaged with the arguments people offer for SSM marriage.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:20 am #

When you look at it, SSM isn’t even between human beings because gay people aren’t human beings. The Bible is pretty clear on that.

Mark’s right, there’s a liberal conspiracy to force us to think gays are humans and give them rights, that clearly fits the gay agenda. If we would just threaten to execute gays like we used to then there would be nothing wrong. I love how if you want to execute gays to protect society that makes you a “hater.” Guess that’s the priority of a liberal agenda.

{Webmaster’s note: this comment appears to be the work of a fellow who was banned from this blog a few days ago calling himself TimD. It was submitted through a proxy server using the webmaster’s email address, and does not express the opinion of the webmaster, author, or really anybody associated with this blog. He posted using the name “Phil”; I have changed the name to “Pseudo-Phil” so you can distinguish his comments from my own.}

May 7, 2010 @ 8:06 am #

Wow, I guess Phil is a little upset that the co-founder of NARTH was caught with a “rentboy.com” escort on a ten day European vacation. Isn’t that the organization that says homosexuality is a spontaneously reversible pathology, unless there are social factors that prevent the reversal to heterosexuality? I’d love to know what the social factors were that kept the rev. Rekers clinging to his gayness despite his outspoken revulsion for such aberrant behavior.

NARTH research is what you use to justify calling homosexuality a pathology, even though their studies are so riddled with error and thoroughly discredited by mainstream organizations. Time to throw in the towel, Phil, and just look at the facts. You must be tired of all the acrobatic rhetoric and spectacular leaps of logic.

May 7, 2010 @ 8:17 am #

Wow, Phil, I think I misunderstood your last post. I guess it’s the closest we’re going to get to a mea culpa. My apologies.

Have a nice day,

Jackson

May 7, 2010 @ 8:25 am #

I think that last post was by a different Phil. Though the Rekers story is not really that surprising. Him and Ted Haggard preached so hard against gays, and had so much to lose by lapsing themselves, and yet they still couldn’t stop themselves, and still claim that it’s purely a matter of choice whether someone is straight or gay.

Are all the people who claim that actual bisexual? Because it’s not a choice for me – I couldn’t find men attractive (and prove it physically, if you know what I mean) if you paid me a million bucks. And yet Rekers and Haggard, who think that it’s really sinful, find it really easy to be gay, and in fact seem to find it impossible NOT to be.

May 7, 2010 @ 9:59 am #

Excellent point, Nathan. That’s what about 90% of men would say also. Yet there is a loud minority of prominent people, who wear religion on their sleeves, who claim that it MUST be a reversible pathology….I was about to write the quote from Hamlet here (“the lady doth….) but it’s just too cliche, methinks.

May 7, 2010 @ 10:24 am #

Jackson, et al:

I threw TimD off my blog about 4 days ago. I have not visited my own blog since — been occupied elsewhere.

In the interim, TimD wrote me two impassioned and somewhat unhinged emails (in response to my emails to him explaining why I was removing him), one of which frankly threatened to do dirt to my name using my email address. I then started receiving confirmation notices from gay and porn sites, about 20 of them, thanking me for subscribing. Fortunately, one need only refrain from confirming those in order to make them go away, so little damage was done.

Starting yesterday at 5:24 PM, somebody using my email address and calling himself “Phil” started posting on this thread. I presume it to be TimD. I will have to address the matter over the next few days, as my current circumstances do not permit me to treat this blog as my primary focus. However, please be advised that nothing posted in my name from 5:24PM on May 6 until this very moment have been me. Until I announce that measures have been taken to protect my identity, please assume that no comment posted in the name of “Phil” is actually from the author of this blog.

The imposter posted three posts: one saying “Testing testing 1 2 3,” one chiding Mark for uninteresting posts, and one claiming that homosexuals are not human. I will edit those posts to identify the author as “Pseudo-Phil.”

TimD has demonstrated by his actions that he lacks both honor and honesty. In my long experience, this turns out to be common for those who believe what he believes. They claim that one need not be Christian to be moral, but when crossed personally, they behave in such a vile manner as to show that under their veneer of civilization lies a completely untamed barbarian, and that they are in fact far worse than what the Christians predicted them to be.

May 7, 2010 @ 10:54 am #

Jackson wrote:

I’d love to know what the social factors were that kept the rev. Rekers clinging to his gayness despite his outspoken revulsion for such aberrant behavior.

If you were familiar with the psychology of addiction, you would recognize the dissociation between the belief system of the addict and his or her behavior as one of the classic symptoms of addiction.

And if you were familiar with my position regarding what is erroneously called “homosexuality,” you would know that I regard most (but not necessarily all) of what falls under that rubric as a compulsive, self-destructive sexual pathology, a form of addiction. So without knowing anything about Rekers, I would simply say that his behavior is completely congruent with my theory about homosexuality generally.

Oh, crud, I said don’t take “Phil” as “Phil” until I announce that I’ve dealt with the problem. Crud. Well, ok, then, regard this comment as coming from somebody random who has accurately reproduced the author’s position, using the author’s name.

Heh. Interesting conundrum. What to do, what to do…

May 7, 2010 @ 11:52 am #

Hey Non-pseudo-Phil,

You’d have to admit, Reker’s behavior would also be perfectly consistent with a Christian man who grew up in a fairly strict Christian home, yet found himself feeling only gay feelings his whole life.

The temptation to hide, and find approval among your Christian peers by constructing the perfect heterosexual married Christian life must be enormous in that situation.

And since homosexuality is the only “sin”, if sin it is, that people are not allowed to struggle through while in the confines of the Church (because Christians have taken upon themselves to rank it at or near the top of the “sin list”), his behavior seems even MORE consistent with this explanation.

I won’t say I know this answer is THE right one, but it sure makes sense.

May 7, 2010 @ 12:24 pm #

And since homosexuality is the only “sin”, if sin it is, that people are not allowed to struggle through while in the confines of the Church (because Christians have taken upon themselves to rank it at or near the top of the “sin list”), his behavior seems even MORE consistent with this explanation.

Um… I’m not sure where you got your Christian experience, but I’m beginning to think that mine is very abnormal. I’ve seen people struggling with homosexuality accepted in virtually all the Christian settings where I’ve attended over the years, starting with the church in Mobile, AL that I attended in the 1980s. No, make that starting with the college fellowship where I first participated in Christian fellowship in the 1970s… we had guys struggling with homosexuality there, too.

But yeah, I’m sure there are places where people who have that particular “besetting sin” are a lot less acceptable than others.

I also can’t see that your explanation and mine are mutually exclusive. In what way does “they tried to hide their homosexuality because it was unacceptable in their milieu” suggest that what they were hiding was not an addiction of some sort? How does the one suggest that the other is false?

The facts simply don’t bear out the claim that gays are gays from birth. And no, Jackson’s mean-spirited fallacies don’t wash as rebuttals to the facts I’ve posted. Just consider his argument boiled down: “One of the founders of a scientific organization turns out to have been a closet gay, therefore no study produced by that organization at any time or on any topic can be considered on its merits, but should simply be discarded out of hand.” How deeply should we respect the intellect of someone who argues something so rancid as that?

May 7, 2010 @ 12:27 pm #

Nathan said: “I thought you might try to argue that same sex relationships were different in terms of the love felt between the couple, or the devotion, or the longings to dedicate their lives to one another, or perhaps the need to support each other through illness (a need currently often frustrated by their not being able to marry) – all good reasons to allow them to marry in my book.”

DH:
Nathan, you are being myopic. With your approach I could take it from your chastisement of me that you would fully support adultery since one’s feelings seem to trump all other considerations . . . in your book.

May 7, 2010 @ 12:45 pm #

Phil,

No, we can definitely leave Jackson’s argument aside, though I don’t see any reason to question his intellect. Debate is a carefully honed skill, and everyone here shows glaring weaknesses in its practice at times.

You said: “I also can’t see that your explanation and mine are mutually exclusive.”

True, but we’re discussing the basis on which we are trying to create law, in this case the laws governing “marriage”.

You said: “The facts simply don’t bear out the claim that gays are gays from birth.”

If gay friends have said they have always felt gay ever since they can remember…on what basis am I going to simply call them a liar and say, “No, you’re wrong.”? Because I’m nauseated by homosexuality – or more specifically, by the thoughts of me participating in it? With apologies to Mark, this doesn’t seem a strong enough reason by which to make law by.

As to the blog entry under which this is posted, I still can’t see how Gallagher and Kingsley move from “Normal” (i.e. the usual, historical) societal treatment of marriage to “Normative” – the absolute way we must treat it. It seems to me that strong encouragement of heterosexual marriage, for the purpose of child-rearing (among the many others) can go side-by-side with strong encouragement of stable relationships among others, including homosexuals.

May 7, 2010 @ 12:47 pm #

BTW Dullhammer:

“With your approach I could take it from your chastisement of me that you would fully support adultery since one’s feelings seem to trump all other considerations . . . in your book.”

It’s hard to think of a worse way to treat what Nathan said than this. I certainly hope feelings like the ones he described are a motivating factor at the center of your marriage…or things will be pretty robot-like.

May 7, 2010 @ 12:51 pm #

Joe H. wrote:

Opposite sex pairing is not essential to the concept of marriage, because removing the “opposite sex pairing” element of the traditional definition does not destroy the concept of marriage. This is demonstrated every time someone uses the term “gay marriage.”

Joe goes to great lengths to explain that he really has differentiated between the “imagined” scissors with two left blades, on the one hand, and the “imagined” marriage with two male participants (or two female participants), on the other. And yet, every time he tries to explain it again, out comes this very same evidence:

“This is demonstrated every time someone uses the term “gay marriage.”

And I’ll say it again, because so far as I can tell this has never been rebutted. No attempt has even been made:

Your “evidence” illustrates only that one can hear something absurd enough times that it no longer sounds absurd. That is insufficient as a basis for determining the essence of a thing, making it subject to every passing wind of public relations.

At its core, Joe, you’ve simply failed to discover any meaningful difference between your same-sex marriage instance and dullhammer’s two-left-bladed-scissors instance. The scissors will be called a scissors, every time, for exactly the same reason that the two-males-marriage will be called a marriage: it’s clear what’s being mimicked. Everybody involved is going out of their way to make the finished product look just like the real thing. But, in both instances the finished product cannot possibly produce what the real thing is designed to produce, despite all the efforts to make them look the same.

This has been a very helpful discussion for me, because it’s helped me understand what’s going wrong with Western civilization, and clarified my position on more than just “gay marriage.”

What I realize is that the real damage was not done by the introduction of same-sex marriage, but by the shift in thinking about marriage from “protected reproductive center” to “search for love and companionship.” It is this Western and modern innovation, and not the other, that has led to the depopulation of Europe, and now threatens to depopulate the US. “Gay marriage” is just a logical extension of the same reasoning. If marriage is really not about the human and cultural imperative of passing along species, status, and culture, if it is really about the narcissistic imperative of finding love and acceptance for oneself, then why shouldn’t one marry who- or what-ever provides the needed acceptance? And whether you like it or not, the marriage to the birch or the dog also follows if the basis of the act is personal need.

Meanwhile, in all those places where religious fidelity has maintained the high view of human and cultural imperatives, birth rates remain high, and the species continues to replenish itself. Death only follows where the human imperative gets replaced by the personal one. Cultural narcissism equals death. It’s a worthwhile lesson to learn.

May 7, 2010 @ 1:03 pm #

Phil,

Good point about the dissociation, I agree. I was more curious about Reker’s “social milieu”

Ok, I’m not discrediting the organization just because of the behavior of it’s founder. I read, very carefully now, the NARTH study you cited called the “trojan couch”, which you use as an authoritative reference for statistics on the matter. It reads like a texbook parody of conservative paranoia, unmasking the roots of the liberal/gay plot to fool the entire medical establishment for decades. Please.

It also egregiously misleading. Your claim of a 50% gay reversion rate comes from claims like “50% of persons experiencing at least SOME homosexual behavior” tended to revert to heterosexuality.” Hell, you could throw me in that group- due to an unfortunate childhood experience- and I’ve never, ever been attracted to a man.

Quoting from the conclusion of the study: “…the most common natural course for a young person who develops a “homosexual identity” is for it to spontaneously disappear unless that process is discouraged or interfered with by extraneous factors. We may now say with increasing confidence that those “extraneous” factors are primarily the “social milieu” in which the person finds himself.”

As for debate skill, I bow deeply to Phil, who betters me by a long shot. I’m just goin by the facts….

May 7, 2010 @ 1:06 pm #

Phil,

Sorry to be posting so much, thoughts are rolling. You said: “What I realize is that the real damage was not done by the introduction of same-sex marriage, but by the shift in thinking about marriage from “protected reproductive center” to “search for love and companionship.” ”

Here is the question: Are these mutually exclusive? Personally, I find the thought of treating marriage as “protected reproductive center” about as repulsive as any thoughts on homosexuality could be.

Especially in light of the beautiful companionship that my marriage is.

But the dry, sterile (hah) “protected reproductive center” is the only place you can end up if you are going to pre-define marriage in a way that you are able to exclude anyone who cannot participate (including gays). It is the natural consequence of that goal.

But when I look at the biblical relationship that marriage is supposed to reflect (God and people) I see a WHOLE lot of “search for love and companionship” in that relationship – including God bending over backwards to pursue his people.

I think it is unwise to try and make your two thoughts mutually exclusive. One without the other is sterile either way.

May 7, 2010 @ 1:16 pm #

If gay friends have said they have always felt gay ever since they can remember…on what basis am I going to simply call them a liar and say, “No, you’re wrong.”?

Well, if the conversation is personal, you probably shouldn’t argue with them, as that seldom helps anybody.

However, the basis for disagreeing with their assessment is the observation that denial is a signature component in any addiction.

Every alcoholic on the planet has said at one time or another that they could quit anytime they like, and believed it. Virtually every one also says “I don’t drink that much, in reality.” Alcoholics recover when they’re finally faced with the reality that they have no control over their behavior, and that their behavior is killing them. The practice we call “intervention” is designed to drive that reality home before the alcoholic has actually ruined himself physically and financially, and ruined all the people around him as well.

Every alcoholic also believes that he or she is perfectly normal, except that they like alcohol. That’s another delusion; they’re not normal at all, their behavior follows certain predictable abnormal patterns of which they are not even remotely aware. You can always tell a “dry drunk,” an alcoholic who has muscled him- or herself into staying away from alcohol: they’re afraid of conflict, they’re never wrong, their way of doing things is always the best, and they’re completely unaware of their own feelings (and therefore never honest about them).

If you’re thinking that that last paragraph sounds a little like the author of this blog, you get the gold horseshoe. Maybe you forgot the beginning of this discussion, where I acknowledged that I’m a recovering sex addict myself (the hetero kind). Yes, I still exhibit some of the characteristics of an addict. Recovery is a life-long exercise.

How does this apply to homosexuality? Because I can hear you thinking “What every homosexual says is the opposite of what the alcoholic says — they’re saying they cannot change.”

The point is that if they’re addicts, their feelings about themselves are not reliable data.

The simple fact that every homosexual that everybody knows claims they’ve always been that way and can never change — this is what everybody says, and I’ve heard the same — whereas in practice 3 out of 4 of them will self-identify as heterosexual after they’ve aged a bit, should tell you everything you need to know: they’re not speaking accurately about themselves. It’s not that they’re lying; I have no reason to believe that they are. It’s that they’re captive to their feelings.

Let me tell you, Gordon, when I was struggling with my particular pattern, I would have sworn to you, and passed a lie detector, that I was behaving as I was born to behave… that I had no control over my desires, and that I had always felt compelled to do what I was doing. I tried very, very hard to stop, for the same reason guys like Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart tried hard to stop: we believed something different, and knew what we were compelled to do was very wrong. Compulsion feels like destiny.

And please trust me when I tell you that what sex addicts are compelled to do is not just like what normal heterosexuals are compelled to do. It’s not just who you’re attracted to — it’s how strong, and how urgently you just have to satisfy what’s eating at you. The behavior pattern of gays is not just the gender attraction switch turned the other way: it’s the urge to go find one every Friday night or you just don’t feel normal. It’s extremes of promiscuity and other compulsive behaviors, high correlation with drug and alcohol abuse, high correlation with depression, suicide, and other mental health disorders, high correlation with inability to attach normally, high correlation with narcissistic behavior, and so forth.

Are your friends lying? I don’t think so. I think they’re telling you the truth about how they feel. I just don’t think they understand what they’re feeling. The difference between what they say and what the statistics show is part of the evidence supporting the claim that what they’re experiencing is a socially damaging abnormality.

May 7, 2010 @ 1:27 pm #

You wrote: “Meanwhile, in all those places where religious fidelity has maintained the high view of human and cultural imperatives, birth rates remain high, and the species continues to replenish itself.”

Can you name any of those places? If you look at the list of countries grouped by birth rate- It’s not a list of places you would want to visit.

The highest birth rates are in cultures that are the most repressive to their women. Where women are treated as equals, and have the freedom to make their own choices, the birth rate goes way down.

May 7, 2010 @ 1:40 pm #

Here is the question: Are these mutually exclusive? Personally, I find the thought of treating marriage as “protected reproductive center” about as repulsive as any thoughts on homosexuality could be.

Especially in light of the beautiful companionship that my marriage is.

But the dry, sterile (hah) “protected reproductive center” is the only place you can end up if you are going to pre-define marriage in a way that you are able to exclude anyone who cannot participate (including gays). It is the natural consequence of that goal.

Very good, Gordon, and yes, I absolutely agree with your invoking the biblical notion at this point. The love of a good marriage is, in my thinking, an essential part of the essence of marriage.

But here’s the thing: is the deep love of a good marriage the basis of the marriage, or is it the result of it?

While I believe profoundly that that love is very much part of the essence of true marriage — it is part and parcel of the purpose for which God designed marriage, along with and coincident to the perpetuation of species and culture — I think it is a mistake to think of such love as the basis of marriage.

What our ancestors understood from their experience is that such love is the result of practicing marriage properly, even if the marriage was arranged while they were children. Think of the image I posted along with the blog post we’re discussing, showing Tevye and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof singing “Do You Love Me?” Are you familiar with the song? This couple has been married 25 years and produced 7 children, and they nag at each other incessantly. Yet, when confronted with the question, “Do you love me,” after getting past the unfamiliarity of the sentiment, they realize that yes, they do love each other, profoundly. “It doesn’t change a thing; but even so, after 25 years, it’s nice to know.”

Is their experience different from yours? I’d say it’s only different regarding how the marriage got started. What makes a good marriage work after 25 years is not present when the marriage starts, it’s learned over time, lots of times by doing it wrong at first and seeing the (genuinely awful) results.

Modern, Western culture has gone wrong by mistaking the result of good marriage for the basis of marriage. We think the romantic feelings we feel when we’re young are the basis of marriage. They’re not; those are actually the anaesthetic supplied by a kindly God to enable us to make a commitment we’d never make in our right minds. The basis of marriage is an agreement to make it work, and the maturity to change sufficiently to make it work over time, and the maturity to let your partner be who they are even if they don’t change sufficiently, and so forth. If you do all those things well, you end up feeling what you feel now.

And the result of practicing marriage that way is not just the perpetuation of the species, but the training of the children in an environment that accurately mirrors of the character of the God who created it all: the God who is, Himself, a community within a unity, who is at the same time plural and singular, who is love itself, and also fruitful — because genuine love always bears fruit somehow.

So, yes, love is at the heart of the essence of what we call marriage. But it’s not there alone; it’s part and parcel of both the reproduction and the passing along of culture.

Did that makes sense to you?

May 7, 2010 @ 1:49 pm #

If you look at the list of countries grouped by birth rate- It’s not a list of places you would want to visit.

Um… Iowa? Utah?

It’s a given that birth rate drops with affluence, but then, so does infant mortality, with the result that in affluent nations women do not need to reproduce quite so prolifically in order to perpetuate the species.

But what I’m talking about, Jackson, is the places where modernism has become the dominant philosophy — and in all those places, the birth rate has not just dropped by affluence, but also by choice, and has gone far below replacement. Spain, birth rate 1.1 children per couple. Italy, birth rate 1.4 children per couple. Those numbers are not just below replacement, they’re below the level that any civilization has reached and survived. White Europe is literally going to die out in 50 years, and it’s practically irreversible at this point.

Here in the US, the birth rates are just as low as they are in Europe — in Blue State America. In the major cities. The birth rate has remained above replacement level among Red Staters, in the areas dominated by Christianity. It’s the one satisfaction of watching progressivism rise here in the US — one can predict that the beliefs held by progressives will cause them to die out in short order. We just have to keep them from polluting our children before they go, which they’re trying very, very hard to do. And it would be nice if we could keep them from completely destroying the economy, too, although it may be too late to prevent that.

May 7, 2010 @ 2:27 pm #

Pseudo Phil, was that you?

That’s funny Phil, you have the same plan to take over America that radical Muslim’s have to take over Europe: by prolific breeding. I guess that’s the only way it can happen. But fortunately, time favors progressives, and todays progressives will be tomorrow’s conservatives. If anyone’s dying out, it’s the old notions of the past. So it’s a nice dream, but nowhere near reality.

All economic factors favor blue states by a wide margin, so there’s no reason to look to policies held by Red states as an example for the future.

May 7, 2010 @ 4:28 pm #

Phil,

Surely you don’t consider a celibate gay person an addict, do you? I mean a life long celibate gay virgin? How could such a person plausibly be considered an addict?

We know that there are people who, once they take their first drink, are destined for alcoholism. But they are not alcoholics if they have never had a drink.

If this is right, then “being gay” cannot be an addiction. A life long celibate gay person is just as gay as a gay person who actively participates in gay love – and yet he is not an addict.

The state of being gay – having same sex attraction – is not an addiction. It is more like being left-handed.

BTW: I do not believe that an active gay person is an addict in the way an active alcoholic or smoker is. I accepted Phil premise to illustrate its error.

Joe H.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:16 pm #

Good point, Joe. I’ve met many gay men at AA meetings over the past 25 years, some of them celibate at the time, some in monogamous relationships, all of them very familiar with addiction and practicing the 12 steps. None of them ever questioned their sexual identity. To most of them the idea of sex with a woman was out of the question. Now if Phil’s statistic was true, that 3 out of 4 gays over time revert to heterosexuality, I should know at LEAST one. But I don’t, and I know a lot of them, because I went to an excellent art and design school. In fact, other that the rare bisexual or conservative christian claim, I’ve never even heard of a case of successful reversion after a full blown (sorry) gay lifestyle. Your statistics are bunk, Phil. Debunked, actually.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:18 pm #

“A Tale of Two Timmas”

In the interim, TimD wrote me two impassioned and somewhat unhinged emails (in response to my emails to him explaining why I was removing him), one of which frankly threatened to do dirt to my name using my email address. I then started receiving confirmation notices from gay and porn sites, about 20 of them, thanking me for subscribing.

I must admit that my experiences have been the same as Phils’ when it comes to unmasking liberals as they really are. Also, this serves as a metaphor for the argument at hand and where it (and all other forms of insanity) invariably lead: a spitting mad liberal flinging his filth up at you from his pen.

Bear w/ me, if you will. This blog offers visitors the opportunity to participate in good-natured discussion and debate with the presumed intent of furthering knowledge and understanding. As such, it requires healthy and well intentioned participants in order to function at top level – just like in a marriage. Now, enter someone w/ nefarious or even unintentionally erroneous “traits” and things start to crumble. I read what Phil wrote about his problems w/ Tim and I thought, “Man, I might go off the rails if that happened to me!” Hopefully not, but there is one thing for sure – the stable one is still here. Given that, it is easy to see how unstable things might be if dear Timma was in charge here, and given the ample evidence provided here that homosexuality is the product of a disturbed mind it is clear that handing over the keys of the great institution of marriage to them will result in utter disaster. We’re already seeing it, it’s just that in “increments” even the sane folk know not what to do about it. The extravagantly festive genie is out of the closet and, short something revolutionary, he is not going to put pants on and act normal ever again – other than to get his foot in the door, just as Timma did to gain entrance into this, otherwise, functioning locale for the intellectually curious.

Humans are built in a very specific way and can only function -not merely “best” but, at all- when acting according to the rules of their Builder. America is the greatest realization of Gods’ plan for man on Earth since the Garden. Unfortunately, we bit of the fruit a long time ago and are spiraling towards our inevitable doom. Flawed from our beginnings? Yes, but still -at our pinnacle- the best man has had to offer yet. (You can thank the American Fighting Man for any blessings He bestows on us still.) Just like Adam and the fetching Mrs. Adam didn’t die immediately, so too are we in the process of dying.

That’s just the way things are, folks. It was great while it lasted but we’re coming to an end. That’s not to say don’t “fight the good fight” or anything for, it is incumbent upon us to do what is right. Just as He loves everyone – even them that tortured and killed Him. A successful civil society requires that (at least most of) the people all be moving the flag farther down the field of goodness and decency but, the opposition has already succeeded in muddying the waters to the extent that millions don’t even know what decency is and/or mock and ridicule anyone who dares suggest that such a thing can exist in any objective form. Even the BEST plan can NOT overcome those willing to intentionally destroy it.

bottom line: it would be easy for me to say, “Hey, who am I to judge others’ happiness? Let others do what they will.” but I know -just as our Founders did- that I will stand before my Creator someday and He will want me to answer for my actions and, scary as it is, I’d rather be something Caesar feeds to his ravenous lions than Caesar – when we all stand before God.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:20 pm #

“I must admit that my experiences have been the same as Phils’ when it comes to unmasking liberals as they really are.”

I’ll say again, Mark, you do whatever it takes to hold your world together. If the glue you need is to refuse to actually know someone who disagrees with you, to pretend they are not people, have at it!

Only, your feet do not touch the ground.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:25 pm #

And Mark:

I recommend you gear as much effort toward fighting homosexuality as Jesus did. Reading the past posts on homosexuality here, that was stated once but ignored.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:34 pm #

When will the government finally cut to the chase and just rip these guys out of their homes, drag ‘em out in the open and hang ‘em like we did in the old days? Liberals, I mean. Why do we even bother talking to them anymore?

Or maybe we should be generous instead and let them choose between being executed by firing squad, or drawn & quartered.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:41 pm #

That’s funny, pseudo-Mark 13:31, I love it when true liberals illustrate my points for me. Thank you, “Mysterious-Mysterioso-Man” – OOOOOOO! Hey, look everyone, I’m a cwazy liberal, “MONSTER, MONSTER, MONSTER! Conservatives are monsters!…with -not just a little- hate on the side!”

Seriously, Mysterioso-boy, you made my day, thank you! :)

May 7, 2010 @ 5:46 pm #

That’s funny, pseudo-Mark 13:31, I love it when true liberals illustrate my points for me. Thank you, “Mysterious-Mysterioso-Man” – OOOOOOO! Hey, look everyone, I’m a cwazy liberal, “MONSTER, MONSTER, MONSTER! Conservatives are monsters!…with -not just a little- hate on the side!”

Seriously, Mysterioso-boy, you made my day, thank you! :)

What’s funny is I bet if I made a bunch of posts around the same time as you, nobody would be able to tell which ones were you and which ones were me. You’re just that crazy!

May 7, 2010 @ 5:50 pm #

My, my. Threatening little booger, isn’t he?
…oops, almost forgot, that is the First, Last, and Only arrow in any faithful liberals quiver: thuggery

Thanks again for the help.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:54 pm #

Mark 13:31,

Accusing is not unmasking.

As for your predictions on what gay marriage will wreak on us, “we’ll see.”

Joe H.

May 7, 2010 @ 5:57 pm #

Hm, that’s odd, Mysterioso-boy, Joe H. seems to know which “me” I am. Ya got my curiosity up, go ahead and “be me”. Would like to see who you fool. You know, just for giggles.

shoot:

May 7, 2010 @ 5:59 pm #

Hm, that’s odd, Mysterioso-boy, Joe H. seems to know which “me” I am. Ya got my curiosity up, go ahead and “be me”. Would like to see who you fool. You know, just for giggles.

shoot:

That one don’t count cause you directly quoted it. Besides, that wasn’t me. My last post was at 5:34.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:01 pm #

And Joe, Mysterioso-boy is the embodiment of what a true liberal is and he is unmasking you all. Given the proper circumstances any and all of you would be reduced to the same spitting, quivering mass of hate-filled jelly….accept for you, of course. You’re insane, but you’re a “nice guy”….just don’t get any ideas – Marky don’t play like dat! :)

May 7, 2010 @ 6:07 pm #

And Joe, Mysterioso-boy is the embodiment of what a true liberal is and he is unmasking you all. Given the proper circumstances any and all of you would be reduced to the same spitting, quivering mass of hate-filled jelly….accept for you, of course. You’re insane, but you’re a “nice guy”….just don’t get any ideas – Marky don’t play like dat! :)

Hey hey hey, I don’t hate anyone! I think you’re a bit off yer rocker but I don’t hate ya, Mark. In fact I suspect you’re here under the same principle as I am. I also think Phil’s a prick. But that’s just because he stalks people on the internet.

And I’m not a liberal, I’m a conservative.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:14 pm #

And I’m not a liberal, I’m a conservative.

Too late, bro, you’re already in the database. You’re right up there with michael dead-cred and that Johnson cat who runs LGF on our secret, Haliburton list of phony-cons being targeted for elimination….through laughter. Don’t stop though -Please!- you’re a riot. Although, that last post was a wee tad boring, can ya loony it up for us a bit? Was getting used to that grade-A stuff you were dishin’ a few posts ago.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:17 pm #

Liberals are EVIL. They cannot stand being seen for who they are. They cannot tolerate having opposing viewpoints and they are terrified of truth when it doesn’t line up with their worldview. Trust me, truth has no place in the liberal worldview. If you don’t believe me then just watch the liberal of your choice over time. Match up what they say with what they do. You’ll be convinced sooner rather than later.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:19 pm #

Nice try, Mysterioso-boy! You’ll have to do better than that to convince anyone you’re me :)

May 7, 2010 @ 6:20 pm #

More of the same old liberal habits. When you get caught you lie and pretend to be someone else. How LIBERAL of you.

But how can I be surprised? Liberals dominate the media. They rule the schools. Liberals stack the leadership of the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association. They control most of the major foundations and they manage some of the most influential companies in America. Liberals line the ranks of the environmental groups, animal rights groups, and anti-war organizations. And don’t forget Hollywood which cannot turn out a movie, it seems, without an anti-war message, a gratuitous homosexual theme, or an end-of –the world scenario caused by global warming.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:21 pm #

Very, very disturbing. While I don’t think Phil is as an objective thinker as he claims, he does offer the forum here in good faith.

I can find no excuse for trespassing on someone else’s forum, using others’ names and generally making a mess of things, except for the excuse of wanting to destroy.

Whoever the hell you are, get a life.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:22 pm #

Nice try, Mysterioso-boy! You’ll have to do better than that to convince anyone you’re me :)

Ha! You’re funny, keep it up Mysterioso-boy! More liberal laughs from the loony left, coming right after these messages!

May 7, 2010 @ 6:24 pm #

Oh, BTW Mark 13:31, what you claim about liberals is a lot of the same of what was claimed about Jewish people 80 years ago.

How do you think this conspiracy group got a hold of all this stuff?

If the conservative ideas are as strong as you claim them to be (and some of them are), they would win out in the open forum of society. No need to hint that there’s a group of people that need to be killed.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:25 pm #

Very, very disturbing. While I don’t think Phil is as an objective thinker as he claims, he does offer the forum here in good faith.

I can find no excuse for trespassing on someone else’s forum, using others’ names and generally making a mess of things, except for the excuse of wanting to destroy.

Whoever the hell you are, get a life.

I guess you’re partly right. Destroying Mark’s credibility is both redundant and unnecessary. I got distracted. Sorry :(

May 7, 2010 @ 6:27 pm #

Gee, Gordon, how sweet of you. Was I even CLOSE to this unhinged when you called me a “terrorist” exploding “car bombs” around here? Uh, no. Just admit it: He’s embarrassing you. Well, actually, so was I but, my comments made you face reality and THAT is something NO liberal will forgive.

the REAL Mark 13:31
(Oh for hate-filled libs! Oh the tragedy of it all!)

May 7, 2010 @ 6:41 pm #

Also, Gordon, way to throw the nazi-card – AND IN RESPONSE TO THE PHONY, TO BOOT! Wow, I tell ya, liberals have absolutely NO scruples. I’d say, “Have you no shame?!” but it goes w/o saying that you don’t. And THAT is why I steer from engaging you guys – you make the rules as you go and no one can “beat” a person playing a rigged game.

How lame. :(

May 7, 2010 @ 6:46 pm #

Mark – you don’t always act as a verbal terrorist. At times you are quite lucid.

However, when you have jumped into the middle of a discussion and spouted out with the sole intent to keep people from going on, there you have earned the mantel.

I’ll repeat again: assume you know what I believe if you need to for your comfort, but let me assure you, it’s a much better strategy to treat people like people. Your own ethics demands it.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:48 pm #

Don’t bash Gordon for not knowing it wasn’t you. That just means I did a good impression!

Sorry about that Gordon.

May 7, 2010 @ 6:52 pm #

p.s. simply HAD to point this out for those who didn’t notice in the maelstrom of liberal hate by Mysterioso-boy, Gordon and co. – Virtually ALL of my points about liberals’ modus-operandi have been illustrated in their comments: misrepresentation through straw-men, fraud, out and out lies, accusations of nazism, etc., etc., etc.

Thanks again, boys, your, er, MY mission has been accomplished.

May 7, 2010 @ 7:00 pm #

…when you have jumped into the middle of a discussion and spouted out with the sole intent

is somehow followed by -

assume you know what I believe if you need to for your comfort, but let me assure you, it’s a much better strategy to treat people like people.

??? Huh? Exqueese me? So, YOU “knowing” MY intent is but an observation but, ME observing your very liberal statements and responding in kind is treating you like a “non-person”? (sorry, can’t resist pointing up liberal hypocrisy -even when they ARE on a roll.)

May 7, 2010 @ 7:07 pm #

Don’t bash Gordon for not knowing it wasn’t you. That just means I did a good impression!

Sorry about that Gordon.

Man, you are the gift that just won’t stop giving – God bless you! Really, bro, you are like THE stereotypical poster-boy OF ALL stereotypical poster-boys – EVER.
Please, don’t ever stop “being you”. You very special you that you are, you. (no words or symbols for how funny this stuff is – my gut is thoroughly busted – these guys are just TOO great!)

May 7, 2010 @ 7:10 pm #

Man, you are the gift that just won’t stop giving – God bless you! Really, bro, you are like THE stereotypical poster-boy OF ALL stereotypical poster-boys – EVER.
Please, don’t ever stop “being you”. You very special you that you are, you. (no words or symbols for how funny this stuff is – my gut is thoroughly busted – these guys are just TOO great!)

Just doing my job!

I don’t see why Phil doesn’t respond with the same degree of enthusiasm :( He just gets his man-panties in a bunch and threatens people.

May 7, 2010 @ 7:16 pm #

Just doing my job!

No, you are doing everyone’s job. You are THE mondo-heavy-lifter of mondo-heavy-lifters. You are Atlas, my friend! Seriously, I have not met someone so dedicated to the cause of unwrapping the liberal psyche. Well, not since the last time I engaged one that is. Other than all of those other times, you’re aces – really!

May 7, 2010 @ 7:20 pm #

No, you are doing everyone’s job. You are THE mondo-heavy-lifter of mondo-heavy-lifters. You are Atlas, my friend! Seriously, I have not met someone so dedicated to the cause of unwrapping the liberal psyche. Well, not since the last time I engaged one that is. Other than all of those other times, you’re aces – really!

The best part is from here on out, even if I quit posting, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to tell if anything you say is actually what you say. Poe’s Law strikes again! And with that I’m out.

May 7, 2010 @ 7:21 pm #

Hey, Mark, quit pretending to be me! Only I can do that!

May 7, 2010 @ 7:28 pm #

Assuming this was you, Mark:

“??? Huh? Exqueese me? So, YOU “knowing” MY intent is but an observation but, ME observing your very liberal statements and responding in kind is treating you like a “non-person”? ”

I don’t need to read your intent. I only know the words you have said. In my calling for an understanding of homosexuality beyond, “Oooh, Cooties”, you have assumed you thus knew, since I care about people (you included), that I am a liberal threat.

You are wrong. You have ignored several rebukes from me as a fellow Christian here, and you continue to use verbal tools that are unbecoming of both you and I.

THIS is the reason “Pseudo-Mark” is able to confuse things so easily – because you are very nearly a cartoon caricature of yourself. Stop it!

May 7, 2010 @ 7:33 pm #

Sorry, Mysterioso-boy old boy, but anyone w/ a functioning intellect can tell which one is actually me. Liberals read your silly stereotyping of me and believe it because THEY believe that ANYONE disagreeing w/ them is a knuckle-dragging troglodyte. I know the truth, and that’s enough for me. Don’t need an anonymous person on the internets to validate me.

Wanna know a secret? I just love the contrast being drawn between those who think rationally and those who think like you. We’re ALL capable of being drawn into “the darkness” and your darkness actually provides light to those who would avoid such folly. I realize that men who “love darkness rather than light” hate the light of truth, it’s just that I love truth, so it is wonderful to watch as this reality is played out. Thank you again. :)

May 7, 2010 @ 7:36 pm #

Wanna see something interesting? Google some of the individual sentences from the quotes of “Pseudo-Mark” and see where I got them from.

May 7, 2010 @ 7:48 pm #

Jeez, Gordon, I’m gonna have to assign YOU a new name like – “Contradiction-boy” if you don’t develop some sense.

I don’t need to read your intent.

No, you simply MUST assign one to me.

…since I care about people (you included)..

Sorry, bro, but that is classic liberal-speak: You are better than me because you care. You even care about MOI! WOW, what a guy! Thank you so much for stooping down to meet me half-way!

…You have ignored several rebukes from me as a fellow Christian..

Gordon. Come on now, “Contradiction-boy, contradict much? “Mark, you are always going around acting like you know everything w/ all your judging and such – NOW LISTEN TO ME WHILE I TELL YOU HOW IT REALLY IS!!!” You are getting to be (almost) as funny as Mysterioso-boy. I mean it, bro, you are somethin’ special.

p.s. as a bonafide “Christian”, you might want to look in yer Bible about the notion of rebuking one another. Try e-sword.com, it’s an awesome place!

May 7, 2010 @ 7:56 pm #

Ha! You’re funny, keep it up Mysterioso-boy! More liberal laughs from the loony left, coming right after these messages!

Now THAT’S funny, as he (Mysterioso-boy, under his new nomenclature that I just gave him) actually DOES go on to display his propensity for “loony left(ism) right after (that) message”. Incredible.

Keystone cops much?

May 7, 2010 @ 8:05 pm #

I am better than nobody, Mark. As I am sure you would say about yourself, also.

The times you have ignored me most directly is when I have spoken directly from Scripture to you. About questioning peoples’ intelligence (though you usually slow down on the offensive practice, at least for a while).

But I’d be very cautious about referring me to a site which states, as its mission, “Jesus told us that since we’ve been blessed we should bless others”.

You said: “You are better than me because you care.”

Funny, but e-sword did not show me, when the woman wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears, him saying, “Get the hell away from me, you dirty prostitute.”

The chasm between your actions and his is appalling, brother.

May 7, 2010 @ 8:16 pm #

The chasm between your actions and his is appalling, brother.

And your hubris is astonishing. Implying that you are closer to Jesus -however true that it may very well be- is tantamount to the guy on the roof bragging about how much closer HE is to the moon than the guy on the ground – one story “below” him.

The chasm between ALL of us and Jesus is appalling and, within that truth exists the secret to Christian joy – which supersedes the shallow “happiness” of this world.

May 7, 2010 @ 8:57 pm #

Here’s that link, in case you were wondering:

http://www.worldviewweekend.com/worldview-times/article.php?articleid=795

I just grabbed some random quotations and, “voila!”

May 7, 2010 @ 9:22 pm #

I think it’s time for Mark 13:31 to take a time-out and not post for a day.

Mark? Please take a seat. I’m not kidding.

May 7, 2010 @ 9:28 pm #

In fact, now that I think about it, all of the personal exchanges need to stop. We’re discussing the essence of marriage, and concepts surrounding. If your comment is not on that topic, please take it somewhere else.

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