Sunday, September 27, 2015

All Scientists Should Beg Lawrence Krauss to Shut the Hell Up Already


In The New Yorker, physicist and professional amateur philosopher Lawrence Krauss calls on all scientists to become “militant atheists.”  First club meeting pictured at left.  I respond at Public Discourse.
 
For earlier trips in the Krauss Klown Kar, go here, here, and here

746 comments:

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seanrobsville said...

To become an atheist you must first define the God you are rejecting. Thus a Buddhist might be an atheist in rejecting the violent samsaric head-chopping Allah, but might be a theist in accepting the validity of the Quaker experience of the 'Inner Light'.

The Frenchman said...

Well i'm sorry to say that, but, as a student of Islam, Allah (al = the, lah = god) is not half as violent as you seem to think he is, mate...

Now, concerning Krauss and co, what's so marvelous about them is that, as if being lame at philosophy weren't enough already, they do not even seem to make any progress...

They simply reject the truth; that science, as good as it is, can nonetheless and obviously not explain everything (even in principle), preferring to the truth, their (own) truth.

As far away from reality as it is.

People like Krauss seem to assume the world is this; full of people who either are (with) them, or against them.

Well.
With New Atheism, stupidity and intolerance reached a brand new level.

JD Walters said...

Your pieces in response to scientism and in defense of metaphysics for a broader public just keep getting tighter and tighter. A fabulous short summary of a very important argument, Dr. Feser.

Ian Wardell said...

Excellent article. I just wonder why most (if not all?) atheists have such an asinine conception of God i.e something that science could reveal?

The Frenchman said...

Dr. Feser's actually making a great case for metaphysics.
That's a shame they are considered by the public the way they are, nowadays !

That reckless judgment comes from the fact that metaphysics are difficult to understand; and because it seems ancient.
That's why.

But great thinking, however old, remains great thinking !

As old as it may be!

We need more noted philosophers such as Feser, in order to defend them.
Defenders of metaphysics should certainly speak out more about that.

And that's obviously a great response to Krauss, mastah Feser.
Just as usual.

DNW said...



Krauss says,

"As a physicist, I do a lot of writing and public speaking about the remarkable nature of our cosmos, primarily because I think science is a key part of our cultural heritage and needs to be shared more broadly. "

That's a rather interesting, and provisional way, of describing one's motivation for spreading the science news ...

The Frenchman said...

Science should really be more broadly shared, though.

Professor Krauss' quite right on that point !

Especially when you take into consideration that most Americans adhere to either Young Earth Creationism or Old Earth Creationism and / or reject the theory of evolution on unjustified fundamentalist basis !

About almost everything else he says is sheer BS, however...

Anonymous said...

There is no patron saint for chess.

JohnD said...

Great post. It almost leads perfectly into a post about an upcoming New Natural Theology book... ;)

Chris said...

Sean,

You are right, of course. But I think we shouldn't forget that all classical theists (to a lesser or greater extent) have deep roots in negative theology (including Islam).

Surely, there can be no disputing the fact the Buddhism is deeply apophatic.

Btw, I liked your posts on confronting materialism.

DNW said...



"The Frenchman said...

Science should really be more broadly shared, though.

Professor Krauss' quite right on that point !"


Look closely once again at what he is actually saying.

Dominican Tertiary said...

If a professional runner trains by pretending a monster is chasing him, so that he pushes himself harder during his training, and then follows suit during competition, that is one thing. But if he goes through his daily routines of life, pretending that a monster is chasing him, he has allowed his training tool to slip past healthy boundaries and he is now a seriously disturbed individual. Performing scientific analysis, using an assumption that God does not exist, and hence recourse to Him is not a valid explanation of phenomena, is one thing. But to go further, and base your atheistic beliefs on the fact that you do not need God to explain your experimental data, is poor reasoning and quite disturbing.

jmhenry said...

Lawrence Krauss: It’s clear that many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are opposed to abortion on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science. Should this cause scientists to clam up at the risk of further offending or alienating them? Or should we speak out loudly to point out that, independent of one’s beliefs about what is sacred, this tissue would otherwise be thrown away, even though it could help improve and save lives?

That's a pretty clever way of not addressing the many non-religious arguments against abortion and protection of unborn human life. And you have to love the utilitarian appeal at the end -- which, of course, just raises the question of whether the moral limits of scientific research should be determined only by utilitarian concerns in the first place.

Perhaps a re-working of Krauss' words will illustrate the point:

It’s clear that many of the people protesting the Soylent Corporation are opposed to euthanizing people and harvesting their protein for food on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science. Should this cause scientists to clam up at the risk of further offending or alienating them? Or should we speak out loudly to point out that, independent of one’s beliefs about what is sacred, the corpses of these euthanized people would otherwise be thrown away, even though it could help improve and save lives?

Josiah A said...

Dr. Feser- great response to Krauss. It's interesting that when I read the pieces of the New Atheists, I sometimes feel more confident in my beliefs- not that I know everything, but that if that is the best they can do, I don't have much reason to be worried.

agapecs. godfather said...

Nor Backgammon

agapecs. godfather said...

Science clearly reveals God and His Creation. You only need to read His Word!

Tony said...

That's a pretty clever way of not addressing the many non-religious arguments against abortion

jmhenry, you have a decidedly dry and sharp way of saying "incredibly stupid and transparently silly way of ..." Good one.

Craig Payne said...

Dear jmhenry: I am almost positive that Krauss does not know that actual arguments against abortion exist. In order to know that, he would have to do research into opposing arguments and also be open to the results of the research. It's much easier to make up your own straw men.

Erik Mattsson said...

You're a Pasadena City College blowhard. Krauss eats your lunch.

Bedarz Iliaci said...

Dominican Tertiary,
"Performing scientific analysis, using an assumption that God does not exist, and hence recourse to Him is not a valid explanation of phenomena, is one thing."

It is not quite correct. Science makes no assumption about God. However, sciences--special or empirical-are about investigating the secondary causes of the phenomena while God is the first cause. Thus, it is the essence of the special sciences to be quiet about God.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Erik Mattsson said...

You're a Pasadena City College blowhard. Krauss eats your lunch."

And your response to Feser's arguments is...

Mr. Green said...

Some troll: Krauss eats your lunch.
Anonymous: And your response to Feser's arguments is...

What response? He's just pointing out that Krauss isn't only a moron, apparently he's also a jerk who steals people's lunches!

Mr. Green said...

M. le Francais: I was just wondering if you could rather simply, for your fans who don't have English as their native language, skip lines after every dot... And write your articles bigger.

Well, you can change the presentation in your browser to make the text larger... or try this, it might work to increase the spacing: paste this exact line into a bookmark (or drag it into your bookmarks list/bookmarks bar)...

javascript:(function(){var%20newcss="DIV.MsoNormal>SPAN>SPAN{line-height:200%25!important;font-size:125%25!important;}";if("\v"=="v"){document.createStyleSheet().cssText=newcss}else{var%20tag=document.createElement("style");tag.type="text/css";document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0].appendChild(tag);tag[(typeof%20document.body.style.WebkitAppearance=="string")?%22innerText%22:%22innerHTML%22]=newcss}})();


Especially when you take into consideration that most Americans adhere to either Young Earth Creationism or Old Earth Creationism and / or reject the theory of evolution on unjustified fundamentalist basis !

Since the world was created, and since it's either old or it's young, at least one of those positions must be right! But when it comes to studying science, the age of the earth and biological evolution are pretty trivial details — if that's the only scientific issue people have trouble with, it's barely worth mentioning. And let's be fair — nobody really rejects evolution, just common descent of species (maybe) or of man; and of the people who reject that, they mostly do so because biologists told them so, i.e. the biologists, who ought to know, who say that it's either "evolution or God", and most people draw the appropriate conclusion. It's precisely scientists like Krauss who shoot their mouths off ignorantly who cause the most problem.

The Frenchman said...

Dear DNW, friend


I've only said that M. Krauss was right when he said that "science should be more broadly shared", mate.

But that doesn't imply of course, that i agree with the specific way he thinks science should be shared, nor with his views on anything else on that matter !

I don't ! I simply don't !

My acceptance of what M. Krauss said, only limits itself to that sentence ; namely, that "science should (indeed) be more broadly shared". (In order for us to understand the Creation better, and to live better lives as well).

And the rest of Mr. Krauss' article, once again, is deliberately biased data and, therefore, as i said, "sheer BS".

Don't get me wrong, we're on the same side.


Regards,
The Frenchman.


(Also, thank you very much, Mr. Green, very nice of you)

Mr. Green said...

JMHenry: >"Lawrence Krauss: It’s clear that many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are opposed to abortion on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science."
That's a pretty clever way of not addressing the many non-religious arguments against abortion and protection of unborn human life.


That's also a pretty clever [Tony: scilicet "so idiotic I don't know how he expects anyone to fall for it"] way of avoiding the need for actual arguments by resorting to name-calling instead. I've mentioned before that I've never met anyone who is "anti-science". What would that even mean? At most, some people don't accept what some scientists say about some (usually non-scientific) position. That makes them about as "anti-science" as Krauss is "anti-reason". (Krauss is a boorish anti-intellectual philistine, but I doubt he's actually anti-reason per se.)

The Researcher said...

I think that, by "anti-science", Krauss actually means "against some relatively modern scientific discoveries, often for literalist reasons", and/or "for willful obscurantism towards some (relatively) newly established scientific facts".


Of course, for us Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, liberal Jews, new scientific discoveries aren't, or at least shouldn't be an issue in the first place !


But what's true for us, isn't so true to so many Evangelicals and Muslims (the Coran "recitation" is to be taken absolutely literally by Muslims, as they believe it was directly and entirely told to Prophet Muhammad by God the Father himself, Allah).


What M. Krauss doesn't seem to get very well, is the fact that we're absolutely all, on the other hand, absolutely for his beloved science to some extent.


We're all for it to some extent, because without it, we wouldn't have the technology we now have.
Which enables us to fulfill our most basic needs more easily, such as drinking through a tap, and our other needs, such as expressing our opinions on this very site, for instance... And so on, and so forth.


But science also is the child of ancient philosophy.
And scientists such as Krauss should not deliberately chose to ignore it the way they do.
Because that's also obscurantism.

In the end of the day, people like M. Krauss are no better than literalists.
They chose obscurantism when it serves to their own purposes.

Regards,

DNW said...



"And the rest of Mr. Krauss' article, once again, is deliberately biased data and, therefore, as i said, "sheer BS".

Don't get me wrong, we're on the same side.


Regards,
The Frenchman."



Dear Mr. Frenchman. Sorry if it appeared that I was attacking you. I was not. I was not even engaging in a bit of snark.

In fact, I'm not sure that my quote of Krauss was an attack so much as a point of interest.

As I read what Krauss stated, and which at first glance looks perfectly unexceptional, I notice that if we take him seriously, and as speaking with intention and wittingly, then he seems to be advocating the spread of science literacy on cultural grounds.

" ... primarily because I think science is a key part of our cultural heritage and needs to be shared more broadly"

He spends as much time as he does spreading the good word, well, because it is a key part of our cultural heritage.

I suppose you could say the same thing about the Christianity he despises.

I would have thought that he would have at least said something in that passage about how it is "true" or it provides man with real knowledge, or even that it leads to our having more power. And I am sure that he believes and says these things as well.

But the particular predicate he presents, seems more in defense of a particular and inherited worldview, than of a knowledge and power-increasing practice which he believes provides the only workable theories of, or insights into, reality.

I don't know why he doesn't just advert to science as world shaping power and man's possession of it as the only arbiter of the question?

Well, actually I do know why.

The Frenchman said...

Nah don't worry, i didn't understand it as an attack :)


Nice analysis and criticism of Krauss, btw.

I didn't realize what you said, thank you very much !


Regards and have a nice day,

ccmnxc said...

You're a Pasadena City College blowhard. Krauss eats your lunch.

You got him, Erik; I'm sure this will have Dr. Feser crying into his empty lunchbox.

jmhenry said...

Feser: That we need make no reference to X in the course of doing Y doesn’t prove that X does not exist. We need make no reference to general relativity when studying dentistry, but that doesn’t cast doubt on Einstein’s discovery. We need make no mention of the physiology of tapeworms when engineering bridges, but that doesn’t mean that reports of people having tapeworms are all bogus. Similarly, the fact that scientists need make no reference to God when doing physics, biology, or any other science doesn’t prove—or even suggest—that the existence of God is doubtful.

In other words, all Krauss is talking about is what scientists call "methodological naturalism" -- an idea that was espoused by a Catholic bishop way back in the 13th century:

"In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power; we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass." (Albertus Magnus, De vegetabilibus et plantis)

Of course, acknowledging that fact would destroy Krauss' carefully constructed narrative that science "liberated humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance" only five hundred years ago.

Scott said...

jmhenry:

Of course, acknowledging that fact would destroy Krauss' carefully constructed narrative that science "liberated humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance" only five hundred years ago.

Now, now; you're exaggerating wildly here. Krauss's narrative isn't even close to "carefully constructed." :-)

Sleety Dribble said...

Great article, but I can't help feeling a little bit of unease every time I read this kind of rebuttal when I know that ill-informed waffle such as Krauss's can also be found in your typical everyday religious believer. Average Joe Catholic knows little or nothing about the writings of Aquinas. Miss Middle Of The Road Protestant has no conception of the difference between "a being" and "being". Let's face it, the vast majority of everyday Christians (and, I'm guessing, Moslems and Jews) are bewitched by the same poor quality ideas that bewitch Krauss, Dawkins and the other New Atheists.

So while it's absolutely right to call out the New Atheists on their nonsense, isn't it equally right (and equally important) to call out their "New Theist" counterparts on *their* nonsense?

I recall (but can't find) a Robert Barron video on YouTube where our friendly neighborhood Bish expresses his frustration at some leading protestant pastor conceding to some slavering TV dude's definition of "faith" as being something like "believing in the face of no evidence". I saw said pastor, and I too was frustrated. But was I, and Bish Robert justified in being frustrated? Isn't the pastor's response what we've come to expect from New Theists (and I include in that Catholics along with the rest)? Why are we continually surprised?

Don't the New Theists and New Atheists deserve each other?

Charlie Steele said...

how does any scientist defend the existence of God? why do you believe in God? because the Bible told you to, right? please don't lie and say you would believe in God if you had to come up with your own, especially scientific, explanation.

so our source of belief is the Bible. the Bible is FILLED with myths that have been disproven by science. do you see where I'm going with this? your entire premise is that GOD EXISTS. DON'T TELL ME HE DOESN'T.

Religious folk make a ridiculous statement, at any point in time, and it eventually gets disproven by scientific analysis. you then respond with "oh well of course you can't SEE his presence, duh". really?

Religion has been making excuses and diverting the focus since it was created and documented.

also, the checkers analogy is ridiculous and completely undermines the purpose of scientific achievement and innovation.

Charlie Steele said...

@jmhenry you fail to realize that the 'non-religious' reasons for being against abortion stem from the religious ones. could you maybe give me an example?

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

The existence of God is demonstrable by reason, though of course the content of special revelation isn't. And believing it's wrong to kill innocent human life doesn't require anyone to invoke theism at all, let alone special revelation.

DNW said...

Charlie Steele said...

@jmhenry you fail to realize that the 'non-religious' reasons for being against abortion stem from the religious ones. could you maybe give me an example?"

What's the non religious reason for not shrugging if your college athlete buddy beats a weak and annoying geek almost to death for his impertinence; or for not paying women to abort homosexual foeti if such a thing could be determined, or for just gazing indifferently as an irritating fool is about to be attacked by a shark; if you knew, with near certainty, that none of these things would really affect the quality of your own life, or the vision you have for satisfying social arrangements, in any substantive way?

Gottfried said...

Charlie Steele,

why do you believe in God? because the Bible told you to, right?

Wrong. Why on earth would you think that? Who have you been talking to?

We actually have very strong philosophical arguments for God's existence. Scott's link will provide you with a fun introduction. It would be interesting to see a cogent response from you, because Krauss & company certainly haven't provided any.

jmhenry said...

@jmhenry you fail to realize that the 'non-religious' reasons for being against abortion stem from the religious ones.

I'm sure groups like Pro-Life Humanists and Secular Pro-Life would be surprised to hear that, and would strongly object.

could you maybe give me an example?

Well, I've already cited a whole book's worth of non-religious arguments against abortion. As Scott said, you don't need to make any religious or theological appeals in order to argue that taking innocent human life is wrong. And, despite the use by pro-choice advocates of dehumanizing phrases like "clumps of cells" to describe unborn human life, science can indeed tells us when a unique human life begins.

The relevant metaphysical question is, when does personhood begin? But, beware when trying to answer this question; there are many traps and snares along that road. For many throughout history have tried to draw lines that include some humans under the umbrella of person, while excluding others as non-persons, thus falling into those traps and snares, and incurring the hard and merciless judgment of history.

Craig Payne said...

"why do you believe in God? because the Bible told you to, right?"

Dear Charlie Steele: Aristotle argued that God exists; he did not use the Bible to derive his conclusion. It's a fact. You could look it up.

Dear jmhenry: You wrote, "The relevant metaphysical question is, when does personhood begin?"

We should backtrack a little. Even though I think the personhood debate is answerable from a pro-life perspective, it is too tangled for most people to grasp intuitively. The intuitive response is to address human nature--which is much easier to see in the preborn. Then we can take the next step to equate humanness to personhood, which I think is correct, and argue for that.

I am not disagreeing with you; just a practical consideration.

Charlie Steele said...

Sorry guys but simply posting a book isn't gonna cut it. I'm supposed to dish out $130 just to please you? None of you have actually mentioned a single reason, you just talk about their existence. The book description doesn't mention any. What it does do however, is compare abortion to infanticide, which is absolutely disgusting. So I'm already questioning the validity of that book.

I believe that personhood begins at birth. You are legally and biologically a part of your mother when you are in the womb.

Even the Bible agrees. It states that Life starts at BREATH. In the world. If that is not a clear religious definition I don't know what is.

Also, the book you cited mentions cases of rape and other situations where women do not even consent. How exactly does it defend those? I've only ever heard religious people defend their anti-choice stance there: by saying it is God's will. So how are you going to defend you telling women what to do?

Which brings me to my next point. You are all (or at least mostly) a bunch of men, likely of a particular background or status but that is irrelevant. You are males telling women what to do. ALL women. Regardless of their position. Women who are anti-choice still don't get to decide for others. The simple fact of the matter is it is required in many cases, and practically necessary in almost all other cases of abortion. How are you going to deny the right to choose to any woman?

As for those citing Aristotle, I believe you are mistaken. He referred to an eternal and imperishable substance, which he dubbed the Prime Mover. It appears he used the term God, though it is absolutely nothing at all like the original conception of "God". Referring to a metaphysical interpretation of a higher being as God seriously detracts from the argument and gives too much weight to traditional religious attitudes. However, I concede that Aristotle believed in God. BUT he then goes on to show that his solitary Prime Mover may actually amount to 47 or 55 movers. So is that God at all?

And anyway, how can you say Aristotle wasn't religious? He may not have been Christian but his beliefs were either religious based or heavily influenced. He supported slavery as being in accord with natural law, and he believed in the natural inferiority of women - those seem like awfully religious beliefs to me. But hey I could be wrong.

Aristotle may be the father of philosophy but he still lived in a time when religious beliefs were nearly endemic. Just like many people that have come since him. We can respect, appreciate, and embrace his philosophical and logical work but that does not make him absolute on everything. The greatest scientists have been influenced and inspired by their religious predecessors, but that does not mean they agree with their religious views.

Clearly no one who thinks differently to this blogger follows this blog. Which is a real shame because you could all do with a good shake up.

Charlie Steele said...

did someone actually ask me why on earth I think someone might believe in God because of the Bible?

is that a joke?

The Holy Bible is literally a book entirely about God. And you wonder why I think that might be the source of the myth?

Charlie Steele said...

Craig Payne RE: Personhood

What exactly are these qualities of "human nature" that can be observed pre-birth? First of all you can't 'observe' them. Unless you mean using all our fancy science equipment made by people who almost certainly support abortion?

Anyway, I digress. I'm assuming you mean bonds between mother and child, which involve nurturing and growth. Tell me, what makes these 'human' qualities? As opposed to say, mammalian qualities?

Charlie Steele said...

DNW what on earth is your comment about?

You literally just listed a bunch of sick fantasies for no reason. Nice.

I can feel compassion, love, respect, support, defence, appreciation, and a whole host of other things without the Bible or any religion. How on earth did you come up with that sack of crap? I really have no idea how respecting women, wanting them to not be harmed physically or financially, and overall wanting the best for them, can be equated to standing idly aside while fully grown adults are harmed? Like actually what?

For all of you anti-choicers. Do you care at all about these children once they are born? Meaning, are you voting for politicians that support the poor? The needy? The oppressed? If you answered yes, but voted Republican last time out (or Conservative in Canada & the UK), you're sadly mistaken.

The majority of anti-choicers are simply meddling in other's business and pushing their religious agenda. You have no right telling anyone what to do with their body. And yes, scientists and lawyers alike will assure you that the fetus is merely a part of the woman's body until it is fully developed.

Again, I open the floor to anyone who actually has the balls to list one of these so-called secular reasons? And please show me how exactly it is non-religious.

Tony said...

did someone actually ask me why on earth I think someone might believe in God because of the Bible?

So, an Egyptian in 2800 BC believes in God, and it's mainly because of the Bible that will, eventuually, be written by foreigners who hate Egyptians.

So, a Chinese in 2000 BC believes in God, and its mainly because of the Bible that will, eventually, be written by foreigners with whom his country literally will have no direct dealings for 3300 years.

So, an Aztec Indian in 1400 believes in God, and its mainly because of a Bible written across a sea by a civilization he literally doesn't even know exists?

So, an philosopher born and raised atheist comes to believe in God through doing philisophy, and its mainly because of the Bible which he hasn't even read, and largely considers to be bunk and myth?

No, Charlie, you have asked a _wrong_question_, and need to un-ask it in preparation for asking the right questions. But take your time, ponder it a few years, then get back to us. Don't rush it.

RM said...

Simply put, if we are going to talk about rights at all (the right to make choices, the right to govern ones body) we must submit to the idea that the fundamental right that underlies all that is the right to live, to exist. If that right isn't granted, it is not clear where any other right comes from. That seems plainly not religious to me so I will defer on proving that to you.

Charlie Steele said...

Tony:

none of those interpretations of A god or multiple gods come close to the corrupted version presented in the holy texts.

Were there not many Egyptian gods? Can't speak for the Chinese. Being theistic is not the same as being religious and neither are the same as being religious in the modern sense we have come to know since the year 0.

I'm not denying the validity of believing in a higher being. That is totally cool and may very well be the truth. I'm saying what you all believe in should not be called God. Got it?

furthermore, you're being rude now. You gave three incredibly narrow examples. 99.999% of people who believe in God believe in God because of the Bible or the Quran. So pardon me for making such an assumption.

Charlie Steele said...

RM:

The right for a child to exist lies with parents. That is their choice, not yours. While the baby is attached to the mother she is free to destroy it if she needs to for her own reasons. I would never advocate late termination so please don't twist my words.

Did you choose to be conceived? Or be born? The right to exist is granted when your mother allows you to live as an independent being.

Anyway, all of those things you mentioned have to do with humans. A fetus is not a human. That is the simple fact of the matter. Humans exist in open air. The Bible, science, and the law tells us that.

I absolutely despise your method of debate. I ask how you have the right to choose for women, and you defer to the topic of fetal rights. Seriously, what!? Without the woman there is no fetus. She gets the first choice. Then once she chooses to allow the baby to exist in the world, then it can start choosing for itself (though we know that doesn't even start happening til toddler years, and legally it doesn't happen until teenage years).

Only a sexist person could so deeply ignore a woman's right to choose. Don't be scared by me using that term. Anti-choice is anti-women.

Charlie Steele said...

I suggest you all read Freakonomics. It provides a plethora of reasons - primarily economic - for legal, safe abortions.

Charlie Steele said...

what would you all do in the case of a woman who is raped and then becomes pregnant? Please oh please explain it simply for my little brain.

Charlie Steele said...

And before you make yet another ignorant statement - choosing to have sex is not choosing to be pregnant. If a woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy (within a reasonable timeframe) she should absolutely be free to do so. How can any of you argue otherwise? You say that baby has a right to exist. Great. The woman has a right to not make a baby.

jmhenry said...

@Charlie Steele:

Normally, I would engage in a discussion. But, in your case, I find that I am strangely unmotivated to do so, since you haven't shown any intellectual curiosity on the issue that would manifest itself in being genuinely and charitably open to the proposition, rather than just nakedly hostile to it; you’ve even ignored what actually has been said. For example, you cite the Bible to support the assertion that "Life starts at BREATH," while earlier in the thread I cited this post on Public Discourse which makes use of modern embryology to support the position that life begins at conception.

So, I find myself in the weird position of making a science-informed pro-life argument against a pro-choice advocate who cites the Bible to support his position. Strange times we live in.

I also mentioned Pro-Life Humanists and Secular Pro-Life. If you had genuine intellectual openness to non-religious arguments against abortion, you might have Googled them and found this, just to cite one example.

Further, you have a bizarre messianic conception of yourself as someone here to "shake us up" -- as though your posts have devastating that no one here has ever heard before, and which will cause the scales to fall from all our eyes, see the glorious light, and recognize that abortion is okay after all. How could we have been so blind?

But fine. I will briefly sketch Kaczor’s book:

He begins by addressing the views that moral philosophers have held about when personhood begins: (1) after birth, (2) at birth, (3) during pregnancy, or (4) at conception. Certain moral philosophers who have held the first view, like Michael Tooley and Peter Singer; that's what the book description is referring to when it say that it addresses infanticide as well as abortion, since the premises of many pro-choice advocates would also support infanticide. Kaczor ultimately rejects the second view because it runs into what has been called the episodic problem. He rejects the third view on the grounds that, among other reasons, it would inevitably end up excluding those whom we typically do regard as persons with rights, like the comatose or mentally disabled. That leaves the fourth view, which he accepts on the grounds that a person is properly defined as a rational animal, which is a unique being that possesses "membership in a kind."

In other words, to be a person is to be a rational animal, and to be a rational animal is to be a unique being that has membership in a kind that has rationality as its essential nature. The new, genetically distinct human that comes into existence at conception fits this definition of personhood. Membership in a kind is the only way to coherently ground personhood, he argues, agreeing with Martha Nussbaum that it "it gives us a benchmark by which to judge the flourishing of an individual member of a species." Kaczor's argument thus relies upon a metaphysics that is essentialist and teleological -- a particular being has a specific essence, which orders it toward specific ends that constitute its flourishing as the kind of being that it is. But whether or not it actually ever realizes those ends -- much less its present location -- does not change its essence and the ends to which it is directed in virtue of that essence. It still has membership in this kind.

The book then goes on to address the question of whether a human embryo has rights and whether it is permissible to abort a fetus even if we regard it as a person, as Judith Jarvis Thomson famously argued.

Since I feel what little motivation I have quickly running out, I will leave it there. You will either approach this genuine intellectual openness, or continue to ignore what people have said.

jmhenry said...

...choosing to have sex is not choosing to be pregnant.

It's interesting how this sort of thinking would not be acceptable in other contexts. For example, as a general matter, most people recognize that if I voluntarily engage in an action that has foreseeable consequences, then I am morally responsible for those consequences. So, for example, if I go out onto a crowded street corner, close my eyes, and then proceed to blindly swing my fists, then hitting someone -- perhaps even seriously injuring them -- is a foreseeable consequence of that action. I am thus morally responsible if I do in fact hit someone, even if that was not something that I directly chose. I cannot make the claim as a defense: Choosing to swing my fists on a crowded street corner is not choosing to hit someone. I may not have deliberately chosen to hit someone, but I did deliberately choose to engage in an action in which hitting someone was a foreseeable consequence, making me morally responsible for that consequence if it results.

If human life begins at conception -- and if all human life should be respected as persons -- then voluntarily choosing an action in which the creation of that new life is a foreseeable consequence makes the woman morally responsible for that consequence and for that new life, even if she did not directly choose it.

jmhenry said...

While the baby is attached to the mother she is free to destroy it if she needs to for her own reasons. I would never advocate late termination so please don't twist my words.

I must give you credit here for using the word "baby" to describe the unborn human.

However, from your statement that a woman is free to destroy the baby if she needs to for her own reasons, so long as it is attached to her, it would logically follow that abortion is permissible up until the moment of delivery. You mentioned that such a decision to destroy the new human life should be made in a "reasonable timeframe," but you never defined what should count as "reasonable."

The right to exist is granted when your mother allows you to live as an independent being.

Barbara Boxer once said that the right to life is granted "when you bring your baby home." Why not use that standard? Or why not say that the right to life begins when I first dress my baby in clothes? Or when I first feed it? Or when I first play with it? Or when I first tell it a bedtime story? When the right to life is conceived of as something that arises simply from the choice of another person, then one's rights are determined merely by the subjective desires of that person, making that right completely arbitrary and detached from anything objective. Rights become reduced to simply whatever the strong decide to grant the weak.

How, then, can there be any principled "reasonable timeframe" which would forbid a woman to destroy the unborn human life at any stage of pregnancy? The right is granted merely by her subjective desires, rather than anything intrinsic to the new life itself.

Anyway, all of those things you mentioned have to do with humans. A fetus is not a human.

If the unborn human is not human, then what species do you suppose it belongs to? Is it an elephant? A zebra? A daffodil?

The Frenchman said...


Charlie;


No one who's against abortion, has got to necessarily be religious.
That's just another categorization.
I personally know some atheists who're against it, and i do not think they got their reasons for rejecting abortion from either the Bible or the Quran.


As for you other comments, they seem rather poorly informed.


Religion on women : go check Muhammad's Farewell Sermon, for instance. If you don't put sentences out of their context, you might find it interesting.


Has any scientist come up with a good reason to believe in God ?
Well, no.

But has any scientist come up with a good scientific reason not to believe in God ?
Well, no.

Science, at the moment, has simply said nothing about God.


"Science has disproved so many things in the Bible" = "God must be an invention".

That's not because X isn't true (or plain allegorical), that Y also isn't...

Charlie Steele said...

you are all absolutists. I will not deal with absolutists. It is very much within my rights to say that a woman can have an abortion up until 24 weeks. We can qualify statements. Being able to focus our emotions on the question at hand is what differentiates us from other sentient beings (amongst other things).

Barbara Boxer is not the entire scientific or legal community. So why would I use her definition?

JM Henry you are incredibly condescending and I will no long be communicating with you. You clearly are enlightened and I'm living in the dark ages.

STOP using modern science to EXPLAIN the Bible. It refutes it. You saying "modern embryology blah blah blah" is literally clutching at straws. Give up.

You say "proving science doesn't disprove God." which is an admission that you are NOT an absolutist. So why are you making all of my statements absolutes?

Again, why are you drawing ridiculous conclusions? You compare an instant harm like a punch to a 9 month biological process? That shows really poor intellectual and comparative skills. So again I'm done with your patronizing attitude.

Charlie Steele said...

JMHenry you are incredibly rude and hypocritical.

You claim I don't read your posts yet you barely even glance at mine.

My overall point: your new age conception of a higher being is NOT "God". God is a character in a book. Got it? Call your higher being whatever you want, but when you call him God you're disrespecting yourself and validating all those that have done heinous and disgusting crimes in the name of their faith. Just don't say God. Really not that hard.

As for abortion, every point you make is very weak. You say "Oh if you say this then why not this?" No. Infanticide and abortion are entirely different. An anti-choice doctor making those comparisons should probably find a new profession.

And ahh, my messianic complex - how ignorant. I'm referring to the fact that you have all become very comfortable on this site with your contsant support. Any different train of thought is treated as a mental deficiency. You disgust me.

Keep telling women what to do, old white man!!!!!!

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

I will not deal with absolutists.

Goodbye then.

It is very much within my rights to say that a woman can have an abortion up until 24 weeks.

Indeed it is; you can say it all you please, just as you can say, if you like, that two plus two is five. In either case, though, the fact that no one can legally or morally prevent you from saying it (and even saying it angrily, with insults strewn every which way) leaves all the real issues unaddressed.

Well, perhaps with a little more intellectual maturity on your part, that will change. In the meantime, thanks for playing and here's Don Pardo to tell you about your lovely parting gifts.

Gottfried said...

Charlie Steele,

What sort of replies are these? JM Henry goes to the of trouble writing several thoughtful and substantial posts for you to chew on, and you respond with a litany of insults and empty assertions.

Are you pleased with your performance? How old are you?

Charlie Steele said...

Gottfried I'm sorry but what!? He's being incredibly condescending and rude. I'm frustrated yet I'm still being reasonable in my responses. I have no idea what you're referring to.

Are you pleased with the fact that you are all trying to tell women what to do with their bodies? If pregnancy was a male-centric issue you would all being singing a very different song.

Charlie Steele said...

Scott my friend you are the one who lacks maturity. Your age is not indicative of your maturity so stop pretending your experience makes you right.

Again, you equate me giving women the right to choose with a 4 year old who thinks 2+2 = 5. And I'm the offensive one?

What are my empty assertions? That all women deserve to choose? That is not empty at all. It is you that is empty.
Litany of insults? Like when you all question my age and maturity? Yeah, you can dish it out but you can't take it. Awesome.

I AM angry. You and your backwards ways have harmed more people than you could possibly imagine.

As for your absolutism...you're saying you are one? Are you really? So you cause no harm to any living creature, ever? You don't eat meat right? Because they're sentient beings who don't deserve to die then, whether in the womb or outside. You've never committed a crime? Never said anything or done anything wrong?

See, I can make silly analogies too! And then you question my maturity. Brainwashed Americans is what you all are. Progressive Americans, Philosophical Americans, whatever you are. You sit in your little nook of the world and think that you are the absolute height of human achievement. You are not Progressive. You are not Liberal. You are not free thinkers. The simple fact that you can call yourself left-wing in the US while still challenging abortion or supporting gun ownership is all the proof we need. Real democratic countries laugh at you. But of course you will all take this as raging racism and anti-Conservative rhetoric (only the latter is true).

But hey every time I write a comment, you all feel a lot better! Ignorance is bliss. Keep it up!

Charlie Steele said...

and for anyone talking about AGE :

the older you are, the more your mind has been conditioned by backwards ways. So no, I won't tell you my age, because you are all prejudiced and will use it against me.

But I guarantee it's a lot lower than any of yours ;)

Dennis said...

@Charlie Steele

Gottfried I'm sorry but what!? He's being incredibly condescending and rude. I'm frustrated yet I'm still being reasonable in my responses. I have no idea what you're referring to.

Your rhetoric is aimed at an empty chair.

Again, why are you drawing ridiculous conclusions? You compare an instant harm like a punch to a 9 month biological process? That shows really poor intellectual and comparative skills. So again I'm done with your patronizing attitude.

Your whole attitude in the approach here has bee patronizing, not to mention that you simply presuppose the truth of materialism in your thinking(whether this is evident or not). If you have the humility to step back and see what exactly it is that you are doing, and what exactly the people on this blog argue, everyone will engage in a proper discussion. But unless you drop the patronizing attitude with which you came, and remain and drop the presuppositions you carry, no talk is ensuing. Just a side, you saying that you're frustrated and still being reasonable, evidently doesn't make it so.

Dennis said...

I AM angry. You and your backwards ways have harmed more people than you could possibly imagine.

The humility. Exactly what I meant by patronizing condescension.

Charlie Steele said...

Dennis all you guys have done is throw around general principles and weak analogies.

For anyone wishing to engage in a discussion with me -

Answer these:

Why do you get to choose for a woman?

How would you deal with the case of a woman who's been raped?

As for metaphysics - why are you so dead set on calling this higher being "God" ? I have a lot of issues with that name.

and if I'm being patronizing, here's the difference:

Your patronizing attitude supports something that harms ACTUAL humans. Women, men, and their families.
My patronizing attitude supports something that harms unborn fetuses. That's a choice I'm fine with.

You guys refute one exaggerated claim made by me, and think that it disproves the NEED for abortion. the NEED. It's necessary in society.

Dennis said...

As for metaphysics - why are you so dead set on calling this higher being "God" ? I have a lot of issues with that name.

Start with Edward Feser's Aquinas.

You guys refute one exaggerated claim made by me, and think that it disproves the NEED for abortion. the NEED. It's necessary in society.

Look back at how many times you've mentioned the Bible, this only demonstrates that you have no idea of what is being talked of, despite that, you carry on insisting the things that people will not hold. So, one exaggerated claim being refuted from you, doesn't really have to tick you off that much, but if you are ticked off, you should know how other people feel when your rhetoric is aimed at an empty chair, and even when they have denied it, you still hold to it. For instance....

Anyway, all of those things you mentioned have to do with humans. A fetus is not a human. That is the simple fact of the matter. Humans exist in open air. The Bible, science, and the law tells us that.

Never knew science came with bumper stickers and told us how to interpret the datum. As I said, you're coming with tons of presuppositions, and it doesn't look like you want to make amends, but simply carry on.

Your patronizing attitude supports something that harms ACTUAL humans. Women, men, and their families.
My patronizing attitude supports something that harms unborn fetuses. That's a choice I'm fine with.


Sorry, I forgot that my and the moral convictions of others for the personhood and the sanctity of the womb is obviously irrelevant, not to mention, it's a given, according to you, and that your convictions are the right ones which enforce the fact that your patronizing attitude is justified - This is the rational approach. I forgot that. My mistake.

Scott said...

I recommend we stop feeding the troll, folks.

Charlie Steele said...

Dennis I never said my way was more rational. Who you choose to protect is your choice. I'm just saying your choice literally causes more harm to living, breathing human beings than mine does.

Charlie Steele said...

Dennis I never said my way was more rational. Who you choose to protect is your choice. I'm just saying your choice literally causes more harm to living, breathing human beings than mine does.

Gottfried said...

Ignorance is bliss

Are you sure? You don't seem happy at all. :P

In all seriousness, I'm somewhat relieved to know you are quite young. There may still be hope for you.

Keep questioning. Questioning is always a good thing, provided you are genuinely seeking the truth and not trying to escape from it. Don't exempt your own positions from skepticism. And when you are capable of having a calm and rational conversation even with those with whom you disagree, I'm sure you will be more than welcome here. You may even find we are not the monsters you imagine.

Best wishes from a fellow non-American!

Charlie Steele said...

@Gottfried haha well played on the ignorance joke ;)

As for my age, you should appreciate that someone as young as myself is politically and socially active and aware.

I don't see what is so aggressive about my comments, at least compared to all of yours.

I don't try to assert that my 'scientific' views are exempt from skepticism. But correct me if I'm wrong, the whole point of theism is stating that something exists. Anyone making such a stipulation is responsible with proving it. The onus is on you to backup your claim that God exists.

I applaud and admire your civility.

Charlie Steele said...

haha wow Scott!!!! You accuse me of dodging questions and missing the point... yet when I provide you with 3 very clearly worded and answerable questions, you're done and I'm a troll?

So a troll is anyone with a differing opinion, great. Your religious/privileged side is showing.

Charlie Steele said...

oh all Sean Robsville's original comment is only slightly correct. An atheist can reject specific gods or the entire notion of higher beings. Like I don't even get the point of that "you must define the god you are rejecting". Ok, first I reject "God" (you know who I mean, as the arrogant Christians have instilled in your head that THEIR God is THE god). Then I reject Allah. Finally, Buddha, and then any other fairy tales you can come up with. Problem?

Charlie Steele said...

3 issues no one has answered IN THEIR WORDS:

(Telling me to do my own research does nothing for the discussion and is classic Conservative rhetoric.)

1) Women's choice
2) Rape situations
3) Why a higher being must be referred to as God

There. Call me ignorant, immature, whatever you want. None of you have taken on those three topics in an independent way. Which is really all I'm asking for.

The closest you've come is suggesting that a fetus has more rights than is creating mother. Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

The Frenchman said...

Charlie, your ignorance is way too high to answer all of your questions.


Sorry to tell you the truth ; i don't even know where to begin.


You seem to think that God and Allah are two different gods.


Allah = translation of God into Arabic language.
Al = the. Lah = god. Allah = God. That's all.
Coptic Christians also say "Allah" when praying in their Christian Orthodox churches. Go to Egypt.

Allah = God the Father.

In the Quran, it is said that all of us who belong to one of the three revealed monotheistic religions, believe in the same Creator God. We differ only when it comes to the concept of the Trinity.

That's it, that's all.


"Stop calling your higher being 'God'".
Why would we ?

Do you see any other candidate who's got all these attributes altogether ; eternal, immaterial, has intelligence, creates and sustains everything, is actual at every instant, is omniscient, all-powerful and so on and so forth ?


"My overall point is that your NEW AGE conception of a higher being, isn't God".

"New Age".

Ahahah oh Charlie, you should become a comedian : a new kind of Bill Maher, but even worse.

DNW said...

"Charlie Steele said...

DNW what on earth is your comment about?"

Trying to get to the bases and criteria upon which you structure your moral and political claims.


"You literally just listed a bunch of sick fantasies for no reason. Nice."


Bizarre that you should characterize these coarse social hypotheticals as "fantasies". They were meant to cause you to think about why you assume what you assume, not to project your feelings on to others.



" I can feel compassion, love, respect, support, defence, "

I'm not interested in how you feel. When it comes to the social, legal or political claims you make, I only care about the quality of your thinking and the structure of your arguments. Unfortunately, insofar as you do bother to think, it seems to be to think about your own feelings.

Since your feelings, and perhaps how you feel about the feelings of others, are pretty obviously what you base your social and political rule-making views on, there is just no point in trying to reason with you.

Chris said...

Charlie,

I'm curious.....What's your beef with the word God?

Charlie Steele said...

Chris

how many disgusting acts have been carried out in the name of a God? that is my beef. Sorry but it's the truth. Racism, slavery, sexism, homophobia and more have all been justified using God and The Bible.

Do you see my 'beef'?

Charlie Steele said...

DNW you asked me to provide non-secular reactions to all your sick scenarios

I provided them - I'm able to feel all these things the Bible prescribes, without the need for the Bible.

and you say "I don't care"

don't talk to me if you're going to be so blatantly contradictory

Cantus said...

@Charlie Steele

I'm pretty sure that DNW's point, in presenting those scenarios, was something along the lines of "well, there are perfectly valid reasons for finding abhorrent these scenarios which involve the strong mercilessly harm the weak, and these reasons need not involve appeal to any particular religion. Therefore, there are perfectly valid reasons for finding abhorrent abortion, which also need not be based on the claims of any particular religion."

After all, you did ask what non-religious reasons one might have for opposing abortion. There's an answer, if not necessarily a complete one.

Cantus said...

Blast it, I meant "which involve the strong mercilessly harming the weak..."

DNW said...

Commenter Charlie says,

" DNW you asked me to provide non-secular reactions to all your sick scenarios"

Charlie is wrong.

"What's the non religious reason ..." is what I asked with regard to either taking an interest in one thing, or actively prohibiting another.

The reason.

Say, the reasons, in one example, for prohibiting the " paying [of] women to abort homosexual foeti if such a thing could be determined"

That is what I asked for; not his "non-secular reaction" to it, whatever that means.

Apparently then, the reason for banning something Charlie disapproves of, or taking an active interest in something he is positive about, is found in his personal reaction to it; based on his own feelings.



Nothing much there to take seriously with Charlie.

DNW said...

Cantus said...

@Charlie Steele

I'm pretty sure that DNW's point, in presenting those scenarios, was something along the lines of "well, there are perfectly valid reasons for finding abhorrent these scenarios which involve the strong mercilessly harm the weak, and these reasons need not involve appeal to any particular religion. Therefore, there are perfectly valid reasons for finding abhorrent abortion, which also need not be based on the claims of any particular religion."

After all, you did ask what non-religious reasons one might have for opposing abortion. There's an answer, if not necessarily a complete one.
October 1, 2015 at 10:02 AM "


My point, as you suggest, in providing those largely provocative scenarios was to try and assess what grounds Charlie would provide for judging them as either socially or morally blameworthy, or permissible.

We have after all, and in the context of the abortion topic someone brought up, been referring to public law and morals.

If it is ok for any woman to abort any fetus for any reason while "it is attached to her"; then, what if anything is the problem with her seeking a financial profit by voluntarily accommodating some, say rich eugenicist, in pursuing his population agenda?


But Charlie seems to prefer to talk of feelings rather than rights and duties, and their potential, if any, foundations.


He feels how he feels, and that is apparently the end of it.

Step2 said...

We differ only when it comes to the concept of the Trinity.

That seems improbable when the Islamic prophet was a militant who promised a harem in the afterlife.

@Charlie
If you want to save yourself some time and trouble, google "delayed ensoulment" and see how Aquinas, following Aristotle, was instrumental in making sure abortion was not considered murder for 600+ years by the Catholic Church. It was still considered wicked and a crime against both marriage and motherhood, but not the killing of a person. Most all your interlocutors know this little bit of history but you could wait months if not years to have any of them tell you about it because Truth.

jmhenry said...

Keep telling women what to do, old white man!!!!!!

I'm actually a black man.

*pauses for awkward silence*

You keep asking us to address "women's choice." But choice is an act of the will with regard to the means in a human action -- and all human actions are subject to moral evaluation, which is precisely what we are trying to do: morally evaluate the choice of abortion. That will depend upon all the questions that have previously been raised:

When does human life begin? When does personhood begin? What is the nature of personhood? Since murder is traditionally defined as the deliberate killing of an innocent person, we might pose further questions: Is abortion an act of killing? Is the unborn human innocent? Is the unborn human a person? (That last question will, of course, depend upon our account of the nature of personhood.) One need not appeal to revelation to answer any of these questions.

But you originally asserted that the non-religious arguments against abortion "stem from the religious ones." That is an incredibly ill-informed assertion to make, as I tried to demonstrate by noting organizations like Pro-Life Humanists and briefly sketching an argument for respecting unborn humans as persons that rests not on religious or theological premises, but on a metaphysical account of human nature. I haven't heard you repeat your original assertion, so I will assume you've abandoned it.

As for my age, you should appreciate that someone as young as myself is politically and socially active and aware.

Our culture seems to have an obsession with mere "awareness." There's a Twitter hashtag "awareness" campaign for almost everything. But one often finds that most of the people who participate in such campaigns actually know very little about the issue involved. And that's because awareness is only the beginning of learning, and is no substitute for deep, careful study. If one has neither the time nor inclination to engage in such study, then they might at least demonstrate some intellectual humility and openness, rather than just naked and incoherent hostility any opposing view. Awareness by itself -- and as an end in itself -- serves only to generate irrational emotion, rather than cool deliberation about means and ends. Thus people try to remedy a particular problem without having adequately thought about it, thus either making the problem worse, creating new problems, or both.

I'm able to feel all these things the Bible prescribes, without the need for the Bible.

And, you know, the Bible sort of agrees with you (Romans 2:11-16). I'm reminded of a post by our friend Mike Flynn, in which he gives a rational account of the morality of human acts, saying that "nothing prevents an atheist from reasoning in this way." But he warns that "certain predispositions of modern atheism are subversive of the rationalist approach. That is because in the meantime, we have gone through the triumph of the will."

This would help explain the strange assertion that the right to life begins when the mother "allows you to live as an independent being"; or Barbara Boxer's bizarre assertion years ago that the right to life is granted "when you bring your baby home." Your right to life, as I said before, becomes determined merely by the subjective desires of another, rather than grounded in anything objective.

Triumph of the Will indeed.

Scott W. said...

Late to the party, but fascinating that Kim Davis Derangement Syndrome is infecting hard-science departments.

And then Pope Francis went to visit her? Whew! The denial was strong even in Catholic circles so much that I identified 5 stages of grief:


1. Denial “Except I shall see the pictures of the pope and Davis holding hands, I will not believe.”
2. Anger “Why would anyone take time to visit this cishet bigot!”
3. Bargaining “Ok, he saw her, but he must have been duped! Yeah. That’s it!”
4. Depression “I don’t understand. We won with Obergefell. Why am I still unhappy?”

Hopefully to be followed by:

5. Acceptance “Oh well. Maybe she has a point and she really is a victim of an ascending fascist movement putting the boot on the throats of dissenters. Maybe not voting for enthusiastic abortionists will be a fresh start.”

Anonymous said...

It looks like Santi has changed his name to Steele.

Charlie Steele said...

to ALL commenters:

I have been engaged in a similar debate (though solely focused on abortion) with people of my age on a much broader scale on Facebook. and I have been appalled by many of the things said on BOTH sides.

So I must recognize and applaud the civility and rational thinking that MOST of you display. Some of you are incredibly condescending and patronizing.

As for JMHenry, you being black is neither here nor there. I'll admit I'm more interested in your point of view now (for an in-depth analysis of how abortion greatly benefitted the black communities of America, check out Freakonomics), but it really has nothing to do with my argument. Ben Carson is proof that you can be an incredibly gifted and successful black man and still be gravely mistaken when it comes to human rights. No human can tell another human what to do with their body. No man can tell a woman what to do. And no woman can tell other women what to do.

Abortion is legal. You guys talk as if this is up for debate, or as if it's going to change any time soon. What if some of you are the product of better households because your parents were able to have an abortion say, 5 years before you were born? I doubt you would feel the same way. Also, I make this point to ultra-Conservatives, so I'm not sure it's really relevant here, as I think you're all from a different ilk. But anyway, I often ask, what if that baby grows up to be ultra pro-choice? Do you still want it to grow up? (JMHenry don't freak out, that's similar to your homosexual foetus remark).

for the last time, a human is not a foetus. The process of fertilization and development into a human being takes time. I would argue that the exact point where the foetus should be considered a human may still occur within the womb. But I'm talking like 39 weeks in. You think calling birth the beginning of life is ridiculous, yet I think it's just as preposterous to try to pinpoint the moment that the egg was fertilized. How are you going to call a microscopic organism a human being?

JMHenry is still incredibly disappointing. I say I'm politically aware and he shoots me down. The majority of the non-secular world supports my opinion on abortion. That's why its legality is so prevalent. He thinks that I'm wrong simply because he disagrees. Then calls me arrogant. Why, that's mighty hypocritical of you.

Charlie Steele said...

JMHenry I advocate for equality for all races, genders, and financial statuses. I actually influence my peers to become politically aware. Many of my friends back home have become interested in politics, all across the spectrum. You are only doing a disservice to humanity by being so disrespectful to an enthusiastic young man like myself. I hope you feel really good up on that high-horse, but surely your ass must hurt by now?

Charlie Steele said...

hahahahahahahahhaha wow JMHenry you called me hostile. Well I'd rather be hostile (if this is it) than a pretentious, arrogant, condescending elitist like yourself.

Charlie Steele said...

DNW are you capable of discussing the issue at hand without deferring to other distracting, irrelevant arguments?

Please state clearly your reasons for being against abortion. Do not refer to the many reasons or the existence of reasons or the books or the people that have influenced you. State, in English, in your terms, why you think abortion should be illegal. Then, and only then will I address you.

Scott said...

Step2:

Most all your interlocutors know this little bit of history but you could wait months if not years to have any of them tell you about it because Truth.

The relevance of this little bit of history, to the extent that it's relevant at all, is simply that the Church changed its mind on a subsidiary matter because Science.

Charlie Steele said...

DNW you don't even make sense. I said I support abortion. I also said I would feel empathy, sympathy, fear, or a whole host of emotions, in the situations you described. You asked how it would affect my life. It wouldn't. Doesn't mean I can't feel something about it. And my point, is that I am able to feel all these emotions without the Bible telling me to feel them. Do you understand? Can you comprehend what I am saying?

You try to make me appear selfish and self-centred by saying it's how "I" feel about it. Great. It is how "I" feel about it. It's also how millions upon millions of human beings, both men and women, have felt about it, for decades. So yes, my personal desire to keep abortion legal, is based on MY feelings. Except I also happen to share those feelings with the vast majority of people on this planet who are not influence by religion. You are actually making my point for me. You're saying I'm basing my views on my feelings - that's exactly what I'm saying! My point is that you and other abortion detractors are basing your feelings on OTHER peoples' feelings. Those other people being oppressive men, whether religious or not, who are attempting to control women.

ccmnxc said...

hahahahahahahahhaha wow JMHenry you called me hostile. Well I'd rather be hostile (if this is it) than a pretentious, arrogant, condescending elitist like yourself.

If someone keeps parading themselves around like some sort of intellectual juggernaut that we all ought to take seriously yet apparently doesn't seem capable of arguing themselves out of a paper bag (props for being a professional at emoting though - 10 points to Slytherin), then I think they need a little condescension every now and then. Not that jmhenry has been any of the things that you described above, so just to ensure that your complaint doesn't lack a target, let me take on the role of the condescending, arrogant elitist for you:

You are completely out of your league here and however strong your position and claims might seem to be from your side, we find it all pretty pathetic. Now, perhaps we've all been deceived by some Cartesian demon into thinking that your almighty arguments are actually vapid and fragile (or non-existent), but short of that, I think it is safe to say that at present, the guys here in the combox are merely humoring you and trying to get it through your impregnable ego that you haven't the slightest clue what you are talking about.

There, did I play the part well enough?

Anonymous said...

@other anon,

No way. Santi is an intellectual powerhouse by comparison.

Charlie Steele said...

ccmnxc

get over yourself

You say I'm out of my league, yet my consistent goal throughout has been to find reasons why you all hate abortion. And none of you have given anything close to a satisfactory answer. You guys assumed that I lump religious people with those who believe in any sort of higher power.

I ask why you think you get to choose for women, and you make it about the 'human' she's creating. Except it's not a human, it's a foetus. Literally every source we look to - religion, science, law - supports the idea that HUMAN life, PERSONhood, begins at birth.

I ask why you all must refer to a higher being as God, and you take offense and call me stupid and immature. Great. Really good discussion there.

ccmnxc unfortunately you have not added to the debate at all. So yes you are all those things you/I described, but unfortunately I could not care less as you are a non-factor in this discussion.

finally, you say I'm out of my league. What a surprise. 10 guys devoted to this blog and its author vs me, someone who has literally stumbled upon this post by accident. You all share your opinions perfectly. Try voicing them in a public space and see what happens.

Charlie Steele said...

wow even Anons getting in on the hate! I'm a star

Pathetic.

Charlie Steele said...

And again, the fact that you all think you can only debate with someone you consider to be "on your intellectual level", just says it all really.

Charlie Steele said...

addressing your most elitist of comments, cmxxmcxmcxm, what exactly would you say to someone who's NOT out of their depth here? What arguments FOR abortion do you 'respect'?

None, because you all reject any train of thought that differs from yours. As seen here.

Charlie Steele said...

Scott the church changed its mind because Science? So that's a thing? The Church just gets to change its mind? Do you see why I question the Bible?

Dennis said...

Dennis I never said my way was more rational. Who you choose to protect is your choice. I'm just saying your choice literally causes more harm to living, breathing human beings than mine does.

Clearly, this in itself has nothing but materialist presuppositions written all over, just like this,

for the last time, a human is not a foetus. The process of fertilization and development into a human being takes time. I would argue that the exact point where the foetus should be considered a human may still occur within the womb. But I'm talking like 39 weeks in. You think calling birth the beginning of life is ridiculous, yet I think it's just as preposterous to try to pinpoint the moment that the egg was fertilized. How are you going to call a microscopic organism a human being?

I don't see a lot of arguments for it, just assertions. You assert this, with materialistic presuppositions about conception. This is why I said that your rhetoric is aimed at an empty chair. You don't seem to see this, I wonder if you can even comprehend what I've said here.

JMHenry is still incredibly disappointing. I say I'm politically aware and he shoots me down. The majority of the non-secular world supports my opinion on abortion. That's why its legality is so prevalent. He thinks that I'm wrong simply because he disagrees. Then calls me arrogant. Why, that's mighty hypocritical of you.

You sir, are the last person to be yelling someone of hypocrisy, given your thesis of the 'difference' between your unjustified drama.

You say I'm out of my league, yet my consistent goal throughout has been to find reasons why you all hate abortion.

When referred to particular literature, you think that it is conservative rhetoric. And if you don't get the picture, you denying to do your own homework is just a sign of your laziness, and dishonesty.

And again, the fact that you all think you can only debate with someone you consider to be "on your intellectual level", just says it all really.

Enter any field in academia, you'll get the same response. You have been told, time and again, that you do not know what you're talking of, but you handwave it, and then come back with the same rhetoric. This is the pinnacle of debate ethics, you don't know what you're arguing against, you feel no need to argue for your positions whatsoever, and then you bring your presuppositions to the table, totally unquestioned, and then, "I don't deal with absolutists." I saw that just now, this has become funny, if you don't, leave.

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

Do you see why I question the Bible?

No, I don't. What I see is that you're abysmally ignorant of whatever you think you're criticizing, and that you don't show the least sign of wanting to learn any better even when well-meaning people try to help you.

Cantus said...

@CharlieSteele

By the way, among the reasons why nobody has answered your three questions are the following:

1. They're three different questions, each of which requires a very deep and comprehensive answer, to which the medium of combox comments is not conducive
2. Because each one is obviously very important to you, you are likely to want to respond to each answer made to them. Combined with the fact that there are three such questions, this is inevitably going to end up with your interlocutor having to do a lot of "firefighting", which is a bad and messy business to be in (I of course mean by "firefighting" the fact of having to deal with an overwhelming number of questions).

Perhaps we'd all make more progress if you asked exactly one question, and then we focussed on that for some time? Any reasonable-length answer to "why do you oppose abortion?" is going to require setting out the entire framework of Aristotelian-Thomism, which is a lengthy task even if you're only looking to provide a rough and loose answer.

My basic point is this - answering even one of your question properly would be a mammoth task and would require you to co-operate with at least some of us. That's not always easy to do, I appreciate that - you see us as promoting something very evil and so you naturally are disinclined to want to listen to us. Nevertheless, we are rational and have well-founded arguments for our positions, and if you take the time to listen, you may see that.

Pax.

Charlie Steele said...

Cantus thank you for your honesty and reasonableness. You are the first person to acknowledge that this is a battle of David v Goliath in terms of numbers, experience, and understanding. I'll admit I don't understand your views. That's why I say things like "Why must your Higher Power be called God?" to which no one has even attempted a logical answer other than "check out this _______". You say I'm lazy for not reading your books. You're lazy for simply citing them and not explaining your point at all.

I am very much interested in this topic. Until today, I didn't even think someone could be secular and against abortion. I figured people in the US who are left wing and yet still fight abortion were influenced by their religious choices or their religious culture. Apparently that is not so. You will see if you read my initial question, it is fair, reasonable, and politely worded. Check out all the responses. The nastiness started right away, as well as the outright statements that I am WRONG. But no one has actually shown that. You're all crying about how I'm being such an asshole. Yeah sure, I'm being offensive. But you are collectively using your intimidation and patronization to put down my arguments.

But I would like to stress that I do not think you guys are evil. I think it is wrong to tell women they can't have an abortion. But not evil. I do think much of religion has been a poison on society, and some of you will agree to a degree. But I appreciate how it has shaped our way of life. That being said, it certainly put white males at the forefront of society and that is what I'm trying to address.

As much as I appreciate and respect your comment Cantus, I still find it a bit naive. Your last paragraph, though incredibly gracious, still implies or rather SHOWS that you are all very comfortable in your shared opinions. You refer to your collective opinions as all having rational and well-founded bases, as if you are familiar with all of them.

You say we'd all make more progress yet you guys have no interest in progress. You all keep telling me how stubborn I am yet none have you have admitted that anything I've said is not only correct, but even valid. That's what I don't understand about all this. You are using a mob-like approach to beat up on me and you wonder why it's so difficult for me to fight back.

I do agree that I posed too many questions and each one was too deep. However, I have absolutely no familiarity with this site, whereas you all appear to be season veterans. A little more class from the lot of you is expected and would be appreciated. I understand I'm not practising what I preach, but can you blame me in these particular circumstances?

Charlie Steele said...

You are all as much blinded by your emotions and backgrounds as I am. If that isn't clear to you from the way you are all communicating with me, this really is a lost cause for everyone.

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

The nastiness started right away, as well as the outright statements that I am WRONG.

What self-serving horseshit. I was the very first person to reply to you, and you won't find a speck of "nastiness" in my reply. Your original posts, on the other hand…

As for Gottfried's statement that you were WRONG in reply to your question, "why do you believe in God? because the Bible told you to, right?"—well, guess what: you were. Why did you ask if you didn't want to know?

Charlie Steele said...

Scott the first reply to me AFTER yours:

"What's the non religious reason for not shrugging if your college athlete buddy beats a weak and annoying geek almost to death for his impertinence; or for not paying women to abort homosexual foeti if such a thing could be determined, or for just gazing indifferently as an irritating fool is about to be attacked by a shark; if you knew, with near certainty, that none of these things would really affect the quality of your own life, or the vision you have for satisfying social arrangements, in any substantive way?"

That is the most condescending response imaginable. Then you all told me to grow up, read a bit, come back a few years later, and all that. You really speak to people like that?

Dennis said...

You say I'm lazy for not reading your books. You're lazy for simply citing them and not explaining your point at all.

. . .Or that neither I, nor anyone else is obligated to helping you when you evidently don't even dare drop your presuppositions and continue in a completely derogatory, patronizingly condescending attitude, while blaming it all on the others.

You say we'd all make more progress yet you guys have no interest in progress. You all keep telling me how stubborn I am yet none have you have admitted that anything I've said is not only correct, but even valid. That's what I don't understand about all this. You are using a mob-like approach to beat up on me and you wonder why it's so difficult for me to fight back.

Grant you the presuppositions, unquestioned, un-argued, and let loose, right? Good game.

You are all as much blinded by your emotions and backgrounds as I am. If that isn't clear to you from the way you are all communicating with me, this really is a lost cause for everyone.

Try facing a mirror.

Charlie Steele said...

Scott my comment was the first one with any sense of challenge to it. All of you just lap up these posts and agree, so I had to ensure my comment was heard. I had no idea you had a whole team of support diligently scouring over every comment. So I regret using caps...but is that really nasty? Come on man. Don't talk to me about self-serving horseshit. This whole blog is a comfort zone of self-serving horseshit.

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

That is the most condescending response imaginable. Then you all told me to grow up, read a bit, come back a few years later, and all that. You really speak to people like that?

No, it isn't, yes, we did, and yes, we do.

The advice is sound. So far you haven't even been able to reply to a single one of us without misrepresenting what was said to you, let alone show anything even close to an accurate understanding of the views you began, in your very first post, by attacking as "ridiculous." These are not signs of intellectual maturity, no matter what your calendar age is.

Charlie Steele said...

Dennis I'm sorry but you're clearly illiterate! I said "as I am". You even quoted me! So why would I look in mirror after already admitting my guilt? Imagine how you would all jump on me if I said something so obviously dumb.

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

All of you just lap up these posts and agree, so I had to ensure my comment was heard.

Riiiight. Here on the Internet, posting with that attitude and for that purpose has a name. It's called trolling.

Charlie Steele said...

Scott I'm being genuine when I say this:

I'm sorry you got offended but you are mistaken in your interpretation.

Suggesting God exists is not the kind of ridiculous statement I was referring to. I clearly said that the stance later changes. Has the Church changed its stance on God? No. So I was talking about other things. I'm sure you know all of the 'ridiculous' things in the Bible. If you don't, then I actually was referring to you. But I'm sure you don't take every word in the Bible literally, so I really wasn't talking about you.

For the record, I staunchly oppose the concept of there being a God or higher power but I am open to debate about that. Do not confuse my attitude towards religion with my attitude towards 'God'. I just despite the use of the word God because its so religious. But you insist on using it to describe something that appears to me to be an entirely different interpretation. So be it.

Dennis said...

So here's the emphasis you miss out, guess everything has to be spelt out for you, it was a lost cause when you looked at the mirror, that needs no other addition, full stop. You can't see that looking into the mirror? Back with the same condescension, naturally, all of this is a demonstration of your humility.

Charlie Steele said...

No Scott, ensuring my comment is heard is not trolling. I could start trolling if you want, but it would be very obvious and not at all what I'm doing.

I think atheists and pro-choicers around the world would be very offended to hear that you think arguing against anti-choicers counts as trolling.

And by the way --- I surely appear militant in this forum but I guarantee this is a fraction of the intensity you lot would be exposed to in an evenly-balanced setting.

Charlie Steele said...

Dennis you are very immature. Everyone else, even Scott is open to honest and humble discussion with me. I don't know what your deal is.

jmhenry said...

As for JMHenry, you being black is neither here nor there.

I agree. It's just that, when you reached into your grab-bag of bogeymen, and pulled out the Old White Man in response to one of my comments, I just thought I would point out that your bogeyman does not apply to me. Especially on the internet, that's one of the perils of just relying on a grab-bag of bogeymen. My suggestion would be to put the grab-bag away and just deal with the substance of what is being said.

I'll admit I'm more interested in your point of view now (for an in-depth analysis of how abortion greatly benefitted the black communities of America, check out Freakonomics)...

Freakonomics certainly seems to be your Holy Scripture, even though you confess no need of the Bible. But let's explore the presupposition that underlies your claim here.

Now, I don't believe for a second that abortion has "greatly benefited" the black community. But, for the sake of argument, let's go ahead and concede that the claim is true. Would that mean that abortion is morally permissible?

Let's put it this way: Do the consequences of human acts alone determine the morality of those acts? For example, if I could show that killing all the nation's poor people would "greatly benefit" us economically and materially, would that make killing all the nation's poor people morally okay? In this instance, most people seem to at least intuitively recognize that, even if killing the nation's poor would greatly benefit us, doing it would not be morally permissible. There is some intuitive awareness that murdering people is intrinsically wrong, regardless of whatever good consequences can be derived from it.

Likewise, even if abortion has "greatly benefited" the black community -- which, again, I do not believe -- then those good consequences would not change the intrinsic nature of the act of abortion. And if abortion is intrinsically wrong, then it remains so, whatever beneficial consequences might be contingently derived from it. The principle here is that "we must not do evil that good may come of it."

Of course, if you are presupposing a consequentialist evaluation of the morality of abortion, then I and others here would directly challenge that presupposition, thus making irrelevant any appeals to purported good consequences of abortion in this or that community to support its moral permissibility.

ccmnxc said...

You say I'm out of my league, yet my consistent goal throughout has been to find reasons why you all hate abortion.

This is manifestly false given that you have taken it upon yourself to tell us why we happen to dislike abortion. Because we supposedly are these evil men who are trying to oppress women is why we are against abortion has been the message that's come through from your writings. Perhaps you'd like to rescind?

And none of you have given anything close to a satisfactory answer.

Your refusal to seriously engage said answers does not make them non-satisfactory. As you very clearly told DNW, you want these answers to come to you explicitly on your own terms. Sorry, you don't get to stack the deck and then subsequently blame us for losing.

You guys assumed that I lump religious people with those who believe in any sort of higher power.

Let's be serious, what is a "higher power" going to be if not one encompassed in a religion of some sort?

I ask why you think you get to choose for women, and you make it about the 'human' she's creating.

Yes, we get to choose that women not slaughter their children because they are human beings. We're good so far...

Except it's not a human, it's a foetus.

You realize that a fetus is a type of human, yes? This is like me saying that no, you are not a human; you are an adolescent.

Literally every source we look to - religion, science, law - supports the idea that HUMAN life, PERSONhood, begins at birth.

I'll set aside the abuse of the word "literally" and point out that the Catechism says the opposite, for an example in religion. I have yet to see a counter example to an embryology text book saying that human life begins at conception, though if you want to find me one, feel free. As for law, here in the US, Roe v. Wade explicitly said it didn't know when human life qua person began. So no, this statement is simply false and is quite easily shown to be so.

I ask why you all must refer to a higher being as God, and you take offense and call me stupid and immature. Great. Really good discussion there.

It is because of this maudlin crap that we got mad at you, actually. You look at old posts with guys like Chuck or old dguller, and you will find people in unheated interactions with atheists, so it is hardly that we get offended at honest atheist questioning. Yet, as evidenced by your very post here, you must take the least charitable route possible, questioning our intellectual honesty and making us out to be so frail as to lose it when our faith is questioned when we are really just sick of guys who can't communicate their thoughts without sucking us into their whirlwind of emotion and psychoanalytical tirades.

ccmnxc unfortunately you have not added to the debate at all.

Correct, because this debate as it is taking place shouldn't be happening at all. I am telling you to grow up or go away. I have no interest in maintaining the conversation as it stands.

ccmnxc said...

[continued]

So yes you are all those things you/I described, but unfortunately I could not care less as you are a non-factor in this discussion.

I'm always mystified when people cry to the high heavens about how they could not care less about what their interlocutor just said immediately after telling them to get over themselves and writing an entire post in response. You're not quite the stoic you present yourself to be; sorry.

finally, you say I'm out of my league. What a surprise. 10 guys devoted to this blog and its author vs me, someone who has literally stumbled upon this post by accident.

Can't tell if this is an admission or not. If not, what is this? If so, why do you simultaneously admit that you are out of your league and yet still cannot seem to hold a charitable conversation with anybody who has tried to engage you respectfully?

You all share your opinions perfectly. Try voicing them in a public space and see what happens

This blog isn't a cloister. We do, you know, actually interact with thoughts and people outside of here. So what am I to make of this further failed attempt at mind reading?

addressing your most elitist of comments, cmxxmcxmcxm, what exactly would you say to someone who's NOT out of their depth here? What arguments FOR abortion do you 'respect'?

What would I say? Dunno, depends on what argument they have and how they are going about their position. I probably wouldn't bring up their competence at all unless I was particularly impressed, in which case I may complement them. Not really sure what you are angling for with this question. As far as arguments for abortion I respect, I think various bodily autonomy arguments are interesting and worthwhile, even if ultimately incorrect. For example, I would say that a proponent for abortion such as David Boonin is very much competent and worthy of being interacted with.

None, because you all reject any train of thought that differs from yours. As seen here.

Remember my remark above about how you proceed to answer peoples' questions for them and thus show a lack of any actual intellectual curiosity? Yeah, I appreciate the vindication.

Charlie Steele said...

JMHenry -

While I greatly disagree with the extent to which you exaggerate your point, I see what you're saying. However it still comes down to your fundamental belief of what constitutes a human being. Your opinion on the intrinsic nature of abortion dictates which side you take. I think that's what you're saying in the last paragraph, correct?

I refer to Freakonomics because it's a clearly secular text that deals with abortion. I haven't read anything else because I don't study metaphysics or medicine. I'm simply curious about the topic and passionate about social issues. Also, me referring to a single text is nothing like someone citing the Bible. Do you seriously think that a book written centuries upon centuries (which version do you all refer to anyway?) ago is the same as a thoroughly researched, non-fiction piece about economics? Come on man...

As for its content - I'm assuming you haven't read it or else you surely would agree that it has at least benefitted the black community economically - it suggests (I would say proves, but you would surely take issue) that had abortion been illegal in the second half of the 20th century, the number of babies born to black women would have reach an unsustainable rate and would have been impossible to support financially. Now the authors clearly state that abortion benefitted ALL of society, but there is a focus on the black community and I figured I would point that out to you.

Anyway I really appreciate your change in tone. Hope others follow you.

At the end of the day, I'm never going to consider legal, modern, safe abortions as murder. And you don't seem to want to change either. Does this need to continue?

Taylor Weaver said...

Wow. The use of Freakonomics as a 'scholarly' piece to justify the positive outcome of abortions on the black populace of America. Even the Wikipedia page on the book points out the speciousness of the claim.

Scott said...

(And you almost have to admire the sheer, breathtaking chutzpah of the "inference" that jmhenry must not have read it or he'd agree with it.)

Charlie Steele said...

ccmnxc you have NOT tried to engage with me respectfully. Like a number of your teammates.

But anyway you are clearly not worth my time. Glad you dissected my entire comment but only one part of your ramble stands out to me:

"You realize that a fetus is a type of human, yes? This is like me saying that no, you are not a human; you are an adolescent."

a) assuming I'm an adolescent. Nice man. You just wrote hundreds of words accusing me of telling people what they are and what they think and you've done the very same thing.
b) a fetus is NOT a type of human. It is a stage in the development of becoming a human. You can disagree but you are fundamentally wrong. babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, young adults, adults, seniors, whatever, those are types of human. But a fetus is not a human. Don't try to simplify matters by comparing it to the label you have decided to attribute to me.

And one other thing. The Catechism? Great. Since when is that superior to the Bible?

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Gen 2:7

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
Psalms 33:6

Numbers 5:11-31 even include a pretty clear equivalent of abortion.

So there you have it. Lots of evidence to refute your incorrect assertions.

DNW said...

Charlie,

Cut your losses while you're behind. I'm not interested in making and have not been trying to make you seem anything.

It is you who have all by your lonesome demonstrated that you cannot quote straight. And it was you who when you were asked to give reasons, started telling us how you feel.

I don't care how you feel, and see no reason why I should when we are supposedly engaged in the process of reasoning as to the foundational and informing principles behind public law and morals.


JMHenry taking a cue from Flynn, has your real approach pegged; a combination of "Ain't I just the most preciously precocious little thing?!", and "Triumph of the will meets Argumentum ad Populum".

Most of what you have said here in fact. reflects a preoccupation with your status, and a desire for appreciation and acceptance.

Every time someone tries to talk the topic's you have yourself broached, you just want to talk about you.

I don't know what passes for social philosophy on twitter among young, feeling, and self-congratulatory socially aware sorts, but if you are any indication of it, I'll just pass and let someone with a more paternal attitude deal with you.

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor Weaver wow thanks for coming out and saying absolutely nothing. Questioning my sources and then pointing to Wikipedia..........................................

Daniel said...


@Charlie Steele,

You want to refer to the 'higher power' as something different? Well I tend to prefer terms like the 'Absolute' or the 'One' to distinguish it from the contingent anthropomorphic gods of polytheism. But that's up to you. A little education and the conflating of God with the Semitic religions disappears.

I am not a Christian. I am not a member of any religion. Sometimes I feel disenchantment bordering on hostility with Christianity. However I only need to dip into a thread like this to feel 'Damn it, my disagreements with these people are minimal compared to my disagreements with Atheism, especially modern Western atheism' (God, at least Nietzsche had a degree of moral and aesthetic sophistication)

Why on earth you think Catholics should be obliged to debate the morality of abortion with you (let's cut the American polit 'Pro Choice VS Pro Life' crap and talk like adults eh?)when you show utter ignorance of their arguments and fail to maintain even a basic degree of civility?

@jmhenry,

Good call with that video it's one of my favorites.

Charlie Steele said...

DNW

you asked why I care if someone gets beaten up if it doesn't affect me. I care because I don't want there to be violence in my society, I want people to feel safe, and I feel empathy for the victim. What is so bad about all that?

Marc McKenzie said...

A nice response from Dr. Feser.

Reading Krauss' comments (full disclosure--I actually gave Krauss a good amount of respect for his book The Physics of STAR TREK--as a Trekker, the book was pretty amazing), as well as considering the comments of some of the "New Athiests", I have to wonder why they seem to have been ignorant of those who were both religious and were scientists--Georges Lematitre being a major example:

http://www.amnh.org/education/resources/rfl/web/essaybooks/cosmic/p_lemaitre.html

Taylor Weaver said...

I didn't say absolutely nothing. If I had the lost would have been blank.

But, try a source that hasn't been pointed out by economists and sociologists as a fuckrag.

Wait, that would require being able to critically evaluate sources.

Taylor Weaver said...

*post.

Damn phone.

Charlie Steele said...

Daniel where exactly is my ignorance? Catholics staunchly oppose abortion, and I'm asking why. What's wrong with that?

Taylor Weaver said...

Also, obviously Charlie doesn't care about black people, which is why he has been so unfair and dipshitty toward jmhenry.

What a bigot. Pretends to care about women and social issues, then turns around and acts racist.

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor man are you serious? Wikipedia is literally a fuckrag that anyone can edit. How can you possibly argue that?

You may very well be right about Freakonomics (I disagree - irrelevant), but to question my sources and then cite Wikipedia is simply hilarious.

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor clearly misread all of my comments. I clearly said I was MORE interested in him when he was black, and I was actually being a classic SJW and referring to all of you as 'old white men'.

You also didn't read JMHenry's posts either. he didn't admit he was black until two posts ago and yet you say I'm prejudice. I think you're just intent on making yourself look like an even bigger ass than I've done here.

Taylor Weaver said...

Wikipedia uses citations, kid, which means you can evaluate the source. Unless you have the reading level of a five year old.

Racist. And, stealing my term (fuckrag). So a thief and a racist.

Charlie Steele said...

guys I suggest none of you associate yourself with this Taylor character. He can't read or form rational arguments yet he throws around big words and makes incredibly asinine assertions.

Still open to discussion with the rest of you!

Taylor Weaver said...

Poor racist Charlie. He can't quite come to terms with the immense damage he has done to not only black men, but to me as well by stealing from me.

Scott said...

Taylor Weaver didn't "cite" Wikipedia. He merely noted that even it knows better than to regard Freakonomics as a serious scholarly work. (I've read it too, and calling it a "fuckrag" is probably overly kind.)

Charlie Steele said...

oh my GOD Taylor. please show I'm racist. and I clearly used the term fuckrag right back at you to show that Wikipedia was on the same level you claim Freakonomics to be on.

He must be a troll guys...

Charlie Steele said...

okay well there you go. I'm a racist fuckrag reader.

It's getting late in the civilized world (please don't start crying, it's called a joke). I will gladly go over the barrage of comments I will be bombarded with...

And Taylor, worst troll in history, if you're surprised by my thievery, you clearly never read my last name ;)

Taylor Weaver said...

It's fun turning the mirror back on trolls.

Though, I prefer Santi to a child who can't interpret posts or form arguments.

Carry on regulars, though this all seems rather hopeless.

Taylor Weaver said...

Charlie, for fuck's sake, do NOT use the 'God' word. It makes me feel ANGRY. I hate it so much. Don't write it at me.

And so on.

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

Catholics staunchly oppose abortion, and I'm asking why.

Ha ha. Good one.

In fact what you actually wrote was, "@jmhenry you fail to realize that the 'non-religious' reasons for being against abortion stem from the religious ones. could you maybe give me an example?" I replied to that a long time ago and others have followed up, so you already know "why"; you just don't want to hear it. But like it or not, there's nothing specifically Catholic about opposition to abortion on moral grounds.

Taylor Weaver said...

I seem to remember numerous examples and links to nonreligious arguments against abortion.

Was I dreaming? Or, did the Cartesian demon come back?

Charlie Steele said...

Scott I said Catholic when someone else said Catholics don't owe me an explanation. Do you really have to attack every single thing I say? Like you're dead wrong on that one. As you were when you thought I was calling you ridiculous. And yet no apology, no humility, no acknowledgement.

And I'm immature.

And Taylor - I asked why you all must use the word God to refer to something you claim to be non-Christian and non-religious. In our society, God generally means the guy Christians worship. Or Muslims. But we even have a different name for THEIR God. So why does a completely different incarnation of the concept use the same term? Someone above actually conceded that using God was unnecessary. I didn't say "dont say it to me" idiot.

I'll check back in the morning.

Scott said...

Charlie Steele:

One other thing while I'm at it, and then I'm done. This:

And one other thing. The Catechism? Great. Since when is that superior to the Bible?

…bespeaks a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of Scripture in the Catholic Church. Yes, it's centrally important, and yes, it's inerrant in all that it asserts. But we know those things only because the Church teaches them—and, indeed, the Church got along for three hundred years without a well-defined collection of inerrant texts.

So yes, in a sense the teaching of the Church (which Catholics regard as the teaching of Christ Himself) is "superior" to the Bible, as without the first we wouldn't even have the second. (And there are things in Church Tradition that aren't expressly stated in Scripture.)

Just FYI.

And, oh, you posted while I was composing this. So…

As you were when you thought I was calling you ridiculous. And yet no apology, no humility, no acknowledgement.

I don't recall ever thinking or saying that you were calling me "ridiculous," and I don't owe you an apology. You most certainly did, in your very first post, characterize the views you were attacking as "ridiculous"—twice, in fact.

And I'm immature.

Yes. So far I've said only that you're intellectually less than fully mature, but I'd agree with your broader statement as well.

Scott said...

(I should also perhaps add that Catholics don't believe the meaning of e.g. your "breathing" proof-texts is subject to the private interpretation of individuals like Charlie Steele. That, too, is a matter of Church authority, and you'll make no headway with Catholics by insisting that we read our own Bible in your idiosyncratic fashion.)

Step2 said...

@Scott
The relevance of this little bit of history, to the extent that it's relevant at all, is simply that the Church changed its mind on a subsidiary matter because Science.

From an infallible teaching authority of timeless moral Truth, that is like saying the Church changed its mind from claiming 2+2=5. Whatyagoingtodo it was just an unscientific opinion, it didn't have any metaphysical importance or nothing. *shrugs*

That said, clearly Charlie is wrong to assert the fetus isn't human, categorically it is of the human species. But he is right to claim that human life and personhood are not fundamentally equivalent. Frankly I am impressed that JMHenry is willing to address the topic from that perspective, most pro-lifers don't even make the attempt.

Mr. Green said...

Anonymous: other anon, No way. Santi is an intellectual powerhouse by comparison.

Now, now, children, let's not squabble. We can all agree that between the two of them, they don't have enough brains to feed a naegleria fowleri on a diet.


And to everyone else: Why are you responding to the troll?!? No, that's not a rhetorical question: I understand the temptation, but why, after the first few rounds, are so many people here (with a few exceptions) taking such non-seriousness seriously?

The Frenchman said...

We should just stop discussing with Charlie, in my humble opinion.

He's got nothing new to bring about in any case.

Scott said...

Step2:

From an infallible teaching authority of timeless moral Truth, that is like saying the Church changed its mind from claiming 2+2=5.

Not at all, since the point in question was never taught infallibly or as a matter of dogma/faith. It's more like (in fact pretty much just like) the Church's eventual acknowledgement, also in response to scientific evidence (not Galileo's; he didn't have it and his arguments were bad), that the Earth moves.

Charlie Steele said...

Scott and you have precisely summed up my problem with ALL religions. Everything you said points to the arbitrary, ad hoc nature of religion, especially when it comes to explain the world around us.

I honestly don't understand how you can argue with my breath point but hey that's your choice.

Again, it's so comical that I'm a troll because I won't give up and because I disagree...incredible. You all know I'm clearly not trolling. Trolling is pointless and is designed to rile up strangers and frustrate them. You think I would type all this shit all day just to ruffle a few feathers? Seriously? That's pathetic

Scott said...

Mr. Green:

And to everyone else: Why are you responding to the troll?!?

I can't speak for anyone else, but in my case, after initially deciding not to respond further, I read some more of his posts and thought there was a chance he wasn't merely trolling after all.

That was a mistake, though, and I've surely continued to respond for longer than I should have.

Charlie Steele said...

what I don't understand about all of you is that I am projecting the most popular opinion amongst educated, progressive people, all across the world. You can deny it, but the majority of first world citizens do not believe in God and support abortion. why you are treating this like a manic witch hunt is beyond me.

Charlie Steele said...

well Scott, thank you. I'm glad I've finally been promoted to "not just a mere troll". means a lot.....

So what is it then? What is my downfall? Intelligence? Surely you all don't believe that your way is the only way. Or else you'd be just as bad as you claim I am. None of you have shown an openness to differing ideas so I don't see why you're commenting on my ability to accept and analyze external opinions.

Taylor Weaver said...

The 'breath' point? Haha.

If you want to understand how to read an ancient text, please consult commentaries and works on the social and cultural specificities of a particular text. The relation to abortion is negligible here. That section, specifically, in Genesis, has nothing to do with something becoming human because it has encountered oxygen in it's lungs. This is all about YHWH animating and causing to be reality, with the particular section you point out specifically being about humanity and its relation to YHWH's life giving. There is a special act here of animation. It only has to do with personhood in that the spirit of God has animated the new being. Has nothing to do with a fetus emerging from a womb and taking a breath, brah.

Read some books, yo.

Taylor Weaver said...

Hey guys, apparently because a majority of 'first world' citizens believe something it must be true.

Cause the arbitrary amount of people who believe something automatically constitutes that belief as true.

Cool, brah.

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor Weaver - right back at you:

Read some books, yo. Preferably ones by qualified scientists at the top of their field that are peer reviewed and supported by centuries of scientific discovery.

You really stretched there man... but I admire your stubbornness. It mirrors my assertion that there never was a God and the Bible is but a book of myths that was used to control the masses. But hey, you keep going believing in fairy tales and I'll keep on trucking with theories of evolution and whatnot

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor you can't read. I asked why my beliefs are being portrayed as being insane, when the majority of intelligent people share them. I did not say they are right.

I will assert things like 'a fetus is not a human' but I am not arrogant enough to outright state that I am right and you are wrong. It is your obsession with being right that forces you to interpret my words through the same lens, 'brah'.

Taylor Weaver said...

@Mr. Green.

Yeah, it's probably best not to feed the troll. I usually lurk around, though posted a bit when Santi first appeared. This guy, however, was too ridiculous not to have a bit of fun with.

Taylor Weaver said...

Instead of interacting with my point about interpreting ancient texts (which I have a Bachelor's and Masters in) dingleberry goes of topic and moans. Cool. Now his imbecility is even further cemented! Yay!

When a discussion point is presented widdle Chawlie just blusters about, and then goes off topic. And then claims something about my religious affiliation, of which he knows not! How cool! How enlightened.

In truth, you have damaged me. Your violence to my character, by calling me religious, is too much. I'm going to call all my SJW friends to say mean things to you.

Taylor Weaver said...

A fetus is a human. The question is regarding personhood, which you still haven't noticed despite it being pointed out to you numerous times.

Fuck dude. Read some goddamn books. Maybe start with Agamben (though some may disagree with his larger project) and his work on Roman law and the types of 'persons', or Esposito's _Third Person_. Or, read any survey of legal philosophy, or modern political philosophy. Please. Read some goddamn books. Get off the fucking internet and read something.

Charlie Steele said...

Dude you've literally committed your life to your argument and I'm supposed to have a civil discussion with you?

You have done what literally every commenter before you has done - called me out for something you are equally guilty of: assumptions, distractions, and the rest.

You literally did nothing but troll throughout your first 5 comments and now you're turning around and saying I'M off topic? nice one man.

Charlie Steele said...

OK MY MISTAKE MY MAN

I'm sorry I don't have a grasp of the correct terminology related to something you have STUDIED. A fetus is HUMAN but it is not A human for the sake of this discussion. I was clearly referring to personhood, being alive on this earth. You choose to take a very narrow interpretation of it which only makes you look more biased. You knew exactly what I meant yet chose to focus on my misnomer. Good for you

Taylor Weaver said...

Also, you didn't say anything about people treating your beliefs as 'insane'. No one here has said that belief in abortion is 'insane', unless I missed it. In fact, there was even mentioned arguments that some believe may have a certain robustness regarding the moral permissibility of abortion.

You project, it seems, your feelings onto others instead of reading them.

Charlie Steele said...

nah you know what guys? You're right. I'm wrong. just like all the lawmakers and scientists in the developed countries throughout the world that have fought passionately to ensure that a woman has the right to choose. all the rallies that have been held, all the court decisions, all the anger and tension that has existed because of this debate have been for nothing, because clearly you guys are right. You guys read the books no one else has read and you know things no one else knows. You're all enlightened and we're living in the dark age. thanks for teaching me so well guys!!!!!!

Taylor Weaver said...

That you make such an important 'misnomer' points to your not being quite up for this discussion, as the distinction between something being human and something being a person has enormous implications into the abortion debate.

And, that this was pointed out to you numerous times makes it difficult to want to take you seriously because it makes it seem like you don't give a shit about what anyone else is saying. Capice?

Charlie Steele said...

well Taylor Weaver I'm glad that both your degrees have led you to the point in your life where you're so busy and committed to your field that you can waste an afternoon trolling people who you believe are inferior to you. Your boss must be proud! And your parents too! Keep it up man :)

Taylor Weaver said...

I thought you were going to bed, Charlie?

Maybe you need to take a break, bro. You're too emotionally invested. Take a deep breath, go to sleep, wake up and have a cappuccino. Then go to the library, read some Aristotle, Aquinas, some other cool shit, then take another nap and come one back and say what's up to tha crew.

Charlie Steele said...

Nah Taylor it's an honest mistake that people like myself who are not obsessed with being right to the point of committing their lives to this debate often make.

No one actually pointed that out to me. They said that fetus is a type of person, just like an adolescent. That to me is not at all what you are saying. You are saying a fetus is part of our species. That I agree with. It's just not a person - legally or biologically. It is attached to the mother and is her property and her choice. But actually thank you for pointing the difference out to me, it never clicked.

And it's actually spelt 'Capsisce' but hey you know everything already

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor I'm actually very open to an ongoing discussion but you're a patronizing asshole who I have no intention of learning from or (attempting to) teach.

Taylor Weaver said...

Actually, Charlie, it is close to midnight for me, and I have no boss. I'm a doctoral student.

My dad is proud of me. I'm working under a top scholar in my field and moved all the way across the Atlantic to follow my dreams. Thanks for the concern!

Taylor Weaver said...

No. I believe it was jmhenry that pointed out the possible assigning of a fetus, dude. He pointed to four possibilities (starting with Peter Singer). It may not have been jmhenry, but I'm not going to try to navigate this on my phone.

So. No. You are wrong.

Taylor Weaver said...

I don't care how it is spelled. I'm American. However we spell things is how they are supposed to be spelled.

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor how have your views been accepted in the European climate? Cuz I've heard nothing like what you guys are saying over here.

as for my misnomer - it's what people my age think (not too much younger than you evidently). we refer to humans as the people walking on the earth and foeti as the little organisms in the womb. I know this because I have been engaged in debates like this recently, and everyone on both sides refers to humans v foeti. I think you should give me a break on that one

Taylor Weaver said...

PS. I'm not that interested in trying to teach you anything. People have been trying to teach you for hours and you have repeatedly shown that while you may have remarkably good spelling ability for a troll, that you have little desire or capacity to understand nuances, nor do you care about trying to understand a position alien to yours.

And, I say this as someone who is agnostic about the subject.

Charlie Steele said...

hold up Taylor. the American joke was funny. nice one

but actually: he described the possible conceptions of where life begins. He never clearly distinguished between the two. But more importantly, how are you going to say "I believe" and "You are wrong" when referring to the same point? that's a bit odd (even if you are correct, that seems a ridiculous attitude to have)

But again you're blaming me for the weakest things. I missed a few sentences in an absolute ESSAY of a comment... one of like 100 I've had to read that have been directed at me. That's what you're worried about?

Charlie Steele said...

okay Taylor I mean this sincerely: you're a dick. If you haven't noticed a marked change in the tone and style of my comments and attitude throughout this thread, then I'm truly surprised you've managed to make it so far in any academic field. Good luck to you but you're a down right arrogant bastard. Everyone else that bothered to reply to me after about comment 100 has done so with a degree of respect, patience, and politeness. You on the other hand have jumped between straight trolling and pompous assertions. I have no interest in discussing such issues with such an arrogant asshole.

There!!! now you can really call me intellectually immature and incapable of debate!!!!!!!!

Taylor Weaver said...

My views about the distinctions of persons?

Dude, i just spent in July a two week Summer School working with legal scholars and critical theorists, and also just came from the Critical Legal Studies Conference that took place in early September.

This is pretty par for the course. Personhood as either a legal or ontological assignation has often been in contestation. As I said, looking back at Roman law and paying attention to who is afforded personhood is pointed too often, and we can see that slaves and other subjects are lesser persons, or even things, on the sliding scale of personhood.

What is the significance of this? Precisely what was pointed out earlier by jmhenry (or whoever said it). There has to be rigorous argumentation about what can constitute a person, and not merely a human (if there is a difference, which the pro-choice person must admit, otherwise they are admitting to murder).


The Frenchman said...

You cannot talk with New Atheists ; they're even more dogmatic than our fundamentalists.

Not enough interactions in their brains to recognize that obvious truth.


We should move on, that discussion's gonna lead nowhere.

Let's talk about something else, really...

Taylor Weaver said...

Your sincerity is admirable, but I could care less.

Though, I have been called worse.

So, not that you have met me, a true asshole, go back and read the previous comments by others and notice how kind a gracious they have been!

(See, paradoxically, I'm actually really nice. My whole asshole attitude has been for your benefit ;)

Taylor Weaver said...

Also, my 'I believe' statement was concerning the particular poster, not the subject being discussed.

So, it wasn't strange that I said you were incorrect.

Charlie Steele said...

Taylor, I obviously understand that this is not representative of your personality. I can only define you by what you have said here, as is the case for me being judged by you!

It's only natural that we come across as mean when debating. I just don't get why it's okay for you and others to be rude, but not me.

And please read MY comments. I very clearly thanked and acknowledged the grace and respect offered to me by many of the other commenters

Taylor Weaver said...

Sorry, I meant 'now' instead of 'not'.

I'm really not that mean. But, it is late here and I was feeling a bit trollish because I believed you to be trolling. So, my initial attempt was to hold a mirror up to you.

So, I have no actual I'll feelings toward you.

Btw, just wondering, where I'm Europe is your home? I moved from the US to near London. Have spent some time in Scotland, Poland, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. I love it here.

Charlie Steele said...

I gotta go now, it's 12:41 for both of us as I'm in Glasgow.

I'm glad you enjoy it here and I apologize for any anti-American sentiments...being a strong left Canadian in Scotland who voted Yes and hates David Cameron has made me develop a particular view on the US.

Your harsh attitude is completely understandable. I would be the same in the reverse. But it doesn't make it any better I guess. Who cares really

As for MY attitude... I literally was completely unaware of this branch of philosophy (is that correct?) until today. I knew of all the various aspects but had never seen them together under one roof. And I actually think it's cool, it just takes time to adjust. I really do despise organized religion. I confused that with your beliefs (be they religious or not), primarily to do with your usage of the word God (which I still disagree with, but I'm starting to understand it).

I personally feel that I have been attacked all day on here, primarily because I am voicing a different opinion. Perhaps it's because I'm doing it in a different way than is expected or accepted, but I don't believe that anything I've said is any worse than what was thrown at me.

That has not stopped me from seriously reevaluating my stance on this subject. I am never going to see it your way - I promise you that. I support the right for women to have an abortion. But I can definitely curb my enthusiasm and robustness when it comes to disproving your views. I am greatly interested in things to do with non-religious interpretations of God and I hope that has become evident as the thread has evolved.

Again, I had literally never heard of such a thing before (nor had my Scottish roommate who is much more reasonable than myself). It takes time to adjust and I hope you all appreciate that I'm trying and I'm willing to learn. And yes I went too far before but I still support the underlying principles of what I was saying.

Taylor Weaver said...

Fwiw, I'm not a Cameron fan either.

Taylor Weaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Santi Tafarella said...

In the Summa, Aquinas writes the following: "Rains and winds, and whatsoever occurs by local impulse alone, can be caused by demons," and "It is a dogma of faith that the demons can produce wind, storms, and rain of fire from heaven." (Quote source: Andrew White, "A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology," p. 337.)

What Haldane and Krauss are saying is that no God or devil enters nature and fusses with weather--or with their experiments. They never presume that God is loading the dice--or allowing devils to load the dice. When dark energy was discovered, no physicist chalked up its mysterious properties to the shenanigans of either God or devils--or even suspected them. That's atheism. It was Aquinas who believed that supernatural powers can interfere with things like the weather or an experiment, not Haldane and Krauss.

So it's Feser who is arguing from the wrong domain here, defending a very, very narrow and limp idea of God that has nothing to do with the point made by either Krauss or Haldane. Feser writes: "[T]he facts that there is a world at all and that there are any laws governing it cannot be made sense of unless there is an uncaused cause sustaining that world in being."

This is blue pipe smoke. Feser's definition of "God" is beside the point, and sets up a straw man, pretending this is Krauss's and Haldane's target. It isn't. Feser's God, as narrowly defined by him in his essay, is not the sort of God that actually enters nature or history--or can be touched by scientists or historians. Feser's God is as applicable to Spinoza's idea of God as Aristotle's. It can even be applied to an uncaused and infinite "being" or structure with no awareness at all, akin to the Tao.

Neither Krauss nor Haldane are in the least concerned with this metaphysical overlay upon reality. What they are critiquing is the sort of God that can actually be falsified; a deity who speaks and intervenes in nature and history. Krauss and Haldane are saying that this sort of God does not exist. Empiricism and historicism have driven out the God who presides over a demon-haunted world.

Scott said...

If it's false/nonexistent Aquinas quotes you want, Andrew Dickson White is your man. Aquinas didn't write that in "the" Summa, the other Summa, or anywhere else.

Glenn said...

I think you may be making a smart move there, Santi... paving the way for entertaining the idea that what might appear to be a rejection of God, in reality is or has been, depending on the case, actually a rejection of an unsatisfying (mis)conception or (mis)characterization of God and not of God Himself. Who knows? You may be getting close to finding a way out of your dilemma, i.e., you may be getting close to seeing how you can legitimately acknowledge God once again without having to retract your earlier and sustained rejection.

Santi Tafarella said...

I'll take Scott's word over White's that Aquinas did not write those specific sentences, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that Aquinas believed that demons and God interfere with the courses of nature and history. It is this notion that Haldane denied, and the context in which he said, as a scientist, that he was necessarily "atheistic."

Here's Haldane's 1934 quote as Krauss offered it: "My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career.”

Yet here is Aquinas from the Summa (question 114, article 4) affirming, via Augustine, the opposite assumption: "[T]he magicians of Pharaoh by the demons' power produced real serpents and frogs. And 'when fire came down from heaven and at one blow consumed Job's servants and sheep; when the storm struck down his house and with it his children--these were the work of Satan, not phantoms'; as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 19)."

The above quote suggests that Aquinas took it for granted that devils can work effects upon matter and manipulate the weather (including generating such dramatic effects as lightning strikes). But how do they do it? Aquinas writes: "Spiritual powers are able to effect whatever happens in this visible world, by employing corporeal seeds by local movement" (Question 110, article 4). That is to say, demons can nudge things locally; they can make them swerve in one direction rather than another.

Aquinas also writes that "we hold that demons are spiritual substances not united to bodies," and that "the demons, according to certain phases of the moon, disturb man's imagination, when they observe that the brain is thereto disposed" (Question 115, article 5). Put another way: demons can exaggerate the brain's inclinations by nudging them further along in their ungodly imaginative channels (as when under the influence of a full moon). In contemporary terms, we know that this would have to entail interference with neuron firing.

So if Aquinas is right here, scientific theorizing itself is in jeopardy, for how can the scientist know whether or not demons are nudging her imagination into false theoretical directions? What is mistaken for inspiration during a walk beneath a full moon may be a devil nudging the imagination into sinful speculation and error.

And if Aquinas is correct, science is also in danger of error generated by the subtle--and even not so subtle--local tweakings of matter by mischievous devils.

What Feser thus needs to intellectually defend is not the abstract poetry of Being prior to beings (which can imply Spinoza's system as readily as Aquinas's), but the non-abstract reality of an angel and demon-haunted world--and why that doesn't unsettle, and even upend, the scientific enterprise.

Could Satan, for example, be the cause of 21st century climate change? Or might devils be nudging the imaginations of climate scientists (and the running of their computer models) into error?

Once you allow for a demon haunted world, where does such reasoning arrest itself--and why?

Billy said...
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Mr. Green said...

Scott: I can't speak for anyone else, but in my case, after initially deciding not to respond further, I read some more of his posts and thought there was a chance he wasn't merely trolling after all.

Actually, you were one of the exceptions, since your posts were mostly directed at the poster instead of acting as though — and thus implicitly endorsing — his responses as serious and sincere.

And while the people who give serious responses by and large give quite good serious responses, I have a genuine concern that treating foolish questions like serious ones devalues the ones that really are sincere. No matter much one prefaces a response with complaints about the (virtual) troll’s evident flaws, the subsequent response signifies that his misbegotten challenges really were on the mark after all (and worse, therefore, that the initial complaints were just the result of bad temper!).


Taylor Weaver: This guy, however, was too ridiculous not to have a bit of fun with.

I can sympathise with that; I’ve done it myself on occasion. But we ought to remember that this isn’t your personal site, or mine — on your own site, do as you will. I think sometimes carrying on the “fun” for too long can be thoughtless towards all the other readers (most of whom are silent lurkers, don’t forget), who have to wade through the junk.

Charlie Steele said...

Mr. Green, the fact that you are still here commenting in such an ignorant way shows what this site is all about.

You completely ignore any and all progress that was made by me or others. Look at the last 20 comments and you'll see a very different tone from everyone.

But hey, you just want to continue to encourage the division between us.

And that's an incredibly selfish view you have - 'we have to wade through the junk'. No one is forcing or even asking you to be here, and this is my platform as much as it is yours or any of the other 'silent lurkers'.

You're quoting Taylor's comment completely out of context. Look at our interactions after that and you'll see they were positive and almost amicable. You are backwards and degressive.

Taylor Weaver said...

@Mr. Green.
Yes, you are right. I should have refrained from clogging up the combox as much as I did. However, I did try to at least bring back up the importance of defining personhood, not to mention the use of the Genesis text as a false support for personhood beginning at birth.

I'm usually a silent lurker. I can't compare to the knowledge that most of you have, or at the least have little to add that is productive. Maybe my seriousness came a bit too late and wasn't warranted. But, alas, late in the evening it is easy to make bad judgment calls.

Scott said...

Scientist: I'll perform this experiment on the assumption that no external factors will interfere, but of course it's always possible that something will.

Catholic scientist: I'll perform this experiment on the assumption that no external factors (including demons) will interfere, but of course it's always possible that something will.

Santian scientist: I'll perform this experiment on the assumption that no external factors will interfere, but of course it's always possible that something will. That's fine unless the "something" is demons, but if they exist, MY EXPERIMENT WILL BE INVALID. AAUUUUGH.

Charlie Steele said...

I think it's incredibly insulting to Santi that you would all compare me to him. He's clearly well educated on the topic, even if his information is not correct (be that in your eyes in anyone else's). I'm a mere questioner

Santi Tafarella said...

Hasn't Scott just made my point--and Haldane's? After 400 years of the systematic practice of empiricism (scientific and historical), there's no evidence that we live in a God or demon-haunted world. None.

What one believes about the relation of Being to beings has about as much relevance to pragmatic existence as whether one prefers William Carlos Williams to Wallace Stevens. Hence Feser has dodged a direct confrontation with the substance of Krauss's and Haldane's argument for "atheistic" reasoning, defending instead a chimera.

God ain't talking to settle the controversies surrounding claims of the supernatural. And neither does (S)he appear to be intervening in the cosmos or history (as the Holocaust so starkly demonstrates).

As for Charlie, let me say to you that if you choose to stay, learn, and think about the issues raised by Feser, using his thoughts as a valuable foil for your own thought and growth, the hazing doesn't end. You just have to play through the static.

Scott said...

Santian-Kraussian scientist: I'll perform this experiment on the assumption that no external factors will interfere, but of course it's always possible that something will. [LATER] Yay, nothing interfered! That proves God doesn't exist.

Daniel said...

When I looked at this thread the other night before retiring to bed (I'm in the UK too) I thought that my post to Charlie may have been a bit unfair, and that he really was sincere - he says he's mainly politically motivated, which is certainly true of most people of my generation (he may be younger), ergo he might actually have been looking for an argument, albeit an impassioned one, as opposed to random trolling.

Watching him voice comments on Santi somewhat kills this hopeful impression however. Do feel free to give the lie to it people.

Glenn said...

Charlie Steele,

I'm a mere questioner.

Since when does a 'mere questioner' make (as many) assertions (as you do)?

I think it's incredibly insulting to Santi that you would all compare me to him.

You're not the first to have thought that (or something like it).

When one Anonymous said, "It looks like Santi has changed his name to Steele." ... another, subsequent Anonymous replied: "@other anon, No way. Santi is an intellectual powerhouse by comparison."

And since you're not the first to have thought that (or something like it), it is evident you're not as entirely incapable of thinking along the lines we do as you pretend to be.

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