Sunday, June 25, 2006

The House of Yahweh

I got an interesting newsletter on my door today. It's from the House of Yahweh. The headline reads: "Nuclear War to Start September 12, 2006." They're serious, too. The first sentence reads, "My Dear friends, we must warn the world of nuclear wars that will start no later than September 12, 2006."

I always find these sorts of things interesting. When I lived in Austin and went to UT, I used to ride my bike to school and back, and I'd pass this Baptist church on the way. One day I was riding home from school, and there was a guy on the steps who hollered at me, "Jesus is coming soon!" which didn't seem too odd to me. People have been saying that for 2000 years, and it's quite normal in Austin to see street preachers. What really got my attention, though, was what he said next. Without pausing, he followed it with, "He'll be here in about seven days!" Woah!

I rode the rest of the way home having conversations with him in my mind. Finally, curiosity got the best of me, and I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to find out if he was crazy or why he thought Jesus would be here in seven days and what he'd do if it didn't happen. I got back on my bike and rode over there, but he was gone. After the seven days were over, I wondered about him. What was his reaction? I guess I'll never know.

People have been setting dates and making end-time predictions for a long time, so it's nothing new really. I never take any of these things seriously. But every time it happens, I always think, "But what if???" I mean it's possible, right?

I have the same attitude toward the lottery. I don't actually think I'm going to win, but whenever I buy a lottery ticket, I think, "What if??? After all, it's possible. That's part of the fun of buying a lottery ticket.

I've heard of the House of Yahweh before, but I really know nothing about them. I want to say something to anybody who is a member of this organization/church/whatever. This kind of stuff is bad PR. Take me for example. I know nothing about the House of Yahweh. My first impression of you is this newsletter in which nuclear war is predicted on September 12. You really shouldn't spread these newsletters around like this because people will think you're a kook. If it turns out that nuclear war starts by September 12, I'll be the first to say, "Wow!" But what do you think my impression ought to be if nuclear war does not start? Don't you think I'd be justified in lumping you right in with the rest of the kooks out there making predictions and setting dates? The truth is, I've already done so. Unless you want everybody in the world to think you're a bunch of kooks, you really shouldn't even take the gamble. If you think your message is important and that it will save lives as you claim in this newsletter, then you really ought to leave these wild speculations out of it. It will do nothing but cause you to lose credibility, and then nobody will listen to the rest of your message.

54 Comments:

At 6/27/2006 9:26 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

Save the flier and after the date, send it in with a letter asking them for comment.

 
At 6/30/2006 5:26 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I once worked out that if you buy one lottery ticket every week here in the UK (cost £1) that you are likely to win on average once every 300,000 years or so. I don't know what the odds are in the USA but probably not much different.

 
At 7/06/2006 3:01 PM , Blogger daleliop said...

Q1 If you cut one head off of a two-headed man, have you beheaded him?

Q2 A woman is deaf in one ear. Is she deaf?

 
At 7/06/2006 4:31 PM , Blogger daleliop said...

(just for fun)

 
At 7/06/2006 8:33 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

'This is a job for Literal Man' answers(wearing spandex):

A1 There is no such thing as a two headed man. There might be such a thing as a two headed entitity. That would be two men that share a body.

A2 No. She is only deaf in one ear. To be deaf you have to have two deaf ears.

Ouch this spandex chafes. I cannot stand the burden of being Literal Man any more. Back to the tenth allegorical level of Chaucer for me...

 
At 7/07/2006 11:22 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

psiomniac, I agree with your second answer, but I think your first answer was just evasive.

 
At 7/07/2006 9:17 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

ephphatha,
I don't think it was evasive. I am not just saying that there don't happen to be any two headed men around so I'm not going to answer. I am saying that (assuming both heads have functioning brains) a two headed man cannot exist logically, rather, you would have two persons. As with actual conjoined twins, they would likely have different names, perhaps Mark and James. So you could behead Mark or James or both.

 
At 7/08/2006 1:45 PM , Blogger daleliop said...

Thanks for your answers, literal man -err psiomaniac.

Even though this was all tongue-and-cheek, let me just make a quick comment.

I don't see what is logically impossible about a person with two brains. I think you can imagine a situation where such a person could exist. For example, there could be a world where everyone on their planet has two brains giving them twice the processing power because for them the physical brain is only an organ for making thoughts, yet each being's personhood is derived solely from possessing an immaterial soul. To them, having two brains is like having two kidneys. So I don't think there is a logical contradiction there. It's at least possible. So, I don't think the idea of a two-headed man is a contradiction in terms.

As for my answer, I think the term "behead" is inherently vague. To behead is to cut off the head. To redefine behead as cutting off one head or all heads or the most important head, etc. only avoids the question. I think the question is in the same category as asking what the difference is between being bald and not being bold, or being a puddle and being a pond.

 
At 7/08/2006 7:46 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

daleliop,
What is or what is not possible logically depends on the set of premises one holds to be true. If you hold that person-hood is derived from an immaterial soul and the brain is some kind of interface with physical reality then your kidney analogy works very well. If, like me, you find the concept of the soul unconvincing and think that person-hood is derived from individual brains then a two headed man is impossible.
I do not think the puddle/pond analogy works quite as well as there is a continuum involved there, whereas heads and beheading is more a discrete variable scenario.

 
At 7/09/2006 10:31 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

psiomniac, if there is no soul, and if personhood has to do with the brain, you may be right to say a two-headed man is impossible, but it's not logically impossible.

LOL Only a bunch of philosophers and apologists would ever have an argument like this!

 
At 7/09/2006 2:44 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

ephphatha,
When I said a two headed man could not exist logically I had already implied the premises from which that conclusion follows. It was daleliop who introduced the phrase 'logically impossible'. I did not mean to imply that a two headed man involves a logical contradiction in the sense that it would necessarily violate the laws of logic, so you are right to sharpen the distinction and I should have made the premises explicit and phrased the answer better.

 
At 7/10/2006 12:11 AM , Blogger daleliop said...

psiomniac,

Sorry if I misunderstood you. If you weren't attempting to point out a logical impossibility in the question, though, then your objection against a two-headed man wasn't a good enough reason to dismiss the question.

For example, I might believe that Quidditch is impossible but that won't prevent me from claiming Harry is the best seeker at Hogwarts.

 
At 7/10/2006 9:38 AM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

daleliop,
I take your point, although I would say that a single person with two brains seems about as likely as the existence of quidditch.
If we accept the possibility of your two headed person then the answer to your question is yes, you have beheaded him if you define 'behead' to mean cut somebody's head off. In the cases where number of heads > 1 this represents partial beheading. You could define 'behead' to mean removing all of somebody's heads. This has the advantage of precisely preserving the meaning of the term whilst extending it to multi-headed people. The answer in this case would be no.

 
At 7/11/2006 1:38 PM , Blogger Jeff said...

It seems as though you are all agreeing that a human with 2 heads is really 2 people with one body.
This is true whether you consider the brain to contain all sentient thought, or whether you consider it to be an interface between body and immaterial soul. Either way there is a one-to-one correspondence between person and brain.

Therefore removing one head is beheading one person.

ie. siamese twins.

 
At 7/11/2006 2:23 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Wow! I stopped in after a long absence to see what was going on in your blog. After reading this string of comments, I'm almost sorry I did ;)

I did see an interesting discussion on Psio's blog regaring ought = can. Looks like you concluded by admitting you hold to that view. Just wondered how that fit in with your Calvinism.

 
At 7/11/2006 3:17 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

Paul, I fully embrace "ought implies can." My dispute with psiomniac was (1) whether it was a moral principle and (2) whether it could be proved or demonstrated. The discussion between us started in the comment section of part 2 of "God's sovereignty and man's responsibility." I explain there (or somewhere in that series) that ought implies can in the natural sense, but not in the moral sense. That is, if I have an obligation, that implies I have a natural ability to obey, but it does not imply I have a moral ability to obey. Natural inability excuses us from moral responsibility, but moral inability does not excuse us. This was also Jonathan Edward's view.

Thanks for stopping by again, Paul!

 
At 7/11/2006 5:22 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I must admit that although I find the proof of OIC more convincing that you do ephphatha, I also have an intuitive sense that your position on natural ability, moral ability and responsibility has merit. I had a conversation about this with an endocrinologist who raised the possibility of somebody with a brain tumor an the area of the brain that would impact on his ability to exercise moral control. This blurs the distinction between moral and physical responsibility. Also I do see a distinction between deficits in moral ability that lead to amorality as opposed to immorality. This is complicated though.

 
At 7/11/2006 6:33 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

psiomniac, I'll admit there's some gray area (mental illness, for example), but I think the grayness is in our difficulty to make the distinction in those cases, and not in the cases themselves. That is, I think the distinction still holds; it's just sometimes hard to tell whether some particular thing is a natural or a moral ability.

It seems like I read an article recently where somebody was talking about the same thing except that instead of calling it a moral ability, he called it a psychological ability. I think "psychological ability" is probably way to put it since not all moral abilities are about moral choices.

 
At 7/11/2006 8:02 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I'm trying to think why the distinction makes sense to me. I wonder if culpability is the key in the sense that although it sounds tautologous, moral inability is a kind of moral deficit and that is what blame is for. In other words moral inability is a deficit measured along a dimension that inhabits the same domain that culpability does. Whereas trying to blame somebody for a failiure due to natural inability is trying to apply blame outside its domain, like trying to prove the world is round through the medium of music.

 
At 7/13/2006 1:33 PM , Blogger Paul said...

I see now. So, a married woman tied up and raped would not be guilty of infidelity in the sense that she would if she were seduced by George Clooney, even if she might defend herself in both cases by saying, "I just couldn't resist him."

I suppose that if God didn't give us a physical or natural ability, He would not fault us for failing to exercise it. Conversely, if He did give us a natural ability — one with a clear design and purpose — then we would be held morally accountable for not exercising it, e.g., refusing to use our vision, refusing to walk upright, etc. This might get complicated and nuanced, but it would seem to be one avenue toward arguing against homosexuality.

 
At 7/13/2006 1:54 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

Paul, that's a good illustration. It shows that the reason a person couldn't resist George Clooney is morally relevent.

I don't think natural ability necessarily equates to moral obligation, though. If I'm able to do something, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm obligated to do it. After all, we have a natural ability to do things we're forbidden to do. So I think it might be difficult to make an argument against homosexuality from the ability distinction. On the other hand, I think the distinction does allow you to refute some arguments for homosexuality.

 
At 7/13/2006 4:52 PM , Blogger Paul said...

You're right, and that's why I hedged. There do seem to be counter-examples, like I'm sure Jesus had all his male equipment, but we certainly can't count it a sin that He didn't marry and have children. I think the teleology of the "equipment" is important. Maybe we can't claim it wrong to not use something with a specific purpose (you can't use something all the time anyway), but it seems reasonable to say something against using it in a way it wasn't designed/intended to be used. An unused hammer lying on the workbench is nothing unusual, but when you start using it to open cans it should raise an eyebrow.

 
At 7/13/2006 5:29 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Paul,
A good attempt to argue for the objective immorality of homosexuality there. It doesn't quite work for me though. This is because things can be multifunctional and their primary function can change depending on the context. So, if we were needing to open cans and the only implement available was a hammer that would be fine. So a homosexual Christian could say that God designed the equipment to fulfil a variety of functions depending on the true nature of the individual.

 
At 7/14/2006 5:14 PM , Blogger Paul said...

If you've got a can opener, then use it. Otherwise, using a hammer is... ad hoc.

You seem to be suggesting that homosexuality is just making due in the absence of the ability for one to fulfill their gender/sexual purpose/design (like sex between prisoners or something). Not the "ideal" in any case.

 
At 7/14/2006 9:46 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Paul,
I think that is a fair criticism of what I have said. I wonder whether the problem is with the analogy. Suppose it is more like this. There is a society where everybody is issued with a deck of cards. Most people use them to play poker(pardon the pun). A minority however, do not 'get' poker. Although they could physically do it, it has no value for them. Instead they play bridge. Now, it could be objected that cards are by their nature 'multi functional' yet the teleology of 'equipment' is clear. So much for analogies. There is a problem with this though. Either said 'equipment' has been directly designed by God, in which case he could have designed it with both purposes (heterosexual sex plus reproduction or homosexual sex for those so inclined) or it is the result of evolution, in which case moral opprobrium would be inappropriate in any case.

 
At 7/16/2006 12:31 AM , Blogger Paul said...

Psio,

I don't think that analogy works either, since cards are specifically designed to be generic — to play "card games," not just bridge. Now, if one were to use a deck as a projectile weapon, or a card to cut cheese, then this might be a better analogy.

You seem to be suggesting that the genitalia are constructed in such a way that "any old orifice will do." I think that if you carefully note the characteristics of the plumbing you will soon learn that the penis and vagina are beautifully suited to one another (I could go into graphic detail, but I shall not unless pressed) — well suited even beyond the obvious reproductive considerations.

You might theoretically say that God "could have designed it with both purposes," but my observation tells me that He has not. Inserting the instrument of life's creation into the canal of waste disposal seems just about as ad hoc as I can imagine. I would argue that this is just as "natural" as having intercourse with a warm apple pie.

And thinking it was all "designed" by evolution gives me even less reason to imagine that the parts in question were "intended" to serve multiple purposes, since evolution is all about survival and reproduction.

But you have brought up a good point: even if we might think that homosexual sex is unnatural, abnormal, or ad hoc by naturalistic standards, understanding the effects and results of evolution does not make any moral demands upon us. Naturalism cannot tell us what we should or should not do. It seems to me to be possible to believe that homosexuality is a deviation from the design of the human body and its social programming, but then to say "so what" and pursue it anyway.

But for some reason, gay advocates seem very keen to argue for the normality of the condition (e.g., genetics, "animals are gay too," etc.). And those of a spiritual persuasion often insist that "God made me this way." The rationalizations all seem to be an effort to battle against certain moral intuitions in connection with teleology, rather than simply advocating for the freedom to do what they are determined to do no matter what.

 
At 7/16/2006 9:46 AM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Paul,
A few of quick points:
I did specifically concede that weakness of the card analogy in my last post but I would point out that maybe it isn't quite as cut and dried as that. This is because playing cards probably originated as a form of Chinese currency, only later did they get used for games. So in this sense the analogy fits better than I thought.
The other point is how exactly we get from teleology to morality as this is sailing dangerously close to deriving an 'ought' from an 'is'. I think we agree that the plumbing has a clear 'primary' function. We don't agree whether somebody should be in any sense blamed for ad hoc or unconventional usage, as this depends on the context. So we wouldn't blame people using currency to play games unless we thought there was something intrinsically bad about the game activity in the first place. If you believe that sex is a gift from god to be cherished only within marriage between a man and a woman then this is a given anyway.

 
At 7/18/2006 2:53 PM , Blogger Paul said...

I hate to flog the card analogy to death (I know you admitted its weakness), but perhaps both our analogies suffer from the shortcoming that they refer to human constructions. And human constructed things can define neither what is natural nor what is transcendent. Because a person makes a hammer for nails it does not impose any morality incumbency upon its user, i.e., it is not "evil" to smash cans with it. It may be odd, wasteful, dangerous, ad hoc, or inefficient to reject the design of a thing, but we will need to look to a higher-order principle in order to say that it is actually wrong to reject a man-made teleology.

As far as natural teleology, there would seem to be a more direct connection between the design and any possible moral incumbency. If something transcendent purposed it (e.g., the sexual teleology), then there would seem to be an objective reason for honoring that design. When bringing a "designer" into the equation, there is the possibility of connecting the "is" to the "ought."

For those who would appeal to nature to vindicate themselves there is an implied assent to this idea of a natural-moral connection. However, I tend to think it is ultimately a disingenuous attempt to salve their own, or their objector's, moral intuitions. In a world without anything transcendent, there is no "ought" to be considered; there is nothing to ground morality to but human will and that may change at a whim, like money to cards.

But even in a purely material world we may still look to natural teleology for cues on what is in our best interest. For instance, it is safest and most efficient to use your hands for cracking the nuts and your teeth for chewing them; you should use your legs for lifting and not your back; and you should fight with your fists, not your nose. By this measure, we might come to suspect that there could actually be something against our best interest in pursuing behaviors that are contrary to our "primary function." And according to my study (which I have commented on elsewhere), psychological and health issues are intrinsic to the homosexual lifestyle. If there is any moral imperative for the secularist, it is that you ought not hurt others or yourself.

But I do not expect to convince anyone by such arguments in a culture that is willing to risk death in the pursuit of entertainment and thrills in order to feel "alive." These abstract philosophical discussions mean nothing in the face of what someone unbounded by transcendent moral concerns merely feels the urge to do. And sexual urges are the most powerful of all motivators.

 
At 7/18/2006 9:31 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Paul,
As I said, if you take a particular prescriptive interpretation of the teleology then your conclusion is a given. If your view is secular however, it is still true that there are certain moral values that hold true as I have descibed here. From this perspective it is valid to observe that homosexuality is universal in human culture, widespread in the animal kingdom and therefore the primary purpose ragarding sex for a specific subset of individuals of a species may differ from the majority.

 
At 7/19/2006 3:06 AM , Blogger daleliop said...

Paul,

Maybe we can't claim it wrong to not use something with a specific purpose (you can't use something all the time anyway), but it seems reasonable to say something against using it in a way it wasn't designed/intended to be used.

If this is true, then I think this argument can be used against the use of condoms or birth control pills. After all, looking at the teleology of the equipment alone you would infer that it's only purpose is as a means for reproduction, nothing more. Having sex for any other reason would go against its teleology.

 
At 7/19/2006 3:06 AM , Blogger daleliop said...

Psiomniac,

From this perspective it is valid to observe that homosexuality is universal in human culture, widespread in the animal kingdom and therefore the primary purpose ragarding sex for a specific subset of individuals of a species may differ from the majority.

Rape is also universal in human culture and widespread in the animal kingdom. But I don't think that makes it okay to rape anyone we want. Simply because something is natural doesn't mean it isn't wrong.

 
At 7/19/2006 4:25 AM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Rape is also universal in human culture and widespread in the animal kingdom. But I don't think that makes it okay to rape anyone we want. Simply because something is natural doesn't mean it isn't wrong.

But what it does mean is that those who wish to say homosexuality is wrong will have to work a bit harder to find a coherent reason, since unlike rape, consenting adults who are not harming anyone engage in homosexual activity.

 
At 7/22/2006 5:45 PM , Blogger DYH said...

As a member of the House of Yahweh, I find it impossible not to respond to your post. I usually don't respond to comments I stumble across but this one is different. You weren 't attacking but inquisitive, and I appreciate that, and I would like to respond to your thoughts.
Do you not think that we are aware how this messsage will be recieved? Believe it or not, we in The House of Yahweh are educated, and most of us professional people. We know how this is perceived by many who hear it. But please understand, it is in love that the warning is spoken, and because of the love that we have, we do not care how it comes across. We only want to warn fellow human beings of the destruction that is soon to come and wholehearted believe it to be our duty. There are many now who hear this message and do believe, and will now protect themselves.
Look at what is currently occuring in the Middle East, and else where in the world. The nations are angry. It is only a matter of time before someone pushes the button. We are simply saying that it is shown in the scriptures to take place by September 12, 2006.
We believe it is our duty to share what we know. We aren't necessarily trying to crusade our beliefs. If we wait til after the 12th of September and say, "Hah! We knew it!", would you then believe? Of course not, you would say, Well why didn't you say something?
Weither you believe it or not is for you and you alone to decide, but hey, we at least we got your attention.(Should you like more information, there is downloadable audio & video files at www.yahweh.com or media.yahweh.com)

 
At 7/22/2006 7:41 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

DYH, I really appreciate you responding. I don't know any House of Yahweh people, so it's interesting to get some feedback. I admit that if nuclear war breaks out on September 6th, you'll have my attention. But what will your reaction be if nuclear war does not break on September 6th? How sure are you that it will happen?

 
At 7/22/2006 7:42 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

September 12, I mean.

 
At 7/24/2006 2:51 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Psiomniac said: From this perspective it is valid to observe that homosexuality is universal in human culture, widespread in the animal kingdom and therefore the primary purpose regarding sex for a specific subset of individuals of a species may differ from the majority.

I must agree with Dale's point that things like rape and murder are also common to most cultures, and further, that things like cannibalism and infanticide are normative to some animal species. I'm not sure what you hoped to demonstrate in this comment.

[T]hose who wish to say homosexuality is wrong will have to work a bit harder to find a coherent reason, since unlike rape, consenting adults who are not harming anyone engage in homosexual activity.

Now you seem to be retreating to the minimalist ethic: That harm and consent are the measure of morality.

First, I don't know why we should accept that as the golden mean of morality. If morality is ultimately subjective, then all bets are off other than what you can manage to get your social group to agree upon at any given moment.

Second, even the "consent" ethic can result in some pretty bizarre behaviors that I'm sure that you would be embarrassed to affirm. And does your "consent" ethic trump "harm?" I ask this because there are many persons who consent to do things to each other that are not only harmful, but lethal. Will you deny them their right of consent, and on what grounds?

Third, I think the many studies on the effects of the homosexual lifestyle would have something to say against the idea that "consenting adult" "homosexual activities" "are not harming anyone."

 
At 7/24/2006 2:55 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Daleliop said: I think this argument can be used against the use of condoms or birth control pills. After all, looking at the teleology of the equipment alone you would infer that it's only purpose is as a means for reproduction, nothing more. Having sex for any other reason would go against its teleology.

This is a very good challenge, and it is one that I think the Roman Catholic Church employs. I am even willing to entertain the argument that this is true, which would nullify your reductio ad absurdum argument here. However, I think that sex is more than for procreation, even while procreation is its ultimate end.

I would not go so far as to argue, as Psio does, that sex can simply have alternative uses that, in my view, would normalize any pairing of the genitals with any other object. I would begin by considering the broader context of sexuality, which would include families, mating, and procreation. It seems to me that in this context we can at least agree upon the dependence of the different genders in making families, and that sex may be as much about fostering that opposite-sex relationship as it is about directly making the family. The male-female genitalia are not only made for reproduction, but they are made for each other. I think the teleology stretches at least that far.

 
At 7/25/2006 8:58 AM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I must agree with Dale's point that things like rape and murder are also common to most cultures, and further, that things like cannibalism and infanticide are normative to some animal species. I'm not sure what you hoped to demonstrate in this comment.
This should have its own spot in ephphatha's 'when arguments go awry' post. The point I was trying to make is a minimal one. When researchers identify parallel behaviours in the animal world, for example play behaviour, they have good reason for thinking that the human equivalent is innate and not merely a cultural construct or a moral abberration. This does not in any sense morally underwrite any behaviour, that is a seperate endeavour. What it does is counter one narrow attack on homosexuality, namely that the orientation is merely an immoral cultural human invention.
I have inhabited your world view for long enough to realise that your interpretation of the teleological argument coupled with interpretation of scripture has internal consistency. That is why I said that from your position the wrongness of homosexuality is a given.
When you inhabited my world view you seemed to suggest that 'all bets were off'. I disagree and put my secular view of homosexuality as follows:
Sexual activity (like all human activity) carries risks, some more than others. We have a duty to educate everybody about those risks, as much with mountaineering as with sex. Some of the articles you cited mentioned higher risks to physical and mental health associated with homosexuality. There were problems with these articles and the conclusions drawn from them. For example although these biased articles quoted respectable secular sources, they did so selectively. Often they would say: 'one study found that...' without an adequate reference. There were obvious methodological problems which were not specifically addressed. For example, the average (mean median or mode? We were not told) length of male partnerships was estimated to be 1.5 years. Unfortunately the source data came from the medical records of individuals who had attended STD clinics so the sample had an obvious bias. Sometimes the direction of causality of the conclusions seems dubious. For example homosexual males are reportedly at a comparitively high risk of depression and suicide. But when you look into it the figures are skewed by the fact that the highest risk group is self-identified celibate homosexual males. Their celibacy, it is suggested by the researchers, is as a result of societal and internalised homophobia. Since low self esteem is also linked with high risk taking, we see that the higher prevalence of unsafe sexual practices by some homosexuals can be explained by the disapproval and stigma inflicted by our society.
Now, whenever we talk about risk factors it is statistical. For example many heterosexuals indulge in anal sex, many homosexual males do not. Surely then, all these health arguments would be better targeted at educating everybody about the risks of some behaviours? We do not condemn microlight pilots because what they do is risky, unnatural and purely thrill seeking? Well maybe some do. We do hope they understand the risks though.
We could interpret nature as having designed genetalia to have multiple purposes (usually they do and humans are an obvious example). Some individuals use them to procreate as well as excrete and provide sexual pleasure. Some do not. These do not form disjoint groups with respect to sexual orientation though, and nature may well have designed things this way. For a secularist of this view, where should moral disapproval be directed? I would say at those who descriminate against those who are not heterosexual as they are contributary factors in some of the very risk factors that they cite in order to condemn. For more on the health benefits of sexual expression see here

 
At 7/25/2006 10:52 AM , Blogger daleliop said...

Paul,

You can make a case that sex is for more than just reproduction, but I don't think you can by just looking at the equipment.

 
At 7/25/2006 3:59 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Psio,

I still think that you are trying to get blood from a turnip with your observations of animal behavior. Even your narrower point — that it counters the idea that this orientation is merely an immoral cultural human invention — begs for examples of other things animals do that could qualify as amoral, natural occurrences. However, I'm willing to move on.

You said: When you inhabited my world view you seemed to suggest that 'all bets were off'.

I still maintain that from your secular perspective, all bets are off on every moral issue. There is really no appeal to a higher ethic than your own pragmatism or preference on this matter. That is what I ultimately face in such a discussion as this. The best that I can do when debating moral issues with a non-theist is back them up until they simply admit this fact. When someone is at the point where they are willing to say, "Damn your ideas of morality and higher ideals, I will do as I choose," then I have nothing left to discuss. But fortunately and interestingly, few people want to give up the game. They prefer to imagine that they are on the side of truth and justice until their last shred of patience is exhausted.

You take issue with the studies indicating higher health risks (per capita) in the homosexual population? This is a given for most people I discuss this with. I don't mean to ignore your counter-arguments on this, but aside from the mountain of evidence in favor of my premise, it just seems to make sense on the face of it — for three reasons. 1) Greater promiscuity = greater health risks, and the homosexual lifestyle is, on the whole, a promiscuous affair. 2) The vagina has characteristics which make it less susceptible to the reception of infection than the mouth or colon, e.g., the colon is made for absorption; the vagina is not. 3) Gay lifestyle materials are lousy with safe-sex and health care resources. This seems an odd fixation if such things were not, in fact, a problem and concern for them. You even suggest we can remediate these problems with proper education. I think you are simply hoping to level the risk-scale (from monogamous sex to promiscuous homosexuality) by way of education and precautions. I guess if we could manage to do proper prevention and cure, then some would feel justified in saying it is "no more risky than abstinence."

I well understand the twist on the psychological statistics of homosexuality — that it is not the lifestyle itself, but societal condemnation of the lifestyle. This is a legitimate factor to be considered, but I think it ultimately fails for at least two reasons. 1) These statistics hold even in more liberal places like Canada, New Zealand, San Francisco, and the most homosexual friendly of all, the Netherlands. 2) This is not the only "lifestyle" that is frowned upon by society, yet it seems to be the one most sensitive to social pressure. For example, converting to Christianity (other religions as well) can get you booted out of your family and killed in some countries, but this doesn't seem to have the same impact on mental health and suicide.

You call the articles I include "biased." Well, that may or may not be so, but what could be more biased than actually being gay, or pro-promiscuity, and writing articles in defense of same? Given my knowledge of the roots of Planned Parenthood, and my many experiences of deception and fact twisting on their part, I am afraid I do not put much stock in any research they would sponsor. Here is an example of their tactics in actions:

"The majority of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, are passed through heterosexual intercourse not homosexual acts. Heterosexual women, especially young women of color, are the fastest growing population infected with HIV, which in this population is primarily transmitted through heterosexual intercourse."

Even assuming that these statements might possibly be true (there are no footnotes to explore), it does not address the fact that such figures are influenced by the vastly greater population of heterosexuals. I see this again and again: the failure to break down the statistics according to demographic size. It is either incompetence or outright deception.

And one other thing, which you've opened the door for with your comment about the benefits of sexual expression:

If there is no way that sex ought to be, nothing "sacred" about it, and it is such a beneficial thing to do however we see fit, then what is wrong with involving children in the fun? Of course, there would be some physical constraints involved, but working around those, what is so wrong with pedophilia? Now, you may pull out the "consent" objection, but children may consent to sex just as well as they consent to eat sushi or go off the high-dive. Why would special age-related consent be so important for such a wonderful and amoral thing as sex? Is there something different about sex? You may then appeal to the health risks that they must be old enough to give mature consideration, like alcohol, but then I would ask if the prohibitions against pedophilia could be lifted when and if we find a cure for all STDs. And the risk of pregnancy is not even a factor here.

 
At 7/25/2006 4:09 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Dale,

I could further argue, but you may be right. I find it difficult to be objective here, though ;-)

In any event, it does not weaken the case I am making for Psio. It only means that I might be more generous than I should.

 
At 7/27/2006 6:02 AM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Ok, this is how it should have been:
Even your narrower point — that it counters the idea that this orientation is merely an immoral cultural human invention — begs for examples of other things animals do that could qualify as amoral, natural occurrences.
I don't really follow this argument. I think my narrow point is made. Anyway, moving on...

I still maintain that from your secular perspective, all bets are off on every moral issue. There is really no appeal to a higher ethic than your own pragmatism or preference on this matter.
Sorry but I think this is just wrong. Probably the best place to debate this is here
You take issue with the studies indicating higher health risks (per capita) in the homosexual population?
No, I specifically conceded this point whilst criticising some of the biased conclusions drawn from it.

The vagina has characteristics which make it less susceptible to the reception of infection than the mouth or colon
So, you are criticising everybody who indulges in oral sex? People might start to wonder where you are going to draw the line for acceptable behaviour.
These statistics hold even in more liberal places like Canada, New Zealand, San Francisco, and the most homosexual friendly of all, the Netherlands.
Well yes they are more liberal but that does not mean there is no stigma, or that the 'coming out' process is free from emotional trauma. There is still a way to go even in these places. Unfortunately it is not possible with the data you cite to do a comparative analysis that looks for a correlation between how 'liberal' a culture is and the increased risk of mental illness, so I don't think your point holds.

Given my knowledge of the roots of Planned Parenthood, and my many experiences of deception and fact twisting on their part, I am afraid I do not put much stock in any research they would sponsor. Here is an example of their tactics in actions:

It seems to me that you discount this merely because you disagree with their point of view, whereas I pointed out methodological difficulties and logical flaws in the conclusions from the research on your side. I would not criticise research purely on the basis of who sponsors it, since if the methodology and experimental design is sound this is irrelevant. We just are not going to agree on the stats, however I don't think you engaged with my central point fully. You see I don't think it is possible to normalise the risk scale just as we cannot do this with eating red meat. Now, if it is argued that we don't 'celebrate' the heart attack lifestyle, I would agree. What actually happens is those who indulge in extreme dietary behaviour are disapproved of. But those who eat red meat to a normal (yet still risky) extent are generally left alone. If you started to persecute them the way homosexuals are, if in some vegetarian dystopia they were the minority, then perhaps a valid response for them would be to celebrate eating three steaks a week.
Your final point about paedophilia actually does have a section in the 'when arguments go awry' blog. I'm going to engage the point though and not be sidetracked. There are some human activities that are beneficial in adulthood but harmful in childhood. The evidence suggests that sex between adults and children causes huge psychological and physical damage which are orders of magnitude greater than the increased risk factors you have mentioned for homosexuals, whereas eating sushi does not. That is why the issue of consent applies in the one case and not the other.

 
At 7/27/2006 10:03 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

psiomniac, you should be able to delete your own posts. I'm afraid of accidentally deleting the wrong ones.

 
At 7/27/2006 3:40 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Thanks i think I've got the hang of it now.

 
At 7/27/2006 5:46 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Psio,

So, you are criticising everybody who indulges in oral sex? People might start to wonder where you are going to draw the line for acceptable behaviour.

Maybe I am, but it wouldn't defeat my point if I did so, only cause the preference alarms to go off for more people. I'm personally divided over this issue, and I've learned something new in the last week that compounds the problem. See this article for a good exposition of the effects of semen on tissue for which it was not designed. While this is specifically focused on anal tissue, and related cancer, I have to wonder what the effect is on oral tissue.

Well yes [the countries in which these studies were done] are more liberal but that does not mean there is no stigma, or that the 'coming out' process is free from emotional trauma. There is still a way to go even in these places. Unfortunately it is not possible with the data you cite to do a comparative analysis that looks for a correlation between how 'liberal' a culture is and the increased risk of mental illness, so I don't think your point holds.

Well, I can't imagine our culture getting much more liberal than the Netherlands, so I suspect that homosexuals will always suffer no matter what the actual reason. However, I will concede the point that it could, in theory, be due to social stigma; but it has been my observation that homosexuals are rather thinner skinned than all other groups which also suffer from social stigmatization. It has all the appearances to me of persons trying very hard, and not very successfully, to suppress their moral intuitions.

It seems to me that you discount [the Planned Parenthood material] merely because you disagree with their point of view, whereas I pointed out methodological difficulties and logical flaws in the conclusions from the research on your side. I would not criticise research purely on the basis of who sponsors it, since if the methodology and experimental design is sound this is irrelevant.

I am glad that you understand the genetic fallacy, but I do not think that I am guilty of it here. If I rejected PP's materials simply because they held to a more liberal view than my own, then I would be guilty of the genetic fallacy. However, I am suspicious of them because of my experience with their methodologies, and I gave a sample application. If you are suspicious of someone simply because of their race or affiliations, that is prejudice. If you are suspicious of someone because they have taken a shot at you, that is common sense. I realize that you also, rightly or wrongly, can find cause to be suspicious of sources like the Family Research Council and so I do not offer materials from such sites lightly. Even so, I think that it is likely that the tendency to justify what you are predisposed toward is stronger than what you are not inclined to do. If I wanted wise council on whether adult-child sex ought to be legalized I would not depend upon the advice of a pedophile.

While I can accept that you have criticism over the details of the studies (and the references used), you have yourself just said about the higher health risks for homosexuals, "I specifically conceded this point," though you qualify that with, "whilst criticising some of the biased conclusions drawn from it." But most of your criticisms seemed to be suggesting that they had possibly come to the wrong conclusion that there were indeed risks and problems in this lifestyle, not just why that is but that it is the case.

Beyond that, your main point was that homosexual celibacy may have been the actual cause of some of the psychological problems, but that does not speak to the health issues, since celibacy certainly could not explain an elevated occurrence of STD's and physical ailments. And throwing out an article on the benefits of sex, thus advocating even fewer sexual constraints, would certainly not remediate the intrinsic health risks involved in a promiscuous lifestyle. I can't imagine where we are to go with this; are we then to become a society of STD infested, though sexually and emotionally satisfied people? Perhaps if we can just get rid of those pesky side effects (like STDs and fetuses) then we can all live in a Sangerian utopia. Unfortunately for me, I believe we're already spending more on AIDS research than we are on any of the ailments from which I am almost certain to die.

We just are not going to agree on the stats, however I don't think you engaged with my central point fully. You see I don't think it is possible to normalise the risk scale just as we cannot do this with eating red meat. Now, if it is argued that we don't 'celebrate' the heart attack lifestyle, I would agree. What actually happens is those who indulge in extreme dietary behaviour are disapproved of. But those who eat red meat to a normal (yet still risky) extent are generally left alone. If you started to persecute them the way homosexuals are, if in some vegetarian dystopia they were the minority, then perhaps a valid response for them would be to celebrate eating three steaks a week.

You are right, that a response to this scaled risk-factor was left out of my last reply. My apologies.

Perhaps if we were simply talking about how much heterosexual sex were "too much," then I'd have a different argument to make. But homosexual sex is something categorically different in my view. There is a clear delineator when you cross the line from the normal biological plumbing and move to something outside of that, which is intrinsically unhealthy behavior. It is not just like choosing to add a bit more or less fat to a standard diet of fruit, vegetables, and meat; it is like giving up on the whole idea that things like food pyramids and calorie charts are valid, and eating cakes and ice cream and just anything you like — an intrinsically unhealthy dietary lifestyle. Perhaps if one of these anti-nutritionists were to ameliorate the effects of their poor diet with things like vitamins, cholesterol pills, and liposuction then they might get somewhere near what the healthy eaters could achieve. But I think most would consider it a hollow victory.

There are some human activities that are beneficial in adulthood but harmful in childhood. The evidence suggests that sex between adults and children causes huge psychological and physical damage which are orders of magnitude greater than the increased risk factors you have mentioned for homosexuals, whereas eating sushi does not. That is why the issue of consent applies in the one case and not the other.

Pointing out the fact that childhood sex is psychologically damaging would seem to play more in my favor for two reasons. 1) If sex is so beneficial and morally neutral (like eating sushi), then why should it be the case that it has such an impact on children? The only reasons I could think of is that it is either a societal stigma (which could be done away with), or that there is actually something unique and special about sex. 2) If you are against sex for/with children simply because it does have negative consequences, then it would seem that there would be something to say against homosexuality if it also has negative consequences.

Perhaps your response here would simply be, "Well, that's a risk that gays should be free to make after being fully informed." But gay advocacy is not willing to concede anything of the sort; they, like Planned Parenthood, want to paint the rosiest portrait imaginable for the joys and benefits of free love (as long as you're safe about it), in spite of any data to the contrary. And I think the negative effects — physical or psychological — only add witness to the teleological concerns that I expressed at the beginning of this discussion.

The best I can hope to do here without introducing any transcendent principles is employ natural design and consequence type arguments. If your automobile is designed to run on petrol, then it may be possible to get somewhere on whisky, but you can't expect good mileage or low maintenance bills. And that should tell you something.

But again, I submit that we will get nowhere in such a discussion so long as you believe that design and danger ultimately have no bearing in determining what consenting adults should have the freedom to do. Shall we agree to disagree, or are you still looking toward a grounding principle for sexual license? If, as an atheist, you insist on appealing to objective principles, then we most certainly need to take this discussion elsewhere.

 
At 7/27/2006 5:49 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Sam, sorry for hijacking this post for such an off topic discussion. I am very interested in your original post, and I wish very much that DYH would have stayed around for a chat.

 
At 7/27/2006 8:40 PM , Blogger ephphatha said...

No problem at all, Paul.

 
At 7/27/2006 10:19 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

ephphatha,
I too thank you for your tolerance and apologise for my part in the hijacking.

Paul,
I think we will agree to disagree. I read the article you linked to about the effects of sperm being deposited here and there. I still think that you have a rigouroulsy consistent argument against homosexuality from scripture and so I don't really think you need to get into these areas to ally your personal distaste or revulsion with your beliefs. From my point of view you have succeeded in demonstrating that sodomy has a risk factor associated with it. As does being a lesbian but having sex with high risk men as well. So what? Mountaineering and cave diving are thrillseeking and risk laden activities which do not benefit society. Is blame appropriate?

Well, I can't imagine our culture getting much more liberal than the Netherlands,
Well I can imagine it but I admit it is unlikely soon. I have been to Amsterdam and they do seem more liberal than here but they are not by any means a utopia of liberalism.

but it has been my observation that homosexuals are rather thinner skinned than all other groups which also suffer from social stigmatization.
Well I genuinely do not share this perception. Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder.

However, I am suspicious of them because of my experience with their methodologies, and I gave a sample application.
Well if your sample contained a clear methodological flaw rather than just an agenda that is diametrically opposed to your own then I am sorry but I missed it.

Even so, I think that it is likely that the tendency to justify what you are predisposed toward is stronger than what you are not inclined to do.
But not stronger than the urge to condemn what you are appalled by, after all you haven't exactly just rolled over in this argument have you? Which is why there is a symmetrical mistrust that one should validly apply to the likes of the Family Research Council.

But most of your criticisms seemed to be suggesting that they had possibly come to the wrong conclusion that there were indeed risks and problems in this lifestyle, not just why that is but that it is the case.
Just to clear this up, I say again that I accept the risk is higher but do not accept some of the reasons offered as to why.

Unfortunately for me, I believe we're already spending more on AIDS research than we are on any of the ailments from which I am almost certain to die.
Just though I ought to remind you that this really shouldn't matter too much since you are headed for eternal bliss. And both figures are probably dwarved by the annual budget to develop stuff like viagra. Or perfume probably. Let's try to keep perspective. Remember AIDS affects all kinds of people.

But homosexual sex is something categorically different in my view.
As is vegetarianism in dietary terms. However there is a problem in your central argument that you haven't picked up on from a few posts ago. All of these arguments are really against sexual behaviours. So why not argue against those? After all, a huge amount of anal and oral sex happens between heterosexuals. Logically, you should have less of a problem with a male gay couple who do not practise sodomy than with a heterosexual couple who do.

If sex is so beneficial and morally neutral
I think in a consenting relationship between adults sex is very special and by no means morally neutral. We just disagree about what is morally wrong here.

If you are against sex for/with children simply because it does have negative consequences, then it would seem that there would be something to say against homosexuality if it also has negative consequences.
The two scenarios differ both in order of magnitude and informed consent.

If your automobile is designed to run on petrol, then it may be possible to get somewhere on whisky, but you can't expect good mileage or low maintenance bills. And that should tell you something.
Again an argument agains behaviour rather than orientation. And because sex is special and there are psychological health risks to suppressing these fundamental needs, we have a moral obligation to facilitate and promote risk reduction rather than condemn those who are oriented in a particular way.
Don't forget though, teleological arguments can be applied at the population level. Maybe some mountaineers are meant to die young.
If, as an atheist, you insist on appealing to objective principles, then we most certainly need to take this discussion elsewhere.
I do so insist. Just name the place.

 
At 7/28/2006 8:30 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

I wish DYH would have come back to answer the question: "what if..."?

On September 13th, I'll want to come back and discuss this some more.

However, I have found this:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/dc_house.htm
It says that they predicted the onset of Nuclear war once before. It's deadline was mid-2001.

Also, I saw their magazine online "The Prophetic Word". I assume it's the issue you received. The image clearly depicts the USA nuking Iraq. Not really plausible since there's probably no way we would have our hundreds of thousands of troops out of the way of the bomb by then.

 
At 7/30/2006 8:24 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Psio,

I will avoid the temptation to answer every point in an attempt to wrap this one up.

I still think that you have a rigouroulsy consistent argument against homosexuality from scripture and so I don't really think you need to get into these areas to ally your personal distaste or revulsion with your beliefs.

I think I know what you mean here, but it should be noted that in our discussion I have not appealed to Scripture nor have I leaned upon my own personal tastes in this matter. In fact, I hold "preferences" for may things for which I would argue against.

From my point of view you have succeeded in demonstrating that sodomy has a risk factor associated with it.… So what? Mountaineering and cave diving are thrillseeking and risk laden activities which do not benefit society.

I would be pleased if we could get this much admission about the homosexual lifestyle from those who wish to inculcate it into the culture, especially by way of our children. Instead, they prefer to celebrate it and insist that it is in every way an equal and good lifestyle. I have even seen a growing trend toward portraying it as a sort of evolutionary step beyond heterosexuality—an ubergender.

Yes, those activities you mention are risky, self-indulgent, and fruitless activities that we often shake our heads at and pray that our children do not take up. And if we were to consider the possibility of a teleology of work and leisure there is more to be said against them. The problem with your perspective is that it could also be argued that things like Ultimate Fighting and drug use must be tolerated, in spite of their risks and lack of benefit to society, simply because they are things that people consent to do. Your objection must surely depend on the matter of "degree" of harm, which argument may be turned back upon the homosexual.

Just thought I ought to remind you that [the disproportionate spending on AIDS research] really shouldn't matter too much since you are headed for eternal bliss.

Yes, I do not think that this is the only shot I have so I must wring every drop of pleasure out of it for as long as possible. However, I'm hoping this philosophy does not prevail lest atheism some day come to a point of exterminating us pesky Christians with the glib defense that "We're going to a better place anyway, hah, hah."

And both figures are probably dwarved by the annual budget to develop stuff like viagra. Or perfume probably.

Regardless of what I may think about these drugs, I think they are funded by normal commercial means rather than my tax dollars.

Let's try to keep perspective. Remember AIDS affects all kinds of people.

Yes, but it is epidemic in the homosexual population, and among the heterosexual population it pails in comparison to things like heart disease and the various forms of cancer. So, it is a curious thing as to why it has such disproportionate funding. The answer that comes to my mind is that homosexuals and their supporters are a very loud and powerful lobby in these times — a lobby that seems very keen to wipe away all social and medical consequences of normalizing this lifestyle.

I said: But homosexual sex is something categorically different in my view.
You said: As is vegetarianism in dietary terms.


Can't agree with you here. Vegetarians are still attempting to eat according to a healthy regime — they still hold to a nutritional teleology. Indeed, many of them believe that they have the correct means to achieving optimal health. I still hold to my analogy that homosexuality is equivalent to rejecting nutritional concerns and simply eating whatever you feel like eating, perhaps even shoving it in through your nose.

All of these arguments are really against sexual behaviours. So why not argue against those? After all, a huge amount of anal and oral sex happens between heterosexuals.

You are right that many of my argument would apply to heterosexual behavior, but two things: 1) Homosexuality is kind of the focal point of our debate, and 2) my argument extends beyond the mere behavior to the implications of the mutuality of gender, i.e., that the design and purpose of the sexual plumbing suggests something about the intended relationship between the sexes. I freely concede that heterosexuals who engage in anal sex and condemn homosexuals have knocked at least one leg of support from under their horse.

[Homosexual and adult-child sex] scenarios differ both in order of magnitude and informed consent.

I still think you are missing the force of this argument. I perfectly agree that there is a "magnitude" of effect related to this, but it is a curious thing why it should be so according to naturalistic theory. Every defense I could think of may be neutralized under the right conditions.

And because sex is special and there are psychological health risks to suppressing these fundamental needs, we have a moral obligation to facilitate and promote risk reduction rather than condemn those who are oriented in a particular way.

I contend that within your worldview sex can only be "special" in a subjective sense, because it is pleasurable, but so is eating junk food and doing drugs. Do we then have a moral obligation to facilitate and promote risk reduction rather than discouraging people from engaging in such things? If you simply wish to define your morality based on the level of pleasure and harm associated with a thing, then I think the entire argument for homosexuality rests upon where we decide to set the bar.

And if we have an obligation to facilitate the satisfaction of fundamental needs for all those who are oriented in a particular way, then we should lift the prohibition on at least certain forms of child pornography for the pedophiles, and we should allocate some of our cadavers for the necrophiles.

I do insist [on appealing to objective principles]. Just name the place [to discuss this].

If we can get ourselves untangled from this discussion I may have some time to do this. Would you like for your own blog entry on "Quantum Ethics" to seed such a discussion, would you like to begin a new blog for my response, or would you like me to blog on where I think materialism fails to offer a foundation for objective morality?

 
At 7/31/2006 9:46 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Paul,
I think as a way to wrap this up I will offer you the last word. I will do my best to sum up my side and respond to a few of your last points:

Instead, they prefer to celebrate it and insist that it is in every way an equal and good lifestyle.
I think this is an inevitable feature of the dialectic. You attack, they justify. Meanwhile I would rather live in a world where sexual orientation wasn't really a big deal and where assessment of risk had perspective and was therefore managed in a balanced way. Microlight pilots and some homosexuals would understand that features of their lifestyle increased risks to their health.

The problem with your perspective is that it could also be argued that things like Ultimate Fighting and drug use must be tolerated, in spite of their risks and lack of benefit to society, simply because they are things that people consent to do. Your objection must surely depend on the matter of "degree" of harm,
I agree it could be so argued. I also agree that whether any arguments succeed should be on a risk benefit analysis.

which argument may be turned back upon the homosexual.

It could but for the reasons I have outlined I think they would win that one.

Regardless of what I may think about these drugs, I think they are funded by normal commercial means rather than my tax dollars.

Fair point. I do not have the figures for U.S. tax spend on research into heart disease versus AIDS. I think that where market forces do not fund the search to alleviate human suffering, government has a role. Perhaps there is more money to be made by the Pharmaceutical companies in the areas that you may die from for purely demographic reasons and therefore the tax dollar need is less.

Can't agree with you here. Vegetarians are still attempting to eat according to a healthy regime — they still hold to a nutritional teleology.
But some would say that the human digestive system is designed to be omnivorous and therefore vegetarians are only at best partially fulfilling the teleology. This is the problem with analogies though.

my argument extends beyond the mere behavior to the implications of the mutuality of gender,
Sorry but this is where I think that your argument collapses without appealing to a creator god. Whole populations could have a teleology that includes a percentage of non breeding mutually supporting couples of the same sex. In any case, there is no basis in going from the overall evolution of male and female to moral truths about sexual behaviour. Unless you want to be consistent and follow the view that since evolution is maintained if the weak die out we should not help them. In order to make this argument stick you need it to fit into God's Plan.

You said this in relation to adult-child relations:
Every defense I could think of may be neutralized under the right conditions
I cannot imagine what conditions neutralize the concept of informed consent. A failure of imagination on my part perhaps.

I contend that within your worldview sex can only be "special" in a subjective sense,
I will postpone a careful response to this for the morality debate. I think it will be subsumed by that.

And if we have an obligation to facilitate the satisfaction of fundamental needs for all those who are oriented in a particular way, then we should lift the prohibition on at least certain forms of child pornography for the pedophiles, and we should allocate some of our cadavers for the necrophiles.

We don't. We have a moral obligation to carry out a case by case analysis based on sound ethical principles and I have consistently argued that homosexuality would be deemed acceptable using the principles I have cited. Pedophilia and necrophilia would not.
I offer you the last word on this one, however if you post something that I feel has a quick clarification I may respond.

Can I suggest 'Quantum Ethics' as the venue for the basis of ethics debate, as it is fresh and uncluttered?

 
At 8/03/2006 1:38 PM , Blogger Paul said...

No, I'm going to let you have the last round on this one, although I am very tempted to press the issue of pedophilia, as I believe it would expose several of the weaknesses of your position. I'm exhausting my spare time on our dialogs, and I would rather discuss something more concrete with you like the grounding of morality. I'll be over to your blog to do so soon, but first I've got a trip to see family scheduled for the next several days.

 
At 9/12/2006 8:11 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

Back to the topic of The House of Yahweh...

Nuclear war will start today.

Sam, do you have any hope of making further contact with any of these individuals?

I wonder how they'll spin this failed prophecy?

 
At 9/14/2006 1:29 PM , Blogger Paul said...

I suspect they'll merely recalibrate their prophecy watches and come up with something new.

 

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