Category Archives: Sin

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 3

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Now we tackle premise (3), which is (like its predecessors) demonstrably false. Read the rest of this entry

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 2

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts.
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Premise (2) pretty much deserves a rhetorical “Are you kidding me?” in reply and nothing more.

David’s incoherent explanation:

According to the American Psychological Association, it has officially been declared that homosexuality is not a choice or a decision. (source)

Which we already acknowledged in the refutation of premise (1).  The issue with premise (1) is that homosexuality was immoral, not that it is “unnatural;” it is certainly found within nature and is likely a part of our human nature.

But that doesn’t make it “good.”

Now, this premise takes it that we haven’t proven it “inferior,” but it never takes the time to define what would constitute the act being inferior. Read the rest of this entry

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 1

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

It’s actually a funny story, which I’ll tell even though it has nothing to do with the actual argument that I’ll be critiquing from the site.  I was trimming my RSS feed and noticed that, very long ago, John W. Loftus had started a blog called Counter-Apologetics Master Program.  He intended to create a degree program to combat Christian apologetics.  I noticed that it hadn’t been updated in a long time, so I visited the site to see if it was even still active.

Turns out, the blog address had been abandoned by Loftus, but claimed by David.  David started his blog as a counterpoint to Matt Slick’s ministry CARM, even calling his blog by the same acronym.  Probably to get accidental traffic.

So, anyway, I literally wandered into this by total accident.

In a deleted post, David challenges CARM to reply to his argument in favor of gay marriage.  I don’t know if David deleted the post because it’s a terrible argument, or because he’s attempting to refine it.  However, I’m still going to answer it, a piece at a time, in this series.

Even though I’m not affiliated with CARM.

Read the rest of this entry

Fascinating Phone Call on EWTN Radio

I was listening to EWTN radio this morning and I heard a fascinating phone call.  The caller asked the DJ (maybe the guest, I tuned in and only heard this call) why he needed to receive a sacrament of Penance before receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.

I was floored, to say the least.

Catholic theology teaches that the sacraments are containers of God’s grace.  When you receive a sacrament, you are essentially taking an outpouring of God’s grace.  The sacrament of Confirmation, however, is more than that.

In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit descends upon you, and bestows his gifts chosen for you to be a faithful worker in God’s kingdom.  Though it isn’t strictly necessary, biblically speaking, I think it is an excellent idea to invite the Spirit to take residence in a clean temple.

I stole that from the DJ or guest, because I liked it.

Now, why didn’t the caller already know that?  You think he would.  I knew the answer right away.  True, I was raised Catholic, but it wasn’t on my Catholic upbringing that I drew for the answer.  Consider the words of Paul regarding the receiving of the Supper:

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Cor 11:27-32)

I should think that anytime we receive a measure of grace from God, we ought to do such a self-examination.  Just because grace is an unmerited favor that God shares with us, we still ought to accept it reverently and with as clean a heart as we are capable of.  Never should we just take it lightly, or we are taking judgment on ourselves.

For the Catholic, that means confession to a priest, and completing a penance for absolution.  That is so small considering the gift of the Holy Spirit that is about to fill you; greater peace and grace isn’t possible here on earth.

But, is this only a Catholic problem?  Nope.  The whole church, Catholic and Protestant, has done an awful job of educating people of the first step of the gospel of our Lord–that we are sinners in need of a Savior.  The world teaches us that we are basically good; we are evolving toward something greater.  Our evolution is merely incomplete, so it’s not our fault when we behave like roughians.

I blame the world for teaching that.  I blame the caller for buying into it, and not submitting to the teaching of the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is one example among many of how far we as Christians have to go to get the gospel message out to a world that needs it now more than ever.

New Proofs on Reply to God is Imaginary

I have completed two new proofs on my slow-going re-write of God is NOT Imaginary, a reply to that unfortunate spectacle of a website allegedly authored by Marshall Brain.  The newbies:

As always, enjoy!

Ethical Pain

It never fails to amaze me that people deny objective morality.  Morality isn’t mere opinion.  Right now, somewhere in this world, there is someone who is doing something that, regardless of his or her personal opinion (or the opinion of the society in which he lives), is just plain wrong.

For example, in certain Islamic traditions, it is a sin for the woman to enjoy sex.  So, her genitals are mutilated in a way that will preclude any sort of enjoyment from sex.  That society, even its women, approve of this practice and celebrate it.  But it’s just objectively wrong, even though it is allowed to proceed even with the blessing of those affected the most adversely by it.

CAA member Sam Harper has a really interesting way of knowing that we have objective moral values.  It borders on the fallacy of appeal to motive, so I’m not presenting it as an argument.  It’s some really good food for thought.  Sam writes:

A divorced girl once confessed to me that she had cheated on her husband with his best friend just to get revenge. Then she tried to justify herself by saying, “After what he did to me, I didn’t feel married.” Of course marriage is not a feeling, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and even the most absurd excuse will do if it’s all you’ve got to avoid admitting that you’ve done something so wrong.

Interesting.  People do go to great lengths to justify incorrect behavior.  In my years as a manager, I’ve seen people rationalize the most bizarre behavior.  Everyone is the exception to the rule.  Like the divorced girl, we find reasons (however thin) to commit immoral acts because we know they’re wrong and it hurts us to do them.

Yet, the pull to commit them is stronger than the potential consequences.  So what is a person to do?  Sam responds:

There’s another way to avoid ethical pain that few people seem to ever try. Instead of getting rid of the rules or looking for loopholes to let yourself off the hook, why not just obey the moral laws? Why not just do right and avoid wrong? Why don’t more people try this?

Reminds me of the old adage “Christianity is not tried and found wanting.  It is found difficult and left untried.”  When I was growing up and going to Catholic school, I used to hate the song “Amazing Grace” mainly because I knew I wasn’t a wretch.  Except that I was:

Why is being moral so hard? It’s because of the kind of people we are. It’s easy for somebody with nothing but good intentions, good motives, and good dispositions to be good. Being moral is almost impossible for us, though, because that’s not the kind of people we are. We do bad things because we have bad intentions, motives, and dispositions. Christianity is unpopular, because Christianity is realistic about this. Embracing the Christian worldview requires people to admit things they don’t want to admit.

That’s what was so amazing about God’s grace in the first place!  It took me much of my life to realize that I was a wretch and that I hurt a lot of people.  When I finally admitted that to myself, I was ready for Christianity.  Most people don’t want to go there.  As Sam closes:

The reason Christianity is so hard for people to except is because before you can accept it, you have to first drop all the excuses and admit that you really have violated the moral law. You really have done wrong. There are no loopholes to let you off the hook. You’re guilty. Once you admit your guilt, you are left to face yourself in all your moral failure. That’s not easy.

No it’s not.  But when our sinful nature is confronted and we no longer make excuses for ourselves, this is the most freedom anyone can experience in life.  This is what it means to know the truth, and the truth makes you free.

Are Christians Superior to Atheists? (via Twitter)

This discussion started with a simple tweet from about.com writer Austin Cline, and quickly spiraled out of control from there into a shouting match of personal insult.  I’m happy to say, that none of that was from me; I really tried to keep to the issues this time (though as commenter Doc can attest, I don’t always):

So, I replied:

https://twitter.com/#!/tucholskic/status/84369235840741376

This is in keeping with a controversial YouTube video by Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor where he said that atheists are less than human, but I thought perhaps he might have meant atheists haven’t embraced the fullness of their humanity. Read the rest of this entry

Comment Round-up! (part 2)

The second part where I reply to Doc’s comments is much shorter.  Only two comments remain, and they aren’t as long as the previous.

Context: Doc echoes some sentiments from Alex in my much-derided post on methodological naturalism vs. metaphysical naturalism.  Alex had previously stated:

the implications for just how loud and clear your god’s message in the bible really is, needing an army of theologians to explain and ponder and postulate and theorize and channel and project and often just make up stuff in order to make sense of the bible

Now, to Doc’s comment:

Exactly this. What kind of God would rely on an ancient text that he knows (if he is truly omniscient) will be doubted, misinterpreted, and only followed properly by a fraction of believers (since only one religion, or none, would be right; whichever one follows his exact message exactly as he intended) and argued for centuries by people who clai to know the truth and disagree among each other on the message’s details?

This would either be a sadistic god (sending to hell all those who innocently believe in a different interpretation of his message) or an incompetent god (relying on an unsuccessful game plan if he wants to keep believers).

Of course, the easy answer is that it’s all BS.

Nope.  It’s not BS.  But I hardly think that disagreement on exact interpretations qualifies all of Christianity as BS.  Scientists often disagree and debate, sometimes for decades.  Does that mean science is BS?

Nope, and neither is theology.  At the end of the day, God’s grace alone saves you, which is actuated by your faith.  The denomination of Christianity matters little, I think.  Knowledge of the person of Jesus may not even be necessary, so long as you make that step in faith with enough knowledge of God (and that is easier to come by then you guys like to think; see Rom 1:19-20, 10:5-21).

C. Michael Patton has some thoughts on that topic as well.

A few comments down, he makes the following statement:

You make a charge and then back off from it when I call you out on it.

You KNOW I was focusing on how you said, ” Evolutionists, the honest ones, admit that evolution only explains what happens to life when it’s already here. ”

You are implying here that Evolution is used as a way to cover up the question of the origin of life, and the *honest* ones will “admit” that it doesn’t.

This is loaded language, and by backing off of it and saying, “Oh I was just saying that evolution does not explain the origin of life, that’s all!” Is being purposely dishonest.

I used the “gravity” example to illustrate that it’s not “admitting” something. It’s not claiming it to begin with. Nobody “admits” that evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life in the same way nobody “admits” that evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life; they don’t need to, because that’s not what evolution is about. You plainly did not see the analogy I was making and replied with the snarky, “Um, good for them?” Because it went right over your head.

And during this retreat from the loaded statement you made, you actually have the nerve to try to play it off like *I’m* the one who lacked understanding of what you were saying.

No wonder you people are less respected every day.

One potential explanation for the origin of life is that it was gradually assembled from single molecules, then diatoms, then … etc.  Eventually, an entire cell (a bacterium, most likely) was the result.  These cells eventually began to specialize, and thus formed more complex organisms.  This gradual assembly of life from molecule up to a cell, and then diversifying from there is an extrapolation of evolutionary theory.

Now, this explanation for the origin of life probably isn’t a very good one.  But, the fact remains that some scientists regard evolution as capable of explaining the origin of life.  However, most do not.  So I will admit my use of “admit” wasn’t the best choice, since that particular theory isn’t in wide acceptance among evolutionary scientists.  However, I was not wrong to imply that evolutionary theory could attempt to explain the origin of life.

That concludes us for now.  I have some great posts in the draft stage, so don’t go too far!

Comment Round-up! (part 1)

I’ve decided to respond to all comments from the user styled “Doc” in this post because I’ve taken so long to get to answering them that my 30 day window is drastically narrow.  With this, Doc has another 30 days to reply (should he choose to do that).

First up, my post on fallacious arguments for homosexuality, here’s Doc’s reply to my previous comment:

“Since we’re on this topic, let me ask you a question that I promised myself I would ask the next idiot that said homosexuality is okay because animals do it: ”

I didn’t say that. I asked you if “done in nature” is your definition of “natural.” If it is, then “It’s unnatural” doesn’t hold up, since it is done in nature. Of course, like a typical theist, you twist that into, “If animals do X, it’s okay for humans to do X,” because you’re a theist, and logic is hard.

So, no answer forthcoming.

“There’s no broad definition of natural that’s going to work for everything.

No, you can’t run away from your own charge. You say homosexuality is wrong because it’s unnatural. In order to make this claim, you must define what you mean by unnatural.

It’s true, though: there isn’t a broad definition that’s going to work for everything.  As I apply below, common sense is going to have to apply.  Unfortunately, I gave an answer that a utilitarian would be proud of, and I think that school of thought is totally bogus.  Which means that we’re going to have to refine things a bit. Read the rest of this entry

Fallacious Argument Against Homosexuality

Author of Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire, Jennifer Wright Knust has written an article on CNN’s Belief Blog that uses a really fallacious argument against the sin of homosexuality.  Several fallacious arguments, actually.

Okay, every argument she presents is fallacious, but I’m not going to get into that right now because I’m going to be reviewing her book in its entirety very shortly.  I need a break from atheism, so I thought I’d briefly turn to liberal Christianity.

The argument I wish to highlight is:

“I love gay people, but the Bible forces me to condemn them” is a poor excuse that attempts to avoid accountability by wrapping a very particular and narrow interpretation of a few biblical passages in a cloak of divinely inspired respectability.

You may as well say “I love murderers, but the Bible forces me to condemn them.”  “I love liars, but the Bible forces me to condemn them.”  “I love rapists, but the Bible forces me to condemn them.”  The Bible doesn’t force you to condemn anyone; the fact that what they are doing is against God and nature is why you condemn them.  Not every single human behavior is (or should be) acceptable.

No, the Bible has specific reasons for condemning homosexuality.  (Bookmark that article; I’ll be referring to it throughout my review of Dr. Knust’s book.)

The hole?  The argument assumes that homosexuality is natural, perhaps even desirable.  But, history tells us that is not the case.  Few (if any) cultures accepted homosexuality.  Some turned a blind eye (the Greeks and the Romans, for example, “trained” young men by letting an older man “adopt” him and do sexual things to him), but it wasn’t just “normal” in any but the most depraved societies.  Marriage has always been between the sexes, a man to a woman (or sometimes man to women or woman to men).

If Dr. Knust wants homosexuality to be okay, she has to prove that it is.  Her argument is just another reason why Christians can’t have a meaningful debate about homosexuality.  We’re just backwards bigots, don’t you know?