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In an undesigned world …

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s signing of a transgender anti-discrimination bill points up the lunacy that ensues in a world without design (see here).

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59 Responses to In an undesigned world …

  1. So now that the gene predisposing one for homosexuality is old news, the time is just about right for someone to locate that potent gene predisposing one to the inclination to change gender.

    Of course, we are all familiar with those brave organisms out there that change gender when the need arises. So we will be preached to that it is all so normal and natural. And this is right around the time that a few animal psychologists will be recruited to come out with a new discovery that a substantial number of mammals, such as dogs and cats, actually believe they are of the opposite gender than what graces their anatomy, and they actually desire to switch genders. And one day soon the big thing in Hollywood will be to switch their pets’ genders. Rover will finally get the opportunity to express herself as Roverita, or whatever the feminine version might be.

    Hold on, the propoganda machine is about to kick into high gear.

  2. Ekstasis, “So now that the gene predisposing one for homosexuality is old news”

    I seemed to have missed this news. Please expand.

  3. Yes, indeed, it’s looking pretty scary out there. The more progress we make the fiercer our antagonists get. It’s relentless—they never rest. The problem is—just how many traditionalists really recognize the seriousness of the so-called Culture War? When a majority side with the materialist agenda, or are fooled or flummoxed by it or just simply blasé, where will things end up?

    Ben Stein’s warning comes not a moment too soon—it may be later than we think. But then this morning’s commentary by Jonah Goldberg put me on a more positive note.

  4. Ekstasis,

    What scares me as I read your post is that I can see it all happening now.

    “Pet gender reassignment surgery”

    It doesn’t even seem that far-fetched to me. Isn’t that sad?

  5. The problem is—just how many traditionalists really recognize the seriousness of the so-called Culture War? When a majority side with the materialist agenda, or are fooled or flummoxed by it or just simply blasé, where will things end up?

    I’ll tell you, we’ll have a world full of anti-discrimination laws for every niche constituency out there. What kind of world will that be?

  6. Personally, I can’t believe that under any circumstances anyone would ever embark on transgender surgery unless they felt absolutely psychologically compelled to do so. The stories of transgender people facing being disowned by their families, friends, communities, churches, employers – everyone! – but still going ahead with surgery, are all too depressingly common. The only plausible response is to TRUST THEM that it has to be real. Particularly as the incidence is replicated throughout the world. To my knowledge there are no known examples anywhere, ever, of anyone being forced to undergo any form of compulsory transgender process. What is the problem?

    I am not commenting on the detail of this particular piece of legislation, or the impact of a ‘rights culture’. But attitudes of disapproval towards transgender people are deeply dismal, in my opinion. Even the Iranian mullahs have got their head round this one.

    And what’s it got to do with ID?

  7. duncan,

    Are there any limits to how far we can go in applying your principle? Can we say that whenever someone feels “psychologically compelled” to do something, “the only plausible response [for the rest of us] is to TRUST THEM that it has to be real”?

  8. Personally, I can’t believe that under any circumstances anyone would ever embark on transgender surgery unless they felt absolutely psychologically compelled to do so.

    There was a local case a few years back where a fellow got convinced to have it by his therapist only to realize — too late — that she was a quack.

    People feel “psychologically” compelled to do all sorts of stupid things — inject meth, have sex with animals, even kill themselves.

    A healthy culture discourages this sort of stuff. It doesn’t give it license.

  9. So we have to give special rights and recognition to a group of people whose body does not match the sex of their mind.

    I thought liberalism says that men and women are equals.
    If that’s true, then why would someone born a man want to be a woman if they are equal?

    I do know that in New York, if you are a male inmate in the state prison system, the tax payer pays for a sex change operation if the inmate wants one. Then once the operation is complete and the taxpayer pays for all the hormone medication (until the inmate leaves or dies), the inmate goes into the female prison system, where they are at an advantage because of their superior musculature.

    So this is more than equal protection.

    Also…
    What if someone wanted to be both sexes?

  10. Thanks for the responses

    SteveB (7) – Yes, of course there are limits. Freedom is not the same as license. The basic principle I subscribe to (a very old concept) is that anyone can do whatever they want, unless there’s good reason why they shouldn’t. The disapproval of others is generally not good reason. Other people’s transgender issues don’t affect the rest of us one jot – it’s really none of our business.

    With regard to psychological compulsion – the concept of being ‘criminally insane’ is long established.

    tribune7 (8) – Your comparisons are interesting. Why do you consider wanting to change sex unhealthy and deviant? Isn’t it deviant of the rest of us to seek to prohibit someone liberating themselves from a state of perpetual misery?

    I don’t doubt the case you mention may have happened. But some priests / police officers / tax inspectors, etc, etc abuse their position of trust. It doesn’t mean we have to bring the whole house down, though.

    RRE (9) – No, not special rights. Just the rights you and I take for granted.

    The classic liberal slogan is ‘different, but equal’. By being different, you shouldn’t be treated differently. It’s the opposite of ‘everyone is the same as everyone else’.

  11. Also – I still don’t get the ID issue??

  12. duncan — Why do you consider wanting to change sex unhealthy and deviant?

    If you are a Darwinian the answer would be that purpose of our existence is to survive until procreation and any premeditated effort not to is a self-evident deviancy.

    If you are, however, someone who subscribes to the idea that we should love one’s neighbor you would understand that one should not encourage self-mutilation.

    Isn’t it deviant of the rest of us to seek to prohibit someone liberating themselves from a state of perpetual misery?

    It is deviant to fail to see that having the sexual organ with which you are born is not the cause of misery. The problem is a psychological one, not a physical one and it does not require a physical solution.

  13. Sorry I missed a tag:

    duncan — Why do you consider wanting to change sex unhealthy and deviant?

    If you are a Darwinian the answer would be that purpose of our existence is to survive until procreation and any premeditated effort not to is a self-evident deviancy.

    If you are, however, someone who subscribes to the idea that we should love one’s neighbor you would understand that one should not encourage self-mutilation.

    Isn’t it deviant of the rest of us to seek to prohibit someone liberating themselves from a state of perpetual misery?

    It is deviant to fail to see that having the sexual organ with which you are born is not the cause of misery. The problem is a psychological one, not a physical one and it does not require a physical solution.

  14. tribune7

    Perhaps I’ve misunderstood Darwinism. I thought there was no purpose. Species that evolve characteristics that give them an advantage flourish. Those that don’t, or that fail to adapt to changes in their environment, don’t. Within a species, the performance of an individual to the success of the species as a whole is irrelevant (lots of species where less than 50% of offspring survive to adulthood operate perfectly successfully, for example). An individual can therefore deviate from Darwinian success, but not from Darwinian purpose.

    Self-mutilation? I’m sure they would consider it self-improvement. Do you disapprove of all invasive surgery?

    I would consider it presumptuous of me to know better than they what the source of their misery is. Do you not think the fact that their stories tend to be almost identical – that from their earliest consciousness they understood within themselves that the gender of their personality / psyche was at odds with their physical appearance – suggests that there is something entirely valid going on?

    What is your response to the fact that hermaphrodites exist?

  15. 15
    Venus Mousetrap

    I also fail to see what this has to do with ID – indeed, while it could be argued that transgenderism is a mark against survival-of-the-fittest Darwinian evolution, it seems to me that this just shows that the designer made some of us transexual.

    After all, as duncan describes, the feeling of being transgendered is more spiritual than physical. If our spirit is separate from our physical body, it seems to me very likely that a male spirit could be placed in a female body. Since there is no way for humans to move a spirit, surgery is the best option.

  16. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood Darwinism. I thought there was no purpose. Species that evolve characteristics that give them an advantage flourish. Those that don’t, or that fail to adapt to changes in their environment, don’t.

    I guess that’s another way of looking at it. Let them die out so to speak. Of course, that’s conceding that Darwinism is worldview without morals.

    Do you disapprove of all invasive surgery?

    Invasive surgery is best considered a last resort and should never be used to address psychological issues.

    I would consider it presumptuous of me to know better than they what the source of their misery is.

    You think someone experiencing pain is better able to understand the source of their pain than an outside observer? Or do you accept the myth that we can have a pain-free existence and that there is no point to suffering and struggle?

    Do you not think the fact that their stories tend to be almost identical – that from their earliest consciousness they understood within themselves that the gender of their personality / psyche was at odds with their physical appearance – suggests that there is something entirely valid going on?

    I do think there are valid psychological issues — which by the way are different than moral ones. My objection is giving license to self-mutilation, remember.

    What is your response to the fact that hermaphrodites exist?

    That you are not talking about hermaphrodites.

  17. Also – I still don’t get the ID issue??

    It’s Bill’s blog and he can post whatever he wants. Also, notice it’s posted under “culture”.

  18. Patrick (17) Yes, of course – I wasn’t being critical, just curious. Also, I hadn’t noticed the ‘culture’ tag, but it does say “…. the lunacy that ensues in a world without design”.

  19. tribune (16) “Of course, that’s conceding that Darwinism is a worldview without morals”. No, it’s not. It’s identifying the fact that we’re not the passive recipients of someone else’s morals, delivered to us on a plate. Rather, we decide for ourselves, collectively and individually, what they are. Much more intoxicating, responsible, onerous and rewarding. It’s the difference between the USSR and the USA.

    Re: hermaphrodites – indeed we weren’t talking about hermaphrodites, but we could, couldn’t we?

    Re: transgender – well, I must confess I am now going to be presumptuous, but I think you’re being disingenuous here. Yes, surgery is a significant procedure. Yes, life isn’t and shouldn’t be nothing but a breeze. Yes, sometimes we can benefit from facing, and perhaps overcoming, difficulties. Are these things really the basis of your objection to gender reassignment?

  20. It’s identifying the fact that we’re not the passive recipients of someone else’s morals, delivered to us on a plate. . . .It’s the difference between the USSR and the USA.

    IOW, We reject any morality based on extra-human and extra-class concepts. :-)

    Are these things really the basis of your objection to gender reassignment?

    You brought up hermaphrodites. I’m I objecting to the use of surgery to resolve issues relating to hermaphrodites? No. I’m objecting to the use of permanent procedures to resolve psychological — not physical — issues.

  21. tribune7:

    Of course, that’s conceding that Darwinism is worldview without morals.

    “Darwinism” (MET, RM+NS, the modern synthesis, whatever you want to call it) is a theory about the facts of the physical world. Why should it have “morals?” If it is a good explanation of reality (grant me this for the sake of argument), but its implications undermine your idea of “morality,” would you deny reality in order to preserve morality?
    Meanwhile, I doubt that the pretense that ID is scientific, and not theological, could survive any coherent explanation of what “the lunacy that ensues in a world without design” means.

  22. Still nobody in the comments explains what this has to do with ID. It couldn’t be *gasp* the ‘G’ word, could it? Or *double gasp* the ‘C’ word?

    I thought that ID doesn’t make any claims about the designer. It makes little sense to say that thinking in terms of design would “fix” this “problem”.

  23. “Darwinism” (MET, RM+NS, the modern synthesis, whatever you want to call it) is a theory about the facts of the physical world. Why should it have “morals?”

    Darwinism — the claim that all biodiversity comes from a combination of random forces and natural laws — is a sacred story used to describe how the creatures in the world came to be in their present forms

    Like all such stories of course it presents morals.

    ID, OTOH, is just the mere application of tested standards to phenomena and describing the results.

  24. Duncan (10) said:
    “Other people’s transgender issues don’t affect the rest of us one jot – it’s really none of our business.

    I just told you that NY State tax dollars go toward funding sex changes.

    Take a look at this story:

    http://www.9news.com/news/arti.....ryid=85989

    The article states:

    “[Kim] Pearson says children as young as 5 years old are realizing their true gender identity and her group wants to help parents who may be resisting the acceptance of this. “
    Again, transgendered activists don’t mind their own business. Homosexuals used to say the same thing, that you should be able to do what you want as long as it doesn’t affect others (keep it in the bedroom)…Well, if you apply that philosophy to the societal level, you are left realizing that its impossible (just imagine everyone doing their own thing not affecting anyone else).

    The result has been that in some Massachusetts school districts, “Heather has Two Mommys” is required reading in kindergarten.
    What’s interesting is that the book itself is lying, Heather had a Mommy and a Daddy, but her Mommy probably didn’t like her Daddy any more and decided to like another woman instead. The book never states that Heather has a biological father.

    Take a look at this story:

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ld.....12902.html
    “The doctors acknowledged that it is extremely difficult to distinguish a “genuine” transsexual personality from a gender identity crisis deemed temporary”

    One doctor in the article, Dr. Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University would agree with Tribune7 and say that its more psychological then physical.

  25. “Darwinism — the claim that all biodiversity comes from a combination of random forces and natural laws — is a sacred story used to describe how the creatures in the world came to be in their present forms

    Like all such stories of course it presents morals.”

    Just like how the big band theory presents the moral law that we must blow things up as much as we can, of course. ;)

    –fdsa out.

  26. Just like how the big band theory presents the moral law that we must blow things up as much as we can, of course.

    76 trombones, baby :-)

  27. OK, tribune7, let me get this straight. You characterize Darwinism as “a sacred story” by linking to this language:

    A myth is a sacred narrative in the sense that it contributes to systems of thought and values, and that people attach religious or spiritual significance to it.

    And then, you say

    Like all such stories of course it presents morals.

    So it’s a sacred story because it presents morals, and like all such stories, it presents morals.
    Whoa, I’m dizzy.

  28. Just like how the big band theory presents the moral law that we must blow things up as much as we can, of course.

    Everyone knows the big band theory was toppled by Diz and Bird in the late 1940s.

  29. So it’s a sacred story because it presents morals . . .Whoa, I’m dizzy.

    Don’t be. Read it slow and think it through.

    Darwinism, which provides an unprovable explanation as to how the creatures in the world came to be in their present forms, is not a scared story because it present morals. It’s a sacred story because it can’t be questioned.

  30. Darwinism, which provides an unprovable explanation as to how the creatures in the world came to be in their present forms, is not a scared story because it present morals. It’s a sacred story because it can’t be questioned.

    So why does it (or should it) present morals? And why are you citing to a source that defines “sacred” in terms of values, etc., rather than in terms of unquestionability?

    I don’t want to simply nitpick here, but I don’t think you’ve presented any reason to deem it remarkable that Darwinism doesn’t concern itself with morals.

  31. RRE:

    What’s interesting is that the book itself is lying, Heather had a Mommy and a Daddy, but her Mommy probably didn’t like her Daddy any more and decided to like another woman instead. The book never states that Heather has a biological father.

    I haven’t read the book (have you?); does it say anything about Heather’s daddy? To say that she has two mommies is not to say that she has no “daddy.” (Besides, isn’t it fiction? How can fiction be said to be “lying?”)

  32. So why does it (or should it) present morals?

    It’s not a matter of why. It does present morals. The world is a place where the fit survive hence survival is the moral goal and fitness (which can be self-defined) is judge.

    Of course some claim they’ve advance beyond that simple inference. They now accept that Darwinism says its moral to self-define morality. Rather, Darwinists decide for themselves, collectively and individually, what they are. Much more intoxicating, responsible, onerous and rewarding.

    but I don’t think you’ve presented any reason to deem it remarkable that Darwinism doesn’t concern itself with morals.

    Now you have me dizzy. I’m saying Darwinism concerns itself with morals.

  33. pubdef,

    I should not have said the book was lying (although fiction can reveal a falsehood). The woman was artificially inseminated. I am wrong on that note entirely and apologize. Thanks a trillion for pointing that out.

    Also, no, I have not read the book, although my use of it does show my point which was to give an example where homosexuals have an active agenda and do not seek to ‘keep it in the bedroom’.

    I can also see how targeting children whose parents are against the homosexual agenda can be seen as wrong, and be seen as hostile to religion.

    My other point too, that transgendered individuals are using tax dollars to fund their sex change operations is still valid.

    On a deeper level, do you guys think that their is a distinct ‘male mind’ and ‘female mind’? If so, what are those distinctions and how can they be used to identify a legitimate transgendered case?

  34. tribune 7:
    Back in #16 (half a lifetime ago, in blog time), you said:

    Of course, that’s conceding that Darwinism is worldview without morals.

    To which I responded, I think, that that’s not “conceding” anything, because there’s no reason to expect that Darwinism should have morals. So now you’re saying that Darwinism does have morals? (Or is “concerns itself with morals” different from “has morals?”)
    Anyway, just as a parting shot, because I actually have work to do, I certainly don’t agree that Darwinism is unprovable, at least not in any sense that matters in the world of science, nor that it can’t be questioned. Just because people get annoyed when you (the collective “you,” not you personally) bring up the same refuted arguments over and over again doesn’t mean you’re being suppressed.

  35. So now you’re saying that Darwinism does have morals?

    Actually, I said that back in post 13. But a Darwinist took issue and being the nice guy I am I conceded the point.

    I certainly don’t agree that Darwinism is unprovable,

    And how would you go about proving it?

  36. Under Darwinist interpretations, doesn’t the idea of morals just come from necessity to survive, and man (or woman) is his (or her) own standard and judge of them?

  37. tribune7:

    I certainly don’t agree that Darwinism is unprovable,

    And how would you go about proving it?

    Oh, come now — I’m supposed to concede that Darwinism is unprovable because I don’t know how to prove it? I’m a criminal defense attorney.
    Scientists who seem credible to me consider Darwinism to be a fruitful and well-supported hypothesis. Nothing I have seen in several years of reading ID publications and blogs has convinced me otherwise.

  38. pubdef,

    The problem is that “Darwinism” seems to mean so many damn things, and any time something shows up which challenges the conventional wisdom, we hear “well, this (epigenetics? neutral drift? take your pick) can be absorbed by darwinism”.

  39. Oh, come now — I’m supposed to concede that Darwinism is unprovable because I don’t know how to prove it.

    You ought to be able to articulate the requirements of proof. You know what the theory claims. You should be able to describe means of demonstrating those claims and set standards for doing so.

    Scientists who seem credible to me consider Darwinism to be a fruitful and well-supported hypothesis.

    Or you could trust the priesthood :-)

  40. If there is a distinct ‘female mind’ and a ‘male mind’ that can be shown to be different but equal by the testimony to those that claim to be transgendered, then materialism has a major problem because a major tenet is that the mind is the product of the brain. If the distinction holds true, then one would expect the brains of males and the brains of females to be different.

    I can see that neuroscience is looking for that hopeful monster, but coming up empty, for example, go here

  41. tribune7(32)
    “It’s not a matter of why. It does present morals. The world is a place where the fit survive hence survival is the moral goal and fitness (which can be self-defined) is judge.”

    You first start talking about how the world IS and then start talking about how we SHOULD act. That’s not how morals work.

    Morals are intrinsically somewhat (not completely) subjective. If your question is how people SHOULD act, you have to first think about what kind of world you want. A safe, cooperative world is much better for everyone than a dangerous, cut-throat one. That’s a solid basis for secular morality.

    I’ll get off topic and compare it to absolute morality. You know what the best thing about absolute moral systems is? That there are so many to choose from. Even if we decide that that morality is absolute, we still have to decide which moral laws are the absolute ones. Even if we say that God’s morality is absolute, how do we know that? Do we take his word for it? On what basis? It ends up degrading in the same subjective standards that everyone else has to live with.

    I suggest watching this video.

    /rant>

  42. If your question is how people SHOULD act, you have to first think about what kind of world you want

    That’s pretty much what Lenin did.

    A safe, cooperative world is much better for everyone than a dangerous, cut-throat one. That’s a solid basis for secular morality.

    Very true. If all put personal safety first and cooperate with me all will be well with them. Kneel! Kneel, I say!! Kneel before Zod. BWHAHAHAHAHAH

    Even if we say that God’s morality is absolute, how do we know that? Do we take his word for it?

    If you want to start your own religion here’s what you do:

    First, get born of a virgin.

    Perform miracles.

    Let some arrogant yahoos kill you.

    And here’s the tricky part, rise from the dead.

    Now, about the morals. It’s your religion so you are going to teach what you want to teach. The miracles and the prophecies and the rising from the dead and all is what give the teachings authority. Fortunately, the only one who managed to pull this off said He wanted us to love each other.

    And even then he still had to send his spirit to keep on us on the right track.

  43. “It’s your religion so you are going to teach what you want to teach.”

    That’s what Lenin did.

    “The miracles and the prophecies and the rising from the dead and all is what give the teachings authority”

    What, a few magic tricks and you have the authority to say what people ought do? Get Penn and Teller on the phone, stat! ;)
    Might doesn’t make right.

    Hypothetically, if someone had psychic powers and performed prophecies, miracles, etc…, would they also have absolute authority over morality?

    “Fortunately, the only one who managed to pull this off said He wanted us to love each other.”

    Love is an emotion, not an action. Things start getting messy when you start bringing more things into account.

    Should a rape victim be allowed an abortion? To what extent to animals have rights? Under what circumstances is war justifiable? The death penalty?

    Even within Christianity there’s a wide range of opinions on all of these questions. Pretty much every one will be able to justify their beliefs with their religion. Doesn’t sound very absolute to me.

    P.S. I still suggest this video if you haven’t watched it yet.

  44. On a side note, I really hate being on either side of Godwin’s law, much less BOTH sides.

  45. “It’s your religion so you are going to teach what you want to teach.” . . .That’s what Lenin did.

    Pretty much.

    Hypothetically, if someone had psychic powers and performed prophecies, miracles, etc…, would they also have absolute authority over morality

    If God exists, he has absolute authority over morality. You are rejecting the existence of God, which was what Lenin did.

    Love is an emotion, not an action. Things start getting messy when you start bringing more things into account.

    I did watch the video and I think you have some life experiences ahead of you.

  46. Fdsa:

    If God created the world and its human inhabitants for a purpose, then all morality aims toward that purpose and is, under the circumstances, absolute and universal. It does not allow for exceptions, because any violation of that morality frustrates that purpose. In other words, if God created the universe with a purpose, he created a moral universe, because humans can, through the use of their free will, either advance or frustrate that purpose. Further, if he created human nature, then there is a morality specific to that human nature, one which, by the way, would not apply to animals, trees, or any other creature. That means that only God can create the moral code, either through revealed truth or through the natural moral law, both of which reflect the creator’s intent, and neither of which have anything to do with our subjective notions of morality.

    If, on the other hand, God did not create the universe, then it has no purpose. Purpose is a function of design, and without design, there is no purpose. That means that there can be no morality, because there is no purpose to life—no final end to pursue—no ethic proper to “human nature.” Without a universal, absolute moral code, all we have left if moral relativism. Person A believes that abortion is always wrong, while person B allows for some exceptions, while person C believes that it is always permissible. If not God, his revelation, or his natural moral law, who or what can arbitrate among all these choices?

    While choosing which religion to believe in is a personal choice, it does not follow that all choices are equally good. If God created a moral universe, then all religions are not equal and all choices about which religion to embrace are not equally wise. In fact, while all religions, may contain some portions of the moral code, only one religion can possibly reflect its fullness. If God created a moral code, part of that morality would include the task of discerning which, among all possible religions and other competing world views, best reflect God’s revealed truth and God’s natural moral law.

    One thing sure, man cannot create his own end, and therefore cannot create his own morality. If there is no final end, then there is no morality proper to human nature, because, human nature is, by definition part of God’s design. In fact, there can be no morality at all if God did not design human nature AND the moral universe in which human morality is to be practiced, since both were created in concert for the same purpose—final union with God. If that is not our goal, or if it is not worth pursuing, then everything we do is futile, meaningless, and a total waste of time.

  47. Response to Stephen B, just a couple of quick things:

    In fact, while all religions may contain some portions of the moral code, only one religion can possibly reflect its fullness.

    Two issues here. (1) This assumes that a “religion” consists of nothing other than the moral code, which would seem to define “religion” broadly enough to, at least, eliminate any difference between denominations and maybe even between Judaism and Christianity. (2) This also seems to leave the possibility that no religion “reflect[s] its fullness,” i.e., we haven’t found it yet.

    If God created a moral code, part of that morality would include the task of discerning which, among all possible religions and other competing world views, best reflect God’s revealed truth and God’s natural moral law.

    I can’t help thinking that this sounds like the rules of a game.

  48. pubdef: (is that shorthand for public defender?)

    The main point I was after was that we cannot create our own morality. In that context, I was also responding to a proposed video that brought of the subject of multiple religions and the fact that they are different in significant ways. So I worked that in, even though I would have preferred to keep things a little tidier than that. Like you, I wish I could keep things focused, but the responses always seem to get more complicated as the discussion progresses, which is natural enough I guess.

    On the other hand, IF God did reveal himself in some holy book, or in concert with a Church and/or nature, it seems reasonable that such revelation would contain sufficient information to put morality in the context of its purpose, a point I tried to articulate. It also seems reasonable that only one such revelation would occur, and that the others, insofar as they are at variance with it, would not be authentic even though they might be edifying in some way. If that is true, then trying to discern which one is the real one would be, for me at least, less about following rules and more about pursuing that which is good. Morality is, after all, a set of standards by which we attain that which is of the highest value. True, it also includes certain prohibitions, but everything that is good has a price.

    I would also agree with your implication that one can make too broad of a sweep on this matter. It seems that the search is not complete until one finds the best expression of the best expression of that revelation. That means that even if one finds, for example, that Judeo/Christianity is true, one must continue to decide whether the former or the latter is the best. Further, if it is the latter, one would logically continue the search for the very best sectarian expression of Christianity. If we are to find the good, we should continue to follow wherever the light of truth may lead us. If there is no light of truth to follow, then there is no way to find the good. In the same way, if there is nothing good at the end of the journey, then there is no truth worth following. If the revelation cannot provide both a destination and a travel plan, it is worthless. Morality is there to serve some purpose; it can never be an end in itself.

    That of course raises that hardest question of all, which, of course, is the one you asked. How do we know if has already been provided or if it is yet to come. For the answer to that question, I think we would have to go to the founder of each religion and put him to the test:

    {A} Was he foretold? The least God could do is let us know that he is coming.
    {B} Did he perform miracles and raise himself from the dead and associate those acts with his identity. Anyone can show up and say, “trust me.”
    {C} Did he say or do anything that would violate the principles of right reason? He might say something that transcends reason, but never anything that would contradict it.
    Suddenly, this sounds very religious, I know. But that is where reason always takes us. There is no way out of it. That is why we have minds. We are supposed to use them to figure out what matters most and how to obtain it.

  49. For my money, Ritter is still kowtowing to the Religious Right by refusing to address interspecies love, and the discrimination that forces a life partner to live in a barn.

    How can the governor of a state “where men are [usually] men and sheep are nervous” turn a blind eye to such injustice?

  50. StephenB:

    Even if a god did create the universe and had a purpose for it, that still doesn’t make that purpose “right” in any objective sense. We can easily imagine a god that creates a universe for the sole purpose of making it’s inhabitants miserable (hell?). Then god could make killing kittens and genocide “good”. But this doesn’t make it good in any objective sense. It just makes it what god wants.

    Ultimately what good and bad comes down to is if we affect each other positively or negatively. This isn’t completely objective either (especially when more than one person is involved), but it’s not just “because god wanted me for some arbitrary ‘purpose’”.

    If god wanted us to act in certain ways, it’s hard to disagree that he’s done quite a horrible job of getting that message across. While we generally have an ok moral intuition, we’re still torn on a wide array of moral questions.

    And the fact that religious groups have done and do immoral acts while claiming god’s approval makes it even worse. God never steps in directly and disagrees with that.

    I know that you can argue that he(it?) did with Jesus, Muhammad, or whoever, and I don’t want this to degrade into arguing about those specific cases. But there are so many cases where BOTH sides of an argument boast god’s approval. There are Christian groups supporting and opposing gay rights. There are religious groups supporting and opposing al-Qaeda.

    God never steps in clarifying his purpose to clear this up. At best, he(it?) makes us sift through a number of holy books, along with the wide variety of interpretations of the literal/figurative stances on them for any answer. If there’s even anything in there that hints at the question at hand. And even then we’re only dealing with god’s purpose, which could be any old thing he(it?) wants it to be.

    -fdsa out

  51. —–fsda: “Even if a god did create the universe and had a purpose for it, that still doesn’t make that purpose “right” in any objective sense. We can easily imagine a god that creates a universe for the sole purpose of making it’s inhabitants miserable (hell?). Then god could make killing kittens and genocide “good”. But this doesn’t make it good in any objective sense. It just makes it what god wants.”

    The point is there is no morality unless there is a good toward which it aims. If a good God did not create a universe with good intentions, then there is no morality, since morality is the standard by which we pursue the good. In either case, man cannot come up with it on his own, because the good is not of his making.

    —–“Ultimately what good and bad comes down to is if we affect each other positively or negatively. This isn’t completely objective either (especially when more than one person is involved), but it’s not just “because god wanted me for some arbitrary ‘purpose’”.

    We can only judge “positive” and “negative” in the context of the “good.” To influence someone positively is to bring them closer to the good. To influence someone negatively is to take them away from the good. If there is no good, then the terms positive and negative are meaningless in a moral sense.

    —–“If god wanted us to act in certain ways, it’s hard to disagree that he’s done quite a horrible job of getting that message across. While we generally have an ok moral intuition, we’re still torn on a wide array of moral questions.”

    What is it about love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself that is hard to understand? What is it about the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes that elude the seeker of moral truth?

    —–“And the fact that religious groups have done and do immoral acts while claiming god’s approval makes it even worse. God never steps in directly and disagrees with that.

    Why does a failure to follow a moral principle delegitimize that principle?

    —–“I know that you can argue that he(it?) did with Jesus, Muhammad, or whoever, and I don’t want this to degrade into arguing about those specific cases. But there are so many cases where BOTH sides of an argument boast god’s approval. There are Christian groups supporting and opposing gay rights. There are religious groups supporting and opposing al-Qaeda.”

    Sometimes the application of moral principles can be much more complicated than the principle itself. In that case, one must study, reflect, and apply a moral conscience that has been grounded in those principles. It is remarkable how often enthusiastic supporters of various causes study, reflect, and act without having formed their conscience.

    —–“God never steps in clarifying his purpose to clear this up. At best, he(it?) makes us sift through a number of holy books, along with the wide variety of interpretations of the literal/figurative stances on them for any answer. If there’s even anything in there that hints at the question at hand. And even then we’re only dealing with god’s purpose, which could be any old thing he(it?) wants it to be.”

    Truth is not that hard to find; it is hard to face; harder yet to follow. Only one serious moral leader ever claimed to be God.

  52. It seems that, tediously, arguments over whose religion is the truth are taking over this thread, with the usual narrow Christian orientation which denies all other forms of spirituality. I think I could find some other blogs that specialize on this if I were interested.

  53. magnan: The argument that objective morality exists and that it is a function of a creator God is the theme that I would have preferred to stay with. Somehow, critics who don’t care to admit that obvious fact always seem to look for distractions and obfuscations to blunt the point. One such distraction is the notion that there really is no such thing as truth since so many are fighting over its many perceived formulations and that THERE IS NO WAY TO ASCERTAIN WHICH ONE BEST REFLECTS THAT TRUTH.

    I would have preferred that such an objection had never been made, since it is an evasion, but since it was, I think it deserved an answer. Also, I would have preferred that you had read my previous posts to get a better context, the texture of which is that all of the worlds major religions contain some truth. The main point, however, has not changed. Without God, there can be no morality, because all morality points to the good, which is God himself. If God isn’t good, then there can be no morality. That point, it seems to me, is unassailable. My forays into Christianity, which are very few, are always prompted by challenges that demand a reference to it. Orherwise, I leave it alone.

  54. Bah, I was going to leave this thread alone, but I’ll make one last post.

    Morality is a sort of social contract that we (as a race) have come up with in order to work together. It deals with how we interact with each other, so I don’t see how it’s not our place to figure it out. We need a sort of moral code to collectively be happier and succeed. That’s at the heart of just about any reasonable moral choice. It’s a solid basis from which to start the discussion of morality from.

    “We can only judge “positive” and “negative” in the context of the “good.” To influence someone positively is to bring them closer to the good. To influence someone negatively is to take them away from the good. If there is no good, then the terms positive and negative are meaningless in a moral sense.”

    Oh come on. We all have goals, aspirations, preferences, emotions, happiness, sadness etc. They’re arbitrary, personal standards. Yet they’re really the only thing that matters in the context of morality. There’s wiggle room in there, but it’s not complete subjectivity as people like to claim.

    “The point is there is no morality unless there is a good toward which it aims. If a good God did not create a universe with good intentions, then there is no morality, since morality is the standard by which we pursue the good.”

    One thing I’d like to point out is that your definition of morality in post 47 talks about morality only affecting human in the universe, and how it affects god’s “purpose”. If that’s your stance, god can’t be described as good. God can only be described as mandating what’s good. What do “good intentions” mean at that point if he’s also making his purpose whatever he wants? You end up having to either talk about how the decisions affect us as humans, or make up some definition of meta-morality that’s above god.

    “What is it about love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself that is hard to understand? What is it about the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes that elude the seeker of moral truth?”

    Right, I must have missed the passage about transgender individuals using public accommodations. ;)
    You’re still completely ignoring the fact that so many people have been honestly seeking these moral truths yet can easily come up with wildly disagreeing conclusions. You almost have to claim that pretty much all of them were insincere or simply stupid/misguided. The former is highly cynical, and the latter makes those moral laws you mentioned extremely easy to distort and get wrong.

    “In that case, one must study, reflect, and apply a moral conscience that has been grounded in those principles.”

    It’s also starting to sound quite a bit like secular morality.

    And since you brought up Christianity specifically, I’ll just point out killing, mysogeny (verse 34), murderous behavior of a prophet (verse 23), etc…

  55. —-”Morality is a sort of social contract that we (as a race) have come up with in order to work together. It deals with how we interact with each other, so I don’t see how it’s not our place to figure it out. We need a sort of moral code to collectively be happier and succeed. That’s at the heart of just about any reasonable moral choice. It’s a solid basis from which to start the discussion of morality from.”

    Which moral code might that be? If it is a social contract, on what set of principles is it based? If one group establishes social contract A and another group establishes social contract B, how do you arbitrate between them when they come into conflict.

    —-“Oh come on. We all have goals, aspirations, preferences, emotions, happiness, sadness etc. They’re arbitrary, personal standards. Yet they’re really the only thing that matters in the context of morality. There’s wiggle room in there, but it’s not complete subjectivity as people like to claim.”

    So what happens if my personal standards militate against your personal standards? If there is no universal standard of morality, on what basis do we settle our differences? How can you say that I am not being “fair” if there is no such thing as a standard of justice that transcends our personal preferences?

    —–“One thing I’d like to point out is that your definition of morality in post 47 talks about morality only affecting human in the universe, and how it affects god’s “purpose”. If that’s your stance, god can’t be described as good. God can only be described as mandating what’s good. What do “good intentions” mean at that point if he’s also making his purpose whatever he wants? You end up having to either talk about how the decisions affect us as humans, or make up some definition of meta-morality that’s above god.

    A thing is good if it operates the way it was designed and intended to operate. A good can opener is one that opens cans. A good pen is one that writes. If someone tries to use a pen as a can opener, not only will he not open the can, he will ruin the pen. So, if a man pursues that for which is made, he is a good man or a moral man. That means that he is following the natural moral law and that he is pursuing the final end for which he was made, which is union with God. If he pursuing something for which he was not made, such as living like an animal, he will end up like the pen that tried to be a can opener. He will ruin himself.

  56. stephenb

    Your argument is so full of holes I hardly know where to begin so I’ll just pick a couple bits of low hanging fruit:

    That means that he is following the natural moral law and that he is pursuing the final end for which he was made, which is union with God.

    First of all we have to agree that man was made for union with God. I don’t agree. I think man was made to fill the universe with life. No other animal builds telescopes that can locate suitable planets around other stars nor can any other animal build spacecraft that transport life to other planets. That is our mission in the grand scheme of things. Another point of contention arises when, even if we agree that union with God is what we were designed for, which God would that be? There is widespread disagreement on which God is the true God of course.

    re; a pen used as can opener will ruin itself

    Yeah, but that presupposes we know what the pen is designed for. A pen with advertising on it (a common enough thing) that is kept in a writing drawer so that the advertising is seldom read by anyone new does not serve its primary purpose which is not writing but advertising. And serving more than one purpose is better than serving just a single purpose in my opinion.

    re; what happens when we disagree?

    Any number of things. We can avoid each other, we can reach a peaceful mutually agreeable compromise, or we can go to war. History is replete with all three. The rule of law is an example of compromise.

  57. —-“I don’t agree (that man was made for union with God). I think man was made to fill the universe with life. No other animal builds telescopes that can locate suitable planets around other stars nor can any other animal build spacecraft that transport life to other planets. That is our mission in the grand scheme of things. Another point of contention arises when, even if we agree that union with God is what we were designed for, which God would that be? There is widespread disagreement on which God is the true God of course.”

    To be sure, your proposed mission is a noble one, but can it be the ultimate one? Doesn’t it beg the question? What is the purpose of life itself—-to just be or to end? If it doesn’t go on forever, what good is it? If I can’t keep my memories or reunite with my loved ones, isn’t it all a waste? The broader point, though, is that only life’s creator can determine its purpose, and, in a reciprocal sense, you can’t have purpose without a creator. Further, life itself is FOR something. Life can be good or life can be bad. How do you know what a good life is unless you know what goodness is or how life is supposed to be played out in a behavioral context? How do you know that building telescopes is any better than getting high on drugs?

    —–“Yeah, but that presupposes we know what the pen is designed for. A pen with advertising on it (a common enough thing) that is kept in a writing drawer so that the advertising is seldom read by anyone new does not serve its primary purpose which is not writing but advertising. And serving more than one purpose is better than serving just a single purpose in my opinion.”

    If it writes it is a good pen. If it promotes good will for the company whose name is on it, then it is also a good marketing tool, true enough. But the issue is, what makes it good? It is good if it does what it is made to do. That means its goodness, (or for humans, their standard of morality) must be determined by someone or something outside of it (or them).
    What happens when we disagree?

    —–“Any number of things. (How can we arbitrate among subjective notions of good). We can avoid each other, we can reach a peaceful mutually agreeable compromise, or we can go to war. History is replete with all three. The rule of law is an example of compromise.”

    Yes, but most evil and groups will not allow us to avoid them. Perverts, religious and secular, have a way of imposing themselves and their values on others (misery loves company). They are notorious for wanting to remake the world in their own image and likeness. Suppose we do reach a mutually agreeable compromise with one such group while irreparably damaging a third party. Is that moral? Without appealing to some transcendent standard of justice, how do you know that the compromise is moral? If you do go to war, how do you know that the war is just? What principle are you protecting or preserving? Again, how do we establish a responsible “rule of law” without an appeal to the “natural moral law?” Sharia law and the Declaration of Independence both constitute rule by law. I submit that the latter is far more just than the former, and I base my judgment on the natural moral law. All “rules of law” are not created equal. How do you know the “good” ones from the “bad” ones?

  58. StephenB:

    “….all of the worlds major religions contain some truth. The main point, however, has not changed. Without God, there can be no morality, because all morality points to the good, which is God himself. If God isn’t good, then there can be no morality.”

    “To be sure, your proposed mission (the expansion of man’s knowledge and spreading into the universe) is a noble one, but can it be the ultimate one? Doesn’t it beg the question? What is the purpose of life itself—-to just be or to end? If it doesn’t go on forever, what good is it? If I can’t keep my memories or reunite with my loved ones, isn’t it all a waste? The broader point, though, is that only life’s creator can determine its purpose, and, in a reciprocal sense, you can’t have purpose without a creator….”

    I agree with these as statements of your basic position, free of narrow religious doctrinal issues. Atheism and materialism can propose to give meaning and purpose to life, but they are empty of real meaning and reassurance that man is not just a suffering animal. Of course it can be claimed that naturalism is the truth, there is no spiritual reality, so suck it up and live with it. This is the teaching of scientism, but it conveniently ignores a vast body of empirical, circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

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