Saturday, February 22, 2014

On moral absolutes and ethical relativism

Last week I commented on whether bigots should be given permission to discriminate against gays just because the bigots belong to a religion that promotes bigotry [The Kansas anti-gay bill]. My opinion is that societies should not tolerate bigotry no matter what motivates people to discriminate. I said ...
I read some newspaper articles, and some blog posts, that stated the obvious. It is totally wrong, all the time, to discriminate against someone based on their sexual preferences. If they use religion as an excuse then they should re-evaluate their religion. There is NEVER a time when an enlightened society should tolerate, let alone legalize, bigotry. I guess it's almost impossible to come out and say this on television, or maybe I'm just watching the wrong channels (mostly FOX and CNN).
What I mean is that enlightened societies will almost always reach a consensus on discrimination against minorities. They will decide that society functions best when all types of discrimination are bad and should not be tolerated.

They will decide that it's wrong to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnic origin, although some societies become enlightened on this subject later than others. They will (eventually) decide not to discriminate against women. As new issues arise (e.g. gay marriage) the enlightened society will decide that we should not discriminate against gays. At least, that's my opinion on how ethical relativism will play out.

Right now we find ourselves in a situation where dealing with gays and lesbians is in a transitional state. There are still lots of people who want to treat gays and lesbians the way blacks were treated in the last century. Some of these people feel the pressure from society so they are looking for ways to justify their bigotry and make it sound acceptable. Some of them may actually believe that they are obeying a "higher law" from their god(s). In other words, they are defending a moral absolute that denigrates homosexuals the same way that those same god(s) used to denigrate women.

They will lose that fight. Ethical relativism will prevail and in a few decades those religious bigots will be making up new rules where their religion actually preaches love and tolerance for everyone, including gay couples. They will no longer tolerate people who speak out openly against gays.

These are very difficult concepts for most IDiots. For example, Vincent Joseph Torley twists himself into a knot trying to deal with what I said in my previous post. Recall that Vincent Torley has a Ph.D. (2007) from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne (Australia). In spite of that, he believes that there are god-given moral absolutes that we must all obey. In fact, he thinks the existence of these moral absolutes provide evidence of god(s).

Torley devoted an entire post to the comment I made about enlightened societies [see Professor Larry Moran squares the circle]. It gives us some insight into the mind of an IDiots and the lengths they will go to attack evolution and rationalism. Here's what Torley says ...
Over at his Sandwalk blog, Professor Larry Moran has recently created something which he has previously declared to be impossible: a moral absolute. Readers might be wondering: what is Professor Moran’s moral absolute all about? Is it about the inherent wrongfulness of killing the innocent, or taking away people’s freedom, or oppressing the poor, or violating a commitment one has given? Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong! Here’s Professor Moran’s new moral absolute, in all its resplendent glory:
It is totally wrong, all the time, to discriminate against someone based on their sexual preferences… There is NEVER a time when an enlightened society should tolerate, let alone legalize, bigotry.
Nobody who knows me could possibly misinterpret what I said but that doesn't stop an IDiot. They are looking for the "gotcha" moment that proves their enemies are firing blanks. What they don't realize is that they are the ones who look like .... you know.

Here's a bit more of what Torely has to say on this subject ...
It is very surprising, then, to see Professor Moran claiming that discrimination on the basis of sexual preference is always bad for society as a whole. As he puts it: “There is NEVER a time when an enlightened society should tolerate, let alone legalize, bigotry.” On the face of it, that assertion looks highly doubtful. I presume that Professor Moran (who appears to be a utilitarian) would say that there are some extreme cases when intentionally killing innocent human beings might be morally justifiable, for the sake of preserving society as a whole. If so, then the blanket claim that discrimination on the basis of sexual preference is never justifiable, and that it always harms society, is surely open to doubt.
It's a long post and there's much more to read. Some of it is quite interesting and I can see that Vincent Torley is actually trying to come to grips with the idea of ethical relativism while trying, at the same time, to paint me as a moral absolutist—or at least a hypocrite.

His closing words indicate that the New Atheist tactic of openly confronting religion actually works in spite of what Torley says. After all, it got his attention, didn't it?
Perhaps Professor Moran thinks that getting mad at people with unenlightened views and subjecting them to public ridicule is a useful way to move society forward and advance the common good, as the people whose views he detests will eventually become too embarrassed to speak out, and their opinions will then become socially unacceptable. However, such a standpoint presupposes a Whig view of human history: the view that society as a whole (or at least, democratic society) is steadily progressing towards goodness, and that a moral consensus reached in a democratic fashion can never be overturned. The empirical evidence for a “march of history” is very weak, and is limited to a mere handful of causes – banning slavery, ending torture, overturning racial discrimination, implementing women’s rights, and legally tolerating practices between “consenting adults” – which have been advanced over the last 200 years at most. If Moran thinks that everyone under 40 supports gay marriage, for instance, he might be surprised to find that 26% of millennials still oppose it, and as many of them hold “traditional” views on sex and marriage, it’s a fair bet that they’ll be having more children than their more “progressive” peers. Professor Moran should also realize that hurling insults at people generally doesn’t make them wilt in shame; it just causes them to develop very thick hides. In short: “vanguard of the revolution” tactics, which are so beloved of radicals, generally backfire.

To sum up: Professor Moran’s declared views on morality appear to be mutually inconsistent, and defending all of them at once is tantamount to attempting to square the circle. If this is the best that a skeptical scientist can do when addressing the topic of morality, then I have to say it doesn’t look good.


54 comments:

  1. Larry said:

    [What I mean is that enlightened societies will almost always reach a consensus on discrimination against minorities. They will decide that society functions best when all types of discrimination are bad and should not be tolerated.]

    Discrimination against minorities goes by another name. It's called Law, and it's indispensable to society. We discriminate against murderers, rapists, child molesters etc, all of whom are minorities. Discrimination is essential to society. It's encoded in laws, mores, conventions, etc.

    Discrimination based on behavior is entirely licit, generally speaking. Now of course we can disagree on what kinds of behavior warrant discrimination and what kinds don't, but the issue there is the moral appraisal of the behavior, not the issue of discrimination itself.

    We all agree that discrimination based on race is morally wrong, always. Race is not behavior. We all agree that discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong, because again orientation-- feelings and proclivity-- is not behavior.

    Discrimination based on sexual behavior is another thing entirely. Behavior has real world consequences, which justifies some kind of judgement-- ie discrimination. One can make a case that male homosexuality is one of the most deadly behaviors around-- half of male homosexuals will become HIV positive in their lifetime, which is probably a more dangerous thing than, say, drunk driving.

    Your argument about "discrimination" is characteristic gibberish. Personally I oppose discrimination against gays, because I don't think that the consequences of their behavior are sufficiently bad to warrant interference with their liberty. But reasonable people can disagree about that.

    I oppose gay marriage, not because I don't want to see gays have secure loving relations, but because I define marriage as between a man and a woman, and there's can't be "gay" marriage anymore than there can be "childless" parenthood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. State v. Jackson. Missouri (1883): "They cannot possibly have any progeny, and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid the intermarriage of blacks and whites."

      Scott v. Georgia (1869): "The amalgamation of the races is not only unnatural, but is always productive of deplorable results. Our daily observation shows us, that the offspring of these unnatural connections are generally sickly and effeminate [...]They are productive of evil, and evil only, without any corresponding good."

      Senator James R. Doolittle (D-WI), 1863: "By the laws of Massachusetts intermarriages between these races are forbidden as criminal. Why forbidden? Simply because natural instinct revolts at it as wrong."

      Scott v. Sandford (1857), Chief Justice Taney: "Intermarriages between white persons and negroes or mulattoes were regarded as unnatural and immoral."

      And this final tidbit from "Interracial Marriages in Light of the Scriptures”
      April 1999 By Dennis Anderson

      Notice what God said about these seven black nations. “And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” Deuteronomy 7:2‐3.

      ...

      There are many who believe the curse upon Canaan did not affect all blacks. If that is true, someone needs to inform the Black Religious Leaders of America, they certainly do not know it. Someone needs to inform the Black celebrities of the entertainment world, they do not know it. The Black athletics of the pro‐ball world do not know it. The Black politicians do
      not know it. The common working class Blacks certainly does not know it.

      Make no mistake about it, the curse of Genesis 9 cannot be changed. It comes from the hand of God because of the sins of the forefathers. People may ignore it, others may try to explain it away, but no one will be able to change it. For over a thousand plus years, no one has been able to change it. It is irrefutable proof of the inspiration of the Word of God.

      Delete
    2. "half of male homosexuals will become HIV positive in their lifetime, which is probably a more dangerous thing than, say, drunk driving."

      Jesus Fucking Christ.

      Delete
    3. Uncivilized Elk, you took the words right out of my mouth. And bear in mind the person you're responding to is a doctor, which shows better than anything any New Atheist could say what a deplorable effect religious bigotry has on an otherwise functioning mind.

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    4. "For over a thousand plus years, no one has been able to change it. It is irrefutable proof of the inspiration of the Word of God. "

      People here should cut and paste a link to this post. The next time someone says Biblical literalists is just a harmless sideshow, use it to show what sort of ideas and actions they feel the Bible enables.

      Delete
  2. According to the CDC, of an estimated 4% of the male population having sex with other men in 2010 (seems low, but accepting it provisionally), meaning about 6 million people, less than 30,000 became HIV positive. That's a little less than half of 1%.

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    Replies
    1. That must be their estimate of the number of *new infections* in that year. They say here that in 2011, 18% of those tested had the virus.

      Delete
    2. Exactly.

      If we want to play this game, we could note that the incidence of HIV among the lesbian population is far lower than the general population (if you don't count women who identify as lesbians who've reported they've also slept with men, and intravenous drug users, there are less than a hundred cases); but the rate among Catholic priests is four times higher than the national average.

      http://kcsweb.kcstar.com/projects/priests/priest.htm

      Mregnor, 'One can make a case that male homosexuality is one of the most deadly behaviors around-- half of male homosexuals will become HIV positive in their lifetime' - is a flat out lie. I don't know in which seedy dive you picked up this fact, but now you know it's a lie, do you agree never to spread it again?

      Delete
    3. "They say here that in 2011, 18% of those tested had the virus."

      And you think that means 18% of gay men have HIV?

      No.

      The numbers you need are in that link. 2% of the population (about 6.2 million people) are MSM, 489,121 have an HIV diagnosis - a little under 8%. High, but absolutely nothing like 18%, let alone 'half'.

      I'll let you work out for yourself why a study of people who'd been tested in 20 cities will give you a higher result. Happy to explain if you can't figure it out.

      Delete
    4. If we're looking at 'behaviors' in terms of whether they're likely to spread HIV, let's consider the following.

      1. A commitment to monogamy in a group committed to increased openness and education about the facts of gay lifestyles. Includes men and women.

      2. An exclusively male closed group, doctrinally committed to not using condoms, sexually predatory, with a vested interest in covering up sexual activity, and a strong stigma against testing and sex education generally.

      If mregnor really wants to eliminate behaviors that increase the chances of HIV spreading, it's a no brainer - gay marriage is a good thing, the Catholic priesthood is a bad thing.

      Delete
    5. Here's the reference, morons:

      http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2012/12/fifty-percent-of-active-gay-men-will.html

      Delete
    6. Do you honestly not see your mistake, mregnor?

      Delete
    7. Mregnor, who is at more risk of getting HIV - a lesbian married to another lesbian, or someone who has sex with a Catholic priest?

      Delete
    8. Jem-bo:

      I support fidelity among gays. If one engages in gay sex, it is better to do it with one person, use caution, etc.

      I oppose gay marriage for the same reason I oppose childless parenthood. I oppose gay marriage because it is a lie about marriage. Marriage is inherently between a man and a woman, just as parenthood is inherently between a parent and a child.

      I believe in natural law, and I believe that marriage is a reflection of God' inner life, a refection of the Trinity. Gay marriage is a lie about marriage.

      You will say of course that that is my religious belief and that I have no right to impose it on others. I will reply that you have just as much (or as little) right to impose your irreligious beliefs on others, and gays have just as much (or as little) right to impose their gay beliefs on marriage legislation.

      We each have one vote. I vote against gay marriage.

      Delete
    9. mregnor: I oppose childless parenthood

      Me too. Damn those oxymorons. They are an abomination!

      Delete
    10. "If one engages in gay sex, it is better to do it with one person, use caution, etc."

      Wouldn't that also be what you'd say about sex generally, though?

      "Marriage is inherently between a man and a woman, just as parenthood is inherently between a parent and a child."

      Yes, exactly - and parenthood, throughout history, has been diverse - children being raised by one parent, either by accident or design; step-parents; foster parents; grandparents ...

      "I believe in natural law, and I believe that marriage is a reflection of God' inner life, a refection of the Trinity."

      Three dudes living as one, one of whom is his own son? Um ... OK.

      "You will say of course that that is my religious belief and that I have no right to impose it on others."

      No, I would say it's the other way round - it's your belief and you're imposing it on your religion. Did Mary and Joseph have a 'conventional marriage' by modern standards? Which New Testament figures did?

      The problem is that you're lying to get to your answer, and you're operating a double standard. Half of gay men will not end up with HIV. That's just false. And disease is not punishment from God, it's disease. Are miners who die of lung disease paying for their wicked mining?

      And, if so, what do you make of the fact that a Catholic priest is four times more likely to be HIV positive than a member of the general population? I take no moral lesson from that, at all - I think it's a function of willful ignorance: a group who exist in a little bubble, are in denial about their sex lives, obsessed with not using condoms, have strong professional reasons for staying silent, and who are sheltered from the legal consequences of their actions.

      'Gay marriage' was an oxymoron until recently. It's clearly a reality now. It happens. 'Women voter' was an oxymoron at one point. 'American citizen' was.

      Delete
    11. mregnor writes:

      We each have one vote. I vote against gay marriage.

      Yeah. You live in New York State, don't you?

      So what did your one vote against gay marriage accomplish? LOL!

      Delete
    12. Do you honestly not see your mistake, mregnor?

      I hope not. I'd hate to think a fellow physician would be so unethical as to knowingly repeat such a lie.

      Anyway, Dr. Egnor's amusing antics here remind me of an old medical joke:

      An internist and a surgeon are running to catch an elevator. Just as the doors are about to close, the surgeon sticks his head between them. The doors slam hard on his skull and bounce back open, allowing both doctors to enter. The internist says, "Thanks for doing that, but why didn't you use your hand instead?" The surgeon replies, "I need my hands to operate."

      Of course, anyone is now free to post their favourite psychiatrist jokes...

      Delete
    13. Re Schmucknor

      Schmucknor doesn't believe in same sex marriage. Then don't marry another man. Problem solved.

      Delete
    14. Three dudes living as one, one of whom is his own son? Um ... OK.

      Or perhaps the Holy Spirit is actually the Mother Goddess. But if so, God's been cheating on her, hasn't he?

      Delete
    15. "Or perhaps the Holy Spirit is actually the Mother Goddess. But if so, God's been cheating on her, hasn't he?"

      God's married in the Old Testament, to Asherah, Queen of Heaven.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Did_God_Have_a_Wife%3F

      Delete
    16. You will say of course that that is my religious belief and that I have no right to impose it on others. I will reply that you have just as much (or as little) right to impose your irreligious beliefs on others, and gays have just as much (or as little) right to impose their gay beliefs on marriage legislation.

      But even someone as dumb as you surely realizes that allowing gay marriage doesn't affect your right to marry a woman, while not allowing gay marriage still allows you marry a woman. You have your rights always assured one way or the other. Gay marriage doesn't impose anything on you, but bigotry like yours does impose on others.



      but the rate among Catholic priests is four times higher than the national average.

      I think that Regnor must follow his logic to the end and admit catholic priesthood should be outlawed.


      Here's the reference, morons

      Do you have any reference, perhaps including criticism of that study, that is more recent than 1991? Or did you just cherry pick that one because it was convenient?

      By the way, I followed the link you gave. Supposedly that site, from the American College of Pediatricians should be unbiased. By their own words " some medical organizations, influenced by political correctness, have misrepresented science in order to affirm unhealthy lifestyles as normal behavior." Lets see how that holds up: I went to the blog of the College and I saw this:

      http://www.acpeds.org/belgium

      When I visited as a student, I was already horrified to learn (second-hand) how the red-light district turns women into mere objects for salacious activities. Then it was “okay “to kill adults. Now it is “okay “to kill children with disabilities. I cannot imagine where it can go from here. In my experience, many of my disabled kids are very happy. They may be limited but in their own little worlds, they are happy. The problem is the other people that are uncomfortable seeing wheelchair bound and/or retarded kids.

      I then went to the link and the euthanasia law is for cases that "allow children to ask for euthanasia if their illness is terminal, they are in great pain and there is no available treatment.[...] But it stipulates a number of caveats on euthanasia:

      It says the patient must be conscious of their decision and understand the meaning of euthanasia
      The request must have been approved by the child's parents and medical team
      Their illness must be terminal
      They must be in great pain, with no available treatment to alleviate their distress"

      Does this sound like "disabled kids are very happy. They may be limited but in their own little worlds, they are happy. The problem is the other people that are uncomfortable seeing wheelchair bound and/or retarded kids." ?

      Regardless of the question of these children being mature enough to make the decision, etc, this certainly doesn't sound like an unbiased opinion by any strech of the imagination. This College of Pediatricians, or some of the influential people there, claim to be unbiased, the they completely spin the what the Belsgian law is, and turn terminal ill children in great pain and no possible treatment into children in wheelchairs and mental retardation. How can I trust a site like this?

      Delete
    17. "The American College of Pediatricians" sounds like a legitimate organization, but it's just a bunch of wingnuts and bigots with a deceptive name:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_College_of_Pediatricians

      Delete
    18. I'll just add that the Wikipedia article states that the membership of the American College of Pediatricians "has been estimated at between 60 and 200 members."

      In contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a membership of 62,000.

      http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-facts/Pages/AAP-Facts.aspx

      It is nice, however, that the 60-200 stupidest pediatricians in America have their own little club all to themselves.

      Delete
    19. The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a socially conservative association of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals in the United States.

      Zanga has described ACP as a group "with Judeo-Christian, traditional values that is open to pediatric medical professionals of all religions who hold true to the group's core beliefs: that life begins at conception; and that the traditional family unit, headed by a different-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children.


      I guess that explains the claims of evidence-based, unbiased analyzis of data while at the same time they spin the hell out of the Belgian law case and pretty much everything else. Makes sense why Regnor is so keen for them. Something didn't quite click with what they claim and what they preach.

      Thanks for the heads-up, lutesuit.

      Delete
    20. This is even more interesting:
      The organization's view on parenting is at odds with the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical and child welfare authorities, which hold that sexual orientation has no correlation with the ability to be a good parent and to raise healthy and well-adjusted children.[4][7][8] A number of prominent researchers have complained that ACPeds mischaracterized or misused their work to advance its agenda.

      Ups.

      Delete
    21. This just gets better and better:

      Gary Remafedi, a pediatrician at the University of Minnesota, found his research being cited by ACPeds to argue that schools should deny support to gay in teenagers. Remafedi complained that ACPeds had fundamentally mischaracterized his work, saying: "It's obvious that they didn't even read my research. I mean, they spelled my name wrong every time they cited it." Remafedi complained to ACPeds that his work was being misrepresented, but the organization refused to correct or retract its assertions, leading Remafedi to state that ACPeds had "deliberately distorted my research for malicious purposes.

      Responding to claims by ACPeds that same-sex attraction could be "cured", Francis Collins, geneticist and director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, denounced ACPeds' use of his work, noting it was "disturbing" to see ACPeds use his scientific work in a "misleading and incorrect" way by taking work from one of his books out of context to "support an ideology that can cause unnecessary anguish and encouraged prejudice" against school children.[9]

      Warren Throckmorton, a therapist who specializes in sexual orientation issues, similarly complained that his research had been misused, saying of ACPeds: "They say they're impartial and not motivated by political or religious concerns, but if you look at who they're affiliated with and how they're using the research, that's just obviously not true."

      Facts About Youth was challenged as not acknowledging the scientific and medical evidence regarding sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual health, or effective health education by the American Academy of Pediatrics.[17] The ACPeds letter to the superintendents primarily addressed same-sex attraction, and recommended that “well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel” who encourage students to “come out as gay” and affirm them as such may lead the students into “harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue.” The ACPeds letter to the superintendents also stated that gender identity disorder will typically disappear by puberty “if the behavior is not reinforced.”[18]


      This, gentlemen, is what sticking to Science and the facts, unbiased by political views is supposed to mean.

      Delete
    22. Says mregnor: I will reply that you have just as much (or as little) right to impose your irreligious beliefs on others, and gays have just as much (or as little) right to impose their gay beliefs on marriage legislation.

      Marriage legislation allowing gay marriages in no way restricts your personal rights, so nobody is imposing anything on you. You may even stick to your favourite definition of "marriage" for your own homophobic satisfaction in your private life. Nobody will give a damn.

      Delete
    23. "This, gentlemen, is what sticking to Science and the facts, unbiased by political views is supposed to mean."

      This comes back to my absolute bedrock Reason I'm An Atheist:

      If religion's true, why is it that the religious authorities lie all the time?

      It's just a consistent, systematic pattern. There are errors of omission, blatant misreading, cherrypicking ... all that. But what Pedro's found there is a conscious lie which they've been told about, but continue to spread.

      These aren't philosophical issues around the limits of language, knowledge or set theory. This isn't reaching a logical conclusion to a false premise. This isn't being naive about history or a lack of close reading. These are just everyday examples of liars lying.

      If this is the truth, why is it surrounded by a thick fog of lies, obscurantism and institutional cover up?

      Delete
    24. They believe they are lying in a good cause -- in defence of the Truth. They somehow can't defend it without telling lies.

      Delete
    25. That must be their estimate of the number of *new infections* in that year. They say here that in 2011, 18% of those tested had the virus.

      Yep, I understand that. And I understand the difference between prevalence and incidence as well. That's why use of the 18% figure, and certainly a figure of 50% based on 20-year-old information are both misleadingly high, since they are based on prior rates of new infection much higher than the current one, which is as I noted above less than half of one percent per year.

      Regarding Dr. Egnor's prescriptions for the problem, they are, as Wolfgang Pauli once said, "not even wrong." I.e., they are barely tangentially related to the problems he complains of.

      Humans have been born with same-gender sexual orientation throughout history. And the number of men having sexual contact with other men has always been far higher (four times or more) than the number self-identifying as gay. So to say we should discourage gay individuals from being themselves misses three-quarters of the behavior one has identified as a problem just as a start.

      Then of course there is the effectiveness issue. Even if one attempted to discourage men from having sexual contact with other men (thus directly approaching the behavior, rather than only one-fourth or less of the number of people likely to engage in the behavior), based on data from states that urge sexual abstinence as part of health education, this results in a greater rather than lesser incidence of the undesired consequences. What appears to be more effective is education re safer sexual practices. So Dr. Egnor is recommending a historically ineffective remedy aimed at a small portion of the group engaging in the behavior he's identified as problematic.

      Last but certainly not least, Dr. Egnor has identified a historically oppressed group he dislikes (gay people) rather than the behavior (men having unsafe sexual contact with other men) as the problem. If one were to apply Dr. Egnor's methods to an analogous problem, the fact that young black men are incarcerated in the USA at rates far higher than young whites, we should counsel young men not to be born black.

      Delete
    26. What appears to be more effective is education re safer sexual practices.

      John Paul II: "It seems profoundly damaging to the dignity of the human being, and for this reason morally illicit, to support a prevention of AIDS that is based on a recourse to means and remedies that violate an authentically human sense of sexuality, and which are a palliative to the deeper suffering which involve the responsibility of individuals and of society."

      Translation into plain English: Condoms are evil.

      Delete
    27. Maybe His Holiness and/or Dr. Egnor would go for antiviral lube instead?

      Delete
    28. I'm not a fan of Egnor's at all, but CDC backs him up on the lifetime risk of MSM for HIV. http://www.cdc.gov/about/grand-rounds/archives/2012/pdfs/GR-HIV%208-21.pdf

      Delete
    29. Egnor says: "Marriage is inherently between a man and a woman"

      Inherently? That word does not mean what you think it means. "Inherently" implies that it can never change, but it already changed at least once.

      The Biblical model of marriage is a man and several women. See the story of Jacob, Rachel, Leah and their Baby Mamas (DarkMatter's hilarious version):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P6SmD6yBF0

      So, Egnor, since marriage is "Inherently between a man and a woman", you must oppose the Bible and Biblical lifestyles as immoral, unhealthy and unnatural.

      Delete
    30. And since, as has been pointed out, Catholic priests die of AIDS at four times the rate of the general population [http://kcsweb.kcstar.com/projects/priests/priest.htm], Egnor is morally required to oppose Catholicism and to counsel youths not to become priests because it involves increased risk of death.

      Delete
    31. Inherently? That word does not mean what you think it means. "Inherently" implies that it can never change, but it already changed at least once.

      Well, it certainly has changed in Portugal, my country of origin. Some years ago Portugal changed the definition of marriage in the Law. It is now defined in the Constitution simply as the civil union between two individuals, making it literally gender-neutral.

      Delete
    32. Pete D writes:

      I'm not a fan of Egnor's at all, but CDC backs him up on the lifetime risk of MSM for HIV. http://www.cdc.gov/about/grand-rounds/archives/2012/pdfs/GR-HIV%208-21.pdf

      That's still an extrapolation based on the assumption that seroconversion occurs at a constant rate thru the lifespan, which is a big "if".

      And let's not lose sight of the larger point: mregnor is using that as a "gotcha" moment to support his Catholic morality based on "natural law". He fails to take into account that HIV transmission rate can be reduced to a fraction by use of condoms. By the same argument he is using, this demonstrates that Catholic morality is wrong.

      Delete
    33. Smegnor has once again been humiliated and runs off with his tail between his legs, as in every thread he visits, but let us briefly summarize why he should (once again) be ashamed of the things he writes.

      1. Smegnor "backs up" his claim that 50% of all MSM [men having sex with men] get AIDS by citing himself, driving clicks to his own blog, where he cites as his authority a Far Right pseudoscience "College" that isn't a college:

      Here's the reference, morons: http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2012/12/fifty-percent-of-active-gay-men-will.html

      At his blog post above, instead of linking to real scientific papers, Smegnor cites a small, religious Radical Right bigotry collective called the American College of Pediatricians (membership 60 to 200 (?), but who knows), who have deceptively given their organization a name calculated to be similar to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has a membership of 62,000 and is not driven by a religious bigotry agenda. The figure of 50% MSM getting AIDS is not an empirical observation, but at best comparable to CDC projections based on the assumption that seroconversion rates do not vary as a man gets older.

      Once again (and it's the umpteenth time he's been caught by us doing this), Smegnor's cited authorities are shown to be unreliable, and Smegnor has been caught making factual claims easily shown to be false; but he will go to another blog and repeat these exact same falsehoods elsewhere. Gish gallop, and Gish-level integrity.

      2. Smegnor, like all religious conservatives, switches silently to consequentialist ethics to support the infallibility of "absolute", unchanging, religious morals created and repeatedly changed by the fallible defenders of slavery, genocide and rape during wartime-- the "absolute", unchanging moral laws that religious authorities repeatedly changed in response to secular influences, political competition, and cynical calculations of pure self-interest (repeal the ban on usury, anyone?)

      Here, Smegnor's consequentialist ethics amounts to, to paraphrase, 'banning gay marriage is necessary and discriminating against gays is rational because gay sex will kill people via AIDS.' This is logically incoherent because:

      A. Priests die of AIDS at a rate four times that of the general population, so Smegnor's logic would also require him to oppose the Catholic lifestyle and denounce the priesthood as immoral and a threat to human life.

      B. Using condoms enormously decreases the risk of getting HIV, but the Catholic Church opposes all condom use (even by people married to HIV victims) so again, Smegnor's logic would morally require him to oppose the Catholic Church, and to denounce it as immoral and a threat to human life.

      C. Lesbians have a far lower rate of HIV than the general population, therefore, by Smegnor's logic, not only is it true that lesbians should have right to ban HETEROSEXUAL marriage and to enact legal discrimination against heterosexuals and against priests because of their higher rate of AIDS, but moreover, Smegnor should morally oppose and denounce the heterosexual female lifestyle as a threat to human life.

      D. Religious morals are called "absolute" but he changed to consequentialist.

      E. The absolute, unchanging morals of the Bible are that marriage is between a man and several women, but his authorities changed it, so they're not so infallible, eh.

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    34. Part 2 of 3, against Smegnor:

      3. Smegnor's ridiculous statements arguments against gay marriage:

      "Marriage is inherently between a man and a woman"

      In the Christian Bible, marriage is between a man and several women. Thus, the Christian Bible is inherently evil, by Smegnor's logic.

      "I believe that marriage is... a refection of the Trinity".

      How does either a "traditional, Biblical marriage", meaning a man and four women (see the story of Jacob, Rachel, Leah and their handmaids), or a retconned, modernist idea of marriage as one man and one women, equate to a Trinity consisting of a genocidal Middle Eastern war deity, a dead rabbi who comes back to life as a zombie bent on revenge, and a pigeon who sometimes takes the form of a ghost to impregnate teenage girls?

      "I believe in natural law"

      Then the Christian Bible is "inherently" opposed to natural law, and Egnor must utterly oppose the Christian Bible whenever someone reads from it. Like say, a priest at your next mass.

      4. He strongly opposes the Constitution of the United States, and its 14th. Amendment guaranteeing equal treatment, by invoking the Humpty Dumpty defense in opposition to the Founding Fathers:

      "I define marriage as between a man and a woman"

      Like Humpty Dumpty, Smegnor can define any word to have any meaning he likes, but if the government defines marriage this way and implements it in law, conveying rights and privileges according to Smegnor's definition, that violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees equal treatment.

      If Smegnor doesn't like it, he can GO TO RUSSIA where there's no 14th Amendment and no gay marriage.

      5. Smegnor pulls the Radical Right frame-flip where he attempts to portray the victims of discrimination as aggressors and radicals:

      "gays have just as much (or as little) right to impose their gay beliefs on marriage legislation."

      This traitor Smegnor just called the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution "gay beliefs". If you don't like equality for all, GO TO RUSSIA.

      "you have just as much (or as little) right to impose your irreligious beliefs on others"

      Now he says the 14th Amendment is "irreligious beliefs" that we "impose on others"? If you don't like equality for all, GO TO RUSSIA.

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    35. Part 3 of 3, against the Egnoramus:

      6. Smegnor linked to his blog post where he tells various other outright lies, such as:

      In California, if I were a therapist, and I told a kid who was my patient the same facts about the risks of male homosexuality that I just told you, I'd be committing a crime.

      This is an outright lie. There is no law in California against relating accurate facts about the consequences of sexual behavior-- in fact, it might be a great addition to counseling teens and sex education, as long as the facts are accurate. The law in California prevents counselors from attempting to turn gay people straight with psychological experimental treatments. Smegnor fundamentally misrepresents California law, just as Egnor has repeatedly lied about Dutch doctors allegedly killing babies because they are handicapped.

      7. Smegnor concludes that reasonable people may discriminate against gays:

      Personally I oppose discrimination against gays... But reasonable people can disagree about that.

      By which we can, with equal logic, reply:

      Personally I oppose discrimination against straights... But reasonable people can disagree about that.

      or perhaps

      Personally I oppose discrimination against Christians... But reasonable people can disagree about that.

      Again I repeat: If Smegnor and the religious right doesn't like equality for all, you can GO TO RUSSIA.

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    36. I'm not a fan of Egnor's at all, but CDC backs him up on the lifetime risk of MSM for HIV. http://www.cdc.gov/about/grand-rounds/archives/2012/pdfs/GR-HIV%208-21.pdf

      First, thank you for citing a reputable modern source.

      As a corollary to lutesuite's concern that this assumes constant incidence throughout an individual's lifespan, let me also point out it explicitly assumes that its projection from current state into the future will not be affected by future incidence trends, e.g., reductions from monogamous behavior if same-gender couples are permitted and encouraged to marry, and technological solutions such as condoms.

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  3. I define marriage as between a man and a woman, and there's can't be "gay" marriage anymore than there can be "childless" parenthood
    Marriage has long since lost it's religious meaning. Marriage is above all a legal affair, a contract between two people to become like one in a number of practical and legal matters. If the want the blessing of a minister/priest, why not? It doesn't change anything except in the legal status and the minds of those two people. What others think and feel is irrelevant!

    Should infertile people be restricted from marriage?

    For xxx's sake, we are living in the 21st century and know more than enough about the causes of how sexual and gender identity develops. If God can't prevent that, who else? M. Egnor?

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    1. It's quite funny, really, as if Egnor's argument holds, then it's a denial of reality. Gay marriage is in a lot of places now, so it's clearly [b]not[/b] a contradiction of terms. So if the reality of gay marriage cannot persuade the likes of Egnor to see it as anything other than a contradiction, the question is why do they oppose it? Gay marriage as it is legally defined simply doesn't have anything to do with gay marriage as they deny. Otherwise they'd either have to recognise that gay marriage isn't such a contradiction, or what the state is doing is not gay marriage in the sense that a contradiction exists.

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  4. "If Moran thinks that everyone under 40 supports gay marriage, for instance, he might be surprised to find that 26% of millennials still oppose it"

    This reminds me of one of my favorite anecdotes: the one about the Japanese kid who had a map of the Pacific on his wall during WW2 and every time the radio announced another victory, he'd put a pin in the map marking the island. His friends asked him why he always looked so gloomy when there was a fresh victory every day, and he said 'well, I can't help but notice every time there's a glorious victory, it's nearer and nearer the homeland'.

    So it's a glorious victory now that 1 in 4 young people oppose gay marriage?

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  5. The kind of "you may call it bigotry, I call it God's word" type argument is really making the New Atheist argument for them.

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    1. "The kind of "you may call it bigotry, I call it God's word" type argument is really making the New Atheist argument for them."

      The only value I see in accommdationism is that it makes Christians say it out loud. It exposes the stupidities, the prejudices, the illogic, the astroturfing, just ... the sheer rubbishness of their arguments and tenuousness of their position.

      Religion survives because we're too polite to shout 'bullshit'. If religious figures faced a tenth of the scrutiny Miley Cyrus or Chris Christie did, they'd all have been hounded out of public life years ago.

      Ask religious people to state what they believe in plain language and it's like holding ice up to sunlight. There is nothing there, at all. Just a sense of smug satisfaction that only survives because it's never been challenged.

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  6. Larry,

    I don't understand why you're using the term moral (ethical) relativism here. You're espousing morals that you believe to be universal, such as 'always wrong to discriminate against gays on basis of sexual preference'. I agree with that, but it is not a statement compatible with moral relativism, which holds that morality is largely subjective. Under moral relativism, there are no objective standards by which to make moral judgments. The flipside of moral relativism is not moral absolutism, it is moral universalism. I reject both relativism and absolutism, btw. Do you care to explain why you're using that term here?

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    1. To clarify: I consider myself broadly utilitarian. I don't think it's a perfect ethical system (I don't believe such a system exists), but I find it more useful/efficient in solving a wider array of problems. Basically I see moral questions being at their core questions of consequences. I'd say that it's 'always wrong to discriminate against gays on basis of sexual preference' in the sense that I can't realistically see how engaging in sexual discrimination would ever result in a net benefit to society/well-being.

      Anyway, I'm genuinely curious as to why you use the term. The way I see it is: if you're using in the descriptive sense then it seems trivial, and if in the normative then it doesn't accurately describe your views. I'm no expert on moral philosophy though.

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    2. Read what I said about "enlightened societies." I admit that the words you quote could be misinterpreted by people who don't want to understand my meaning. What I meant was that, in my opinion, enlightened 21st century societies will almost always decide that bigotry and discrmination are bad and should not be tolerated.

      Apparently Kansas has not yet reached "enlightened" status but I'm pretty sure they'll get there before this century is over.

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  7. Hi lutesuite - the Stall et al paper referenced in the CDC link discusses the potential for bias from that assumption. In fact, the paper even explicitly states that the results should NOT be generalized to the overall MSM population because of other factors (e.g. use of statistics from primarily urban populations).

    Unfortunately, the CDC link did not mention those caveats (and neither did Egnor). I guess this is another case of tracing the claims back to the primary reference to figure out what the real story is here. In any event, Egnor can no longer use this statistic with confidence.

    I understand that he is using this as an argument to bolster his moral argument based on natural law. But the argument should be against natural law as a philosophy of morality and not against facts (even though this one isn't really a fact! lol). I think that even if the actual lifetime risk for HIV was even 10 or 20% he would still use that as a supporting argument against MSM.

    And I like Jem's point that Egnor's argument does not address non-MSM sexual behavior and therefore neglects a huge portion of the homosexual population. Dishonesty is dishonesty I guess.

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