Friday, October 21, 2016

Nothing has changed


Recently I announced my intention not to renew my membership in the Society of Christian Philosophers (SCP) in light of SCP President Michael Rea’s statement distancing the SCP from a talk on traditional sexual morality given by Prof. Richard Swinburne at an SCP conference.  (I’ve discussed the controversy generated by this statement here and here.)  More recently I called attention to Prof. Swinburne’s public statement on the matter.  I have been asked if I have changed my mind in light of Swinburne’s statement.  The answer is No, I have not. 

I posted Prof. Swinburne's statement not to endorse it but rather because I think it only fair to him that his own views on this matter get publicity.

In my view, however, nothing has changed.  Prof. Swinburne is free graciously and humbly to refrain from demanding an apology for any offense caused to him personally.  But the issue is really not primarily about him.  It's about the “message” Rea's statement sent about those who defend traditional Christian sexual morality in general. They were all effectively thrown under the bus by that statement, not just Swinburne alone.

As I keep saying, to cancel the implicature or “message sent” by Rea's original statement would take an equally clear, forceful, and public statement by Rea himself in his capacity as SCP President.  We still don't have that, and from what I can see we are not going to get it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Going further, it is not really Prof. Swinburne that is the target of the homosexuals. Or, more precisely, their pressure was not meant to influence anything Swinburne himself does. He is old and well-established and seems brave enough to say what he thinks. Rather, the purpose of getting Prof. Rea to issue the Facebook statement was twofold. First, it puts younger scholars "in terror" so they will stay away from criticism of homosexuality. Unlike Swinburne, they don't have tenure. Second, it is to humiliate Christian philosophers generally. Theodore Dalrymple puts it very well:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is...in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

Tom said...

Nothing has changed; I still love you, oh, I still love you. Only slightly less than I used to, my love.

Irenist said...

From the title, I had assumed this post was going to be about some Lawrence Krauss type's moving of the goalposts on the metaphysics of nothingness.

Anonymous said...

lol!

Jon Cogburn said...

I forget who said that the main temptation of liberals is heresy and the main temptation of conservatives is schism.

I'm not a member of the SCP, though I have a great deal of respect for the people involved, and it depresses me to see conservatives like you (good philosophers with a lot to contribute) playing to script here.

Mutual forbearance is one of the ways that we differentiate ourselves from the world. I think that schismatics are most destructive in the manner in which they undermine that. If taking your ball and going home is the best way to show love to everyone concerned, then it's clearly the right thing to do. But I'm sorry, I'm just not seeing it here though.

Matthew 1 said...

Mr. Feser, have you heard that Nicholas Wolterstorff recently endorsed same-sex marriage for the state AND for the church? He thinks the Bible doesn't teach that homosexual sodomy is a sin, and he thinks there's no reason to think the orientation or the acts are disordered or dysfunctional. See here: http://thebanner.org/news/2016/10/wolterstorff-biblical-justice-and-same-sex-marriage

I wonder if it was his response to Swinburne speaking up. It seems that Wolterstorff's talk was billed as a talk about hustice but was changed to same-sex marriage. I don't know. That you'd be interested.

Gail Finke said...

Joe Cogburn: I'm interested in how you see that "mutual forbearance" has been abandoned by Mr. Feser but not by Mr. Rea.You can't have mutual forbearance if only one side forbears.

ccmnxc said...

Prof. Cogburn, what direction do you propose Ed to take then? Given the actions and statements of SCP leadership, it seems he has four options, broadly speaking (short of changing his position on the issue completely):
1. Sit down and be quiet.
2. Try to negotiate.
3. Aggressively fight against the move.
4. Simply leave.
Since you seem take issue with 4 and I don't think Ed will seriously entertain 1 (nor would it be fair to ask him to), would you then advocate 2 or 3? If so, for how long must Ed do either before he is justified in concluding that things aren't going to change? After all, how frequently do we hear about groups and organizations taking the position the SCP has vis-a-vis homosexuality and traditional Christian sexual morality and which end up reverting back to allowing critical discussion of homosexual acts, gay marriage, etc? Speaking personally, I pretty much never hear about such things. Why should we think things will be different this time around with the SCP?

Besides, echoing what Gail said, the mutual forbearance isn't looking so mutual right now given that publicly advocating and arguing for positions such as Swinburne's (and by extension, Ed's and many others') is now verboten. This especially when one side of the dispute seems to have a knack for taking themselves or some class of people as emotional hostages such that mere criticism of their position will proverbially result in the hostages getting shot.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Feser, have you heard that Nicholas Wolterstorff recently endorsed same-sex marriage for the state AND for the church?"

How absolutely pathetic. What an idiot. What a total fool. Gentlemen, NEVER go soft in your old age. Just don't do it.

Tony said...

Besides, echoing what Gail said, the mutual forbearance isn't looking so mutual right now given that publicly advocating and arguing for positions such as Swinburne's (and by extension, Ed's and many others') is now verboten. This especially when one side of the dispute seems to have a knack for taking themselves or some class of people as emotional hostages such that mere criticism of their position will proverbially result in the hostages getting shot.

ccmnxxc is right. It wasn't the traditional side that has outlawed (literally) the view that a person with a homosexual orientation can, if he doesn't like that condition, get treatment for it. In spite of the fact that plenty of psychologists are sure that it is a disorder.

It is exactly part of the "script" of the liberals to pretend they are the party of "tolerance" and to then silence the alternate understanding, the view that their tolerance is only applicable until they are firmly in control, then tolerance goes away and an enforced lib-orthodoxy is the standard. That's the script liberals operate under. They want everyone to believe in their tolerance, and to give them that "mutual forbearance" that such tolerance ought to imply - until tolerance is no longer useful to them. Then the gloves come off.

Anonymous said...

Tony wrote,

ccmnxxc is right. It wasn't the traditional side that has outlawed (literally) the view that a person with a homosexual orientation can, if he doesn't like that condition, get treatment for it. In spite of the fact that plenty of psychologists are sure that it is a disorder.

How would 'traditionalists' react to the suggestion, from psychologists or otherwise, that heterosexuality (say, as opposed to bisexuality) was a disorder? To give them their dues I don't *think* they would shut down the discussion in quite the same way - in both cases though the strong reaction is partly generated by the implicature that a disorder ought toe be forcibly treated without the sufferer's consent.

(Such discussions get things backwards: the concept of goodness should not be drawn from that of function in biology when in fact the reverse is true - without prior normative concepts notions like disorder lose all meaning)

Carl said...

> How would 'traditionalists' react to the suggestion, from psychologists or otherwise, that heterosexuality (say, as opposed to bisexuality) was a disorder?

So...you're positing a person who is attracted only to the opposite gender, but thinks that s/he *ought* to be attracted to both genders, and seeks professional counselling toward that end?

If asked, I would certainly try to persuade this person that their proposed course of action is unnecessary and undesirable, that same-sex relationships have nothing to offer them that they don't already have, and that in some important ways they detract. And I would not want any therapist to be compelled to offer such treatment. However, I am sure that there would be therapists happy to take on the job. And in a legal environment that freely tolerates homosexuality and every other kind of sexual licence, it would be incoherent to attempt to forbid such a therapist from practising.

I'd put it to you that so long as the law allows people to freely declare themselves to be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or anything else, it is similarly incoherent for it to forbid anyone professional help in becoming any of these.

ccmnxc said...

How would 'traditionalists' react to the suggestion, from psychologists or otherwise, that heterosexuality (say, as opposed to bisexuality) was a disorder?

They'd laugh, probably.

To give them their dues I don't *think* they would shut down the discussion in quite the same way - in both cases though the strong reaction is partly generated by the implicature that a disorder ought toe be forcibly treated without the sufferer's consent.

Who's advocating forced treatment? Few outside of the fringe so far as I can see. Have you noticed that any mention of treating homosexual inclination whatsoever (like in Swinburne's talk) is treated as absolutely off the table? Not only is forcing those with same-sex attraction to receive treatment not on the typical conservative docket, we aren't even allowed to bring up the mere option without getting shouted down.

DAS said...

By making the claim that homosexuality is a disorder, and that supporting homosexuality requires disordered thinking, Swinburne is inferring that homosexuals are incapable of proper thinking and unfit to be philosophers.

If you accuse a person of being a liar you can still engage in philosophical debate so long as no argument is based on contested facts.

Likewise you can engage in debate with people you believe or know to be thieves, murderers, rapists, etc. Disordered behavior does not necessarily imply completely disordered thought.

If Swinburne could somehow have made the case that gay marriage is impossible without the need for the claim that homosexuality is disordered, then I don't think he would have received the same treatment from Rea.

I personally believe that homosexuality is a disorder. I do believe that arguing with homosexuals is a lost cause. However, since homosexuals and their intellectual allies have taken the academies, it is the traditionalist who have been deemed to suffer disordered thinking and are thus incapable of engaging in useful philosophical discussions.

The SCP is on very slippery ground. Critics of the global climate change consensus have already been labeled as beyond consideration. Supporters of ID were relegated to the intellectual dustbin almost as soon as they appeared as an organized movement. Soon meat eaters will be added to the list of those too disordered to be worth consideration.

Not long after all those who believe in traditional religion of any kind will be thrown into the same mass intellectual grave.

It will be mildly funny and ironic when at some point "narrow minded" homosexuals are bullied into becoming bisexual.

The final insult will come when, with the aid of advanced genetics, anyone who doesn't spend at least part of his/her life as a man and part as a woman will be deemed a neanderthal reactionary.

The 99.99% will be at the mercy of the 0.01%.