Monday, August 6, 2012

Briggs on TLS and tone

Statistician William M. Briggs is beginning a series of posts on my book The Last Superstition.  In the first installment he considers the polemical tone of the book and tells his readers to get any remarks on that subject out of their systems now so that he can move on to more substantive matters in future posts.  Briggs writes:

Feser gives us a manly Christianity, in muscular language.  His words oft have the tone of a teacher who is exasperated by students who have, yet again, not done their homework.  The exasperation is justifiable…

Feser… does not suffer (arrogant) fools well—or at all.  This perplexes some readers who undoubtedly expect theists to be soft-spoken, meek, and humble to the point of willing to concede miles to gain an inch.  Feser is more of a theological Patton: he is advancing, always advancing, and is not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy’s territory.  This stance has startled some reviewers.  Typical is [one reviewer] who ignores the meat of the book and whines about “ad hominems.”
 
And of my characterization of certain New Atheist writers as ill-informed, incompetent, intellectually dishonest, etc., Briggs says:

Keep in mind… that these are all questions of fact, not metaphysics.  If Feser can prove them—I say he can—this is fine.

This is something that people who complain about the tone of the book should keep in mind.  If a critic haughtily dismisses arguments of the caliber of Aquinas’s while at the same time showing that he has got his basic facts about the arguments wrong, then to point out that such a critic is either incompetent or intellectually dishonest is just to make a straightforward statement of fact, and one that is highly relevant to evaluating the critic’s work.  If you think it commits an ad hominem fallacy to call attention to unpleasant but relevant truths about a writer’s knowledge of his subject (or lack thereof), then you don’t know what an ad hominem fallacy is.  (By the way, it would be an ad hominem fallacy to dismiss my own arguments simply because you don’t like my tone.  Just sayin’.)

You also don’t understand Christian morality if you think it forbids ever rhetorically taking the hide off of an opponent.  Former atheist Leah Libresco recently objected to the tone of The Last Superstition, and even implied that it was contrary to “put[ting] on Christ.”  As I wrote in response:

Re: the polemical tone of my book The Last Superstition, I understand that it is not to everyone’s taste. That’s fine. However, I must object to the suggestion that the tone of the book is contrary to Christian morality. That is not true. Those who suppose that polemics are always wrong are like those who suppose that violence is always wrong in failing to make some morally crucial distinctions. I’ve defended the appropriateness of polemics under some (by no means all, but some) circumstances in several blog posts, which interested readers can find here:




Nor is a polemical approach to adversaries by any means unusual in biblical and Church history. Christ’s harsh words against the Pharisees are well known. Elijah was sarcastic with the priests of Baal, and God with Job. Many saints have engaged in harsh polemics over the centuries. You’ll find examples in chapter 20 of a 19th century book called Liberalism is a Sin by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, and a theological defense of the appropriateness of polemics under certain circumstances both in that chapter and in chapter 21. You can find the book online here:


As the title alone indicates, that book too is bound to be offensive to some. (As the reader will discover from the introductory material, a critic of the book at the time it appeared tried to get the Vatican to condemn it. The Vatican responded by praising it.) But whatever one thinks of the overall book, the points made in the chapters I’ve referred to are sound.

And in response to one of Libresco’s readers, who suggested that an aggressive tone was counterproductive even if not strictly contrary to Christian morality, I wrote:

Re: the… tone of [The Last Superstition], please keep in mind that no single book can reach every reader at the same time, and not all potential readers are gentle, fair-minded atheists like the pre-conversion Leah Libresco. There are, first of all and most importantly, a lot of people both on the religious side and on the fence who are so impressed by the absurdly self-confident rhetoric and apparent prestige of the New Atheists that they suppose there must be something powerful in their arguments, and this supposition will remain even after one has patiently explained the defects in their books. Sometimes, “breaking the spell” of a powerful rhetorical illusion requires equal and opposite rhetorical force (if I can borrow Dennett’s phrase). When you treat an ignorant bully arguing in bad faith as if he were a serious thinker worthy to be engaged respectfully, you only reinforce his prestige and maintain the illusion that he might be onto something. You thereby make it easier for people to fall into the errors the bully is peddling. Again, see the blog posts I linked to and the chapters from Fr. Sarda y Salvany for more on the reasons why polemics are sometimes not merely allowable but called for.

I also think people overstate the extent to which atheist readers will be put off. Some atheist readers, sure. But there are also atheists whose confidence in atheism is largely sustained by the vigor and self-confidence of the people on their side coupled with the timidity, defensiveness, and halfway-apologetic responses of some people on the other, religious side. To see people from the religious side hitting back with equal force and exposing certain prominent atheists not merely as mistaken, but as ignorant and foolish, can shock some of these atheist readers out of their complacency.

Finally, not all atheists are that sensitive. They can read a book like The Last Superstition with a sense of humor and realize (as I have made it clear in that book and elsewhere) that the polemics and sarcasm are directed not at all atheists but rather at (a) certain ideas (and a reasonable atheist should be able to carry out the intellectual exercise of separating himself from his ideas so as to look at the latter objectively) and (b) at obnoxious, puffed up atheists like Dawkins and Co. (and a reasonable atheist should be willing to admit that Dawkins and Co. are asking for it). If the shoe doesn’t fit some particular atheist, I’m not forcing him to wear it.

Finally, if that special atheist someone you are trying to reach simply doesn’t like polemics, there is of course always the respectably genteel Aquinas.  Something for everyone!

789 comments:

1 – 200 of 789   Newer›   Newest»
Laubadetriste said...

I am reminded of Mencken's comment, from "Cassandra's Lament," that "In all ages there arise protests from tender men against the bitterness of criticism, especially social criticism. They are the same men who, when they come down with malaria, patronize a doctor who prescribes, not quinine, but marshmallows."

Thursday said...

The book has a lot of substance, but the tone is an complete embarassment. I'd like a book I could pass along to some of the people I know who might have some sympathy for its ideas, but they simply won't get past the dickishness on evidence every couple of pages or so.

Rhetoric like that backfires if the purpose is persuasion. If the arguments are so damn good, why the need for all that over the top invective. Show don't tell.

Thursday said...

If a critic haughtily dismisses arguments of the caliber of Aquinas’s while at the same time showing that he has got his basic facts about the arguments wrong, then to point out that such a critic is either incompetent or intellectually dishonest is just to make a straightforward statement of fact, and one that is highly relevant to evaluating the critic’s work.

The tone of TLS goes way beyond this though. Putting in a couple sarcastic or snarky remarks after you've demolished an opponent is fine, but in TLS there's gobs and gobs of that kind of stuff all over the place, to the point where it overshadows the arguments.

Thursday said...

Sometimes, “breaking the spell” of a powerful rhetorical illusion requires equal and opposite rhetorical force (if I can borrow Dennett’s phrase).

Or it could backfire and build sympathy for your opponents. I know it did for me.

Johnny Boy said...

Just bought 'Aquinas' on audible! Love it!

Edward Feser said...

Thursday,

To quote Warren Oates from Stripes: "Lighten up, Francis."

I have many times now -- both above and in the earlier posts linked to -- given arguments which show why the tone is both justifiable and called for. I have also pointed out again and again that you can find many of the same arguments presented in a non-polemical manner in Aquinas. And still I constantly get people like you who completely ignore those arguments and the availability of a non-polemical alternative, and just whine yet again about how they wish TLS weren't so polemical.

Why is that? Perhaps because self-righteous high dudgeon is more fun and less work?

Edward Feser said...

Or it could backfire and build sympathy for your opponents. I know it did for me.

Let me get this straight: First, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. are unbelievably nasty to religious people in general in their books, all the while showing that they haven't done their homework. Then I hit back at these guys -- not at all atheists, but at these guys in particular -- with some polemics of my own in TLS, while showing that they haven't done their homework. And your response is to feel sorry for Dawkins, Hitchens, et al.

This says nothing about TLS, and everything about you.

Thursday said...

I have many times now -- both above and in the earlier posts linked to -- given arguments which show why the tone is both justifiable and called for.

Whether others are "asking for" some counterpolemic or not says nothing about the effectiveness of your own particular rhetorical strategy.

First, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. are unbelievably nasty to religious people in general in their books, all the while showing that they haven't done their homework. Then I hit back at these guys -- not at all atheists, but at these guys in particular -- with some polemics of my own in TLS, while showing that they haven't done their homework. And your response is to feel sorry for Dawkins, Hitchens, et al.

It has not been unknown for people to be put off by the rhetoric of Dawkins and Hitchens. You should learn something from that.

grodrigues said...

I positively revel in polemics and I am always left scratching my head when I hear this type of charges. Dr. Johnson is my lifelong intellectual hero and if I were in charge of education, the reading of Swift, the master of sarcasm, and Robert Burton, the master of invective and abuse, would be obligatory.

David Berlinsky makes the point forcefully: Name Calling.

Anonymous said...

hi Doc,

i really did enjoy tone in TLS. thought it was fitting. i mean, the gnu's really did need a taste of their own medicine.

Stephen Dawe said...

Unfortunately, the genteel facade of the new atheism debate was removed at the get go, and it was not removed by Mr. Feser.

It would be nice to be able to assume that the arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennet would become respectful if only we showed respect, yet that is not the case, simply because the entire strength of their arguments IS their tone. For those who find such rhetorical emotionalism persuasive, it is necessary to point out not just the vapidity of the arguments, but to counter the rhetorical flourish.

Anonymous said...

"Why is that? Perhaps because self-righteous high dudgeon is more fun and less work?"

Maybe you shouldn't assume that people who disagree with you and that 19th century polemicist you cite have bad motivations. Some people simply don't think harsh sarcasm and ridicule usually add to an argument--yes, Jesus and some saints have used it, but I suspect most of us don't have the spiritual maturity or wisdom to make the distinction between when sarcasm is deserved and necessary and justified, and when it is just something we like to do because, to paraphrase Conan, there's nothing more fulfilling than rhetorically destroying your enemies and hearing the lamentation of their women. I know the feeling, actually. It's pride dressed up as virtue. I'd be surprised at any Christian given to sarcasm who doesn't worry about the danger here.

Incidentally, I haven't read TLS so I don't know if this applies to you. But I don't like the sleazy sarcasm and puffed-up attitudes of the New Atheists and while I would welcome some of that attitude handed back to them, it is possible to go too far with that.

Donald

Anonymous said...

New Atheists try to dismiss critics by calling them 'fleas'. It's precisely the tone of TLS (backed up by rigorous argument) that makes it so hard to ignore.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit of a side issue, but some atheist liberals dislike some of the prominent atheists almost as much as you do, though not necessarily for the same reasons. (Though I do think a few of the reasons might overlap a little bit with yours.)

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/04/five_most_awful_atheists_salpart/

(I tried to type in the link, but something was wrong, so I've just pasted the address in.)

Donald

Anonymous said...

I just read the Briggs piece. Some of that sarcasm sounds like it might be justifiable. In particular, if Dawkins and the rest show themselves to be incompetent ignorant morons when speaking about Aquinas's philosophical positions, well, it's fair to call them that if they are arrogantly claiming knowledge they don't possess. It wouldn't be fair to say that about me, even though it's true, but I don't claim to be an Aquinas expert.

On the other hand this--

"smugness is half the fun of being a liberal (the other half being the tearing down of everything one’s ancestors, and one’s betters generally, worked so hard to build)"

is just silly. There's some truth to it--smugness is quality you'll find in both convinced liberals and convinced conservatives--but it's too over the top to take seriously even as an insult. Liberals did a little bit of fighting against some social structures that should have been torn down, like Jim Crow and slavery. It's not always bad to work against tradition. I think the harm in insults like that is mainly to the cause of the person who makes them.

Donald

Edward Feser said...

Maybe you shouldn't assume that people who disagree with you and that 19th century polemicist you cite have bad motivations.

Donald, I don't assume that at all, and with all due respect I think that you -- like Thursday -- are reacting emotionally rather than rationally. I was not commenting on "people who disagree with me" in general, but on Thursday, specifically, and on others who object to the tone of TLS but who do not bother to reply to the arguments I have given in defense of that tone. If someone wants to respond to those arguments and show what is wrong with them, fine, I'm all ears. But Thursday did not bother to do that.

Nor have I ever denied that there can be dangers in polemics. And I have also explicitly said that they are not always justified. But that they are justifiable and even called for in some (not all, but some) cases is something for which I have given principled reasons. And I think that unless someone is going to try to respond to those arguments, he has no business complaining about the tone of the book.

I am rather amazed by the reactions I get from people who cannot seem to keep all of this straight in their heads. I get people who complain about the tone of TLS while not objecting to the tone of Dawkins and Co. I get people who take exception to the tone of both TLS and of Dawkins and Co., but who simply ignore the crucial differences between polemics from the POV of an ill-informed offense (Dawkins and Co.) and those from the POV of a well-informed defense (TLS) -- which is like ignoring the difference between bank robbers and the police and complaining that both sides are equally guilty because they are both engaged in "violence."

There was even one weirdo who used to hang around the combox here who was routinely nasty to pretty much anyone and everyone who disagreed with him, and who accused me of hypocrisy for disapproving of this -- as if you either have to say that polemics or always OK or that they are never OK, but cannot say that they are sometimes OK and sometimes not. This is, again, like saying that you must either approve of all shootings or of none of them, but cannot consistently disapprove of bank robbers shooting at people while approving of the police shooting back.

Here's what I almost never see: People who actually address the specific arguments I have given in defense of the tone and try answer them. And when people know that I have given these arguments but do not address them, even while they complain about the tone of the book, then yes, I consider their motives suspect. And with good reason.

TheOFloinn said...

Rhetoric like that backfires if the purpose is persuasion. If the arguments are so damn good, why the need for all that over the top invective.

Yet, Dawkins et al. have been very popular despite this. Go figure.

The mark of a savage, Chesterton once noted, was not that his cruelty is greater than anyone else's, but that he laughs when he hits you and howls with outrage when you hit him.

Anonymous said...

"When you treat an ignorant bully arguing in bad faith as if he were a serious thinker worthy to be engaged respectfully, you only reinforce his prestige and maintain the illusion that he might be onto something."

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

By the way. What holds for theists re atheists holds for conservative (read: actual) Catholics re liberal Catholics.
When conservative Catholics call out liberal Catholics for their heresies, they are accused of not being very nice by the libs.

But sometimes you gotta speak firmly and call people out, for exactly the reason that Feser alludes to here. If lies are treated as worthy of debate, it creates the illusion that theological disputes are merely academic adiaphora, and not actually about the Truth.

This is about one's eternal welfare. So quit with the niceties.

I can think of a few Catholic bishops that should read Feser's words here...

Thursday said...

Just having had a quick look at Dawkins' The God Delusion to refresh my memory, most of it is slinky innuendo, punctuated by occasional abuse, which seems to me a much more effective rhetorical strategy than the full court press of abuse that is TLS. But I will say again that even there some of the more abusive things in TGD have tended to put people off. A very little of that sort of thing goes a long, long way.

Edward Feser said...

Donald,

Re: your last comment, I don't deny that liberals have done good things, though I also think it's significant that you had to go back to the 1960s to find an example. And my remark was directed at contemporary liberals.

Now, does it really apply even to every single contemporary liberal? Well, no, of course not. But it was, you know, a quip, and pretty obviously meant as such.

It really is amazing to me how thin-skinned and humorless people are about these things when they want to be. It doesn't offend me in the least when someone makes a quip about conservatives or religious people, even if it is nasty or unfair, as long as the person meant it merely as a quip. For example, here's an instance of a pretty funny quip someone once made at my expense:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/01/tried-to-feser-didnt-faze-her.html

But there is a vast difference between smart-ass remarks, insults, etc. on the one hand, and on the other hand asserting with all seriousness that teaching children to be religious amounts to child abuse, that religion necessarily rests on bigotry and superstition, etc. It's the latter sort of thing, not the former, that is objectionable in the New Atheism.

Thursday said...

Dennett on the other hand comes across as a doddering old professor. He's often muddleheaded, smug, sometimes even outright incoherent, but he's not abusive. Someone with a light touch (not Feser) could have a lot of fun with him.

Hitchens I haven't read, but I don't think he much relies on philosphical argument.

Edward Feser said...

which seems to me a much more effective rhetorical strategy than the full court press of abuse that is TLS

Yep, that damn TLS is just the most abusive, nasty, insulting thing ever written. Positively toxic. An affront to humane letters.

I mean, really, Thursday, steady on, huh? What are you, Dawkins' mom or something?

Thursday said...

Yep, that damn TLS is just the most abusive, nasty, insulting thing ever written. Positively toxic. An affront to humane letters.

Uh, yeah, its a shitty rhetorical performance.

What are you, Dawkins' mom or something?

Whatever else one can say about Dawkins, he's a very good rhetoritician.

Thursday said...

Jesus and some saints have used it

Chances are though they didn't go on with it for 300 or so pages.

TheOFloinn said...

@Thursday
I've read TLS and it is not 300 pp of abuse, except to the extent that presenting reasoned arguments to Gnu Atheists might pain their mental faculties. Most of it consists of straightforward accounts of Thomistic thinking with occasional snarky asides. This is actually better than those books which consist of snarky asides punctuated by ill-reasoned polemics.

I mean, when Dawkins publishes a column in which he demonstrates that he simply does not understand Thomas' arguments (as here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/258) it is a public service, not an abuse, to rip him apart.

Glenn said...

The world's most vituperous eviscerator may say... uh, sorry, excuse me--vociferate or spew... that the sun is shining. But that doesn't mean it is raining.

Still, those who think that tone is the acid test of truth might agree that two plus two equals a ballerina's short skirt--if stated pleasantly enough.

This isn't to say that a nice isn't nice, or welcomed, or maybe even better conducive to the reception of the utterance. Of course it is.

But if someone sees a $100 bill laying on the ground, reaches down to pick it up, then recoils in horror, "OMG! It has a grease spot!" Well...

Thursday said...

But Thursday did not bother to do that.

Defenses of polemics in general are not really to the point. The point is that TLS is a really poor example of how to do one.

Thursday said...

tone is the acid test of truth

Nobody has said this.

Josh said...

Whatever else one can say about Dawkins, he's a very good rhetoritician.

Had to print this one out so I could put it up in the ol' cubicle. It's been a long day and I needed a good hearty laugh. Thanks, Thursday.

Might I also note that Chesterton has been quoted to great effect in several recent threads. Keep 'em coming, people.

Glenn said...

>> tone is the acid test of truth

> Nobody has said this.

They don't have to.

goddinpotty said...

I'm with Thursday -- no objection to good invective, but it is just sad to read witless, ineffectual invective.

James said...

Honestly? As an effective atheist (although strictly speaking I land much closer to deism), I really didn’t think The Last Superstition was all that tonally jerkish. Feser doesn’t mince words; more than once he makes jokes at the expense of his opponents. But I’ve seen far, far worse, and some of his comments — like those directed to Hitchens, and frankly even those toward the Churchlands — felt more like good-natured ribbing than spittle-flecked nastiness.

So count me among those who can’t see why this remains such a big issue. If you like your religious polemics replete with bile, then just about any random book pulled from a shelf of your local Family Christian Bookstore is worse than TLS.

TheOFloinn said...

it is just sad to read witless, ineffectual invective.

So don't read Dawkins and cheer up.

Thursday said...

I'm with Thursday -- no objection to good invective, but it is just sad to read witless, ineffectual invective.

I should also be a bit more specific as to why TLS fails rhetorically. Basically, Feser only has two tools in his polemical toolkit:

1. Sarcasm AKA "the lowest form of wit"
2. Outright insult

They get old real fast. If you're not good at invective, you shouldn't write it. Period. You should write the books you are capable of writing. I don't think anyone here is particularly happy at the massive rhetorical fail that is TLS, but are rather quite disappointed that Feser wasted such an opportunity to actually do something he is capable of. I know about Aquinas, but still it would be nice to have a non-dickish book that specifically takes on the new atheists.

Anonymous said...

godinpotty said:
"I'm with Thursday -- no objection to good invective, but it is just sad to read witless, ineffectual invective."

Which is why you always reprimand atheists who do that on this blog, guys like that BI guy or the vegan dude with the personality disorder.

Crude said...

As someone who originally criticized Ed for the tone in TLS, I have to say... holy hell people, it's not that bad. Not by a longshot.

Yes, I think it can put some people off. But when Ed engages in it, he keeps it very targeted, he does so after making clear there are atheists whose arguments and attitudes are worthy of respect and consideration, etc.

It's also not very common in the book itself. Suddenly Ed will mention the New Atheists, write them off as idiots in some way, and then he's done and moving on.

So yeah, I think the book suffered some from that tone, but only slightly, and only in a certain context. It's certainly not "gobs and gobs". For that, you have to go to Harris' one book - Moral Landscape I think? - and see where he goes off on Francis Collins.

Edward Feser said...

yeah, its a shitty rhetorical performance.

Ah, I see, so it's not polemics per se that you dislike. It's just that you don't think I pulled it off effectively.

Nice fallback attempt. But even if we were for the sake of argument to concede your judgment of TLS's polemical qualities, I think that that in combination with this howler:

Whatever else one can say about Dawkins, he's a very good rhetoritician.

pretty much undermines whatever claim you might have had to be taken seriously. I mean, if you had cited Hitchens as an example of a powerful rhetorician, I would have wholeheartedly agreed. But the perennially humorless and constipated Dawkins? Are you serious? Perhaps you can regale us with some of his finer bons mot.

And of course, we've still to hear from you any reply to the arguments I gave in defense of the tone of TLS.

There's pretty obviously something else going on here with you, Thursday. I've got a suspicion as to what it might be, and I'll bet some of the other readers do too since we've seen this pattern before. But let's leave you to unspool for a while longer and see what comes out...

BenYachov said...

@Thursday

Feser's rhetoric is awesome and his insults are freakin hilarious!

The Gnus just make it too easy.

Anonymous said...

Orwell once wrote of atheists who "do not so much disbelieve in God as have a personal dislike of Him."

There are intelligent polemics (sometimes entertainingly so) and others that are sheer rant. Professor Feser's polemics are of the first variety. I'm no Anglophile, but one of the great things about British writers (e.g., the late Hitchens; Auberon Waugh--or his father, Evelyn) is that they will not put up with nonsense or palpable bad faith from anyone. They also have thicker skins than Americans and do not waste time with complaints of an adversary's 'unfairness'.

grodrigues said...

So if I am understanding Thursday, his complaint goes like this:

1. "the tone is an complete embarassment" (August 6, 2012 11:15 AM)

2. the "powerful rhetoric" backfires and actually builds sympathy for its intended targets (August 6, 2012 11:30 AM)

3. Prof. Feser should learn something from Prof. Dawkins. Specifically, that people are put off by his rhetoric (August 6, 2012 12:00 PM)

4. Upon refreshing his memory of The God Delusion, "most of it is slinky innuendo, punctuated by occasional abuse", and a much more effective rhetorical strategy "than the full court press of abuse that is TLS". But even so, it puts people off. (August 6, 2012 12:51 PM)

comment: by this time I am wondering how Thursday managed to stomach reading the whole TLS to the end.

5. "Whatever else one can say about Dawkins, he's a very good rhetoritician." (August 6, 2012 1:09 PM)

comment: as Josh pointed out, this one is really hilarious.

6. TLS is a really poor example of a polemics (August 6, 2012 1:32 PM)

comment: is it me, or the contention has changed? And why? Because now Thursday has to *defend* Dawkins tone and rhetoric.

7. TLS is a "massive rhetorical fail" (August 6, 2012 2:28 PM)

comment: the contention has definitely changed by now. Now it is not that people are put off by the tone, but that TLS is a "massive rhetorical fail". Which presumably "puts people off". And backfires and actually builds sympathy for its intended targets. Huh huh. A judgment which Thursday is totally competent to do, as shows his evaluation of Dawkins. Right.

8. "I don't think anyone here is particularly happy at the massive rhetorical fail that is TLS" (August 6, 2012 2:28 PM)

comment: come again? Are you a mind-reader? Because I am wearing my special tin-foil hat so there is *NO* way you are able to know my judgment of TLS's alleged "massive rhetorical fail".

BenYachov said...

The bottom line is even if we really do live in a godless Universe it is simply a brute fact that Gnu'Atheists are mentally and intellectually inferior.

They don't have enough frontal brain capacity to be even considered basic primates much less higher primates.

They are ignorant of philosophy, logic, reason, history, science and the very religions they reject.

There are non-Gnu'Atheist out there and they are a true challenge but the Gnus frankly need an intervention where their more enlightened non-Gnu Atheist brothers call beg them to stop helping Atheism.

Remember, they are inferior. There is no way around it.

Quantitive Method said...

It seems strange to claim Professor Feser's polemics are counterproductive when according to the Amazon sales figures, his book is the #6 best selling in the Agnosticism category (and the first that is a defense of religious belief).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/12762/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_b_1_4_last

Whoops said...

Quantitative, even.

Anonymous said...

@Topic

I don't think the tone of the book is too extreme in regards to polemics. IT's certainly warranted and I quite enjoyed the vemon directed at the "4 mules of atheism". There were part of the polemic, which I did not agree with of course but it did not bother me. One example (probably the only one that comes to mind) is the venom directed at Micahel Moore. I happen to like the guy (all politics aside) and I think he is a genuinely good person and a Christian, so that came off more of a covervative vs liberal agenda than against atheists. Regardless, I continued reading and didn't think about it.

Having said that I have no problem ridiculing atheists (the ones that deserve it not the peace-loving agnostic types). In fact, I think that's the best way to approach militant atheism since reason is well above their intellectual paygrade. However, I must object to a comment made by Edward drawing an analogy/connection between violence and verbal polemics. That to me is an inaplicable analogy. Violence (especially the sort that deprives life or life's essential form (losing limbs, paralysis etc.) is to me an abomination and cannot in any way be justified. Same goes for war. To be clear, I understand that war and violence in some cases may be necessary (self-defence etc) but never justified in the sense that it has been rehabilitated as a form of 'good'. You can call it the lesser of two evils. That I endorse, but violence in no way can it be spiritually justfied.


@Ben

--"They don't have enough frontal brain capacity to be even considered basic primates much less higher primates.

They are ignorant of philosophy, logic, reason, history, science and the very religions they reject.""

You hit the nail on the head. Sub-human is the term I emply to refer to these creatures.

Anonymous said...

A variant of this: Dear Religion, While you were debating what chicken sandwiches were okay to eat, I just landed on Mars. Sincerely, Your Pal Science

While you were arguing about who is ruder/dumber, or about what Feser says about what Aquinas said about what Aristotle said....

dguller said...

Honestly, I'm a liberal atheist, and I've enjoyed Feser's works immensely, especially TLS. I've tried to defend the ideas that Feser espouses that I find persuasive, including upon atheist forums, and have been met there often with rudeness and ridicule, despite being an atheist myself! So, I have to say that anyone who complains about Feser's tone is either a hypocrite or a pussy.

Oh, and as an aside, I've finished Brian Davies' Thought of Thomas Aquinas, and have started Eleanor Stump's Aquinas. Very enjoyable and thought-provoking, despite the inevitable disagreements about important issues.

Josh said...

So, I have to say that anyone who complains about Feser's tone is either a hypocrite or a pussy.

Hear, hear! Gather your broadswords, gentlemen, and come to the battle of ideas ready to cleave your adversaries in two!

Crude said...

Dear Religion, While you were debating what chicken sandwiches were okay to eat, I just landed on Mars. Sincerely, Your Pal Science

Dear Atheists,

We're well aware, given that the country with a ~90% theist population, with nearly 50% of the population believing in a young earth, was the nation responsible.

PS: The debate about chicken sandwiches was among the irreligious. You're just testy that most people reached a decision you dislike.

Sincerely, theists.

Anonymous said...

Dear Religion,
While you were debating what chicken sandwiches were okay to eat, I just landed on Mars. Sincerely,

Your Pal Science


Dear atheists,
You precious science was founded by Theists, expressing their religious awe at reality, based on a Theistic metaphysic.

Your kind neighbors (that you still haven't met),
History & Reason

PS. Stop by any time for a cup of tea!

rank sophist said...

Dear Religion, While you were debating what chicken sandwiches were okay to eat, I just landed on Mars. Sincerely, Your Pal Science

Because religion and science have the same goals. Because the Conflict Thesis is true. Because the Chick-fil-A controversy is a religious rather than political issue.

Glenn said...

Excerpts from the September 12, 1962 Moon Speech, by John F. Kennedy, first (and only) Catholic President of the United States of America:

- - - - -

Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space [be conquered]...

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours...

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?...

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school...

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.

- - - - -

Pattsce said...

I thought TLS was quite funny. The tone makes an otherwise very overwhelming topic much easier to read. It also makes me like the writer as a person. As a reader I enjoy seeing that he has a similar sense of humor as I have.

I have no idea why people are being such babies about this. Like, I still can't believe people even care about this at all.

When I read some bad atheist argument that uses some snarky tone, I never, ever go "I cannot believe how offensive that is; can you believe he took that tone?" I usually just get annoyed at how bad the Argument is.

Because I'm not a baby.

Pattsce said...

Also, I was looking at those Amazon figures. I had no idea TLS was that popular. I can't really tell how it translates to actual sales numbers, but that's nice to see.

BenYachov said...

Presented for you approval ladies and dude!

dguller! A Rational Atheist who does his homework! Someone to take seriously if he ventures a criticism of Thomism or Classical Theism because he has done the reading or will do it at some point.

Like Ace Rimmer, What a guy!

He has evolved.

Cheers son.

BenYachov said...

Follow up.

Which leads me to ask the Gnus who may troll here WHAT THE **** is your malfunction numb nuts! You didn't get enough love from mommy and daddy & the Almighty didn't give you a pony for Christmas!!!!!

Thursday said...

Nice fallback attempt.

Uh, when did I ever say anything against polemics in general? I specifically attacked TLS. Go back and look.

Now it is not that people are put off by the tone, but that TLS is a "massive rhetorical fail".

There is zero contradiction here. The purpose of rhetoric is generally to persuade. If it puts people off, they are less likely to be persuaded. (F***, I can't believe I actually had to make that connection for someone.)

Thursday has to *defend* Dawkins tone and rhetoric.

I was relying on Dr. Feser's characterization of Dawkins' rhetoric until I went back for a look myself. Hence the change. Note the sequence above. Dawkins tone for most of the book is better than Feser characterizes it, but I still think some of the more extreme things Dawkins has said have backfired.

we've still to hear from you any reply to the arguments

What's the point? The defense of polemics in general are irrelevant and the armchair psychologizing isn't really amenable to argument. Most people who aren't already sympathetic will be put off. I don't see the point in taking it further than that.

undermines whatever claim you might have had to be taken seriously.

Back at ya, Eddie boy!

Thursday said...

;)

BenYachov said...

Thursday's response reminds me of the blather I used to tell my Mother when she caught me with my hand in the cookie jar before dinner.

Hunt said...

"But there is a vast difference between smart-ass remarks, insults, etc. on the one hand, and on the other hand asserting with all seriousness that teaching children to be religious amounts to child abuse, that religion necessarily rests on bigotry and superstition, etc."

You don't think "Jesus Camp" is child abuse?

Hunt said...

Just read some stuff on that site and some of the comments. Will not be partaking of that discussion and now need a long shower.

Anonymous said...

@hunt

Because the misconduct of some people is indicative of the behavior of all. By your logic we should all think that Muslims are going to hijack a plane and fly it into a building. Of course there is religious abuse just like there is religious abuse by atheists in regards to their children. Yes, atheism is just as much a religion as any other. Do you know how many Christian were murdered and sbued because of communist atheism in the USSR? Does that mean that all atheists are the equivalents of stalin?

I usually ignore your posts, because you hardly have anything substantive to say as witnessed here but this was just too damn ridiculous to let slide.

Crude said...

You don't think "Jesus Camp" is child abuse?

Dawkins didn't qualify his comments - indeed, insofar as he's ever gone further on this, his aim has been at a Catholic upbringing or upbringings that teach about hell.

There's no defense on this one. Dawkins stepped in it, and everyone knows it. It's brushed aside, like the whole "Dawkins won't debate William Lane Craig" thing. Even atheists who give the "it's because he thinks Craig's views are horrible!" line don't believe it. Everyone knows it's because Dawkins is afraid Craig will intellectually eviscerate him onstage, and that all the other excuses have been exactly that - excuses.

God help Dawkins if Feser ever ambushes him in a discussion.

Eduardo said...

Well apparently teaching children our ways is child abuse. We all abuse of child in some way or another if we were to think like that.

Or that is just Atheist.... Web/Gnu atheist typical bigotry... or is it some form of pathological behavior... One can only wonder.

Maolsheachlann said...

I am one who found the Uriah Heep impression of too many apologists and theistic philosophers rather tiresome and namby-pamby and inauspicious when I was trying to make my mind up about God. "First of all, let me say how WONDERFUl Mr. Dawkins's prose is, and how much I agree with him about many of his points about institutional Christianity, etc. etc." Dawkins is a boor, and the weird Stockholm Syndrome that makes theists fawn over him is entirely misplaced, and highly suspicious to those who are on the fence. Besides, nothing in the TLS was really that bad. Saying Sam Harris looks like Ben Stiller? Please.

Arthur said...

Sheesh. I can't believe this is still an issue.

If you've got arguments worth looking at (and Feser does), I couldn't care less what tone you use or who you offend.

It's remarkable how long a discussion can go on without even looking at the relevant arguments. Some people would rather look at anything else; the tone, the people, the politics. No wonder there's little consensus. We don't deserve it until we're willing to focus on argument.

It's sad that a post like Feser's is even necessary.

Hunt said...

Had Dr. Feser added "necessarily" before "amounts" as he did later in the sentence, I probably wouldn't object. It seem clear, and I think all can agree, that religious indoctrination actually can take the form of child abuse. I would hope that anyone here who watches "Jesus Camp" would agree that some degree of abuse is involved. I'm not sure you want to defend religious indoctrination by comparing it favorably to communist atheist indoctrination. That's a bit like defending corporal child punishment by comparison to water boarding.

Hunt said...

And by the way, it's not as if Jesus Camp depicts some kind of deviant cult. It's pretty typical Southern Christian indoctrination. I've visited blogs where mothers eagerly describe the surveillance methods and outright spying and invasion of privacy they conduct against their children, all in the name of preserving Christian purity. This can last throughout teenage years and into young adulthood. We're talking about a phenomenon that probably touches millions of lives and causes vast misery.

Crude said...

Had Dr. Feser added "necessarily" before "amounts" as he did later in the sentence, I probably wouldn't object.

Who cares what you object to?

I'm not even saying that "Jesus Camp" is "child abuse". I'm saying that Dawkins never qualified his comment such, so your defense of him fails immediately. Secular indoctrination can "take the form of child abuse" as well.

Dawkins was targeting 'raising a child in a religion' and teachings of hell with his statements. They are idiotic, they are stupid, and everyone knows it. Stop trying to squirm out of this, and just admit it. Don't worry, we won't tell the other Cultists of Gnu you said Bad Things about one of the high priests.

Crude said...

Maolsheachlann,

Agreed, a thousand times, agreed. Hell, the man doesn't even deserve to be called a scientist - he's a scientist the way Robin Williams is "TV's Mork": something he was for a while, but stopped being a long, long time ago.

There's this habit for some theists to act wimpy as hell when talking to boors who despise them, especially if they have scientific credentials. I agree that Feser's rhetoric, whatever can be said of it, was pretty damn minor all told, and it's a nice change of pace from the usual bowing and scraping.

What's really funny is how the Cultists of Gnu are so ridiculously thin skinned about this. Too bad for them.

Hunt said...

"Dawkins was targeting 'raising a child in a religion' and teachings of hell with his statements. They are idiotic, they are stupid, and everyone knows it."

Yeah, well perhaps you didn't get the memo, but Dawkins doesn't believe in Hell, so having the opinion that teaching a child that he might go to a place to be tortured forever doesn't actually sound idiotic or stupid. Telling your children about your own personal beliefs is fine, allowing them to make up their own minds. Like it or not, you do not know God exists. Telling them horror stories based on your own frightened psyche is not okay. That is abuse, pure and simple.

Eduardo said...

Hunt the MIND READER!!!!!

Or the person who doesn't like the way other people think about the world. Of course the second option is the correct one.

Eduardo said...

Now sure, religious indoctrination may be abusive. But any idea can come with methods that are extreme, like learning to write in ancient Summery if I am not mistaken; you got beaten up pretty bad for making writing mistakes.

Crude said...

That is abuse, pure and simple.

No it's not, you sad little man. It was stupidity detached from scientific reality when Dawkins said it, and it's the same when you say it.

It's things like this that expose Dawkins as an intellectual joke, and his cultists as pretty poor specimens. So by all means, keep it up. ;)

Hunt said...

"No it's not, you sad little man. It was stupidity detached from scientific reality when Dawkins said it, and it's the same when you say it."

Well, go ahead and live in your own little world, meanwhile in reality, telling children that nightmares are real remains abuse. Get used to it.

BenYachov said...

>Well, go ahead and live in your own little world, meanwhile in reality, telling children that nightmares are real remains abuse. Get used to it.

Typical Gnu Hypocrite with one standard for himself & another double standard for everyone else.

I read the testimony of an ex-Atheist women who reminisced how her mother told he as a little girl when we die we cease to exist. She was terrified for years growing up of her eminent approach to eventual non-being.

At least when my mother told me about Hell she told me I could avoid it by love, repentance and faith.

That poor woman was told regardless of the life she lead she was going to become nothing.

So this bullshit about traumatizing kids is just that bullshit.

Your hypocritical kind are no better.

(Mind you this is not an argument for belief or the afterlife but it is an argument that Dawkins & his Cult followers are morons and hypocrites)

Anonymous said...

If there's anything I'd like to improve about TLS, it's the cover. It's so deceptively simple and harmless looking it hides the explosive contents. Other than that I enjoyed reading it and it is by far the best introductory book to apologetics that I have read. I'll have none of that mushy sheepy stuff that characterize many of those other books in defense of Christianity. Christian philosophy should be presented as it is: a robust intellectual activity that wants, among other things, nothing less than to detonate falsehoods. And of course, the real reward is that I learned a lot from it. The next step is to read Aquinas. ~ Mark

Johnny Boy said...

First they say it's wishful thinking, then they say it's abuse coz it's so horrible. Seriously, what the f..?

Hunt said...

Ben,
I'm open to being convinced that atheist indoctrination is abuse as well. Attempting to convince a growing mind of something that is your own personal philosophy about such ultimate concerns, as opposed to expressing it as your individual opinion, to me should be avoided. But this is really the corporal punishment/water-boarding distinction. You can't defend your position by saying it's really only as bad as what the "other guys" are doing. Tacitly, you are conceding that I'm right. Convincing children, while exploiting a superior status as parent and adult, of the reality of Hell as eternal punishment for a wayward life is a form of abuse. If we can all agree to that, I will be satisfied.

Josh said...

First they say it's wishful thinking, then they say it's abuse coz it's so horrible. Seriously, what the f..?

"It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?" --Orthodoxy

darrenl said...

How can you tell when you have a Gnu on the ropes intellectually? He starts to cry about how unfair you're being when you hit back with the intellectual force of Aquinas. He looks at the twig he brought to a battle in which 18 inch guns are squarely aimed at his head.

TLS is a book that was long overdue...and honestly Dr. Feser, I hope you do another one like it.

The Gnu movement is an intellectually dead entity. We know it. They know it. TLS proves it. The polemics just makes this fact glaringly obvious to those who read it.

BenYachov said...

>Attempting to convince a growing mind of something that is your own personal philosophy about such ultimate concerns, as opposed to expressing it as your individual opinion, to me should be avoided.

So you advocate a dogma of keeping children in a state of forced ignorant which you wish to force on the rest of us?

Good to know there Stalin.

That makes about as much sense as saying "I don't want to traumatize or scare kids so I won't tell them the consequences of talking to stangers."

We must indoctrinate our children into what we believe is the ultimate truth. That is our natural right & it is abuse not too do so. For Theists or Atheists.

That we should do it prudently and reasonably is a given.

A rational Atheist can tell his children about Epicurus' argument on why a wise man need not fear death(look it up brain dead Gnu).

Likewise a rational Christian can tell his children why they should not fear Hell if they believe and try to be good.

Totalitarian fascists like yourself want to force others to raise their kids your way.

The arrogance & hypocrisy!

>Tacitly, you are conceding that I'm right

No I have logically shown you are full of shit.

I am not a brain dead fundamentalist like yourself.

>Convincing children, while exploiting a superior status as parent and adult, of the reality of Hell as eternal punishment for a wayward life is a form of abuse.

No it is not only Fascists who believe this. Every Adult has the natural right to teach their children what they believe is the ultimate truth.

It is advocating totalitarianism to think otherwise.

Kids still have free will and at a later date in life can choose to believe otherwise than what their parents have taught them.

But there is no scientific evidence or practical evidence you can raise your kids philosophical neutrals or that to do so is better for them.

Where is your science showing kids not raised with any beliefs in anything are better off or better adjusted?

Also it is logically impossible to do so because children will ask questions and you will give your "opinions" as fact if you truly believe said opinions are facts.

Or if your child asks if Evolution is true are you gonna tell them it is only an opinion or theory?

Seriously Gnu? Do you listen to yourself?

You are incoherent and ridiculous!

BenYachov said...

>Convincing children, while exploiting a superior status as parent and adult,

Also there is another problem how do you teach your kids to follow your anti-indoctrination dogma without violating it yourself?

I take it chuckles here thinks kids should raise themselves or some such blather?

Everyone Theist or Atheist has a natural right to teach their kids what they believe is the ultimate truth.

The lesson here is to do so soberly, lovingly and prudently.

People who invent totalitarian dogmas that say otherwise need to be mocked!

Along with Flat Earthers, YEC's and reductionist materialists.;-)

darrenl said...

"Attempting to convince a growing mind of something that is your own personal philosophy about such ultimate concerns, as opposed to expressing it as your individual opinion, to me should be avoided."

I would love to see how this philosophy is communicated to a child without violating the very thing it's trying to promote.

Bobcat said...

I, for one, think all teaching of ethics, philosophy, religion, politics, and non-settled science constitutes child abuse. The child, after all, must decide for himself what he thinks, and if you decide for him -- if you even pressure him -- then there's no telling how you might warp him.

Jeez, now that I think about it -- y'know, *really* think about it -- the only responsible thing a parent can do for his children is drop them off at an orphanage.

Nick Corrado said...

Interesting that you quoted that comments on Leah Libresco's blog. It was via that post that I first read your blog, and now here I am having recently finished Aquinas and reading your blog's comments every morning as I wake up....

Anonymous said...

@hunt

--"I'm not sure you want to defend religious indoctrination by comparing it favorably to communist atheist indoctrination. That's a bit like defending corporal child punishment by comparison to water boarding."

What a foolish thing to say. I did not compare religious camps with communist atheism. I used communist atheism to make the point that broad generalizations regarding one's character cannot be drawn from the behaviors of other people who simply happen to fall under a given group/label. Good grief at least try to understand what someone is saying before responding.

Johnny Boy said...

At least the atheists here are orders of magnitude brighter than the ones I encounter. Some atheist internet warrior just told me this, and I'm quoting him verbatim:

"The inconvenient truth for theist: there is no evidence of their god. However, fundamentalists will bury this thought and convince themselves that they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief. Scriptural evidence is enough just because of the fact that it is written down in an authoritative-looking book. The holy book is the absolute truth, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book."

Hahahahaha!! I couldn't stop laughing!

Eduardo said...

Good thing there is no evidence that web atheists are any good at reasoning XD.

Truant said...

Much ado about nothing.

Eduardo said...

The phrase doesn't even grasp the fundamentalist position. Oh man, seriously how the heck these people come up with these ideas. I see what he means if you just come from the "ignorant, but convinced that you are right" position; but how the heck these people don't even try to explore their propositions.

I seriously think, that for the typical internet warrior what counts is to have an idea that seem to fit the data, of course the data you choose, not every type of data goes. If the interpretation what is going on seems to fit, Atta boy, you have the truth; doesn't matter that you could be totally wrong, what matters is that you can interpret thing in that way and they seem to fit the particular data!!!

Winning!!!

MagicMarker said...

"Attempting to convince a growing mind of something that is your own personal philosophy about such ultimate concerns, as opposed to expressing it as your individual opinion, to me should be avoided."

This is a great tyranny in my own mind, and an unpracticable tyranny at that. The only way to never impose your beliefs on a child is to not impose what are regarded as secular economic values that self-investment, thrift, and hard work. But the fallen nature of humans attests that these are not natural values. By not teaching virtues like these you are comdemning him to a cultural default you find ignoble and at times, positively evil.

It is entirely right and proper to teach a child what came before them. If you honestly believe there are giants, you condemn him to being overshadowed by not extorting him to stand on their shoulders.

If you believed morality exists, and that he should figure it out without the aid of society and parenting, then you have him blunder through heresy and false belief until he improbably comes to a correct belief. You would not have him rediscover chemistry on his own, why morality? And if you hold to a theology, why would one ever say "This is just my own opinion" and not, "You see those giants? Climb on their backs and see what you can see."

Nick Corrado said...

As an aside to my earlier comment, having now finished reading the comments, I just want to mention that as someone initially skeptical of TLS's effectiveness I almost have sympathy for Thursday -- almost.

The problem with his position is that he hasn't actually demonstrated that TLS has turned off any atheists. Dr. Feser has come at Thursday with valid justifications for his polemics, but Thursday isn't questioning their validity directly, but rather whether or not they are justified in light of actually "breaking the spell," as it has been put. But the ball, of course, in Thursday's court -- the burden of proof is on him to show that TLS's polemics aren't working, else his own snarky asides about "over the top invective," "massive rhetorical fail," and "shitty rhetorical performance" are in vain and he will simply come across as a hypocrite in light of Dr. Feser's more than sufficient defense of his position that is behind his fiery critique of New Atheism.

Rusty Mason said...

I would normally stay away from Christian books written after circa 1960, but the masculine style of TLS sounds so unusual that I must read it. Count me as among those who will only consider a manly Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Hunt said:
"Well, go ahead and live in your own little world, meanwhile in reality, telling children that nightmares are real remains abuse. Get used to it."

Hunt, the DSM IV does not consider Christian beliefs to be false i.e. delusions. Christian belief is perfectly acceptable and non-pathological. Teaching Christianity to children is not considered child abuse. This is the scientific position. You should get used to it. Stop your your anti-scientific rants.

Anonymous said...

@rusty mason

--"I would normally stay away from Christian books written after circa 1960"

This statement intrigued me. Why would you not read such book written after 1960? And what types of books are we talking about? On metaphysics? Or history? On science? On the doctrines of religion?

I am very curious.

Jack "Vaughn" Bodie said...

Whenever drips like Thursday or Donald fret about the tone, or "massive rhetorical fail," of TLS they make it seem as though Dr Feser spent 300 pages pointing at and poking fun at retards.. oh, wait - is that the point you're trying to make?

rank sophist said...

I see that the topic has changed to the "religious upbringing is child abuse" thing again. To the atheist(s) who support(s) this: how are you going to act on your conviction? Honestly, the only form it can take is state oppression of religion, which naturally leads to the anti-religious massacres of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and the rest. If that isn't your goal, then what, exactly, is your point with these accusations?

It might surprise you to know that atheism can lead to despair and nihilism. Sensitive children raised under it can be emotionally damaged--and look what happened at Columbine! Right? Right? And, hey: what about that sex education? A parent's comments about sexuality can be hugely complex-forming for children. Yet, telling them nothing means that they could be traumatized later in life! It's a paradox. I say we just use the state to ban everything--that's the safest route for children. Bobcat above suggested orphanages, but that's clearly not good enough. Growing up in an orphanage can be damaging, too. Nope, the only way to protect our stupid, passive, deterministic doll-creatures that we call children is to keep them away from absolutely everything.

Nick Corrado said...

Rank sophist, I had the pleasure once of reading someone who claimed that we shouldn't even decide what to feed children, that they should be able to choose from the earliest possible stage and that forcing foods on them is indoctrination. One wonders, among other things, just how early that is, and how the child's forming teeth will react to a diet of sugar and candy.

grodrigues said...

@rank sophist:

"Nope, the only way to protect our stupid, passive, deterministic doll-creatures that we call children is to keep them away from absolutely everything."

We could also kill them. Abort them. Or even find ways to prevent having them in the first place.

Those wee little bastards really are noisy and filthy.

Anonymous said...

"It might surprise you to know that atheism can lead to despair and nihilism."

Isn't this what Nietzsche and co realized? It seems like atheists nowadays have their cake and eat it too. And Hunt seems to be generalizing, he seems to assume that religious parents are insensitive and blunt.

Eduardo said...

My parents allowed me to eat whatever I wanted ... now I am overweight and depressive hahahahhaahaha.

Wow man, this anti-indoctrination thing is hilarious at best.

DNW said...

No fair, Feser. You are not behaving as a proper Christian punching bag should.

Of course your beliefs are all nonsense, but that doesn't mean that we don't expect you to live up to our expectations for your kind.

If you hope to save us from hell with all your metaphysical expostulations, you better be nice while doing so!

Please keep the tone "elevated" by standing at the blackboard simpering mildly and murmuring syllogisms, while we throw spit wads and engage in giddy backslapping. After all, it's your duty as a Christian masochist to do so.

Trust us. That will bring your superstition the only converts it's likely to get ...

Ferdyschenko said...

You detractors are spectacularly missing the point.


The only way to understand Feser is to love him. Without sympathy and enthusiasm, without the giving of ourselves, without a debt of love, there can be no knowledge of things that matter. As T.S. Eliot pointed out: "You don't really criticize any author to whom you have never surrendered yourself...You have to give yourself up, and then recover yourself, and the third moment is having something to say, before you have wholly forgotten both surrender and recovery." Even though at the outset we may be unable to explain what is to be gained from reading Feser, we should embrace him and expect to profit from reading him.

rank sophist said...

grodrigues,

Reminds me of a New Yorker piece I read that summarized a few books on the "morality of having children". One of them basically suggested that there might be a moral obligation to avoid having kids, given utilitarian pain/pleasure measurements. Life is worse than non-life, in other words. Better to never have kids at all than to subject them to the torment of life. The schizophrenia of the modern world never ceases to terrify me.

Hunt said...

How to put it into practice is quite simple. When you feel the urge to utter a statement of certainty that you have accepted with an element of faith, stop short. Trust your child to make up his or her mind about it later when their minds are at an appropriate level of development to do so. Otherwise, you're simply programming them. I've made up my mind, "there is no God" should be just as verboten. I don't know, it all seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

For those of you who haven't watched Jesus Camp, go do so. It's on Youtube. Then come back and tell me whether or not you think some form of abuse is possible. Once we have that as a benchmark, we can start the discussion on where to draw the line.

DNW said...

"It's a bit of a side issue, but some atheist liberals dislike some of the prominent atheists almost as much as you do, though not necessarily for the same reasons. (Though I do think a few of the reasons might overlap a little bit with yours.)

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/04/five_most_awful_atheists_salpart/

(I tried to type in the link, but something was wrong, so I've just pasted the address in.)

Donald "


Murphy has nailed Maher well and funnily enough; though as you point out, some of the others he seems not to like largely because they have been unable to detect, or accept, the implication that socialism necessarily follows from atheism.

I guess these particular atheists haven't memorized their Marx properly, and have therefore forgotten that atheism is humanism and humanism is socialism and yada yada yada the proper object of man's worship is mankind.

And once you know that you don't really need an argument demonstrating how as a good atheist you get from here to there ... Pass the IRS donation plate.

You just have faith.

RkBall said...

All I know is if someone called me "a theological Patton", it would be on my masthead.

(I hear Patton is now being referred to as "a military Feser".)

DNW said...

"rank sophist said...

grodrigues,

Reminds me of a New Yorker piece I read that summarized a few books on the "morality of having children". One of them basically suggested that there might be a moral obligation to avoid having kids, given utilitarian pain/pleasure measurements. Life is worse than non-life, in other words. Better to never have kids at all than to subject them to the torment of life. The schizophrenia of the modern world never ceases to terrify me.

August 7, 2012 2:58 PM"


As galvanic skin responses are not uniform throughout humanity, you may figuratively be on to something there.

Gosh, I wonder how the average political progressive would react if someone were to say to them, "Yes, our tests do indeed show that life is not worth living - for you. You're just not built for it ... check-out is on the left if you like "

Possibly not quite the particular consequence of nominalism they might have expected.

Eduardo said...

Actually the original idea was that the no indoctrination indoctrination was suppose to be not practicable, which I suppose it is.

Now you put a different standard, like things taken by faith. Well overall I think I do agree with Hunt that we shouldn't say stuff we take on faith to children; no wonder I am always saying "in theory" every time I am suppose to explain or describe something. But Hunt's idea is completely flawed... it all depend on the person epistemological theory.... so whatever, basically you said "teach your children what you think it is right."

Of course you meant your epistemology .... Which pretty much made the point of the people saying you just want to force your ways on other people.

well anyways.

Anonymous said...

@rank sophist

Don't forget to include Hitler in your list of atheist attrocities. Sure, he did not massacre Christians but his entire ideology was the crystalization of atheism as explicated by the Ancient Greek sophists as well as their contemporary friedrich "anger mismanagement" nietzsche!

Eduardo said...

Poor Nietzche, he just wanted to be free..... or something like that.

Hunt said...

"Actually the original idea was that the no indoctrination indoctrination was suppose to be not practicable, which I suppose it is."

That's a little hard to parse, but if it means what I think it means, it's just another form of slippery slope fallacy. That it's not practical to not indoctrinate is like saying that since we can't stop serial killing, we should show all five year olds the Saw series. I can almost hear the refrain "well, if we are seriously not to plop our five year olds down and show them Saw, perhaps we should outlaw all newspapers that might report serial killings! Titter titter."

Scott W. said...

When you feel the urge to utter a statement of certainty that you have accepted with an element of faith, stop short.

And where did this rule come from? Can I observe it in a lab?

Eduardo said...

it's just another form of slippery slope fallacy. That it's not practical to not indoctrinate is like saying that since we can't stop serial killing, we should show all five year olds the Saw series. I can almost hear the refrain "well, if we are seriously not to plop our five year olds down and show them Saw, perhaps we should outlaw all newspapers that might report serial killings! Titter titter."

-----------------------------------------------


Errr what !?

Perhaps I didn't grasp the critique, but the point was that in the end you will indoctrinate, even if at the start you didn't want to. There is no leap to another option, it is just that you will indoctrinate them eventually in some form of belief you have... whatever it might be. Is like a ship doomed to failure. That was the point.

But I think you prefer to uphold it even if it is not meant to succeed completely, well fair enough.

rank sophist said...

How to put it into practice is quite simple. When you feel the urge to utter a statement of certainty that you have accepted with an element of faith, stop short. Trust your child to make up his or her mind about it later when their minds are at an appropriate level of development to do so. Otherwise, you're simply programming them. I've made up my mind, "there is no God" should be just as verboten. I don't know, it all seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

Not particularly. Raising your child under hardcore agnosticism can be damaging, too.

BenYachov said...

@Hunt you are an incoherent mess.

>How to put it into practice is quite simple. When you feel the urge to utter a statement of certainty that you have accepted with an element of faith, stop short.

So again how do I pass the above concept on to my children without violating it? Or do the children of my children not benefit from this "wisdom"?

After all so far you have shown us no hard core scientific evidence this is in fact beneficial too our children and not harmful. Or do I take it on faith based on your interpretation of JESUS CAMP and your generalizing the weirdness you saw there to all religious or Atheist parents everywhere that this is the correct way to raise all children everywhere? In which case I can never teach this method to them on principle. Since it's truth is excepted on faith.

BTW side note this standard pretty much applies to any and all statements you might make to them. For example I have not been alive for millions of years so I have never seen species change or evolve. I take it on faith the scientific inferences I think predict evolution are successful. This is a reasonable faith but a faith none the less.

Thus I may never teach them Evolution is true thanks to this dogma since in my judgement it would be an act of faith.

>Trust your child to make up his or her mind about it later when their minds are at an appropriate level of development to do so.

So your kid picks up some literature from ANSWERS IN GENESIS or a JACK CHICK tract or any such wacky nonsense written by Daniel Dennett and you don't interfer? You let them believe what they want with no input from you? That's not parenting silly boy that is neglect.

>Otherwise, you're simply programming them.

I thought they had free will and are free later in life to change their mind? Plus it is still unclear how you will teach your children the value of this "wise" council without violating it?

Hunt your weird belief is an incoherent mess and unworkable. Even if there really is no God. You might as well tell your kids the Earth is Flat & be done with it.

Anonymous said...

@Eduardo

--"Poor Nietzche, he just wanted to be free..... or something like that."

The funny thing is will his claims about "freeing" himself from philosophy, religion and the like he never really believed in Free Will. He was a fatalist.

MagicMarker said...

>Not particularly. Raising your child under hardcore agnosticism can be damaging, too.

I believe there was an episode of South Park about that.

Moi said...

I say we need more theist polemics. Enough with the new atheists and their sycophants already, we need a nice shout to blow them off their pedestals already.

darrenl said...

"How to put it into practice is quite simple. When you feel the urge to utter a statement of certainty that you have accepted with an element of faith, stop short. Trust your child to make up his or her mind about it later when their minds are at an appropriate level of development to do so. Otherwise, you're simply programming them. I've made up my mind, "there is no God" should be just as verboten. I don't know, it all seems pretty simple, doesn't it?"

This is incoherent nonsense that just eats itself....I don't even know where to begin

Hunt...that WHOLE thing is a philosophical value that is taken on faith. That whole statement is about programming your kids to think and act a certain way. That whole statement assumes your values of what is to be taken "on faith" and what isn't.

...goodness gracious.

goddinpotty said...

Re tone, I picked up Feser's book again. What's the very first sentence, from the Preface on page vii? "At the time of this writing...the Supree Court of the State of California decreed that homosexuals have a "basic civil right" to marry someone of the same sex." Followed by some sniggering at how ridiculous the idea is. Gay marriage is referenced a few more times throughout the book, always in exactly the same tone. There are a few (extremely weak) efforts to ground this sniggering in natural law theory, but they are sketchy and unconvincing.

So this announces that the book is not a serious effort at philosophy, nor a serious effort to convince anybody who isn't already convinced. And it apparently doesn't care about anybody who might want to entertain both a belief in God and the idea that gays have a right to get married, which you'd think would be a good target audience for a serious philosophical argument. From the very first sentence, it is just a rallying cry for a particular political movement rather than an effort to find universal truth.

BenYachov said...

Of course goddinpotty shows up to save Hunt from himself & his incoherent dogma of it being wrong to teach children to believe in dogmas by trying to change the subject to wet hot manly man love & Feser's objections to it.

BTW just to note our buddy Richard is into the hot man love and still thinks Feser's book is awesome philosophy as it turned him from a bisexual Atheist to a bisexual Aristotelian Deist.

Oh well.

Anyway nice distraction Potty but double epic fail.

Anonymous said...

To whoever said atheism = humanism.

That's nonsense. There is no humanism in atheism. Given atheism humans are no better than dogsm trees or even rocks. It's all chance and matter. There's a very good book by Arthur Balfour (on of the main influences on C.S. Lewis' thinking) that unveiles the emptyness of the so called secular humanist movement. The tuth of that book of course angerer darwin' bulldog greatly (huxley).

Eduardo said...

Lol Potty. The tone isnt exactly good therefore is not a serious book of philosophy ..... Oh damn.

Glenn said...

...just a rallying cry for a particular political movement...

Flip and gip once had a race.
Winner was Flip, gip took last place.

"Hold on," said gip, "not so fast.
"Second was me, you--next to last."

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to ask, what other blogs forums do you guys participate in? I've found the people on this blog very knowledgeable, mature and insightful and the discussions (the vast majority at least) very stimulating. Do you have any other blogs or forums to recommend? (preferably ones without a huge amount of trolling and hate-posting).

Thanks you.

Edward Feser said...

Ah, see, now there it is. The mask slips. Scratch a guy who feigns outrage about tone or bemused contempt for purportedly archaic metaphysics, and you'll find a guy who's really just pissed off that someone is unapologetically defending traditional sexual morality.

Never mind that there are arguments given for that morality in the book. "We" "all" "already know" the arguments are no good, a mask for prejudice, etc. etc. Do stick to the talking points, please.

Thus are the people who actually argue for their position transformed into sex-obsessed bigots, while those who have nothing to offer in response to such arguments but ridicule and outrage are transformed into apostles of calm reason. But then, as the greatest pagan thinkers no less than the Christian ones would tell you, sexual vice does tend to cloud the intellect.

Edward Feser said...

Anonymous,

For starters, check out Maverick Philosopher, Siris, Just Thomism, and other blogs on my blogroll. (Bill Vallicella at Maverick Philosopher, who is less tolerant of fools and cranks than I am, allows only registered comments and only on some posts, but precisely for that reason you won't have to wade through any crap in his combox.)

DNW said...

"Anonymous said...

To whoever said atheism = humanism.

That's nonsense."


I said, that Karl Marx said it.

EPM, Private Property and Labor.

[Marx] "Atheism is humanism mediated with itself through the supersession of religion; communism is humanism mediated with itself through the supersession of private property. Only when we have superseded this mediation – which is, however, a necessary precondition – will positive humanism, positively originating in itself, come into being."





[Anon] "There is no humanism in atheism. Given atheism humans are no better than dogsm trees or even rocks. It's all chance and matter. There's a very good book by Arthur Balfour (on of the main influences on C.S. Lewis' thinking) that unveiles the emptyness of the so called secular humanist movement. The tuth of that book of course angerer darwin' bulldog greatly (huxley).
August 8, 2012 10:29 AM "


I don't disagree with your take on the truth value of the proposition nor regarding the way it has historically worked out.


But it seems that many atheists, even if they cannot quote the text I presented, would, (even in granting the somewhat superficial interpretation I placed on it) agree with that interpretation both as a sentiment, and as a rallying cry.

goddinpotty said...

Never mind that there are arguments given for that morality in the book.

Not really. I checked each index entry for "same-sex marriage", and didn't find anything I would call an argument. Maybe I missed something, so since I have the book around, you can supply a page reference.

It's also absurd to cast the same-sex marriage debate in terms of sexual morality. It's about people wanting to make a lifetime commitment to each other and have that socially recognized -- if they just wanted to screw around, what would be the point of fighting for marriage, of all things?

Eduardo said...

Well personally I don't care about same-sex marriage; I mean I am okay with it. But the problem as a friend of mine has explained to me is the purpose that marriage serves; which is to create a family.

Now there was this guy that marry his hand, or was it a woman; and there is that other case of a japanese wanting to marry a fictious character. Now as far I can see none of that constitute family, it doesn't produce children or anything like that.

If Marriage is just a "get together" thing, I don't see why to "fight" for marriage. People get together all the time, I have a friend that lives in such situation. This whole marriage rights sounds more like a fight to convince that homossexual couples are just like heterossexual couples.

It sounds more like you want THE ENTIRE SOCIETY TO CELEBRATE THAT NOW YOU ARE SOME DUDES BITCH!!! That makes no sense of course.

BenYachov said...

They are having some productive discussions on Same Sex vs Trad marriage issue over at Leah's Unequally Yoked blog.

(BTW shout out to Crude you are Da Bomb over there).

We all know goddinpotty isn't interested in having a discussion on the philosophy of marriage. He just wants to change the subject & hijack the thread.

Hunt's dogmatic arguments on not teaching dogmas to children are an epic fail.

Get over it Potty.

My general non-binding but obvious correct advice.

Leah's blog is the place to be for discussions on the hot sweaty man on man love & it's moral implications.

Anonymous said...

@DNW

I misuderstood you. You are in fact correct in your assessment. In regard to Marx, I think he confuses religious insitutions with the content of religion and also confuses lack of traditional religiosity with atheism. I understand what he means but that's both incorrect taken as a statement of fact and also rather misleading.

Has religion in the past through its institutions oppressed humans? Of course. That however does not warrant throwing the baby out with the bath water. That's where Marx's analysis goes wrong.

Anonymous said...

@Eduardo
Now there was this guy that marry his hand, or was it a woman; and there is that other case of a japanese wanting to marry a fictious character.

The guy from Japan programmed an anime character and projected it on a screen, had his friends attend the wedding and exchanged vowes and everything with her/it. Of course her/its vows were programmed and all but I'm pretty sure you can find it on youtube. There was another case of a Korean fella who married his pillow and a lady in India who married her snake.

Anonymous said...

Great quote :-)

Crude: You tell me to be sensitive because of how people feel, in a world where people use their feelings as weapons.

Eduardo said...

I understand the snake one. I happen to be snake in Chinese Horoscope... hope someone wants to marry me some day XD.

But hey what matters is the happiness .... although seriously... why call it marriage. Call it a life get together or something.

Anonymous said...

Eduardo said: "But hey what matters is the happiness .... although seriously... why call it marriage. Call it a life get together or something."

Probably because gays are used as pawns in this. They're told they need this for happiness.

Eduardo said...

Now I can see what you mean there. But only the most militant/extremist part of the homossexual community usually falls for that, most of the times I think gay people just wanna live happy lives with their partners... or whatever he choosed.

I heard that in some country in Europe they allowed same sex marriage... and basically most gay couples didn't married anyway; marriage doesn't seem to be all that important coming from the feelings/"necessity" land.

I just think the whole battle over it, is just political.

goddinpotty said...

Eduardo said: It sounds more like you want THE ENTIRE SOCIETY TO CELEBRATE THAT NOW YOU ARE SOME DUDES BITCH!!!

Hm, and what does that say about your attitude towards hetero marriage?

You must be a real hit with the ladies.

Edward Feser said...

Not really. I checked each index entry for "same-sex marriage", and didn't find anything I would call an argument.

To read a book's index or a few isolated sentences is not to read the book itself. There are about 20 pages on natural law and sexual morality from pp. 132-52 (though these must be understood in light of the preceding material about general metaphysics) and what is said about "same-sex marriage" in particular rather obviously follows from what is said about sexual morality in general.

Eduardo said...

Like I said Potty. If marriage is meant to have children, then hetero marriage makes sense because they produce children. Then it makes no sense to have same-sex marriage, but it makes sense to have same sex get together or marriage-like behavior.

But if you wanna get married anyways even though it makes no sense to be married in your case * I mean, get the SOCIETY to recognize the UNION *; then that means you want somehow society to make that type of social institution especial/alternative hence the idea of "celebrating" that. Bad choice of words on my part I suppose; but the main idea is that I don't see the sense in the objective of fighting to get together if not interpreted in some form of political move.

Yeah dude I am a real hit with the ladies XD, Mr "I like to impress the dudes in the locker room with my Dong! "

rank sophist said...

There are a few (extremely weak) efforts to ground this sniggering in natural law theory, but they are sketchy and unconvincing.

I checked each index entry for "same-sex marriage", and didn't find anything I would call an argument.

GIP shows himself to be illiterate and/or intellectually dishonest, once again.

BenYachov said...

>Hm, and what does that say about your attitude towards hetero marriage?

What does it say? Nothing really since it doesn't really follow anyone in a hetero marriage is "the bitch" unless the hetero couple in question are doing something unnatural that degrades the dignity of the other.

But that would be wrong too.

Brian said...

Anonymous @ 08/08/12 10:49 AM,

Check out Called to Communion. It is a Catholic blog directed at Reformed Christians, but it has quite a lot of philosophical discussion that would probably interest many here.

Brian said...

Yeah... I doubt GIP even read the book if he says there are no arguments against same-sex marriage init.

DNW said...

Eduardo said...


But hey what matters is the happiness .... although seriously... why call it marriage."


In order to get you to commit, as a "member of society" to a public affirmation. Even tacitly. Even unwillingly.

Thus, their squabbles become stipulated - by fiat rather than by historical experience - as worthy of social and legal notice. And to the same degree, as a marital contract dispute occurring between two persons who are (because of their class memberships) in principle capable of forming a natural reproductive union.

The recognition of a contract is generally a broadly social act which assigns, or signals its distributive significance.

Who among we libertarian leaning types really cares what buggers do with, or to, each other we reasonably ask?

Well, what the law courts recognize, you as a juror are socially compelled to recognize, and assigned a duty to involve yourself in protecting, as well.

DNW said...

Anonymous said...

@DNW

I misuderstood you. You are in fact correct in your assessment. In regard to Marx, I think he confuses religious insitutions with the content of religion and also confuses lack of traditional religiosity with atheism. I understand what he means but that's both incorrect taken as a statement of fact and also rather misleading.

Has religion in the past through its institutions oppressed humans? Of course. That however does not warrant throwing the baby out with the bath water. That's where Marx's analysis goes wrong.

August 8, 2012 12:53 PM


Marx and Marxists go wrong in a lot of ways.

Logic is another one of them.

Perhaps one of his present day acolytes can explain how the denial of the fact domain proposition that "God exists" entails the prescriptive and imperative proposition: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs".

Yet, whether they actually believe any such thing can be done or not, they casually yammer on as if it has ...

Eduardo said...

@ DNW

I seriously don't see why I should defend "modern" marriage. Shit, I remember getting bit to a pulp against my conservative friend when I was more leftist. My idea of family and marriage is as good to society as .... nothing at all. Anyways, Marriage today is just a get together thing, there is no meaning to it, thanks to our modern minds. Or is it thanks to the Big Bang... or the Multiverse... oh well.

I have created from experience the same vague/utopian ideas as the Leftists, I just lacked the necessity to push my beliefs and ideals on other people in the name of the greater good... guess Religion had it's toll on me XD!

Anyways, is an aberration on how people forcefully want you to be part of the Soviet/Borg/Collective. Being an individual is wrong... or evil.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, leave this place for a day or two and the thread just explodes.

I'm not clear in my own mind exactly when sarcasm is justified and when it isn't. But I think Leah Libresco has the right idea here-

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2012/08/clawing-out-of-the-cesspool.html

The people upthread who talk about not being a baby and only caring about the logic of an argument and being able to laugh off insults aren't very convincing to me. Maybe you can do it, but not everyone can (and anyway, some of the above sounded more like macho posturing.)

The point is that if you are trying to convince people on an extremely important topic, (their souls might even depend on it) then most of the time it's best to be gentle. If at all possible (it may not be in some cases) look for some common ground to start off with. There have been studies that show on political topics most people don't use their reasoning ability to dispassionately judge the arguments--they only use it as a lawyer would, to bolster whatever set of beliefs they already have. Add insults to the mix and somehow I doubt that will make things better.

But I'm not sure where to draw the line. I definitely think the New Atheists deserve some ridicule and for all I know (not having read it), TLS may hit the balance just right.

Also, all that I recommended above falls under the category of "do what I say, not what I necessarily do."

As for whether I'm guided by emotion on this, well, yeah. But that's part of the point. In real life most people aren't very much like Spock on Star Trek. They're not that good at following a logical train of thought (depending on the topic, sometimes I am and sometimes not, so I sympathize) and their emotions get in the way. Don't make it worse.

Donald

goddinpotty said...

I've skimmed the rest of the book. My impression is that the argument is something like -- our sex organs are directed towards X, so doing Y with them is a sin.

Perhaps I'm oversimplifying, but it seems like obvious nonsense. Our feet are directed towards locomotion, does that mean that playing soccer or dancing with them is a sin? (There are probably some fundamentalists who would say yes those things are sinful, but I assume nobody here falls into that category).

Worse, as I've argued here before, it ignores how evolution works. Every functional part of an organism, more or less, started out as something else and was re purposed by natural selection. So far from being sinful, "misusing" part of your body is doing the work of creation.

Brian said...

...

Yeah, he definitely did not read the book.

Edward Feser said...

Yeah, it's classic. "Instead of bothering to read it, let me just toss out a tired objection you've heard a million times and answered in the very book I refuse to bother reading."

Stellar, reality-based stuff, GIP.

dguller said...

GIP:

Actually, a far more promising line of argument that uses natural law in support of same sex marriage is to accept that our sexual organs’ primary function is procreation, but that procreation is not our highest good. As such, there are circumstances in which prioritizing procreation would result in decreasing our overall well-being rather than enhancing it.

I would argue that emotional balance, intellectual fulfillment, and social harmony are essential parts of our highest good. An argument would have to be made that prohibiting consensual adult homosexual relationships increases both individual and general well-being. I think a stronger argument can be made that persecuting a significant part of our population on the basis of sexual appetites that they never chose and cannot control causes needless suffering and compromises both individual and societal well-being.

So, the fact that our sexual organs are directed towards procreation becomes irrelevant, because even though it is true that they are being used “unnaturally”, i.e. against their final cause, homosexuals never chose to have the sexual desires that they do, are at increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality when their sexual impulses are belittled and ostracized, and thus their individual well-being is compromised. Better to accept them, and to encourage them to attain emotional balance, intellectual fulfillment, and social harmony, which are more important than mere procreation.

Once you accept that it is permissible to use your organs for purposes in contradiction to their natural ends for the sake of a higher good, then natural law could become a framework from which homosexual rights could be justified.

Brian said...

If I ignore the problems I have with your argument and grant its soundness, dguller, you still have not touched the issue of same-sex marriage. Even if we grant your pseudo natural law argument, it would still be an injustice for the State to recognize same-sex "marriage:"

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/05/two-questions-about-marriage-and-the-civil-law/

Edward Feser said...

Brian, even though I would obviously disagree with dguller -- see my post on "The metaphysics of romantic love" for discussion of the natural end of our romantic passions etc. -- as always he tries to engage the arguments of the other side seriously and honorably.

dguller said...

Brian:

If I ignore the problems I have with your argument and grant its soundness, dguller, you still have not touched the issue of same-sex marriage. Even if we grant your pseudo natural law argument, it would still be an injustice for the State to recognize same-sex "marriage

Not necessarily.

The purpose of the family can be understood to raise children into flourishing human beings, which can be done within either a heterosexual or homosexual family. Certainly, a heterosexual family can thwart the development of a child through abuse and neglect, whereas a homosexual family may further the development of a child. Furthermore, forcing homosexuals into heterosexual relationships for the sole purpose of procreation and raising children could be damaging to the children by virtue of the increased risk of mental illness in the homosexual partner, which could impact the children. Better that a homosexual be permitted to be in a loving homosexual relationship, and then raise a child in that loving atmosphere than in a environment characterized by inner turmoil and suffering.

Given the fact that homosexuality is in the minority, there is no danger to human beings failing to reproduce, as long as there are sufficient numbers of heterosexual couples procreating. So, that is a non-issue.

And finally, another advantage to allowing homosexual couples to marry and form stable families is that the fact that they cannot procreate – at least, in gay relationships – means that if they want children, then they will have to adopt children, and that would be beneficial to children who cannot find parents to adopt them.

Any thoughts?

dguller said...

Ed:

Thanks for the kind words. I have to say that I appreciate your work, and that it has had a decisive influence upon my thinking. Although we continue to have our fundamental differences, I do recognize the breadth and depth of Thomism, and continue to benefit intellectually from reading Thomist works, which I never would have read before encountering you and this website, and that, in retrospect, was a tragic loss.

Brian said...

Take a look at this passage from Bryan Cross' article:

The legal recognition and defense of marriage helps protect and preserve a correct public understanding of and participation in the natural institution of marriage, because just law is a tutor in virtue to the citizens raised under and informed by that law in their actions and thus in the dispositions they develop. If the civil law were to treat other types of union as marriage as well, this would teach the citizens under that law that marriage is merely an arbitrary social contract between any number of persons of any sex — a concept of marriage presupposed by the ‘equality argument.’ Such a law would obscure the truth about marriage as a natural institution, and would sanction and promote a culture of sexual behavior and dispositions contrary to that required to enter into and maintain the marriage institution as the essential foundation of the stable family. In this way the legal recognition of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman protects and preserves not only marriage, but also the social practice of forming families naturally ordered to the procreation and rearing of children, by which our society is maintained. Conversely, legislation that defines marriage as something other than a union of one man and one woman is in this way harmful to the common good.

Attempting to "redefine" marriage to include same-sex relationships involves a necessary cleavage between marriage and parenthood since same-sex relationships are, in principle, not ordered towards procreation. By redefining marriage, you are redefining family, too. Enshrining this error in law would undermine the common good:

The State has an obligation under the natural law to defend the natural institution of marriage for the common good, just as the State has an obligation to defend innocent human life. Legally defining other sorts of union as ‘marriage’ would obscure the truth concerning marriage, and distort the public’s conception of marriage and the dispositions and behavior of its citizens in relation to marriage. In such a case, the State would be failing in its duty to defend marriage. When a State’s marriage laws fail to defend marriage, its laws are in that respect unjust, and citizens, whether Christian or not Christian, are right to seek to rectify the unjust laws.

Marriage is the family's stabilizing bond, but what homosexualists are implicitly seeking is precisely the dissociation from marriage and parenthood.* What do you think will happen to the family when that stabilizing bond is undermined by the State? It will erode. You will see less families. You will get losers and lowlives, like my unfortunate cousins who got knocked up at a young age by a loser boyfriend. That is not a family, at least not a good one.

In short, legalizing same-sex marriage presents an injustice against the natural institution of marriage, a failure on the part of the State to defend and preserve it.


*On this, Jennifer Roback Morse's testimony to the House is worth watching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifUSSt--gLg

Crude said...

dguller,

Furthermore, forcing homosexuals into heterosexual relationships for the sole purpose of procreation and raising children could be damaging to the children by virtue of the increased risk of mental illness in the homosexual partner, which could impact the children. Better that a homosexual be permitted to be in a loving homosexual relationship, and then raise a child in that loving atmosphere than in a environment characterized by inner turmoil and suffering.

Who's suggesting that homosexuals be forced to enter into heterosexual relationships? That's entirely out of left field.

The purpose of the family can be understood to raise children into flourishing human beings, which can be done within either a heterosexual or homosexual family.

That's disputed, or at least it has to be qualified. Especially since, in natural law terms, I'm not sure we could even rightly say that a "homosexual family" is a real thing.

Given the fact that homosexuality is in the minority, there is no danger to human beings failing to reproduce, as long as there are sufficient numbers of heterosexual couples procreating. So, that is a non-issue.

For one thing, take a look at the replacement rates in western civilizations that have taken on a modern attitude towards sexuality. That alone suggests it's not a non-issue. Further, 'homosexuality' may or may not be something that can spread in a population (here we get into questions on biological factors, etc) -- but 'sodomy' is.

And finally, another advantage to allowing homosexual couples to marry and form stable families is that the fact that they cannot procreate – at least, in gay relationships – means that if they want children, then they will have to adopt children, and that would be beneficial to children who cannot find parents to adopt them.

Marriage is not required in order for adoptions to take place, nor does a marriage license magically grant a bonus to stability rolls. Both of these seems to fall immediately.

So, the fact that our sexual organs are directed towards procreation becomes irrelevant, because even though it is true that they are being used “unnaturally”, i.e. against their final cause, homosexuals never chose to have the sexual desires that they do, are at increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality when their sexual impulses are belittled and ostracized, and thus their individual well-being is compromised.

This doesn't work either. Noting that sodomy is a sin (again, this applies to more than heterosexuals) does not result in the demand that someone's "sexual impulses are belittled" or that they are ostracized, or their well-being compromised.

These sorts of complaints are entirely capable of being addressed - and should be addressed - without changing a single bit of reasoning about the natural law view of sexuality, much less changing the definition of marriage or permitting homosexual marriage.

Crude said...

I'd also like to recommend this link.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/08/6065

A pretty interesting one. Basically, a bisexual man raised by two lesbian parents, with some stern words about both gay marriage, and the "LGBT" treatment of bisexuals.

rank sophist said...

I think a stronger argument can be made that persecuting a significant part of our population on the basis of sexual appetites that they never chose and cannot control causes needless suffering and compromises both individual and societal well-being.

No one is arguing for persecution. The official teaching of the Catholic church is that homosexuals should be treated the same as heterosexuals. The only difference is that they are called to celibacy. Heterosexuals are also called to celibacy outside of marriage--and, even when married, celibacy or responsible NFP is required instead of birth control. In essence, the only difference in the treatment of heterosexuals and homosexuals is that one is allowed to have children.

Brian said...

Honest to God, if I were a homosexualist (i.e., an activist for contemporary liberal views on sexuality), I would no longer support efforts to legalize same-sex marriage after reading and carefully reading articles like the CtC article I linked to above. Once you see that this is primarily about the State failing in its duty to protect marriage (and, therefore, family), you see how it really is an injustice and a harm against the common good. You could still hold to your liberal views on sexuality while joining conservatives in the fight.

Anonymous said...

"The only difference is that they are called to celibacy."


But that is cruel! Imagine that you had same-sex attractions, and imagine how much it would suck when, without you having a say in the matter, you are forced by a recognition of Natural Law morality to go your entire life without physically expressing your romantic affections! How can we constrict a person into living a life without romance?

Crude said...

But that is cruel! Imagine that you had same-sex attractions, and imagine how much it would suck when, without you having a say in the matter, you are forced by a recognition of Natural Law morality to go your entire life without physically expressing your romantic affections! How can we constrict a person into living a life without romance?

I'm tempted to believe that, while the temptations may be severe, a life without say... anal sex, isn't some kind of vicious, horrible penalty.

I mean, that's what's being defended here. Rough anal sex, oral sex, etc. Granted, even heterosexual people have an interest in this sort of thing (though I think if they had an exclusive interest in it, most people would call it disordered).

So no, it's not cruel. Maybe it's difficult for some people. But cruel? Not at all.

goddinpotty said...

@dguller -- it's nice that natural law does not necessarily imply a lack of tolerance toward gays. But (a) I personally don't care, having not the slightest interest in natural law as a concept, and (b) it reinforces my initial point (which was not about gay marriage per se and was more on-topic than people seem to have realized). If what you say is so, then it's even more the case that Feser did not have to start out his book on the existence of God by sniggering at marriage equality.

So I disagree that your line of argument is "more promising". In fact, I rather like the promise of my own thinking, seeing as how it identifies a fundamental flaw in the foundations of natural law theory that I have not seen anywhere else (that is to say, I'm claiming some originality, although I doubt I'm the first to make that argument, I came up with it on my own).

This is why I bother to enter into the fights here; they help me clarify my own ideas. In this case, the flaws of natural law help illuminate the newer, exciting, more accurate, and more productive mode of evolutionary thinking.

Anonymous said...

Aquinas seems to assume that a human organ can have only one end or purpose. Does he ever actually argue that general point? I find it strange for the simple reason that human hands have many, even an indeterminate number of different purposes, e.g., feeding oneself, chopping down trees, bathing a baby, expressing affection, religious ritual performance, etc., etc., etc.

Crude said...

Aquinas seems to assume that a human organ can have only one end or purpose.

As others have said, read Aquinas or TLS (If, apparently, you have the herculean mettle required to suffer through Ed, uh... making fun of Dawkins) to get a better understanding of the reply to this, assuming you want something more depthful.

gip,

This is why I bother to enter into the fights here; they help me clarify my own ideas.

LOL.

Mr. Green said...

Anonymous: Aquinas seems to assume that a human organ can have only one end or purpose.

No, opponents of Aquinas seem to assume that Aquinas assumed that. It's a completely understandable mistake, though — anyone who has no idea what Aquinas or his expositors actually say could fall into that trap!

Mr. Green said...

Rank Sophist: In essence, the only difference in the treatment of heterosexuals and homosexuals is that one is allowed to have children.

There isn't even that much difference. Catholic doctrine teaches that, generally speaking, anyone can get married and have children — in the natural, normal way, which involves the co-operation of one person of each sex. Depending on your temperament, you may or may not feel inclined towards married family life, for all sorts of reasons, some good, some bad; some serious, some trivial. Nobody is obliged to do so. The rules for marriage and family apply equally to everyone — it is precisely because the Church insists on treating all men equally, regardless of their idiosyncratic impulses, that the rules take the form they do. Or, in terms of natural law, "homosexuals" and "heterosexuals" are of the same nature, i.e. human nature, and thus natural law applies to them equally. It is seldom pointed out that the law does not in fact prevent anyone of any sexual proclivity from getting married, which just shows how far gone the authentic meaning of marriage already is.

Mr. Green said...

GoddinPotty: Perhaps I'm oversimplifying, but it seems like obvious nonsense. Our feet are directed towards locomotion, does that mean that playing soccer or dancing with them is a sin?

Forget all the other many problems with what you said. I want to see you demonstrate how to dance or play soccer without locomoting.

rank sophist said...

GIP cannot be serious. It has to be some sort of a joke.

As for the Anon at 8:27 PM,

Why is romance considered a necessary component of life by so many neo-liberals? (Not that I'm a conservative--but that's beside the point.) Some of the world's most famous men spent their lives without it. Michelangelo and Thomas Aquinas, for instance.

Regardless, natural law and human telos place certain objective moral restrictions on us. Unless you reject the systems wholesale, I don't see how you're going to argue for gay marriage and so forth. But, if you do reject them, then you're left with the is-ought problem and idiocy like utilitarianism. Quite the paradox. Perhaps you should just bite the bullet and let homosexuals live morally. It's not like natural law goes much easier on heterosexuals, anyway. Most modern (distorted) understandings of sexuality are totally out of the question.

rank sophist said...

Mr. Green,

Actually, I was aware that Catholic doctrine allowed marriage to everyone. I was merely operating under the assumption that the hypothetical people in question would not be interested in heterosexual relationships. You were right to bring this point up, though.

Eduardo said...

DId I just read... I have no interest in that which I critique ...

Oh damn it GIP, just fire your cannons and let's see how good you are.

Eduardo said...

Can't find anything Potty has said about Natural Law around the blog... SO I guess I will have to wait.

Arthur said...

"I've skimmed the rest of the book..."

I'm getting flashbacks to that 'Hallq' guy who also attacked Ed's ideas without actually bothering to read them first. GIP openly tells us that he only looked in the index and "skimmed" the rest of the book. Er, GIP, you do realise that you're at least supposed to pretend to be rational... right?

I try to avoid speculating about people's motives, but here I can't resist. I suspect that GIP's pride forced him to get TLS and pretend to read it. After all, he's a superior, rational thinker who can engage his faith-based, religious opponents... or so he thinks. On the other hand, his ignorance and dogmatism prevent him from actually reading the book in any substantial way. He's stuck between a rock and a hard place, too proud to ignore his opponents, and too ignorant and irrational to properly engage with them. I almost feel sorry for him.

Eduardo said...

Hey Bruno Latour will speak in my university today XD.

Anonymous said...

dguller, while there is an increased prevalence of depression and suicide among gays, it is not always clear what the cause is. In societies which are tolerant and allow gay marriage there is still a lot of that around.

Secondly I would not say calling anal sex sinful and restricting marriage to two people who can procreate in principle, amounts to persecution.

dguller said...

Brian:

Attempting to "redefine" marriage to include same-sex relationships involves a necessary cleavage between marriage and parenthood since same-sex relationships are, in principle, not ordered towards procreation. By redefining marriage, you are redefining family, too.

Even if marriage is a natural institution, it can still be redefined to focus upon whatever aspect of human nature you wish to exemplify. You can certainly focus upon the procreative aspect of our appetitive nature, but you can also focus upon our need for mutual love and affection in relationships, as well, and make that the primary final end of marriage. And that is my point, you can accept the natural law framework, and still accept homosexual marriage by denying that procreation is necessary for marriage, but still retain the love and affection between consenting adults, and the option to raise children, either one’s own or adopted.

Marriage is the family's stabilizing bond, but what homosexualists are implicitly seeking is precisely the dissociation from marriage and parenthood.* What do you think will happen to the family when that stabilizing bond is undermined by the State? It will erode. You will see less families. You will get losers and lowlives, like my unfortunate cousins who got knocked up at a young age by a loser boyfriend. That is not a family, at least not a good one.

I agree that marriage is “the family’s stabilizing bond”, but what counts as a family must change. Does an infertile couple who adopts a child not count as a “family”, because they did not have their child “naturally”? Under your account, they would not count, because only families that do things “naturally”, i.e. heterosexual intercourse resulting in procreation, should count as a “family”. Perhaps in that case, that child should not get the same rights as a child that was naturally born to their parents?

Also, this is an empirical question in which anecdotal data is not helpful. From what I understand, when you compare areas of the United States where “traditional” marriage is considered sacredly between a man and a woman to other areas in which they have allowed homosexual marriages and other liberal changes, you find lower abortion rates, crime, and so on, in the latter compared to the former. So, the societal breakdown that you imagine does not seem to be born out by the data.

Eduardo said...

o_o me wants to see the data now ... damn you dguller, you made me curious XD.

But don't bother .... I will look u_U!!!! myself

dguller said...

Crude:

Who's suggesting that homosexuals be forced to enter into heterosexual relationships? That's entirely out of left field.

If they want to have approved intimate relationships and ever want to have children of their own, that is what they would be forced to do. As rank mentioned below, the official teaching of the Catholic church is that homosexuals must remain celibate, or be in a heterosexual marriage.

That's disputed, or at least it has to be qualified. Especially since, in natural law terms, I'm not sure we could even rightly say that a "homosexual family" is a real thing.

Well, since “marriage” is a human institution, like “capitalism”, we can call it whatever we want, as long as it is consistent with at least some aspects of our human nature. But I think that we can choose which aspects to prioritize, and thus we can choose to prioritize mutual bonds of affection, intellectual stimulation, and so on, rather than just procreation.

For one thing, take a look at the replacement rates in western civilizations that have taken on a modern attitude towards sexuality. That alone suggests it's not a non-issue. Further, 'homosexuality' may or may not be something that can spread in a population (here we get into questions on biological factors, etc) -- but 'sodomy' is.

The birth rate in Iran, which actively persecutes homosexuals and prioritizes heterosexual marriage, is the same as the birth rate in Canada despite its legalization of homosexual marriage in 2005.

Marriage is not required in order for adoptions to take place, nor does a marriage license magically grant a bonus to stability rolls. Both of these seems to fall immediately.

But according to pro-traditional marriage types, it should be required. After all, the child needs an environment of maximal stability, and only traditional marriage can possibly be stable.

This doesn't work either. Noting that sodomy is a sin (again, this applies to more than heterosexuals) does not result in the demand that someone's "sexual impulses are belittled" or that they are ostracized, or their well-being compromised.

And yet that is precisely what happens when you identify a sub-group of humans as less human than others, which is precisely what homosexuals are considered to be, even within this framework. After all, heterosexuals actualize their human natures more than homosexuals, and thus are more human than homosexuals, which are just inferior kinds of human beings.

A pretty interesting one. Basically, a bisexual man raised by two lesbian parents, with some stern words about both gay marriage, and the "LGBT" treatment of bisexuals.

Anecdotes are great. Any empirical studies that show that homosexual “marriages” result in more dysfunction to family members than heterosexual marriages? From what I know, they are essentially the same in terms of such outcomes, or they have marginal differences. Furthermore, even if such a difference could be found, I have to wonder how much of it is due to the inevitable teasing and taunting of those children for having “two dads”, and perhaps the mental health sequelae of that abuse could affect their well-being.

Anonymous said...

dguller, are you suggesting that gays who are not allowed to marry turn to violence? I think it's more likely that there are other factors - correlation is not always causation.

It may be that impoverished or under privileged communities often hold onto a more traditional religion on paper (or a more liberal almost Marxist version thereof) at least but still resort to breaking its teachings by engaging in extra marital sex, having abortions as a result and having more crime. Religion in that sense often goes with some sort of cultural identity e.g. Hispanics = Catholics vs WASP oppressors. It may also be that there are two sub populations = the more traditional people living in stable homes and elements of their offspring who turn to gangs/drugs and who reject tradition/religion (despite their tattoos or cultural affiliations) for appeals of the secular world.

dguller said...

Anonymous:

Those are all certainly possibilities. The bottom line is that the issue is far more complex than “natural marriage = procreation = heterosexual marriage = good for children” makes it seem. There are multiple factors involved, confounding variables, and a very confusing set of data that is often difficult to interpret.

Also, it may be the case that the reason why homosexuals have such high incidence of mental illness and suicide has less to do with homosexuality per se, but with a homosexual’s experience in a heterosexually dominant world, and being treated as inferior human beings by the dominant community. If that is the case, then declaring homosexuality to be unhealthy is a self-fulfilling prophecy by the dominant community in which it declares this to be truth, mistreats and abuses homosexuals, they become dysfunctional, and then the community can point with satisfaction that they were right all along.

Mark Duch said...

I'm just going to say this: in an age when an entire voting bloc finds the comedic rhetorical traps of the Daily Show and Colbert Report to be perfectly fine substitutes for actual arguments based upon reason and logic, it is important to be able to speak their language by putting in some "oh snap" moments every now and then. The atheism that must be combatted in the present age is not one of reason and high-minded discourse, but one of snarky presumption and arrogant combox sound-bytes. So, excellent work with the tone of TLS, Dr. Feser. When the aforementioned folks start whining for civility of tone in spite of their track record for lack of the same, you know you've hit a nerve.

Crude said...

dguller,

If they want to have approved intimate relationships and ever want to have children of their own, that is what they would be forced to do.

No. No, it's not.

Want to adopt a child, even if you're single? That's no sin. Hey, would you like to adopt a child, and you and your very good friend shall raise said child? Again, not a sin, and not a concern - it's a live possibility.

Now, sexual activity with or behavior with that friend? That's where problems can come in. But a relationship without the sexual aspects - even if there are temptations at times? Not a problem, superficially.

So no, you're flat out wrong on this.

Well, since “marriage” is a human institution, like “capitalism”,

Not according to either Catholic teaching as I understand it, nor natural law as I understand it - and which you, I thought, were attempting to argue within.

we can call it whatever we want, as long as it is consistent with at least some aspects of our human nature.

We can call it whatever we want? Great. I have a suggestion.

How about you come up with something that isn't marriage or called marriage, and institute that for homosexual sexual relationships?

Problem solved, yes?

The birth rate in Iran, which actively persecutes homosexuals and prioritizes heterosexual marriage, is the same as the birth rate in Canada despite its legalization of homosexual marriage in 2005.

Iran is A) an outlier among its set, and B) even in the section you quoted, I did not say that "homosexual marriage" was the causal factor. I said a modern attitude towards sexuality - which, laws aside, is prevalent in Iran.

Do you really deny this?

But according to pro-traditional marriage types, it should be required. After all, the child needs an environment of maximal stability, and only traditional marriage can possibly be stable.

I'm sorry - what? Where did I make the claim that "only traditional marriage can possibly be stable", much less stable enough for it to benefit a child as opposed to an orphanage?

And where is the claim that only married couples can adopt children, and say... single people cannot? I certainly didn't make that claim in this thread. It's absolutely not the teaching of the Catholic church. It's not a claim of natural law proponents.

So, sorry - you're arguing with a phantom on this one.

Crude said...

And yet that is precisely what happens when you identify a sub-group of humans as less human than others, which is precisely what homosexuals are considered to be, even within this framework. After all, heterosexuals actualize their human natures more than homosexuals, and thus are more human than homosexuals, which are just inferior kinds of human beings.

Strange. I mean, you are saying that. I am not saying that. No other proponent of traditional marriage or critic of same-sex sexual behavior is saying that in this thread, and I'd disagree with any who did. So this really seems like, again, something you're just making up to take a swing at.

It's especially ridiculous given that celibacy is a requirement for most of the clergy in the Catholic church. And, you know, Mary, Mother of God, ever virgin.

C'mon, dguller. Did you even think this reply through before you made it? Because a line which amounts to 'people who don't have sex are subhuman according to natural law or Catholic teaching' is a real, real bad move to make here.

I suggest you concede on this one, and apologize for trying to put words in the mouths of critics of some types of sexual behavior. Because really, that's the only rational response on this particular point.

And incidentally, fuck you for telling me that I think of the friends and family I have, some of whom not only have same-sex attraction, but some of whom are transexuals, are "inferior beings". They are people who have made mistakes (and I've made my share), they are people who struggle with their mistakes, and they are even people who disagree with me strongly. But "inferior beings"? What a bullshit little move for a precious, and until your reply, polite and reasonable discussion.

Anecdotes are great. Any empirical studies that show that homosexual “marriages” result in more dysfunction to family members than heterosexual marriages?

Wow, okay.

"Regnerus’s study identified 248 adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships. Offered a chance to provide frank responses with the hindsight of adulthood, they gave reports unfavorable to the gay marriage equality agenda. Yet the results are backed up by an important thing in life called common sense: Growing up different from other people is difficult and the difficulties raise the risk that children will develop maladjustments or self-medicate with alcohol and other dangerous behaviors. Each of those 248 is a human story, no doubt with many complexities."

Sounds like exactly the sort of thing you're asking to read, right? I'll give you the link to the article containing that quote.

Wait, hold on. I already did. It's the same link I gave you, and which you trashed and didn't bother reading.

But you know what? That's okay. Because you already poisoned the well: if the results are bad, well, clearly they're due to bigotry. And if the results are good, well, that's obviously because same-sex marriages are super and there are no extraneous factors at work.

Crude said...

It's the same link I gave you, and which you trashed and didn't bother reading.

Mistake there. I didn't give that to dguller. I gave it to no one in particular, because I thought it offered and interesting insight and had some pertinent information.

Eduardo said...

First paper I found said that there is a great body of research that shows no statistical correlation with lesbian "couples" and something bad, like depression, anxiety, loss of money or something like that.

I need to do the analysis on the calculations though U_U .... damned be me and my laziness.

Edward Feser said...

Hi dguller,

Very kind, thank you! Always a pleasure to have you around.

grodrigues said...

@rank sophist:

"GIP cannot be serious. It has to be some sort of a joke."

Surely there is a typo in the second sentence. It is "He" instead of "It", although I grant that his speech does make him sound like a badly botched ELIZA clone.

dguller said...

Crude:

Want to adopt a child, even if you're single? That's no sin. Hey, would you like to adopt a child, and you and your very good friend shall raise said child? Again, not a sin, and not a concern - it's a live possibility.

We are talking about homosexuals. Would the Catholic church approve of a single homosexual adopting a child, if they remained celibate? Also, would the Catholic church approve of two homosexual friends who are not being intimate with one another adopting a child together as long as they are both celibate? If they had a single homosexual encounter with someone, then would the Catholic church rescind the adoption?

Not according to either Catholic teaching as I understand it, nor natural law as I understand it - and which you, I thought, were attempting to argue within.

Marriage has to take into consideration human nature in order to justify its rules, but it is not necessarily “natural” in the sense of being a necessary part of being human to begin with. Sure, it is one way of being human, but it does not follow that there are not others that can also help an individual achieve well-being. I think that defining the “nature” of something as complex as a human being is more tricky than traditionalists make it seem, and that assumptions and perspectives inevitably are involved in deciding what the nature of X is. So, I can accept that there is a single nature, which can manifest itself in different ways, according to different perspectives, which pick out different aspects of that nature, but not necessarily being fully reducible to a single nature. It would be similar to the transcendentals, which have different senses, but the same referent.

How about you come up with something that isn't marriage or called marriage, and institute that for homosexual sexual relationships?

Sure, you can call it “homosexual marriage”, grant it all the same rights and privileges as heterosexual marriage, but make it specific for homosexuals. Done? I mean, what about marriages between individuals who never want to have children? Should they not be called “married”, either? After all, they are intentionally thwarting their natures.

Iran is A) an outlier among its set, and B) even in the section you quoted, I did not say that "homosexual marriage" was the causal factor. I said a modern attitude towards sexuality - which, laws aside, is prevalent in Iran.

Fair enough. So, this only involves homosexuality in that the acceptance of homosexuality is yet another instance of the rejection of traditional marriage, which is a part of the “modern attitude towards sexuality”. Where would you say is a good example of a country that prioritizes the traditional attitude towards sexuality with virtually no modernity whatsoever, and which is flourishing overall compared to countries that have a primarily modern attitude over the traditional attitude?

Also, if contraception, for example, is a part of the modern attitude, then what about the work of people like Amartya Sen, who argues that empowering women through things such as education and contraception, actually leads to improved human flourishing, because the intellectual and creative potential of women can be utilized to better a society, other than by keeping them at home to raise a plentitude of children?

dguller said...

Crude:

I'm sorry - what? Where did I make the claim that "only traditional marriage can possibly be stable", much less stable enough for it to benefit a child as opposed to an orphanage?

Then what is the point of emphasizing traditional marriage when you seem to agree that there are a number of other possible social arrangements of individuals in which a child can flourish? Either traditional marriage is better than the alternatives, in which case it should be always prioritized over others, or it is equal to the alternatives, in which case it has no priority or importance over them, or it is inferior to the alternatives, in which case it should not be considered at all.

And where is the claim that only married couples can adopt children, and say... single people cannot? I certainly didn't make that claim in this thread. It's absolutely not the teaching of the Catholic church. It's not a claim of natural law proponents.

Why should single people adopt children if natural law states that children are best raised in heterosexual marital relationships?

Strange. I mean, you are saying that. I am not saying that. No other proponent of traditional marriage or critic of same-sex sexual behavior is saying that in this thread, and I'd disagree with any who did. So this really seems like, again, something you're just making up to take a swing at.

I am just saying what follows from natural law in the Aristotelian-Thomist framework. Say you have X and Y, which are both examples of A. If X actualizes it’s A nature more than Y, then X is a better A than Y. That is just based upon Thomist metaphysics. And if that is true, then if John is in a heterosexual marital relationship and Peter is in a homosexual relationship, then John is actualizing his human nature more than Peter, which means that John is a better human being than Peter is. If you find that repugnant, then take it up with the metaphysics, not with me.

It's especially ridiculous given that celibacy is a requirement for most of the clergy in the Catholic church. And, you know, Mary, Mother of God, ever virgin.

Then if thwarting the natural tendency to procreation for the sake of a higher good is permissible for the clergy, then why not extend the same idea to homosexual relationships? The common distinction between not doing X and doing the opposite of X does not really help here. What does it matter if you are intentionally thwarting your nature and if you are doing the opposite of your nature? The bottom line is that your nature is not being fully actualized, which is what goodness is supposed to be identical with.

Maybe you can say that doing the opposite of X actualizes one’s nature even less than just not doing X at all, which would make it worse than doing the opposite of X? But how would you justify that assertion? Say that X has nature N, which consists of the following properties: A, B and C. X expresses A and B, but also does opposite-C. How does doing opposite-C suck more being out of X compared to just not doing C at all? I mean, you either do C or you do not do C, and maybe you can add different degrees of doing C and not doing C, but within that continuum, where would you put doing opposite-C?

I can’t make sense out of this idea.

And incidentally, fuck you for telling me that I think of the friends and family I have, some of whom not only have same-sex attraction, but some of whom are transexuals, are "inferior beings". They are people who have made mistakes (and I've made my share), they are people who struggle with their mistakes, and they are even people who disagree with me strongly. But "inferior beings"? What a bullshit little move for a precious, and until your reply, polite and reasonable discussion.

Like I said, take it up with the A-T framework.

dguller said...

Crude:

Also, I think that it is wonderful that you have friends and family who live active homosexual and transgendered lifestyles. I have the same circumstances myself. However, I find it ironic that you would be offended by me pointing out the fact that a particular metaphysical system necessarily looks upon your cherished friends and family as inferior examples of human beings, and yet are diligently fighting for a power structure in which they would be denied rights that you and I enjoy, which also necessarily implies some deficiency in them that prohibits the exercise of a right.

I mean, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t act like you are a defender of your homosexual and transgendered friends and family to the point that you curse and swear at anyone who dares imply that they are defective in any way, and yet also endorse the idea that their rights must be curtailed for the sake of society, due to an inherent flaw in themselves that results in a perversion of their human nature, which then justifies that they should not be free to express themselves authentically according to their feelings and attitudes.

BenYachov said...

>We are talking about homosexuals. Would the Catholic church approve of a single homosexual adopting a child, if they remained celibate?

Logically there would be no moral reason too.

>Also, would the Catholic church approve of two homosexual friends who are not being intimate with one another adopting a child together as long as they are both celibate?

If a man & a woman who where not married & or involved romantically could do ti then this would not be a problem either. Thought the Church is consistent in She would not approve of a man and woman living together in sin adopting a child.

>If they had a single homosexual encounter with someone, then would the Catholic church rescind the adoption?

I fail to see why that would be the case? If I God Forbid! ever where stupid enough to cheat on my wife would that revoke my rights as a Father over my kids?

Does an adoptive parent who commits adultery in a moment of weakness loss automatically lose their children I don't think so.

BenYachov said...

>and yet also endorse the idea that their rights must be curtailed for the sake of society,

That is bullshit. Crude does not believe the rights of any gays or transgender persons should be curtailed. Get over it.

Rather he believes they don't have these so called rights in the first place.

It like complaining I am taking away Sandra Fluke the Moche's right to force me to buy her condoms and birth control pills against my will.

Or taking away some gals' right to marry herself.

This begs the question. Do these rights exist or not?

dguller said...

Ben:

Logically there would be no moral reason too.

So, the Catholic church would not approve of a single homosexual person adopting a child if they remained celibate?

If a man & a woman who where not married & or involved romantically could do ti then this would not be a problem either. Thought the Church is consistent in She would not approve of a man and woman living together in sin adopting a child.

But, what does that say to the argument that children should be raised in stable environments for their own sake? I mean, without some kind of bond between the man and woman, whether marital, common law, sexual, or whatever, then what would happen if either the man or the woman loses interest in the situation, and walks away? The reason why divorce is frowned upon is that the natural purpose of heterosexual relationships is the procreation of children and the subsequent raising of them, which is compromised significantly following a divorce. So, why doesn’t the same logic apply to the scenario above? If a couple must stay together for the sake of the children, then wouldn’t it make sense to prohibit the above arrangement, because there is nothing binding the two people together?

I fail to see why that would be the case? If I God Forbid! ever where stupid enough to cheat on my wife would that revoke my rights as a Father over my kids?

But you deliberately chose to pervert your human nature? Isn’t that the grounds for denying homosexuals the right to marriage and to have children, if they are sexually active?

Does an adoptive parent who commits adultery in a moment of weakness loss automatically lose their children I don't think so.

That’s great, but what is the justification?

dguller said...

Ben:

That is bullshit. Crude does not believe the rights of any gays or transgender persons should be curtailed. Get over it.

Rather he believes they don't have these so called rights in the first place.


How is that better? The bottom line is that they are not allowed permission to behave in a particular way. Whether they have rights that are curtailed, or never had the rights at all, the bottom line is that they are being prohibited from performing a certain activity, which they are strongly inclined to do, due to their appetitive constitution, which they never chose and cannot control.

It like complaining I am taking away Sandra Fluke the Moche's right to force me to buy her condoms and birth control pills against my will.

I don’t understand the example. Sandra Fluke has the right to healthcare, and contraception is a part of women’s health, which means that she has a right to access to it.

Or taking away some gals' right to marry herself.

How does one marry oneself?

This begs the question. Do these rights exist or not?

I think they do, and I think they make sense in a broadly A-T framework.

Eduardo said...

Well, one can just marry his otherself. I think it is possible dguller, even though it makes no sense. I mean it all depends how one defines marriage really

dguller said...

Eduardo:

Well, one can just marry his otherself. I think it is possible dguller, even though it makes no sense. I mean it all depends how one defines marriage really

First, how can it be possible if it makes no sense?

Second, marriage necessarily has to be a bond between more than one person, no? It would be like talking about a bachelor without mentioning marriage at all. I mean, you could redefine “bachelor” to exclude all talk of “marriage”, but then it wouldn’t be a bachelor. Maybe that redefinition would serve a useful purpose in society and contribute to our collective flourishing, but other than that, why even make the revision?

dguller said...

Crude:

Oh, and by the way, Ben implies that the Catholic position is, in fact, that there are some rights that homosexuals are prohibited from having simply because they are homosexual, which I would presume includes the right to marry someone they love.

DNW said...

" Every functional part of an organism, more or less, started out as something else and was re purposed by natural selection. So far from being sinful, "misusing" part of your body is doing the work of creation. "

You seem to have confused Lamarck with Darwin.

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