Intelligent Design

Materialist Derangement Syndrome on Display

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I have already coined the term “Darwinist Derangement Syndrome.” See here.  Closely related to DDS is MDS (“Materialist Derangement Syndrome”), which pathology Mark Frank aptly demonstrates in this exchange:

Barry: Here is a self-evident moral truth: “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure.”

Mark Frank:

Usually you define self-evident as leading to absurdity. What kind of absurdity results from holding it is not evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure?

(We must have held this debate over 100 times on UD by now – but I never saw an answer to this).

Mark keeps asking over and over for someone to demonstrate to him why a self-evident truth is true, when he has been told over and over again that self-evident truths cannot be demonstrated – self-evident principles are not conclusions that one reasons to; they are premises upon which all reasoning is based.

Mark, maybe you will finally get it if you ponder these questions. What kind of absurdity would result from denying that:

2+2=4

That a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense

That the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees

That you are conscious

That a finite whole is greater than or equal to any of its parts

BTW, you also suggest that William Lane Craig would deny that it is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure. This statement is outrageously false. Do you have no shame sir?

Alan Fox comes in a close second with this gem of MDS:

Comment 57 posted at 3:14: “Moral absolutes, there ain’t!”

Comment 58 posted at 3:20: “all [people] deserved the universal right to life.”

Psychologists talk about the concept of “cognitive dissonance,” the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting beliefs. People cope with cognitive dissonance by engaging in dissonance reduction. Alan appears to be able to deny a concept and then affirm it six minutes later. His dissonance reduction coping strategies must be a marvel to behold. Alternatively, Alan may well be a closet ID proponent shilling as a materialist. That would make sense.

204 Replies to “Materialist Derangement Syndrome on Display

  1. 1
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    To a relativist, this looks like you just picked a moral statement that in practice we’d all agree too, labeled it “self evident,” and used that as a dodge to escape the need to actually identify external objective moral criteria. Your position is still ultimately “I sez.”

    Can you delineate the set of “self-evident” moral truths? Is it self-evidently true that abortion is wrong? That God exists as part of a trinity? That lying is wrong? To murder children for some reason other than pleasure?

    In other words, if two people disagree about a moral principle, do they have any way to resolve the dispute objectively?

  2. 2

    To a relativist, this looks like you just picked a moral statement that in practice we’d all agree too, labeled it “self evident,” and used that as a dodge to escape the need to actually identify external objective moral criteria. Your position is still ultimately “I sez.”

    The definition of “self-evident” is that the proposition is apprehended as true on its own merit, without any need for argument or evidence. There is a difference between agreeing that a proposition is true, and agreeing that it is self-evidently true. Just “agreeing” with the proposition is not enough to warrant it as “self-evidently” true.

    “It is immoral to torture children for personal pleasure.” Do you require any debate, argument or evidence before agreeing that this statement is true? Do you need to examine the belief system and moral structure of the person doing the torturing? Do you need to know the social mores of where the torturer lives? Do you need to check their lawbooks?

    Or, is all the information you need to agree that it is true contained in that statement? If so, then you agree that the statement is self-evidently true by definition.

    Can you delineate the set of “self-evident” moral truths? Is it self-evidently true that abortion is wrong? That God exists as part of a trinity? That lying is wrong? To murder children for some reason other than pleasure?

    None of this matters – it is all smoke thrown up to avoid the simple fact that either the statement given is self-evidently true or it is not. All you are trying to do now is avoid the reasoning that necessarily will follow from agreeing that the statement given is self-evidently true. The existence of questionable or debatable moral statements is irrelevant to the point that the given statement is self-evidently true.

    In other words, if two people disagree about a moral principle, do they have any way to resolve the dispute objectively?

    Perhaps they do; perhaps not. It depends on whether or not they will agree to more fundamental moral statements that can be extrapolated towards a rational resolution in their conflict. The problem is that under moral relativism, there can be no expectation of resolving moral conflicts objectively, because no binding, objective criteria is assumed to exist.

    For example, in the abortion conflict, the moral relativist has no reason to consider the view that their position may be wrong because, in their view, morality is all subjective anyway. Perhaps they can be emotionally manipulated to change their mind, but lacking an agreed, binding, presumed-objective criteria, there is no means by which to logically argue the relativist out of their current moral view.

    Only if the two parties agree that there is an objective moral basis that binds all humans, and agree on certain fundamental moral premises (such as the self-evidently true moral statement above), AND agree that humans are prone to error and failures of logic, only then then can there be a rational debate where we expect that one of us is wrong and can be rationally convinced to change their views given a conclusive argument.

  3. 3
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    <bloc

    The definition of “self-evident” is that the proposition is apprehended as true on its own merit, without any need for argument or evidence.

    Then conversation over. You have declared it to be self-evidently true that you are correct, and that it is unnecessary (and perhaps impossible) to support that statement with argument or evidence. Arrington goes one step further and implies that anyone who disagrees is lying. This is an even simpler than the “grand sez who” – the grand “because.” Why? Because. How can you tell? Because.

    Can you delineate the set of “self-evident” moral truths? Is it self-evidently true that abortion is wrong? That God exists as part of a trinity? That lying is wrong? To murder children for some reason other than pleasure?

    None of this matters – it is all smoke thrown up to avoid the simple fact that either the statement given is self-evidently true or it is not. All you are trying to do now is avoid the reasoning that necessarily will follow from agreeing that the statement given is self-evidently true. The existence of questionable or debatable moral statements is irrelevant to the point that the given statement is self-evidently true.

    The point of those questions is to illustrate that you can’t tell which moral truths are self-evident. If your determination of whether a truth is “self-evident” is down to your subjective moral process, then it isn’t an objective standard anymore. In other words, even if there is some common core of objective moral standards out there, if you can’t objectively determine what’s in it, then we’re still in a relativist world.

    For example, in the abortion conflict, the moral relativist has no reason to consider the view that their position may be wrong because, in their view, morality is all subjective anyway.

    Once again, you are making an enormous (and erroneous) assumption and calling it logic. It still isn’t logical. Nothing about relativism precludes people reconsidering their positions. As a moral relativist, I can and do consider that my positions might be wrong. As a practical example, I used to strongly support capital punishment. A friend argued that I was morally wrong to do so. I considered their arguments and ultimately agreed. What about relativism would logically preclude that process?

  4. 4
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry
     
    In the past I have asked you how are we to tell a self-evident statement from one that appears obviously true to pretty much everyone (given that apparently obviously true statements have so often turned out to be false). You have responded that by saying that denying self-evident statements leads to absurdity – indeed your provide examples above. So once more:
    What kind of absurdity results from holding it is not evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure?

  5. 5
    Mark Frank says:

    Incidentally interesting that Barry included:

    That the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees

    That of course was once thought to be self-evidently true but it isn’t true in general – only in Euclidean geometry.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    I think you relativists are correct, in that you have to have a conscience to automatically perceive a truth as self-evident – the kind of conscience most people have.

    A psychopath, who would, ipso facto, be a relativist, although I doubt that all relativists would be psychopaths, since atheists, baulking at logic and reason leading to conclusions they find unacceptable, cannot see the implications of their relativism in terms of morality.

    If a psychopath murdered someone and, while driving with his victim’s body in the boot of his car, was stopped for a routine matter by traffic police, he almost certainly wouldn’t turn a hair, whereas it is a self-evident truth to most people that, in the psychopath’s shoes, a more ordinary Joe might even faint with the fear of his crime being discovered, so intense would his feeling of guilt be felt.

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    Different wiring, I suppose one might say. Or perhaps a plain absence of wiring (and certainly no PCB), one might say of the psycho.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Interestingly, I think, Christ referred in his parable of Lazarus and the rich man, to the compassion of the street-dogs towards him in his indigence, licking his sores.’

    And it’s a well-know fact these days that mammals often evince a degree of empathy, even spirituality (e.g. elephants mourning) that would put the conscienceless human being to shame, were it not on the direct inspiration of the Creator, since they lack free will (at least, of such a nature as we have, since, intuitively I cannot conceive of them as mere robots.)

    So, incandescent vilification of the rich man in the parable by Jesus, decidedly out of temper with the words of the author of that otherwise beautiful hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful. Somehow,….
    ‘The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.’
    … doesn’t quite cut it.

    Jesus can be gentle, meek and mild… and … not gentle Jesus meek and mild…

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    In a flat plane — and, strictly a triangle is planar and its points define a plane — it seems clear that angle sum triangle holds, as does the equivalent parallel lines postulate: equidistant straight lines in the same flat plane will be at the same separation anywhere.

    That is locked into what parallel means in this context.

    The assertion that this does not hold (as was used to create non-Euclidean Geometries) is equivalent to leaving such a space, e.g. a “triangle” on the curved surface of the earth. The problem was that evidently such spaces had not been thought through as possible.

    Notice Wolfram Math world:

    In three dimensions, there are three classes of constant curvature geometries. All are based on the first four of Euclid’s postulates, but each uses its own version of the parallel postulate. The “flat” geometry of everyday intuition is called Euclidean geometry (or parabolic geometry), and the non-Euclidean geometries are called hyperbolic geometry (or Lobachevsky-Bolyai-Gauss geometry) and elliptic geometry (or Riemannian geometry). Spherical geometry is a non-Euclidean two-dimensional geometry. It was not until 1868 that Beltrami proved that non-Euclidean geometries were as logically consistent as Euclidean geometry.

    KF

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    Pro Hac Vice

    Just so I am clear here, for which of the following are you arguing?

    1. That there are no self-evident truths of any kind.

    2. That there are no self-evident moral truths, including the statement “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure.”

    3. The idea of “self-evident truth” is incoherent.

    4. Some truths are not self-evident. Therefore, no truths are self-evident.

    5. None of the above.

    WJM: “The definition of “self-evident” is that the proposition is apprehended as true on its own merit, without any need for argument or evidence.”

    PHV: “Then conversation over. You have declared it to be self-evidently true that you are correct, and that it is unnecessary (and perhaps impossible) to support that statement with argument or evidence.”

    You are correct in this sense. There really is no conversation that we could have that would be sufficient to convince a person that it is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure. The truth is either apprehended on its face or it is not. Someone who denies it is stating, in essence, there is no moral truth at all. Therefore, trying to convince that person they should accept this moral truth by appealing to still more basic principles of moral truth is futile.

    Finally, just so I am clear about this as well, do you accept the proposition “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure” as self-evidently true?

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: In case games are afoot, we can define numbers from collecting sets from the empty one up, thence the continuum [by decimal or similar fractions of countably infinite terms], then negatives then by sqrt – 1, a complex plane x + j*y, which defines a plane. this can be set with origin on side AB of a triangle and with re axis along AB. The j*y axis will be such that a rotating vector of sufficient length r = sqrt(x^2 + y^2) in the plane, Z, will sweep C. Angles, planarity etc and straightness are all locked in. Parallel lines can be defined in the plane Z by setting y = m*x + c and displacing by changing c, one who understands will see the nature of being parallel in Z and will see that it necessarily holds; if necessary by deducing length of a perp to the line as it intersects the other. Such a space will have the parallel line premise necessarily holding, and holding on pain of absurdity on denial.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM: I note, that it is on attending to and understanding a SET in light of experience of the world as a rational, aware, insightful mind, that one sees it true and necessarily true on pain of absurdity. I think in too many cases modern or ultra-modern absurdities pivot on a sort of induced secondary misunderstanding. Put another way: if you believe an absurdity to be true and reject or even stoutly resist correction, then there remains only the inversion that tries to label the true as false or incomprehensible. and yes, such is delusional, which looks uncomfortably like an ever spreading state of mind in our civilisation, which seems more and more bent on the march of folly. Notice above, how I have tried to awaken clean rational insight to see clearly that which should be intuitive, and to see clearly what happens on attempted denial. KF

  13. 13
    Alan Fox says:

    Finally, just so I am clear about this as well, do you accept the proposition “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure” as self-evidently true?

    “It’s a trap!!!

    /Admiral Akbar

    We all agree that torturing babies is abhorrent, impossible to conceive of (I hope),beyond all reason, utterly intolerable. But how do you establish that it is per se self-evident? The ethical reason for not torturing babies is that a baby’s right to life pre-empts any justification for harming a baby. The right to life of those millions industrially murdered by the Nazi regime should have been protected by that right. We have the right to intervene and prevent genocide because we have an ethical obligation to those being murdered; an obligation to protect them as far as we are capable.

  14. 14
    Alan Fox says:

    Oops reposting with blockquotes!

    Barry:

    Finally, just so I am clear about this as well, do you accept the proposition “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure” as self-evidently true?

    “It’s a trap!!!”

    /Admiral Akbar

    We all agree that torturing babies is abhorrent, impossible to conceive of (I hope),beyond all reason, utterly intolerable. But how do you establish that it is per se self-evident? The ethical reason for not torturing babies is that a baby’s right to life pre-empts any justification for harming a baby. The right to life of those millions industrially murdered by the Nazi regime should have been protected by that right. We have the right to intervene and prevent genocide because we have an ethical obligation to those being murdered; an obligation to protect them as far as we are capable.

  15. 15
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    B Arrington,

    1. That there are no self-evident truths of any kind.

    I’ve never considered this exact question, but the first thing that comes to mind is that tautologies are “self-evident truths.” So no. That also disposes of 3.

    2. That there are no self-evident moral truths, including the statement “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure.”

    Not quite.

    3. The idea of “self-evident truth” is incoherent.

    No.

    4. Some truths are not self-evident. Therefore, no truths are self-evident.

    No.

    5. None of the above.

    No.

    What I believe is that there are self-evident logical truths, and that there may be self-evident moral truths. But I can’t distinguish a “self-evident” moral truth from a truth that just feels right to me. There are certainly moral truths that feel self-evident to me—freedom is good, happiness is good, needless suffering is bad. But I can’t prove them objectively. And I suspect that you can’t either, because we keep asking how you’d do it and you keep telling us that we’re liars if we don’t feel the same way you do.

    Since I can’t distinguish a “self-evident” moral truth from a personal preference, I can’t say I cleave to an objective moral truth. All my moral truths are ultimately subjective, because I can’t appeal to anything outside of my own head to prove or support them.

    The corollary is that I don’t think anyone else can identify truly objective moral criteria, either. I think the inability of any objectivists to point out actual objective standards supports that position. “Self-evidence” doesn’t cut it, for many reasons: your report of what’s “self-evident” is a subjective one, other people have different “self-evident” truths, “self-evident” truths change over time, etc.

    I think the closest you can come is the easy case—torturing children for fun. I think you use that question because it’s easy. No one will, in the real world, disagree with you, so it feels objective. We all share that moral principle.

    You are correct in this sense. There really is no conversation that we could have that would be sufficient to convince a person that it is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure. The truth is either apprehended on its face or it is not. Someone who denies it is stating, in essence, there is no moral truth at all. Therefore, trying to convince that person they should accept this moral truth by appealing to still more basic principles of moral truth is futile.

    Except that doesn’t logically prove your point. It’s entirely possible, and I think the truth, that in a subjective, relativist world, functioning human beings in our society would self-select for people who share that principle. So everyone would share it, even though it’s not truly objective.

    It’s like claiming that everyone has shoes. Of course they do, it’s just a matter of objective fact. Look around you in the office, who’s not wearing shoes? Q.E.D., right? No, it’s a faulty argument. It’s a feel-good argument, not a substantive one.

    Bad facts make bad law. I’ve been trying to pull us towards a more useful and interesting hypo—what about the borderline cases? What about slavery? It wasn’t “self-evidently” wrong for generations of otherwise decent human beings. At some point, it became “self-evidently” wrong. Or is it “self-evident” at all? I can’t tell, because “self-evidence” isn’t actually an objective criteria in this case. It’s just what you feel, which isn’t what everyone else feels, and isn’t what everyone else has felt throughout history.

    Finally, just so I am clear about this as well, do you accept the proposition “It is evil to torture an infant for personal pleasure” as self-evidently true?

    Is this is where you ban me for not answering the question the way you intended me to?
    No, I accept that it’s true for me because I believe the welfare of children is a moral good, torture is a moral wrong, etc. You might call those things self-evident for me, because I’m hard-pressed to break it down into any more granular principles. But I can’t prove that they’re self-evident for other people, and in fact empirical evidence suggests that they’re not. Other people can and have disagreed with these principles.

    When they do, the rest of us take action to stop them, not because the guilty party secretly feels like what they did was wrong, but because the rest of us feel that it’s wrong and put our beliefs into action. It doesn’t matter to us whether a killer sincerely believes that God ordered him to do it, mes rea is satisfied if he knew his actions would result in the death of an innocent person. That’s the rule a consensus of us have put into place, but there’s no objective criteria for determining whether it’s correct or not.

    Since I answered six questions of yours, would you indulge me and answer two of my own? I assume your feeling for self-evident truths covers cases that are less unanimous than child torture.

    Is it morally wrong to resist arrest if you sincerely believe that the officer is abusing his authority?

    Is it possible that you’re wrong?

    (I suspect, however, that this debate will end as most of your discussions do–a triumphant declaration of victory in a new post, and banning to ensure that it’s true. Do you ever wonder if your frequent resort to banning people who disagree with you reflects on the strength of your arguments?)

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    PHV,

    here is an example: error exists. As a live mind you understand this.

    Now, try to deny it, and see what happens — it is undeniable.

    Likewise, consider a red ball on a table, A.

    This partitions the world W = { A | NOT_A }, from which LOI, LNC and LEM immediately arise from simply the recognition of world partition.

    Likewise, if A exists, we can ask why and seek a reasonable answer. Simple as these seem to be, much follows from them, they are not empty repetitions of the order, a bachelor is an unmarried man.

    Likewise, that it is immoral to kidnap, torture rape and murder a child is self evident and that self evidence manifests our recognition of the inherent value of that child and his person.

    Advice: if you want to try to deny or obfuscate this one, don’t do it in the presence of X, who lost his young son just in this way.

    Think about these things a little bit.

    KF

  17. 17
    Alan Fox says:

    …our recognition of the inherent value of that child and his person.

    Exactly. Innocent (especially young) people deserve not to suffer at the hands of psychopaths and we all support a police and judicial system that can deal with the psychopath on our behalf.

    Do you, KF, extend the same human rights to homosexuals? Would you allow gay men to marry and live in legal, stable relationships, bothering nobody? If not, why not? Is a self-evident moral principle involved or is it just blind prejudice that guides you?

  18. 18

    But how do you establish that it is per se self-evident?

    You establish it by the fact that it requires no evidence, argument or additional information in order to apprehend that it is true.

  19. 19
    Mark Frank says:

    #18 WJM

    You establish it by the fact that it requires no evidence, argument or additional information in order to apprehend that it is true.

    The heart of our disagreement is how to tell the difference between child torture for personal pleasure being a self-evident moral truth and being an almost universally agreed subjective reaction. In both cases no evidence, argument or additional information is required. So this will not settle the issue.

    Now take a real case of child torture for personal pleasure – the Jamie Bulger murder.. Thompson was judged to have shown no remorse and to be a psychopath (less certain for Venables). How do you set about proving to Thompson that he was wrong? As a moral subjectivist, I don’t have to – I just accept that his morals are wildly out of synch with most of humanity and we all want him put away for life. But if it is objectively true that he was wrong then there should be some kind of way of making it apparent. Or do you just keep on telling him it is self-evidently true? In which case how do our positions differ in practice?

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    MF: we have no duty to the psycho-/socio- path, to try to prove to his satisfaction that his insanity is insane. Such a one for whatever reason has become blind or calloused to proper moral restraints and, on proving a menace, is properly to be removed from where he can act out vile fantasies. Whether we just put to an asylum, or in addition impose penalties on criminal law would seem dependent on the degree to which we can rightfully deem such a one responsible enough to have known and acted better. For, recognising that one OUGHT not to do Z, is separable from one’s feelings or impulses towards Z. Mere absence of revulsion sufficient to turn aside, or even a strong attraction to Z do not justify Z. And if we have responsible awareness and ability to form a sound opinion and judgement regarding Z, then we are responsible to refrain from Z regardless of feelings or absence thereof. For instance, regardless of temptation to adultery and a faded attraction to one’s wife, one has sworn duties to refrain from adultery and to cherish one’s wife. And, as a blessing, acting with love towards one’s wife will often rekindle appropriate affections. KF

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #20 – we may not have a duty to explain to prove to Thompson that what he did was deeply wrong – but if it is an objective fact that we was wrong then there should be some way of proving he was wrong. Otherwise how does it differ from our joint subjective outrage at what he did?

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    I have already showed enough above on why murder is wrong, if such proof were needed. The fact that we love our own lives and cherish ourselves where we can easily see that others are as ourselves should be enough. More than enough. The CI extension to the letting loose of widespread murder and the blood feuds that would result are a further point. And so forth as — with all due respect — you do know or should know long since. KF

  23. 23
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #22 and the OP itself.

    I am not asking for reasons why murder is wrong. We can all agree that it is wrong and provide reasons for that view. What I want is an objective proof that it is wrong. To succeed in being objective such a proof clearly cannot make an appeal to someone’s feelings (that would be subjective), in particular it must be a proof that works for someone like Thompson who does not care about other people’s suffering. (I am not saying Thompson has to be able to follow it. He may be too stupid. But it must follow logically for someone with his lack of feelings.) So emotional descriptions of how awful it is or how we love life or the possibility of leading to widespread murder and blood feuds are irrelevant. Those are subjective appeals to people who love life and disapprove of murder and blood feuds. They don’t work for someone who does not care about them.

    Barry has sort of responded by saying these objective truths are self-evident and therefore not amenable to proof or reasons. When challenged as to how you can recognise a self-evident truth he said because denying it leads to absurdity. When asked what absurdity comes from denying that torturing children for personal amusement is wrong there is no response. Notice that if/when this absurdity is forthcoming it has to be objectively absurd. It cannot appeal to subjective feelings about what is right or what one ought to do or is obligated to do.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    MF: The point is that a proof will in the end come down to self evident points, and such will obly further be arguable on what happens when one tries to dismiss or deny. In this case we see a studious attempt to take the pose of skepticism, you prove to me. Actually, it is, the opposite: the long since settled general consensus, pivoting on the value and equality of human life is that wantonly taking life is something that we have no right to. I have shown what happens if that is denied, and where it ends which is absurd, chaotic and horrific — clan blood feuds. For, we will never shake the concept that one’s own life is valuable, and that of those one cares about naturally. So, the issue is really just to extend that caring to all people. The burden is on the foot of those who would implicitly deny by dismissing through selective hyperskepticism. And in that context, the matter on the table is that to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a young child is self-evidently wrong. Let’s see if anyone will be so bold as to deny — not merely pose on skeptical questions, about it. That strange reluctance shows us the point, doesn’t it? For, it implies that the objectors who propose to convert morality into subjectivism, know that there is something precious about this paradigm case of innocent helpless life that should not be violated. KF

  25. 25
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #24 What are you challenging us sceptics to deny? I accept that murder is wrong. I agree that there is a “long since generally settled consensus that wantonly taking life is something we have no right to”. I agree that we will “never shake the concept that one’s own life is valuable, and that of those one cares about naturally. So, the issue is really just to extend that caring to all people”.

    These all compatible with a subjective view of ethics.

    The difference appears to be that while I think these things are obviously true you say they are self-evidently true. I want to examine how “self-evidently” differs from “obviously” – as many subjective things are obviously true. So far all that self-evidently seems to mean in the context of morality is “I think it is true and anyone who denies it is a fool or a liar” which is about as subjective as you can get.

  26. 26
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    Mark Frank,

    I share your frustration. But this conversation has been going of for many years among many people, and to my knowledge no one has ever actually been able to identify objective standards or a tool for proving them. I don’t think we’ll get substantive answers here. It is, ultimately, a matter of faith.

  27. 27
    Mark Frank says:

    #26 PHV

    You are certainly right the conversation has been going for many years. It goes through the same stereotyped routines like some ritual from Gormenghast. It was naive to hope something new might turn up.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    25: I accept that murder is wrong

    And what is “wrong,” on what basis, with what import, that we ought not to do it?

    Why?

    KF

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank:

    When asked what absurdity comes from denying that torturing children for personal amusement is wrong there is no response. Notice that if/when this absurdity is forthcoming it has to be objectively absurd. It cannot appeal to subjective feelings about what is right or what one ought to do or is obligated to do.

    I don’t think that this is a very daunting task. Recall the formal mechanism for applying the principle of absurdity–reductio ad absudum (assume the opposite and observe what happens). What would the culture like be like if that kind of behavior was thought to be objectively good.

    One can think of a thousand different scenarios. Among other things, civil laws would be passed to protect the rights of those who torture babies. Parents would be forbidden to protect their young and might even be jailed for intervening on their behalf. (Obviously, this is absurd). To characterize such behavior as evil would be considered a hate crime. (This is equally absurd). It would be unduly burdensome to raise children in such an environment and few would even try. Eventually, the culture would simply die. In other words, the consequences of practicing and justifying the behavior would produce objectively bad consequences. It would be an absurd way to maintain a well-ordered society.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    By the way, we can test each principle of the Natural Moral Law in the same way as outlined @29. What would it be like, for example, if everyone rationalized adultery, theft, or murder. The results would be objectively bad because the principles being flouted are objectively good. The very idea of a well-ordered society would be considered absurd and would soon die. (Not just the well-ordered society itself but even the idea of a well-ordered society). In many ways, we are almost there now.

  31. 31
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    Among other things, civil laws would be passed to protect the rights of those who torture babies. Parents would be forbidden to protect their young and might even be jailed for intervening on their behalf. (Obviously, this is absurd). To characterize such behavior as evil would be considered a hate crime. (This is equally absurd). It would be unduly burdensome to raise children in such an environment and few would even try.

    I don’t think that analysis gets us anywhere. First of all, you haven’t actually identified absurdities. The consequences you’ve outlined are bad, but not absurd. An absurd result would be one that’s self-contradictory or logically impossible. The things you’ve outlined are horrible, according to our consensus morality, but not self-contradictory. A parade of horribles is not the same as a logical test.

    Second, I think your test is functionally useless. It relies on us assuming that the proposed outcomes are horrible, which we do–but remember that you’re starting from a consensus position. Both sides agree your outcomes would be awful. The fact that we all recoil from your parade of horribles doesn’t answer the question at hand: do we do so because the proposition is so horrible that everyone (in present company) rejects it according to their subjective standards, or because of some external criteria?

    Once again, I think we need to try some borderline cases. Can you use your proposed tool to determine whether it’s self-evidently morally good to legalize pot, or some other actually disputed question?

    What would it be like, for example, if everyone rationalized adultery, theft, or murder. The results would be objectively bad because the principles being flouted are objectively good.

    This is objectively circular, if the objective is to test the existence of moral objectivity.

  32. 32
    Mark Frank says:

    #29 StephenB

    PVH has answered you very well. For completeness I will describe the same thing my way.

    What would the culture like be like if that kind of behavior was thought to be objectively good.

    Do you really want to ground the self-evident truth of “torturing babies is wrong” on a empirical hypothesis about the consequences of that act? Would you really want to say murder is not self-evidently wrong if this hypothesis turned out to be false. I never thought you were a moral consequentialist.

    Some more detailed points:

    1) You are assuming with no justification that everyone will act on this principle. I am only asking what’s logically absurd about me believing it is OK to torture infants. No one said that a moral principle has to apply equally to all people.

    2) Some generally accepted moral principles such as not killing anyone unless they have committed a crime or in a war against you may lead to a breakdown in society in some circumstances.

    3) There is nothing obviously absurd to a psychopath about civil laws to protect the rights of those who torture babies, parents being forbidden to protect their young, etc.

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    Pro Hac Vice:

    I don’t think that analysis gets us anywhere. First of all, you haven’t actually identified absurdities. The consequences you’ve outlined are bad, but not absurd.

    You don’t think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for protesting the torture of babies?

    The consequences you’ve outlined are bad…

    How do you know that they are bad? What is your standard?

    An absurd result would be one that’s self-contradictory or logically impossible.

    It is logically impossible to maintain a well-ordered if that society also assumes that torturing babies is a good thing. It is absurd to try.

    Second, I think your test is functionally useless. It relies on us assuming that the proposed outcomes are horrible, which we do–but remember that you’re starting from a consensus position.

    A moment ago you agreed that the outcomes were “bad.” Now you are characterizing your own conclusion as my assumption.

    I am not starting from a consensus position. Quite the contrary. The Natural Moral Law is not based on consensus. If it was, it would be nothing more than an aggregation of subjective feelings.

    The fact that we all recoil from your parade of horribles doesn’t answer the question at hand: do we do so because the proposition is so horrible that everyone (in present company) rejects it according to their subjective standards, or because of some external criteria?

    The point is not that we all recoil, which would be collective subjectivity, but that the outcomes are objectively bad, which indicates objectively bad behavior.

    Both sides agree your outcomes would be awful.

    .

    Horrible and awful are just synonyms for bad, which, by definition, is objective. Unpleasant and repulsive are subjective reactions, which are either informed by objective realities, in which case they are appropriate, or subjective preferences, in which case they are not.

    Once again, I think we need to try some borderline cases. Can you use your proposed tool to determine whether it’s self-evidently morally good to legalize pot, or some other actually disputed question?

    Yes. The objective natural moral law applies to general principles. It cannot cover all cases, let alone the hard to judge cases. That is where the virtue of prudence comes in, which weighs all known objective goods against all known objective evils. Since some evils must be tolerated, this requires hard thinking.

    It is objectively good to promote health and objectively bad to threaten health; it is objectively good to promote freedom and objectively bad to threaten freedom; and it is objectively good to foster a wholesome culture and it is objectively bad to promote a barbaric culture. The proposed legalization of pot involves these and other issues. Prudence must weight all the objectively good things against all the objectively bad things and the circumstances as well. If there are no objectively good or bad things, then there is nothing for the virtue of prudence to do.

  34. 34
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    You don’t think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for protesting the torture of babies?

    Only using the colloquial definition of “absurd.” It’s not logically absurd. Even if we use a very loose definition (in which case you don’t have a reductio ad absurdem) this argument is circular. This is “absurd” because we assume that it’s objectively wrong to torture babies, the objectivity of which is what you’re trying to prove.

    How do you know that they are bad? What is your standard?

    I really don’t know why I have to keep answering this question. This is not a clever gotcha question. The answer is very simple. Whether or not you agree with my position, by now I think it should be quite clear what it is: I make my own assessment, based on my subjective moral beliefs. Those beliefs come from many sources, such as my culture and upbringing. In this case, I value the welfare of children.

    It is logically impossible to maintain a well-ordered if that society also assumes that torturing babies is a good thing. It is absurd to try.

    Aside from MF’s cogent point that this is consequentialist argument, I think it also assumes that “well-ordered” incorporates your proposed objective standard. Otherwise the resulting society, no matter how ugly we would subjectively judge it to be, could consider itself well-ordered. Again, it’s circular.

    A more critical flaw is that, once again, you aren’t identifying absurd consequences. There’s nothing logically absurd about a society we would consider sick and horrible. Nor do I see why trying to hold such a sick society together would be (a) logically impossible or (b) absurd. (If it’s impossible because torturing children would make it intrinsically disordered, well, that again assumes the existence of an objective moral standard. Circular.)

    A moment ago you agreed that the outcomes were “bad.” Now you are characterizing your own conclusion as my assumption.

    I am not starting from a consensus position. Quite the contrary. The Natural Moral Law is not based on consensus. If it was, it would be nothing more than an aggregation of subjective feelings.

    I think you misunderstand me, which is on me. I’m taking the position that we empirically do start from a consensus position–no one in this conversation would disagree that torturing babies is wrong–and that we’re trying to tell whether that’s because of an objective standard we all feel or just because the example is such an extreme one.

    Your test doesn’t answer that question for us. The rest of your response suggests that maybe you didn’t mean it to–we may be miscommunicating from the get-go.

    The point is not that we all recoil, which would be collective subjectivity, but that the outcomes are objectively bad, which indicates objectively bad behavior.

    I really did a double take at this one. We’re trying to test for the existence of an objective moral standard, aren’t we? Maybe we’re miscommunicating severely, but this seems almost tautologically circular to me. Assessing the outcomes as “objectively bad” assumes the existence of an objective standard, which is the thing under examination.

    Your application of the proposed tool hits the same roadblock–you’re declaring that there are objective good and bad ends. But we’re trying to determine whether those things are truly objective, so it doesn’t get us anywhere.

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    PVH has answered you very well.

    I disagree. Check my response.

    Do you really want to ground the self-evident truth of “torturing babies is wrong” on a empirical hypothesis about the consequences of that act? Would you really want to say murder is not self-evidently wrong if this hypothesis turned out to be false. I never thought you were a moral consequentialist.

    To cite the “consequences” of violating the natural moral law is not to be a moral consequentialist, which is something different. There are consequences to violating the physical laws of nature and there are consequences of violating the moral laws of nature. That is not consequentialism, which holds, wrongly, that morality depends solely on consequences and nothing else. I am simply demonstrating the consequences and absurdity of violating the natural moral law.

    1) You are assuming with no justification that everyone will act on this principle.

    Where did you get a strange idea like that? You are the one who is doing the assuming here, and without any justification.

    I am only asking what’s logically absurd about me believing it is OK to torture infants. No one said that a moral principle has to apply equally to all people.

    Obviously, you don’t understand the basic nature of an objective moral principle, which, by definition, binds everyone.

    2) Some generally accepted moral principles such as not killing anyone unless they have committed a crime or in a war against you may lead to a breakdown in society in some circumstances.

    Again, you miss the point. Even if your above claim was true, and I would argue vehemently that it isn’t, it would not be logically impossible to maintain a well-ordered society with that ethic.

    There is nothing obviously absurd to a psychopath about civil laws to protect the rights of those who torture babies, parents being forbidden to protect their young, etc.

    That is a another very strange response. A psychopath is, by definition, incapable of weighing the morality of his actions against the common good.

  36. 36
    StephenB says:

    Pro Hac Vice

    Aside from MF’s cogent point that this is consequentialist argument, I think it also assumes that “well-ordered” incorporates your proposed objective standard. Otherwise the resulting society, no matter how ugly we would subjectively judge it to be, could consider itself well-ordered. Again, it’s circular.

    Maybe you missed my comment to Mark about the difference between my argument and consequentialism. The only thing I am really assuming is that there is such a thing as a well-ordered society. If you disagree, then we can move on. If you agree, then I am simply pointing out that any behavior that leads to the death of a well-ordered society contradicts the requirements for maintaining a well-ordered society.

    A more critical flaw is that, once again, you aren’t identifying absurd consequences. There’s nothing logically absurd about a society we would consider sick and horrible. Nor do I see why trying to hold such a sick society together would be (a) logically impossible or (b) absurd. (If it’s impossible because torturing children would make it intrinsically disordered, well, that again assumes the existence of an objective moral standard. Circular.)

    Does this mean that you are prepared to argue the possibility that a well-ordered society can be maintained even if it sanctions the torturing of babies? It would seem so.
    SB: I am not starting from a consensus position. Quite the contrary. The Natural Moral Law is not based on consensus. If it was, it would be nothing more than an aggregation of subjective feelings.

    I think you misunderstand me, which is on me. I’m taking the position that we empirically do start from a consensus position–no one in this conversation would disagree that torturing babies is wrong–and that we’re trying to tell whether that’s because of an objective standard we all feel or just because the example is such an extreme one.

    Perhaps we are misunderstanding each other. You have said that torturing babies is wrong or is bad, but when I inquire further, you amend that comment and say that what you really mean that it seems wrong to you and is not necessarily wrong in an objective sense. Either it is wrong or it isn’t.

    Your test doesn’t answer that question for us. The rest of your response suggests that maybe you didn’t mean it to–we may be miscommunicating from the get-go.

    I should probably abandon the project of trying to dramatize and make plain something that is really self-evident, namely the objective moral law and the absurdity of trying to circumvent it, both at the individual and societal level. These discussions soon get embarrassingly clumsy because the natural moral law really is self-evident to all men of good will. To be precise, we all know, down deep, that it is objectively wrong to torture babies—unless we are being dishonest with ourselves, or unless we have been brainwashed through perverse education, or unless our intellect has been dulled by a chain of bad habits. Naturally, the moral relativist will resist this proposition and react negatively to it. It’s human nature.

    Your application of the proposed tool hits the same roadblock–you’re declaring that there are objective good and bad ends. But we’re trying to determine whether those things are truly objective, so it doesn’t get us anywhere.

    If you don’t agree with me that the death of a once healthy society is an objectively bad thing, then it would certainly be a waste of my time to try to persuade you that the behavior that caused it is also objectively bad. Yet that appears to be where we are. Or, perhaps you believe that there is no such thing as a good and healthy society or that there is no way of distinguishing it from a decadent or perverse society. Indeed, you may not even accept such notions as normalcy or perversity at all. From what I gather, you don’t think it matters how a nation’s people behave as long as each member, including the leaders, gets to create his own morality. If, as it turns out, a leader’s subjective morality prompts him to enslave everyone else, then I have to ask: Would that be acceptable with you? If not, what is your basis for saying that it would be morally unacceptable for you and for everyone else?

  37. 37
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    StephenB,

    The only thing I am really assuming is that there is such a thing as a well-ordered society. If you disagree, then we can move on. If you agree, then I am simply pointing out that any behavior that leads to the death of a well-ordered society contradicts the requirements for maintaining a well-ordered society.

    It depends on what “well-ordered society” means. A society that has rules, and where those rules are enforced? That’s what I think you mean. It’s an objective definition. If you mean a “good” society, then we’re in the swamp again—good by whose definition? It can’t be an objective good, for the purposes of your test, or the test is circular.

    Does this mean that you are prepared to argue the possibility that a well-ordered society can be maintained even if it sanctions the torturing of babies? It would seem so.

    I think that society could exist, could have rules, and could enforce those rules. That would be a “well-ordered” society for the descriptive value of “well.” I would abhor that society, of course.

    Perhaps we are misunderstanding each other. You have said that torturing babies is wrong or is bad, but when I inquire further, you amend that comment and say that what you really mean that it seems wrong to you and is not necessarily wrong in an objective sense. Either it is wrong or it isn’t.

    Are you clear on what it means to be a moral subjectivist? Seems wrong to me is the same thing as bad, under my subjective analysis. Whether there’s a more objective test is what you are trying, and failing, to prove.

    I should probably abandon the project of trying to dramatize and make plain something that is really self-evident, namely the objective moral law and the absurdity of trying to circumvent it, both at the individual and societal level.

    If that means no more parade of horribles, then please. And if it means actually trying to define and operationalize “self-evident,” then double please.

    These discussions soon get embarrassingly clumsy because the natural moral law really is self-evident to all men of good will.

    Whoops. “You’d agree with me if you weren’t a bad person” is not a logical argument. It assumes the existence of what you’re trying to prove, making it—again—circular. Moreover, “men of good will” disagree over “natural moral law” questions all the time. Is abortion always wrong? Even if the life of the mother is at stake? Is no one who disagrees with you on that question “of good will”?

    To be precise, we all know, down deep, that it is objectively wrong to torture babies—unless we are being dishonest with ourselves, or unless we have been brainwashed through perverse education, or unless our intellect has been dulled by a chain of bad habits.

    As a practical matter everyone in this conversation feels that it is wrong. The question we’re trying to answer is, is that because it’s such an extreme example that any functional human being would be socialized to agree with it as a subjective standard, or is there a definable objective standard behind it? I think you’ve abandoned the effort of proving the objective standard—now you’re just rephrasing “it exists” in elaborate ways.

    How do you prove it to someone who disagrees with you? (“I feel like you feel the same objective standard I do” is, ironically, a subjective argument, not proof.) How do you distinguish between an objective rule and a consensus subjective rule? Are objective rules mutable over time, or not?

    Or, perhaps you believe that there is no such thing as a good and healthy society or that there is no way of distinguishing it from a decadent or perverse society.

    I think those are subjective definitions. Once again, you’re assuming otherwise, not proving otherwise. A transplant from 1905 might consider our society decadent and perverse because we allow the consumption of alcohol and interracial marriage, yet be considered a moral paragon by his own community back in the past. Was he always a monstrous bigot, or did the objective standards change?

    From what I gather, you don’t think it matters how a nation’s people behave as long as each member, including the leaders, gets to create his own morality.

    Do I also eat babies and have concentrated molecular acid for blood? I have no idea where you gathered this nonsense. It has nothing to do with me or my beliefs. I have moral preferences. The way other people behave is relevant to those preferences. For example, I prefer freedom to slavery. If my neighbors become slavers, I absolutely think that matters, even if I’m not their target. That’s because I can and do value people who aren’t me—even strangers.

    If, as it turns out, a leader’s subjective morality prompts him to enslave everyone else, then I have to ask: Would that be acceptable with you? If not, what is your basis for saying that it would be morally unacceptable for you and for everyone else?

    No. My basis would be that I believe slavery is wrong. I don’t need an objective standard to hold that belief. Once I hold it, it is logical for me to take action to implement it. I must weigh that implementation against the moral cost of taking action—such as infringing on others’ sovereignty—but that doesn’t preclude taking action.

    In your example, my belief that everyone has a right to be free would vastly outweigh my belief that the leader has a limited right to be self-sovereign, and I would certainly take action to oppose him.

  38. 38
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    PHV has covered everything beautifully so I am going to concentrate on one aspect of your response. You want to say that what makes it absurd to deny that torturing babies is bad is your estimate of the consequences of denying it is bad if accepted as a general rule for society.  It follows from this that if the those consequences did not in fact follow then it is not self-evident that torture is bad.  But you have made significant assumptions about that society – for example that young need parents to protect them to survive – this is a biological fact that might have been otherwise – there are many species where this is not true. So you are saying the truth of a moral statement is dependent on a particular type of society (which as it happens is the one we have). So you appear to have become a consequentialist and a relativist!

    I leave you with this thought experiment. Consider the hypothetical case where there is only a lone man and a baby boy left on earth – this is the end of humanity (sounds like The Road). So there will be no consequences for society if he sets about torturing the baby because there will be no society. It appears that in this case for you it would not be self-evidently bad for him to torture the baby.

  39. 39
    StephenB says:

    Pro Hac Vice

    I think that society could exist, could have rules, and could enforce those rules. That would be a “well-ordered” society for the descriptive value of “well.” I would abhor that society, of course.

    You think order could be preserved while the judge, who supports the torturing of babies, rules against parents who want to protect them? You don’t think that would degenerate into a war of all against all?

    Are you clear on what it means to be a moral subjectivist? Seems wrong to me is the same thing as bad, under my subjective analysis. Whether there’s a more objective test is what you are trying, and failing, to prove.

    No, seems wrong is not the same as is wrong. You are simply wrong about that. “Is” refers to being, which is objective; “seems” refers to the perception of being, which is subjective. I am not trying to prove anything because self-evident truths cannot be proven. The Law of Non-Contradiction is like that. It cannot be proven. You know it immediately, just as you know the Law of Non-Contradiction.

    Whoops. “You’d agree with me if you weren’t a bad person” is not a logical argument. It assumes the existence of what you’re trying to prove, making it—again—circular.

    Again, you misunderstand. The Natural moral law, like the Law of Non-Contradiction (or the law of causality) cannot be proven. It is the standard by which other things are proven.

    Moreover, “men of good will” disagree over “natural moral law” questions all the time.

    No, they will not. No, they do not.

    Is abortion always wrong?

    Yes.

    Even if the life of the mother is at stake?

    An abortion is the direct taking of a life for the purpose of ending that life. It is always evil. If, on the other hand, the purpose of the medical intervention is to save the life of the mother and the baby is accidentally killed in the process, then that is not abortion and can be morally justified.

    Is no one who disagrees with you on that question “of good will”?

    It depends on how they react to the truth. Men of good will always follow the light they are given. If they refuse to follow that light, then they are not of good will.

    As a practical matter everyone in this conversation feels that it is wrong.

    No. Some of us know that it is wrong.

    The question we’re trying to answer is, is that because it’s such an extreme example that any functional human being would be socialized to agree with it as a subjective standard, or is there a definable objective standard behind it? I think you’ve abandoned the effort of proving the objective standard—now you’re just rephrasing “it exists” in elaborate ways.

    I never hoped to prove that which cannot be proven. I did hope to show that there is such a thing as an objectively good society, which is based on the standard that there is such a thing as a good way for a community to live, which is based on the standard that there is such a thing as a good life for a person. You appear not to agree.

    How do you prove it to someone who disagrees with you? (“I feel like you feel the same objective standard I do” is, ironically, a subjective argument, not proof.) How do you distinguish between an objective rule and a consensus subjective rule? Are objective rules mutable over time, or not?

    Well, a consensus subjective rule will always tyrannize the minority. (We many agree to enslave you few). On the other hand, the natural moral holds everyone to account—the many, the powerful, and the few. Justice is not possible under any other circumstances.

    SB: Or, perhaps you believe that there is no such thing as a good and healthy society or that there is no way of distinguishing it from a decadent or perverse society.

    I think those are subjective definitions. Once again, you’re assuming otherwise, not proving otherwise. A transplant from 1905 might consider our society decadent and perverse because we allow the consumption of alcohol and interracial marriage, yet be considered a moral paragon by his own community back in the past. Was he always a monstrous bigot, or did the objective standards change?

    Well, it’s easy for you to say that I am not proving anything, because all you have to do is dismiss what is said and claim that it was ineffectual. That doesn’t require much intellectual exertion. In any case, the Natural Moral Law covers all those situations that you mentioned. The consumption of alcohol is not inherently evil. It is the abuse of alcohol that is evil and it is on that basis that the civil law should be based. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with interracial marriage. So, the only issue at stake is whether the society will honor the natural moral law.

    SB: From what I gather, you don’t think it matters how a nation’s people behave as long as each member, including the leaders, gets to create his own morality.

    Do I also eat babies and have concentrated molecular acid for blood? I have no idea where you gathered this nonsense. It has nothing to do with me or my beliefs. I have moral preferences. The way other people behave is relevant to those preferences. For example, I prefer freedom to slavery. If my neighbors become slavers, I absolutely think that matters, even if I’m not their target. That’s because I can and do value people who aren’t me—even strangers.

    You are totally missing the point. You feel slavery is wrong, but you cannot provide any moral justification for telling others that they shouldn’t enslave. They, like you, are going by their feelings. In like fashion, you cannot tell those who do eat babies that they should stop. They feel they should; you feel they should not.

    SB: If, as it turns out, a leader’s subjective morality prompts him to enslave everyone else, then I have to ask: Would that be acceptable with you? If not, what is your basis for saying that it would be morally unacceptable for you and for everyone else?

    No. My basis would be that I believe slavery is wrong.

    So what? The slave master believes the slavery is not wrong. Why should your belief take logical precedence over his belief?

    I don’t need an objective standard to hold that belief.

    Of course you don’t need an objective standard to hold a subjective belief. That is obvious.

    Once I hold it, it is logical for me to take action to implement it. I must weigh that implementation against the moral cost of taking action—such as infringing on others’ sovereignty—but that doesn’t preclude taking action.

    You have not yet addressed the issue about the slave master who feels, like you, that it is logical for him to take action against you based on his beliefs. How should this be settled?

    In your example, my belief that everyone has a right to be free would vastly outweigh my belief that the leader has a limited right to be self-sovereign, and I would certainly take action to oppose him.

    So it is with him. You have settled nothing. He will war against you and you will war against him. Indeed, everyone, based on his individual and self-serving morality, will war against everyone else. Eventually, a dictator will step in to restore order and everyone will be enslaved, Do you not understand that this is the inevitable result of your moral relativism?

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In glancing back at the above, it is clear to me that a pivotal question is to clarify self evidence for record, and to apply that to moral issues (including the point that not all cases of murder are self evidently wrong and why that is the case).

    Now, a self-evident truth will meet several criteria, in order to be clearly, certainly and patently true and knowable as true on pain of absurdity:

    1 –> It must actually be true, i.e. it accurately describes reality (as we credibly experience it as conscious, self aware, knowing, understanding creatures . . . BTW the parallel lines postulate is indeed true in the sort of space it describes, whether or no our actual world in the large is that sort of space . . . )

    2 –> It must be seen to be true, once one understands what is being asserted in light of common experience of being such a creature.

    3 –> It will also be such that it MUST be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial.

    4 –> That is, to deny it, one has to immediately descend into clinging to the patently false [which includes but is not limited to the obviously self contradictory], chaotic, destructive, nonsensical, etc. (Think of denying 2 + 3 = 5 as a paradigm, or denying that error exists or denying that we are conscious.)

    The point is, such extends to not only arithmetic or consciousness or human fallibility, but to morality also. To see how this applies to the world of morality, let us start with an example, as that helps us be clear and gives us a basis for looking at other cases by family resemblance. I will therefore now use the historically important and famous example of the US DOI, 1776:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15, 13:8 – 10], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness . . .

    The basic fact that in our quarrels — and this is a famous one — we instinctively find ourselves demanding to be treated fairly in light of a binding expectation rooted in our value and equality as being human, speaks loud and clear.

    That is, we are patently, publicly, inescapably and knowingly under moral government as inherently social creatures. This holds from our being in the wombs of our mothers — who are rendered extremely vulnerable thereby and so need the dedicated protection of the family and community — and on through our helpless infancy in which we can only plead for help by our cries, on up into adulthood in which we too in turn become nurturing parents. We therefore plainly live in a world where moral government makes sense, there is a foundational IS that properly grounds OUGHT, for us as individuals across our lifespan, and for the families and communities without which we would struggle to survive much less thrive. For which IS there is — across time and civilisations, only one truly serious candidate, the inherently good Creator God who has equally made us in his image and thus we rightly have well grounded, binding expectations that our lives, liberty, and fulfillment of purpose and potential should not be unduly infringed. We have inalienable rights.

    Which by their inherent nature as binding expectations to be treated with appropriate respect for our value as human beings, implying that others must choose aright to so treat with us, is inescapably moral. Ought is real, and pivotal.

    Now, to deny or act against such lands us in a morass of chaos and inconsistencies, undermining the framework of our value and thriving. A chaos that is immediately apparent on reflection for a normally functioning, experienced human being with a functional conscience unwarped by blinding ideologies or interests. (For instance, a major tactic of the abuser or oppressor is to dehumanise or demonise the intended target. People from Africa kidnapped into slavery were portrayed as criminals being transported, then were projected as inherently inferior and sub human — never mind what was going on in the slave huts at night. Similarly, Stalin turned industrious and prosperous peasants into a criminal class and manufactured the spectre of traitors everywhere. And Hitler and co turned Poles, Jews and Slavs into subhuman prey, the mice to Nordic Cats, who were deemed superior as they had been chosen through natural selection for strength and health in the hard conditions of the ice age.)

    In short, widespread injustice is a moral issue and its violations of human value frustrate human thriving, individually and collectively. So, an obvious trend to social disintegration into chaos and the war of might makes or grants ‘right’ if a given behaviour becomes widespread should be taken as strong evidence that the behaviour patently ends in absurdity.

    In that context, we can see why kidnapping, torturing, raping and murdering a child is a blatant case of that which is self-evidently wrong and ought not to be done.

    For it takes a paradigm case of an undeniable but vulnerable human being with vast potential, and twists that human being into a discardable toy to be used in ways that take twisted pleasure from inflicting pain and then robs the child of his or her life, tossing away the resulting broken body like trash. That child is a human being, undeniably, and as a child is by definition growing up into his or her potential. That child cannot consent to sexual activity, and is probably protesting and trying to cry out for help — which calls forth powerful protective instincts, but to no avail. Then the pervert finds some way to silence the cries and takes the victim to some secluded location for he knows — notice, KNOWS — that any decent person chancing on the scene will intervene with all desperate and even lethal force to rescue the child from the predatory criminal. Then, knowing himself to be secure from discovery, the selfish pervert takes sick and sickening thrills from helplessness hoping for rescue futilely, and delights to inflict pain, humiliation, suffering, then takes a final twisted pleasure in putting out the spark of life, maybe further abusing the body before discarding it as if it were rubbish.

    Instinct alone, tells us that we understand just what is going on and cries, nay screams: wrong, absurdly wrong. Violation. Wanton despoiling and destruction of the vulnerable and precious.

    And we cannot even conceive a society that descends into a state where that is deemed a ho-hum norm. For, we know that long before that happens, family protective instinct will come into play: families and clans will resort to ruthless blood feuds in defence of their young, leading to the collapse of community government. And we all know where a situation of clans and blood feuds ends, a barbaric chaos that is absurd by contrast with a well ordered well governed community.

    So, we can see and know that such is wrong and must be wrong on pain of absurdity. In multiple ways.

    So much so, that — as has happened over and over here at UD when this same paradigm case has come up again and again — the rhetorical tactics of those who would undermine the principles that ground that cannot come out directly and assert that one is and should be free to destroy a child like that. No, they have to pose on domineering skepticism, they have to refuse to acknowledge that conscience may be a built in moral sense as valid in its own sphere as eyes and ears; with the same proviso that we may be blinded or deafened or mistake one thing for another. They have to turn about the burden of proof, they have to confuse terms and concepts, they have to divert attention from the actual case on the table, and such like.

    Which brings up why not all cases of murder are self-evidently wrong. For, in some cases, sufficient confusion as to human status can be thrown up, or the chaotic consequences can be apparently confined or pushed to fringe groups that can be dehumanised or demonised, or the pretence can be made that the act was legitimate self-defence etc. Abortion for convenience, the abuse of slaves, mass delusions linked to deeply enculturated racism, etc. come to mind.

    That is why we need clear, paradigm, self evident cases that starkly reveal the underlying principles. Which, we may then extend to those that are less clear, by way of reformation.

    And so we come full circle: it is self-evidently wrong, immoral, perverse, wicked and demonically evil to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child.

    If your worldview cannot heartily concur or does not provide a frame that has in it an IS that grounds this clear OUGHT, that worldview is morally absurd, perverse, destructive and dangerous. (One may live above what that worldview would naturally lead to — as conscience is a built-in moral sense, but the view gradually warps and dulls conscience, heart and mind in ways that are analogous to things that blind and deafen.)

    As a paradigm example of such destructiveness and absurdity, I cite a notorious case — by way of warning and call to reformation — from Dr Clinton Richard Dawkins, Sci Am, August 1995, citing in a way that draws attention to the core issue:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [[ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    To see my point, simply contrast the earlier case frrom the US DOI of 1776.

    KF

  41. 41
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    StephenB,

    Well, we weren’t having the conversation I thought we were having. You’re just telling me that objective morality is true, not how to test for it or demonstrate it to someone who disagrees with you. You aren’t failing to persuade me because you’ve yet to find the right dramatization or phrasing. You’re failing to persuade me because I’m looking for some evidence of actual objectivity. “I feel it,” and “I know it,” and “I know that you know it” are not objective statements. They are statements of a subjective feeling.

    Are you clear on what it means to be a moral subjectivist? Seems wrong to me is the same thing as bad, under my subjective analysis. Whether there’s a more objective test is what you are trying, and failing, to prove.

    No, seems wrong is not the same as is wrong. You are simply wrong about that. “Is” refers to being, which is objective; “seems” refers to the perception of being, which is subjective.

    I’m gobsmacked. I was trying to clarify my position, not yours. To me, as a subjectivist, I consider “feels bad” to be functionally equivalent to “bad.” I can’t tell if you misunderstood the statement, or if you’re just completely unwilling to step outside your own position to understand someone else’s.

    In any case, your statement here is false. “Is” is not always objective. “Is tasty,” “is fun,” “is boring” are not objective statements. “Is bad” isn’t either, to someone who considers “bad” a subjective value.

    Again, you misunderstand. The Natural moral law, like the Law of Non-Contradiction (or the law of causality) cannot be proven. It is the standard by which other things are proven.

    Yup. I’ve heard similar arguments from NL proponents in law school. I am not aware of any instance in which any one of them was ever able to persuade another person that “natural law” was a real thing. The problem with that position is that it feels great. But it doesn’t actually have value when two people disagree about a fundamental moral value. Then the NL proponents find themselves in the same boat as everyone else—“How do I persuade this person to adopt my moral reasoning? Hectoring them about how they’re wicked for disagreeing doesn’t work, so I have to articulate why my rule is better than theirs based on shared values.” Once again, objectivism looks the same as relativism when more than one opinion is in the room.

    As far as I’m aware, every single one of those NL proponents graduated and began practicing law in the real world, where they had to behave as if morality is subjective—because in real life, society operates that way. I’m sure many of them still believe in NL, but you couldn’t tell it from the briefs they write.

    Moreover, “men of good will” disagree over “natural moral law” questions all the time.

    No, they will not. No, they do not.

    So if you’re arguing with someone and they disagree with you, how do you tell whether they’re a bad person or someone who disagrees in good faith? In other words, how do you distinguish between a natural law principle and any other moral principle?

    I never hoped to prove that which cannot be proven. I did hope to show that there is such a thing as an objectively good society, which is based on the standard that there is such a thing as a good way for a community to live, which is based on the standard that there is such a thing as a good life for a person. You appear not to agree.

    You failed, because your attempt to show it was circular. Actually showing the existence of objective morality, which is a necessary predicate of showing an “objectively good society,” would require more effort on your part than just declaring that objective morality is true. In other words, you can’t show a thing exists with a circular hypothetical.

    Well, a consensus subjective rule will always tyrannize the minority. (We many agree to enslave you few). On the other hand, the natural moral holds everyone to account—the many, the powerful, and the few. Justice is not possible under any other circumstances.

    I disagree. We live in a subjective society right now. There’s no objective ruler to determine all moral questions for us, and Americans disagree all the time about fundamental moral issues—abortion, healthcare, marriage, drugs, etc. But we have a well-structured Constitution that protects the minority against the tyranny of the majority. In other words, but see the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment.

    And of course, “natural moral law” doesn’t hold anyone to account in this world. We can’t even agree as humans on what it is. When someone transgresses it, nothing happens to them unless they’ve also transgressed the consensus temporal law (and/or custom), in which case temporal consequences, enacted by a functionally subjectivist society, may apply.

    You are totally missing the point. You feel slavery is wrong, but you cannot provide any moral justification for telling others that they shouldn’t enslave. They, like you, are going by their feelings. In like fashion, you cannot tell those who do eat babies that they should stop. They feel they should; you feel they should not.

    You are repeating something that has been spat at me, without substantive variation, by four or five different commenters in these threads. I don’t ask that you agree with me, because I don’t expect internet conversations to change minds. I would appreciate it if you would listen.

    Even as a subjectivist, it doesn’t matter to me that “they feel they should.” I “feel they should not.” I take my actions based on my beliefs, not theirs. I don’t need for them to agree with my beliefs in order to tell them to stop, or to take action to stop them if necessary.

    So what? The slave master believes the slavery is not wrong. Why should your belief take logical precedence over his belief?

    Again, this is a question I have answered many times in these threads. Would you do me a favor? This is something I asked of Brent as well. Would you write down what you think my answer is? You can look back at my prior comments if you like. I’d love to see just a sentence or two, or more if you prefer, explaining what you think my answer to this question is. What you think I’d say right now if I were to answer this question. I think the result will really move the conversation forward in a way that just isn’t happening right now.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers: That we are under moral government and universally acknowledge the fact when we seriously quarrel, is clear. That we imply the same when we assert our rights is equally clear. The first issue is that a specific case of kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of a child as being self evidently wrong is on the table, and the challenge is put: deny it and avoid absurdity. The loudest testimony to the point is the way that his pretty straightforward challenge is consistently being diverted from — and those who are (to gain a social permission to act as they please in other matters and/or as an extension of a worldview, evolutionary materialism, dressed up in a lab coat) eager to land us in subjectivism and relativism know full well that to deny this is to reveal that the views they espouse are indefensible and patently absurd. So, it seems the case is pretty plain, as advertised. And the implications, on the quasi-infinite value of human beings [this being a classic of an innocent with great potential who OUGHT to be protected not exploited, abused and snuffed out like a rat caught in a trap . . . ] and the equal moral worth that then leads into much else, are also plain. KF

  43. 43
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #42

    Onlookers: That we are under moral government and universally acknowledge the fact when we seriously quarrel, is clear. That we imply the same when we assert our rights is equally clear.

    It may be clear to you but it isn’t clear to me. So that doesn’t get us very far.

    The first issue is that a specific case of kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of a child as being self evidently wrong is on the table, and the challenge is put: deny it and avoid absurdity. The loudest testimony to the point is the way that his pretty straightforward challenge is consistently being diverted from

    This is most peculiar. Comments #29 to #39 are all about this very issue.

  44. 44
    Box says:

    Pro Hac Vice #41

    SB: So what? The slave master believes the slavery is not wrong. Why should your belief take logical precedence over his belief?

    PHV: Again, this is a question I have answered many times in these threads. Would you do me a favor? This is something I asked of Brent as well. Would you write down what you think my answer is? You can look back at my prior comments if you like.

    I gather that your answer would be that, since objective morality doesn’t exist, your belief doesn’t have any logical precedence over the belief of a slave driver nor over the beliefs of Hitler nor over anyone else.
    You would probably also mention that, based on your beliefs, you would tell them slave drivers to stop, or to take action to stop them if necessary. But you would hasten to add that you lack any true rational foundation for this, because based on moral subjectivism you have no right whatsoever to that.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Note as well, the self evident needs no further “proof,” proofs start from the self evident. What we see is that to reject the self evident is to surrender the life of reason — e.g. in this case, absent recognising the equal, quasi-infinite worth of the human being, we are left to that nihilistic chaos, that might and manipulation make ‘right.’ The very antithesis to justice which is the fruit of the resort to the clan blood feud, or equivalently, the war of all against all. That is the true alternative to acknowledging that OUGHT is real and binding, and we live in a world that has a foundational IS that grounds OUGHT. And, it is patently absurd. So, the real question we need to be asking, is why are there those who would cling to such absurdities that lead to nihilism, then to relieve chaos, dictatorship? I know this is painful, but we need to face it and think it through.

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    I observe:

    KF: That we are under moral government and universally acknowledge the fact when we seriously quarrel, is clear. That we imply the same when we assert our rights is equally clear.

    MF: It may be clear to you but it isn’t clear to me. So that doesn’t get us very far.

    1 –> When we quarrel, which is depressingly often, we are seeking to show the other party in the wrong and vindicate our rights and dignity. That is a commonplace.

    2 –> By that essentially UNIVERSAL action, we imply that we are all under moral goivernment and that we have worth reflected in rights and in particular that t6o fairness and justice. Much flows from such a universal acknowledgement.

    3 –> To reject this, implies only t5hat we move to a worse state: fighting, so that might makes ‘right’. Which is tantamount to emptying rights, justice, fairness value and worth of meaning. And which predictably ends in chaos.

    4 –> Observe, MF, you do not deny that these are real you just pose on imperial skepticism. (Just as objectors above have repeatedly dodged the challenge of addressing the wrongness of kidnapping, torturing, raping and murdering a child.)

    5 –> However, such comes at a price, it is intertwined with the implication or at least reasonable inference that at will if such an objector thinks s/he can get away with it, her/his policy is to act as though ought is not binding if not convenient. (And it is these specific points where we most need to recognise the binding nature of OUGHT.)

    6 –> And we find nowhere the faintest trace of a serious engagement of the implications of evolutionary materialism as a worldview: it implies that we live in an amoral, meaningless world and have no inherent worth or rights.

    7 –> Which leads us right back to might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    AKA, chaos and absurdity.

    It bears repeating, that there is but one serious candidate worldview foundation is that has capacity to sustain the weight of OUGHT: the inherently good creator God.

    But, we have abundant reason to infer from abundant statements and behaviour all around, that there is a deep rooted hostility and resentment of such a point, or even moreso, the reality behind that point, who speaks to us in the voice of conscience.

    KF

  47. 47
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    Box,

    I gather that your answer would be that, since objective morality doesn’t exist, your belief doesn’t have any logical precedence over the belief of a slave driver nor over the beliefs of Hitler nor over anyone else.
    You would probably also mention that, based on your beliefs, you would tell them slave drivers to stop, or to take action to stop them if necessary. But you would hasten to add that you lack any true rational foundation for this, because based on moral subjectivism you have no right whatsoever to that.

    Thanks for taking the time, I sincerely appreciate it. I think this is wrong, in that it doesn’t accurately describe my position, but also one of the most helpful contributions in any of these threads because it makes a strong and sincere effort. Thank you. I’d like to respond in pieces:

    [S]ince objective morality doesn’t exist, your belief doesn’t have any logical precedence over the belief of a slave driver nor over the beliefs of Hitler nor over anyone else.

    No, as a subjectivist, I use my own morality as a standard to judge the moral beliefs of others. So in fact I would say that my beliefs do have precedence over others’—I think my beliefs are better than others’, albeit by my own subjective standard.

    There’s no, “Oh but your beliefs are just as valid as mine,” moment. That would only be the case if there were an objective standard by which to compare your beliefs and mine and find them to be equivalent. Without such a standard, I have to use my own perceptions to measure.

    You would probably also mention that, based on your beliefs, you would tell them slave drivers to stop, or to take action to stop them if necessary.

    Yes, of course.

    But you would hasten to add that you lack any true rational foundation for this, because based on moral subjectivism you have no right whatsoever to that.

    No, absolutely not. Moral subjectivism does not deprive me of the rational foundation for taking action based on my beliefs. Why would it? I believe slavery is wrong, it is logical that I would act consistently with that belief. The fact that the slaver disagrees is irrelevant.

    Similarly, what about subjectivism would deprive me of the right to take action based on my beliefs? If that were the case, then objectivists would have no right to act in any situation in which a Natural Law principle wasn’t at stake—and although it’s impossible to practically define the borders of Natural Law, it doesn’t cover lots of things objectivists want to take action on. (Such as zoning ordinances, nuisance laws, etc.)

    Again, thank you very much for responding.

  48. 48
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    Oh, and something I forgot to add to my response to StephenB but would like to throw out to any objectivists reading:

    Could you be wrong? Not about whether objective moral standards exist, but as to what they are.

    Specifically,

    A. Have your beliefs about what those standards are changed over time?
    B. If so, is it because you were mistaken or because the standards changed?
    C. Is it possible you are mistaken about some specific objective principle today?
    D. If it is possible that you are mistaken about something today, how do you know that it is possible?
    E. And how would you know that you were mistaken at to any specific principle?

    Again, I’m referring here not to the existence of objective principles as a whole, but as to the identity of specific principles. E.g., “I used to believe that it was objectively wrong reverse the polarity of the tachyon field, but now I believe it’s objectively right.”

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    SB: No, seems wrong is not the same as is wrong. You are simply wrong about that. “Is” refers to being, which is objective; “seems” refers to the perception of being, which is subjective.

    Pro Hoc Vice

    I’m gobsmacked. I was trying to clarify my position, not yours. To me, as a subjectivist, I consider “feels bad” to be functionally equivalent to “bad.” I can’t tell if you misunderstood the statement, or if you’re just completely unwilling to step outside your own position to understand someone else’s.

    I was trying to tell you in a diplomatic way that your position is illogical. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe that “feels” bad is the same as “is” bad. That fact is, it isn’t. Words mean things and you can’t twist the language that way and remain rational.

    In any case, your statement here is false. “Is” is not always objective. “Is tasty,” “is fun,” “is boring” are not objective statements. “Is bad” isn’t either, to someone who considers “bad” a subjective value.

    No. It IS means it exists. It is TASTY means it is tasty. To say something IS bad is to say that it has the nature of being bad. To say that something feels bad is to say that it doesn’t please you.

    Yup. I’ve heard similar arguments from NL proponents in law school. I am not aware of any instance in which any one of them was ever able to persuade another person that “natural law” was a real thing.

    Now you have changed the subject again. Everyone, even those who claim not to believe in it, knows that the Natural Moral Law cannot be proven and it is said to be self-evident. Whether or not someone is or is not persuaded that it exists is an entirely different matter.

    The problem with that position is that it feels great. But it doesn’t actually have value when two people disagree about a fundamental moral value. Then the NL proponents find themselves in the same boat as everyone else—“How do I persuade this person to adopt my moral reasoning? Hectoring them about how they’re wicked for disagreeing doesn’t work, so I have to articulate why my rule is better than theirs based on shared values.” Once again, objectivism looks the same as relativism when more than one opinion is in the room.

    Again, you miss the point, indicating that you are not familiar with the concept. The Natural Moral Law is not an example of moral reasoning. It is the basis for moral reasoning. There is no other basis for moral reasoning, except for might makes right. Those are your two choices. The Natural Moral Law or Might Makes Right.

    As far as I’m aware, every single one of those NL proponents graduated and began practicing law in the real world, where they had to behave as if morality is subjective—because in real life, society operates that way. I’m sure many of them still believe in NL, but you couldn’t tell it from the briefs they write.

    No one has to behave “as if morality is subjective.” No one has to be corrupted if he doesn’t want to be. Indeed, no one really lives by your standard in spite of what they say. If I lie to you or steal from you, you will be angry and say that I wronged you. It will not matter to you if I say that my behavior is in keeping with my own moral code.

    So if you’re arguing with someone and they disagree with you, how do you tell whether they’re a bad person or someone who disagrees in good faith? In other words, how do you distinguish between a natural law principle and any other moral principle?

    The only way I know is to test their sensibilities. Tell them the truth and observe how they react. If they claim that no such thing as truth exists, you can immediately be suspicious that they are not arguing in good faith.

    You failed, because your attempt to show it was circular. Actually showing the existence of objective morality, which is a necessary predicate of showing an “objectively good society,” would require more effort on your part than just declaring that objective morality is true. In other words, you can’t show a thing exists with a circular hypothetical.

    You are avoiding the topic. Do you believe that any such thing as a good life exists? If so, do you believe that some cultures lend themselves to a good life and some do not. Are those cultures that prevent you from living a good life bad cultures?

    I disagree. We live in a subjective society right now. There’s no objective ruler to determine all moral questions for us, and Americans disagree all the time about fundamental moral issues—abortion, healthcare, marriage, drugs, etc. But we have a well-structured Constitution that protects the minority against the tyranny of the majority. In other words, but see the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment.

    The process of administering tyranny does not happen overnight. At this point, Americans have lost many freedoms and are in the process of losing many more. The majority is already beginning to tyrannize the minority and it will only get worse. The President of the United States enforces only those laws that he prefers; those he disdains, he will not enforce. This is a sure sign of corruption. Americans are indeed confused about morality as is made clear by any “on the street” interview. The general ignorance displayed is shocking and it goes a long way in explaining the ignorance about morality.

    And of course, “natural moral law” doesn’t hold anyone to account in this world. We can’t even agree as humans on what it is. When someone transgresses it, nothing happens to them unless they’ve also transgressed the consensus temporal law (and/or custom), in which case temporal consequences, enacted by a functionally subjectivist society, may apply.

    That is incorrect. The Natural Moral Law, by definition, holds everyone accountable. Break it and you pay a price just as you pay a price for violating the civil law. Among other things, breaking the Natural Moral Law will cause the violator to form bad habits, which will compromise his ability to practice virtue. Eventually, that person becomes a slave to his own passions, which is just as bad as being a slave to a dictator. It clouds the judgment of the one enslaved such that he can no longer grasp truth. A slave to pornography for example, loses his judgment on all matters sexual. A slave to alcohol loses his judgment on all things social. And so it goes.

    You are repeating something that has been spat at me, without substantive variation, by four or five different commenters in these threads. I don’t ask that you agree with me, because I don’t expect internet conversations to change minds. I would appreciate it if you would listen.

    Notice again how you change the subject. The issue is that you have no rational justification for asking anyone to change his opinion about morality, which according to you is just as valid as yours, however repulsive it may be. You have no standard by which moral disagreements can be settled. I am not trying to persuade you because you appear to be impervious to reason. I am trying to persuade those onlookers who have yet to be indoctrinated and are not yet impervious to reason. If everyone invents his own morality, then eventually, maybe not right away but eventually, everyone will be at war with everyone else. It will always be might makes right, and if you have no might, you will receive no justice. That fact follows as surely as the night follows day. It is logically true and, equally important, it is historically true.
    SB: So what? The slave master believes the slavery is not wrong. Why should your belief take logical precedence over his belief?

    Again, this is a question I have answered many times in these threads. Would you do me a favor? This is something I asked of Brent as well. Would you write down what you think my answer is?

    You have no answer. I can’t write down something you have not provided.

    You can look back at my prior comments if you like. I’d love to see just a sentence or two, or more if you prefer, explaining what you think my answer to this question is. What you think I’d say right now if I were to answer this question. I think the result will really move the conversation forward in a way that just isn’t happening right now.

    I have followed you every step of the way. You have no answer. You simply tell is how you arrived at your own subjective code. That doesn’t even come close to explaining why it should be given logical preference over any other subjective code, which, according to you, will always be valid. It would appear that, for you, the anti-abortion position is no more or less valid than the pro-abortion position. For you, it appears, both are equally valid. Meaning no disrespect, but if that is your position, it is a highly schizophrenic position to hold.

  50. 50
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #46

    I didn’t bother to go beyond your first two points.

    1 –> When we quarrel, which is depressingly often, we are seeking to show the other party in the wrong and vindicate our rights and dignity. That is a commonplace.

    I am not trying to vindicate anything. I am just trying to show I am right.

    2 –> By that essentially UNIVERSAL action, we imply that we are all under moral goivernment and that we have worth reflected in rights and in particular that t6o fairness and justice. Much flows from such a universal acknowledgement.

    Sorry – I see nothing particularly universal about disagreeing and even it were it seems a mighty big jump to conclude we are all under moral government. You need to provide some evidence or arguments for this step.

  51. 51
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    SB,

    I was trying to tell you in a diplomatic way that your position is illogical. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe that “feels” bad is the same as “is” bad. That fact is, it isn’t. Words mean things and you can’t twist the language that way and remain rational.
    . . . .
    It IS means it exists. It is TASTY means it is tasty. To say something IS bad is to say that it has the nature of being bad. To say that something feels bad is to say that it doesn’t please you.

    This is one of the strangest things I’ve ever read. Do you think “it is tasty” is an objective statement? Because to me, it is a subjective statement. I think that because there is no objective standard for tastiness. Similarly, because I do not acknowledge an objective standard for badness, “it is bad” is a subjective statement to me.

    The Natural Moral Law is not an example of moral reasoning. It is the basis for moral reasoning. There is no other basis for moral reasoning, except for might makes right. Those are your two choices. The Natural Moral Law or Might Makes Right.

    So what happens when your neighbor has a different idea about what the Natural Moral Law is? How do you resolve that dispute? I think you have to resort to the same tools as a subjectivist would—persuasion, potentially coercion, depending on the circumstances. Am I missing something?

    I also don’t think that “Might Makes Right” is a coherent statement. The subjectivist doesn’t think that might creates moral good, or “right.” It could be used to compel others to obey our conception of what’s good—but that’s true for objectivists as well.

    No one has to behave “as if morality is subjective.” No one has to be corrupted if he doesn’t want to be. Indeed, no one really lives by your standard in spite of what they say. If I lie to you or steal from you, you will be angry and say that I wronged you. It will not matter to you if I say that my behavior is in keeping with my own moral code.

    Let’s say that Allan stole from Bob, and Allan believes (honestly) that his actions are justified by Natural Moral Law. That belief is worth exactly zero in a court of law, which will judge Allan by the laws of man. Those laws are enacted exactly as if we live in a subjective world—by people debating and using political processes to determine the best consensual rules. Allan and Bob, just like you and me, live in a subjectivist world.

    So if you’re arguing with someone and they disagree with you, how do you tell whether they’re a bad person or someone who disagrees in good faith? In other words, how do you distinguish between a natural law principle and any other moral principle?

    The only way I know is to test their sensibilities. Tell them the truth and observe how they react. If they claim that no such thing as truth exists, you can immediately be suspicious that they are not arguing in good faith.

    This assumes that you know what the truth is. Could you be mistaken? What if it’s what lawyers call a “question of first impression,” one that hasn’t arisen before? For example, if scientists create artificial intelligence tomorrow, and the question is whether it’s moral to indenture such an AI to its creators for a period of service to pay for the expenses of its creation. Can men of good will argue that point?

    Do you believe that any such thing as a good life exists? If so, do you believe that some cultures lend themselves to a good life and some do not. Are those cultures that prevent you from living a good life bad cultures?

    Yes, yes, and sort of. I can conceive of cultures that would be good cultures but prevent me from living a good life, such as a culture in which I had to be drafted to defend the community from an external threat. Of course, the “good” in “good life” and “good culture” is based on my subjective evaluation.

    Americans are indeed confused about morality as is made clear by any “on the street” interview.

    Do you think there have been times and places where everyone knew exactly what was good and what was bad, and people weren’t confused about morality?

    The Natural Moral Law, by definition, holds everyone accountable. Break it and you pay a price just as you pay a price for violating the civil law. Among other things, breaking the Natural Moral Law will cause the violator to form bad habits, which will compromise his ability to practice virtue. Eventually, that person becomes a slave to his own passions, which is just as bad as being a slave to a dictator. It clouds the judgment of the one enslaved such that he can no longer grasp truth. A slave to pornography for example, loses his judgment on all matters sexual. A slave to alcohol loses his judgment on all things social. And so it goes.

    Is it possible to derive an empirical test from that proposition?

    The issue is that you have no rational justification for asking anyone to change his opinion about morality, which according to you is just as valid as yours, however repulsive it may be.

    Sure I do. I ask them to change their opinion because I think my opinion is better. If I want to persuade them, then I need to find common values and articulate why my position achieves those values more effectively. Pretty simple.

    As for the belief that their views are “just as valid” as mine, once again you have dramatically misstated my views. Again, I don’t ask that you agree with me, but please listen. It is not my position that all moral beliefs are “just as valid” as mine. I believe my moral principles are better. I believe that is a subjective judgment, but that only subjective judgments are possible in this case.

    I am trying to persuade those onlookers who have yet to be indoctrinated and are not yet impervious to reason.

    I strongly suspect, and I speak as a trained communicator, that you will persuade few people by taking the position that anyone who disagrees with you is acting in bad faith.

    The slave master believes the slavery is not wrong. Why should your belief take logical precedence over his belief?

    Again, this is a question I have answered many times in these threads. Would you do me a favor? This is something I asked of Brent as well. Would you write down what you think my answer is?

    You have no answer. I can’t write down something you have not provided.

    Then I’m sorry, but we really are not communicating. I have answered this question repeatedly, and fairly explicitly. If you don’t understand what my answer is, then you aren’t reading my comments for comprehension.

    I have followed you every step of the way. You have no answer. You simply tell is how you arrived at your own subjective code. That doesn’t even come close to explaining why it should be given logical preference over any other subjective code, which, according to you, will always be valid. It would appear that, for you, the anti-abortion position is no more or less valid than the pro-abortion position. For you, it appears, both are equally valid. Meaning no disrespect, but if that is your position, it is a highly schizophrenic position to hold.

    It is not my position. I have repeatedly, in painstaking detail, explained that I do not consider all moral beliefs equally valid. I have written nothing here (or elsewhere) that would support your assumption, “according to you [any other subjective code] will always be valid.” I do not understand how you could have read this far and understood so little.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    Pardon me but the answer as to the universal element in quarreling is in point 1. Showing one’s opponent in the wrong and oneself in the right (by implied or explicit contrast). This, is a commonplace, visible above in this thread at fairly mild level. But, as C S Lewis astutely noted, that implies acknowledgement of being under moral duties. (One hardly ever hears in reply, shut up and go down de t’roat nicely, lunch.)

    The attempted dismissal — as usual — tellingly fails.

    KF

  53. 53
    Mark Frank says:

    #52 KF

    I am sorry I do not see in your comment how it follows from that fact we are having a disagreement that we are under moral government or moral duties (by which you presumably you mean the same thing). All I see are claims that it is commonplace or that C.S. Lewis said it was so. These are not arguments.

    It seems that it is becoming standard practice among the ID folk here to declare that they are right because what they assert is self-evident or commonplace or what any right thinking person would recognise as true. From a debating point of view this is logically equivalent to shouting a bit louder “I am right and you are wrong”.

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    Pro Hac Vice

    Similarly, because I do not acknowledge an objective standard for badness, “it is bad” is a subjective statement to me.

    It isn’t a question of what you mean. It is a question of what words mean and whether or not you are going to misuse the language. It “is” bad means objectively bad. It “seems” bad means subjectively bad. If you mean something different from what the words themselves mean, then you are being neither consistent nor rational.

    So what happens when your neighbor has a different idea about what the Natural Moral Law is?

    That isn’t possible. It is possible that my neighbor may think it should be applied differently, but my neighbor will understand as clearly as I do that he should not cheat, steal, murder, or commit adultery.

    How do you resolve that dispute? I think you have to resort to the same tools as a subjectivist would—persuasion, potentially coercion, depending on the circumstances. Am I missing something?

    There is no dispute about the principles of the Natural Moral Law. The only dispute is on the hard cases that require thoughtful reflection on its implications and applications. The way to settle it is to apply reason and the Natural Moral Law, which is, itself, based on reason.

    I also don’t think that “Might Makes Right” is a coherent statement. The subjectivist doesn’t think that might creates moral good, or “right.” It could be used to compel others to obey our conception of what’s good—but that’s true for objectivists as well.

    If you don’t think “might makes right” is a coherent statement then you are confessing that you know nothing about 2000 years of history and philosophy. Just so that you will know, it means that those who have the might get to choose the definition of what is morally right. Under those circumstances, morality will be redefined as anything that pleases the mighty, which can be a tyrant, a tyrannical cadre, or a tyrannical majority. The Natural Moral Law indicates that society should not kill babies. The tyrants in government, however, have decided that killing babies is morally right. In this case, might makes right—unfortunately.
    .

    Let’s say that Allan stole from Bob, and Allan believes (honestly) that his actions are justified by Natural Moral Law.

    That is a contradictory statement. Allan cannot honestly believe that his actions are justified by the Natural Moral Law, which forbids theft.

    That belief is worth exactly zero in a court of law, which will judge Allan by the laws of man.

    The court will judge Allan based on whichever law it honors. If it, and society, honors the natural moral law, it will penalize Allan. If it bases its civil laws on feelings or popular opinion, then Allan will be penalized if the judge feels like it and will not be penalized if the judge doesn’t feel like it. In the United States, judges do, all too often, base their decisions on their feelings.

    Those laws are enacted exactly as if we live in a subjective world—by people debating and using political processes to determine the best consensual rules. Allan and Bob, just like you and me, live in a subjectivist world.

    It depends on which decade you are talking about. One hundred years ago, civil laws were based primarily (thought with some exceptions) on the unchanging Natural Moral Law. Today, they are based primarily (though with some exceptions) on the changing standards of popular opinion. When popular opinion rules, the standards of justice keep changing.

    So if you’re arguing with someone and they disagree with you, how do you tell whether they’re a bad person or someone who disagrees in good faith? In other words, how do you distinguish between a natural law principle and any other moral principle?

    The Natural Moral Law doesn’t change because human nature doesn’t change. Subjective law is always changing because it is based on feeling, so it is easy to compare the former with the latter.

    This assumes that you know what the truth is. Could you be mistaken?

    About the nature of the Natural Moral Law? No.

    What if it’s what lawyers call a “question of first impression,” one that hasn’t arisen before?

    There are no new principles of the moral law. Only new applications.

    For example, if scientists create artificial intelligence tomorrow, and the question is whether it’s moral to indenture such an AI to its creators for a period of service to pay for the expenses of its creation. Can men of good will argue that point?

    Machines are always slaves their creators. There is nothing immoral about that. The issue is, are those machines being used morally. A machine that sucks dismembered babies out of their mother’s womb is being put to evil use. A machine that helps in a medical diagnosis is being put to good use

    Do you think there have been times and places where everyone knew exactly what was good and what was bad, and people weren’t confused about morality?

    Even with an understanding of the Natural Moral Law, there are many situations in which it is very difficult to know the ideal moral solution. Without an understanding of the Natural Moral Law, it is absolutely hopeless.

    SB: The Natural Moral Law, by definition, holds everyone accountable. Break it and you pay a price just as you pay a price for violating the civil law. Among other things, breaking the Natural Moral Law will cause the violator to form bad habits, which will compromise his ability to practice virtue. Eventually, that person becomes a slave to his own passions, which is just as bad as being a slave to a dictator. It clouds the judgment of the one enslaved such that he can no longer grasp truth. A slave to pornography for example, loses his judgment on all matters sexual. A slave to alcohol loses his judgment on all things social. And so it goes.

    Is it possible to derive an empirical test from that proposition?

    Yes. The three ways of testing those who have become slaves to vice are [a] interviewing the slave [b] surveying a number of slaves, and [c] observing how slaves act and comparing their behavior to that of a normal person. I notice, though, that you avoided the substance of my comment.
    SB: The issue is that you have no rational justification for asking anyone to change his opinion about morality, which according to you is just as valid as yours, however repulsive it may be.

    Sure I do. I ask them to change their opinion because I think my opinion is better. If I want to persuade them, then I need to find common values and articulate why my position achieves those values more effectively. Pretty simple.

    Yes, and they will also seek to persuade you using the same methods. Eventually, someone’s opinion will be translated into a law and everyone will have to obey that law. So whose opinion should prevail? Is it the one held by the person who argues most persuasively? In the earlier part of the twentieth century, most people felt and argued on behalf of the proposition that black people are inferior to white people and, as a result, didn’t deserve the same level of human rights. Blacks told everyone that they “felt” persecuted, which they were, but few people cared because they “felt” that blacks were less than fully human. In the 1960’s, however, Martin Luther King held their feet to the fire and said, in effect, “it doesn’t matter how you feel, this persecution is unjust because it violates the Natural Moral Law. It doesn’t matter how you feel or how many numbers you have on your side. You are morally wrong and you must stop it.” He prevailed because he rose above feelings and instructed his adversaries on the Natural Moral Law. That is what you call rational justification. He knew he was right and knew they were wrong and he wasn’t about to put up with any nonsense to the effect that they deserved to prevail because they had derived their own moral values from experience.

    As for the belief that their views are “just as valid” as mine, once again you have dramatically misstated my views. Again, I don’t ask that you agree with me, but please listen. It is not my position that all moral beliefs are “just as valid” as mine. I believe my moral principles are better. I believe that is a subjective judgment, but that only subjective judgments are possible in this case.

    Duly noted. You believe that your moral principles are better than those of your adversary, and he believes that his moral principles are better than yours. That doesn’t speak to the issue of who ought to prevail.

    I strongly suspect, and I speak as a trained communicator, that you will persuade few people by taking the position that anyone who disagrees with you is acting in bad faith.

    I, too, am a trained communicator. In that spirit, I don’t hesitate to say that all rational people who are not psychopaths have a moral conscience and know the difference between right and wrong. I believe that they will find my arguments more persuasive than those coming from the school of “whatever I come up with is just and right if it pleases me.”
    SB: The slave master believes the slavery is not wrong. Why should your belief take logical precedence over his belief?

    Again, this is a question I have answered many times in these threads. Would you do me a favor? This is something I asked of Brent as well. Would you write down what you think my answer is?

    OK. That’s fair. I think that you believe your opinion is better than other opinions and that yours should prevail and translated into law if you can persuade others to that effect. What I don’t understand is this: Do you think it is equally fair if those who believe their opinion is better than yours manage to convert their opinions into law and force you to act against your own principles?

  55. 55
    Mung says:

    Mark Frank:

    It may be clear to you but it isn’t clear to me.

    So?

    You think if it’s clear to KF it ought to be clear to you too? How so? Is that a self-evident truth?

    You people kill me. Really.

  56. 56
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    SB,

    We’re pretty close to the end of a conversation, then–you’ve articulated your position to the point where I think I understand it, and I think you’re pretty close to understanding mine.

    Having said that, you’ve asked some provocative questions and I’d like to answer them. Your MLK example is the best counterpoint I’ve read in this string of threads. I had hoped to respond tonight, but frankly I’m sick and writing just isn’t fun while I’m coughing up a lung. I’ll have to get to it tomorrow, when I can get my hands on some Dayquil. Sorry for the delay.

    In the meantime, or afterwards if you prefer, I’d like you to give us your answer to an interesting ethical question discussed on another blog today: the N Guilty Men problem. It’s a classic legal/moral dilemma, and it’s much better than the hypos I’ve been trying to construct. It has real-world consequences, it’s puzzled legal scholars for generations, and it’s not binary. N doesn’t have to be just 1 or 0, and of course the classical answer is 10.

    What is the Natural Moral Law value for n?

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    Pardon, but the point is that in practice the way we quarrel (trying to show ourselves in the right and the other in the wrong) indicates that there is an effectively universal acknowledgement of the force of ought — even by those who formally espouse views that contradict such.

    Which, patently, is highly significant.

    The choice is, global delusion that undermines the credibility of the mind (and I know some do argue that . . . apparently failing to realise what a global delusion implies), or that there is something there that we are sensing. Where, remember if even one of the billions here senses aright, we do face ought as obligation. The alternative is to imply such a fundamental defect in our conscious minds that the crack will necessarily run through all — and that is literally all — the deliverances of mind.

    (In short, we would be in the self-referential incoherences and hall of mirrors infinite regress of self-refutations implied by a Plato’s Cave world. To which the answer is, that is absurd, we cannot go anywhere by dismissing the general credibility of mind. So, it is — yup — self-evident that we must respect the core credibility of minds, to even have this conversation. Minds that also happen to give us as a core deliverance, the premise that we have a worth and dignity that confers rights and by reciprocity, duties of care one for the other, i.e. the weight of OUGHT is real and requires a worldview foundational IS capable of bearing it.)

    Namely, that we have a quasi-infinite value, moral worth and fundamental equality linked to purpose and potential that gives us rights, starting with life, liberty and freedom to pursue the end and potential we sense for ourselves. Thus — on pain of implying general delusion comparable to The Matrix or its classical antecedent Plato’s Cave — there is a general, binding obligation to cherish and respect neighbour as self. Which is particularly evident in the — sadly not merely hypothetical — case of how self-evidently wrong it is to kidnap, torture, sexually violate (notice how we describe rape) and murder a child.

    I again find it helpful to refer to the historically important point in Locke’s c. 1690 2nd essay on civil govt, ch 2 sec 5, where he cites this from Canon Richard Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity 1594+, noting the pivotal role it played in the emergence of modern liberty and democracy:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    Of course, it is useful to underscore that, contrary to a lot of well-poisoning rhetoric all over the Internet and elsewhere, THAT is what the core Biblical ethic argues [esp in Rom 2:12 – 15 and 13:8 – 10], and it is significant to note the specific historical impact of it. But, that is just a matter of setting record straight.

    The main point is, the sense of our own worth and dignity extends to those who so obviously are as we are — including children (for we were all once in the wombs of our mothers and causes of our mothers being in special need of deference and protection, then we were helpless babies and vulnerable children). So, simple reciprocity tells us much about duty to respect and cherish neighbour as self.

    It is those who would deny such or toss up hyper-skeptical objections implying an attitude that once one can object and demand arbitrarily high proof, one can dismiss.

    (Where, too often, such refuse to acknowledge the dependence of proofs on self-evident start points, not only first principles of right reason and causality, but also first principles of moral government. For the alternative to moral government is might and manipulation make ‘right.’ Which, rightly, should make us shudder. But of course, such first principles tend to point in directions many of us are loath to go.)

    KF

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    PHV:

    Pardon, but that is the wrong way around as even the course of the progress of science tells us.

    We properly start from the clear, simple and self evident to move to the complex and puzzling.

    And in a world where even arithmetic etc are such that there is no set of axioms that are coherent and can reach all true claims, where also there is no procedure for guaranteeing coherence of limited systems, we must accept the reality of an irreducibly complex world of thought and that there will always be things that may well not only be undecided but undecidable.

    It is quite clear that it is wrong to kidnap, torture, sexually violate and murder a child. So, what does that entail?

    Once we settle that, we can proceed to harder questions.

    That there may be problems we have no current or prospective globally acceptable answers to does not invalidate that there are some things that we do have good and insightful answers to.

    and, in praxis, we accept for good reason the standard of moral certainty in vital and consequential matters: we know we may err so we are duty-bound to make decisions on the principle that on the reasonably accessible information and common good sense, it would be irresponsible to act otherwise than we are about to. So, if there is reasonable doubt and life or the like is at stake proof must be beyond reasonable doubt, with a right of appeal, cross-check and reasonable delay before carrying out extreme and irrevocable actions. Where, for instance, we can compensate and apologise to a gaoled innocent who has been vindicated [especially if we make provisions for self-improvement while in gaol], but we cannot bring back an innocent who was railroaded through a kangaroo court leaping to a pre-determined prejudicial verdict and then hastily executed. (Though of course, there is a world famous exception: that was Friday, but Sunday was a-coming!)

    In that context, the claimed dilemma posed of how many guilty men one would be willing to let free rather than punish one innocent is misconstrued, loaded, misdirected and composed to confuse the pivotal issue of justice. (I suggest a careful reading of the opening chapters of Simon Greenleaf’s Evidence as a tonic.)

    KF

  59. 59
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB #54
     
    As PHV is unwell, I hope he wont mind me picking up a couple of points.

    PHV: So what happens when your neighbor has a different idea about what the Natural Moral Law is?

    SB:  That isn’t possible. It is possible that my neighbor may think it should be applied differently, but my neighbor will understand as clearly as I do that he should not cheat, steal, murder, or commit adultery.

    It what sense “not possible”?  Clearly some people (and all people below a certain age) do not understand that they should not cheat, steal, murder, or commit adultery.  And sometimes (Aztecs for example) they justify these attitudes based on beliefs about external rules handed down to them by some kind of divinity.

    I can think of a couple of things you might be getting at here.

    1) Trivially you might say that anyone who does not understand that he should not murder etc is not conforming to the NML because it is part of the definition of NML that you should not murder etc. So it is true by definition that if you do not think it is wrong to murder then you have not got an idea about the NLM.  But this is trivial and gives no special authority to NML over any other sets of laws or principles.

    2) That somehow the NML is magical so that all people are aware of it and cannot get it wrong. So anyone who does not conform is wilfully ignoring what they know deep in their hearts. This seems absurd. Your neighbour is a human being.  Human beings make mistakes about the most basic things, even things you call self-evident, such as the sum of 2 and 2.  What gives you the confidence that your neighbour cannot make a similar mistake about the NML? You might even have misunderstood yourself!  You are only human.

    SB: In the 1960’s, however, Martin Luther King held their feet to the fire and said, in effect, “it doesn’t matter how you feel, this persecution is unjust because it violates the Natural Moral Law. It doesn’t matter how you feel or how many numbers you have on your side. You are morally wrong and you must stop it.” He prevailed because he rose above feelings and instructed his adversaries on the Natural Moral Law. That is what you call rational justification. He knew he was right and knew they were wrong and he wasn’t about to put up with any nonsense to the effect that they deserved to prevail because they had derived their own moral values from experience.
    Being a Christian, MLK justified his views through the NML. His belief presumably gave him certainty in his opinion and helped him to carry on the fight and I am delighted about that. That doesn’t prove the NML exists. People have justified and propagated ethical views against the tide  on the basis of different principles – some which most people would in retrospect applaud (Ghandi) – others they would not (Osama Bin Laden).  And other people (including me) shared the same moral judgement as MLK for different reasons.  I don’t know why you say he rose above feelings. His speeches were among the most emotionally charged I know – and quite right too. If he had not appealed to subjective emotions but just tried to argue his case on rational grounds then he would probably have failed.  Someone who  believed that other races were inferior could respond by saying either the NML is wrong or by saying something on the lines that it doesn’t apply to all races.  At that point his campaign would have become an academic discussion on what exactly the NML meant. And, as discussed above, we all know that people can make logical errors.

    At the root of this I think you are assuming that if there is no ultimate unassailable justification for a moral judgement then it is not justified at all. This is wrong.

  60. 60
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank:

    “As PHV is unwell, I hope he wont mind me picking up a couple of points.”

    No, not at all. I am sorry that PHV is not doing well.
    SB: That isn’t possible. It is possible that my neighbor may think it [Natural Moral Law] should be applied differently, but my neighbor will understand as clearly as I do that he should not cheat, steal, murder, or commit adultery.

    It what sense “not possible”? Clearly some people (and all people below a certain age) do not understand that they should not cheat, steal, murder, or commit adultery. And sometimes (Aztecs for example) they justify these attitudes based on beliefs about external rules handed down to them by some kind of divinity.

    People can find numerous ways to rationalize doing what they want to do even when they know they should not do it. Some come to that point through perverse educational and environmental influences. For others, it is a question of losing their power to practice virtue by forming the wrong kinds of habits. If a man doesn’t conform his life to a principle, he will soon find a principle that conforms to his life.

    1) Trivially you might say that anyone who does not understand that he should not murder etc is not conforming to the NML because it is part of the definition of NML that you should not murder etc. So it is true by definition that if you do not think it is wrong to murder then you have not got an idea about the NLM. But this is trivial and gives no special authority to NML over any other sets of laws or principles.

    The question was trivial because it challenged the very definition of the Natural Moral Law, so the answer was bound to also be trivial. It isn’t possible to believe that theft can be reconciled with the NML, which by definition, forbids it.

    2) That somehow the NML is magical so that all people are aware of it and cannot get it wrong. So anyone who does not conform is wilfully ignoring what they know deep in their hearts. This seems absurd. Your neighbour is a human being. Human beings make mistakes about the most basic things, even things you call self-evident, such as the sum of 2 and 2. What gives you the confidence that your neighbour cannot make a similar mistake about the NML? You might even have misunderstood yourself! You are only human.

    Our knowledge of the Natural Moral Law is quite primitive in the beginning and needs to be fine-tuned, either through religious education or moral training. So yes, mistakes can be made and misunderstandings are certainly possible. A person may know instinctively, for example, that theft is wrong but he may not realize that he is stealing from his employer if he fails to give a fair days work for a fair days pay. Also, perverse educational and cultural influences can brainwash an individual and compromise his natural ability to know moral truths. Hence, terrorists can be persuaded to fly airplanes into buildings with false promises about the hereafter.

    Being a Christian, MLK justified his views through the NML. His belief presumably gave him certainty in his opinion and helped him to carry on the fight and I am delighted about that. That doesn’t prove the NML exists.

    I agree that it didn’t prove the existence of the NML, which as I often point out, cannot be proven. It is self-evident. What it did prove is that only a belief in the NML could have turned things around, which was my point. He could not have created the same result by saying that he would prefer that people stop behaving that way.

    People have justified and propagated ethical views against the tide on the basis of different principles – some which most people would in retrospect applaud (Ghandi) – others they would not (Osama Bin Laden). And other people (including me) shared the same moral judgement as MLK for different reasons.

    I think you will find that all appeals for change, even inadvisable change, involve the belief that some things are right and some things are wrong. The problem is that demagogues use the language of the NML to stump for immoral things. Many, for example, call for gay marriage, a bad thing, in the name of human rights, a good thing.

    I don’t know why you say he rose above feelings. His speeches were among the most emotionally charged I know – and quite right too. If he had not appealed to subjective emotions but just tried to argue his case on rational grounds then he would probably have failed.

    What I meant was that he rose above the temptation to justify his mission in the name of his own feelings. He didn’t say, “Stop. I feel that you are wrong.” He said, Stop. You are wrong.” Big difference.

    Someone who believed that other races were inferior could respond by saying either the NML is wrong or by saying something on the lines that it doesn’t apply to all races.

    You bet. That is precisely what many do. In effect, they say that the Natural Moral Law is wrong and the law of the jungle is right. Or, they may say that the Natural Moral Law is wrong and that their interpretation of God’s law is right. The NML is the safeguard against all of these abuses. That is why tyrants (religious and secular) militate against it.

    At that point his campaign would have become an academic discussion on what exactly the NML meant. And, as discussed above, we all know that people can make logical errors.

    People can make logical errors concerning many ideas. That doesn’t make the idea itself wrong. Some people ask me, for example, to prove or provide evidence for the NML. That is a logical error. By definition, Self-evident truths cannot be proven.

    At the root of this I think you are assuming that if there is no ultimate unassailable justification for a moral judgement then it is not justified at all. This is wrong.

    I disagee. One cannot logically say, “Stop, you are wrong,” if no such thing as wrong exists. One can only say, “Stop, I would prefer that you not do this.” Of course, much harm can be done if a person assigns objective wrongness to something that isn’t objectively wrong or objective rightness to something that isn’t objectively right. At the same time, much harm can be done when someone says that no such thing as objective right and wrong exists. In other words, the tyrant who exaggerates or misrepresents the NML at one extreme, and the skeptic who denies it at the other extreme, are both being unreasonable.

  61. 61
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    It appears you accept that people have other moral principles which they sincerely believe but yours (the NLM) are self-evidently correct and theirs are not (possibly they think the same about their beliefs). Is that a fair summary?

  62. 62
    Pro Hac Vice says:

    SB,

    Thanks for the regard re: my health–I’m fine, just fighting a nasty cold. If my responses are incoherent, I plead the cold medicine. I’m going to skip some sideline issues for the sake of streamlining the conversation; if I skip anything you’d prefer that I address, just let me know.

    It isn’t a question of what you mean. It is a question of what words mean and whether or not you are going to misuse the language. It “is” bad means objectively bad. It “seems” bad means subjectively bad. If you mean something different from what the words themselves mean, then you are being neither consistent nor rational.

    Once again, I’m trying to articulate what my beliefs are. I don’t believe “bad” is an objective statement, any more than “tasty” is. “It is tasty” is a subjective statement. So is “it is bad,” if you start from the assumption that “bad” is a subjective quality. I’m not asking you to agree with that assumption. I really don’t understand why you keep insisting that it’s not consistent with my own beliefs to use it as I am.

    So what happens when your neighbor has a different idea about what the Natural Moral Law is?

    That isn’t possible. It is possible that my neighbor may think it should be applied differently, but my neighbor will understand as clearly as I do that he should not cheat, steal, murder, or commit adultery.

    Elsewhere you said that “our knowledge of the Natural Moral Law is quite primitive in the beginning and needs to be fine-tuned, either through religious education or moral training.” If two people can’t possibly disagree about what the NML says, then how can they have two different understandings of it? What could there be to teach in religious or moral training, if the teacher and student couldn’t possibly disagree even before the training begins?

    There is no dispute about the principles of the Natural Moral Law. The only dispute is on the hard cases that require thoughtful reflection on its implications and applications. The way to settle it is to apply reason and the Natural Moral Law, which is, itself, based on reason.

    This might be your answer to the above question, but it’s not clear to me.

    Those laws are enacted exactly as if we live in a subjective world—by people debating and using political processes to determine the best consensual rules. Allan and Bob, just like you and me, live in a subjectivist world.

    It depends on which decade you are talking about. One hundred years ago, civil laws were based primarily (thought with some exceptions) on the unchanging Natural Moral Law. Today, they are based primarily (though with some exceptions) on the changing standards of popular opinion. When popular opinion rules, the standards of justice keep changing.

    I’m dubious of the historical proposition here. If you mean “one hundred years ago” in the general sense of “in a bygone age,” American history is replete with laws that are grotesque to us today. Slavery, child labor, forced sterilization, Jim Crow, etc. (If you mean exactly 100 years ago, it’s no better—I certainly don’t think the South was treating blacks according to any decent standard at that time.) I don’t think you can find a real historical era in which laws were actually set according to some presumed “Natural Moral Law.” Laws are made by humans, who disagree about these things. Empirically. Even if you assume that deep down they all feel the same way, amongst one another human beings dispute about what the proper rules for society should be. And that’s always been the case.

    The Natural Moral Law doesn’t change because human nature doesn’t change. Subjective law is always changing because it is based on feeling, so it is easy to compare the former with the latter.

    This assumes that you know what the truth is. Could you be mistaken?

    About the nature of the Natural Moral Law? No.

    So to use the example of the American South, generations of otherwise good Christian men grew up believing that slavery was an acceptable practice. I take your position to be that they were all wrong. But if you can’t be mistaken about what the NML says, then what was going on in their heads?

    What if it’s what lawyers call a “question of first impression,” one that hasn’t arisen before?

    There are no new principles of the moral law. Only new applications.

    That’s a useful distinction, thank you. I think it makes the hypo immaterial, although I’d certainly disagree that a machine is a slave to its creator if the machine is sentient. (But sci-fi hypos, while fun, are not very useful.)

    Is it possible to derive an empirical test from that proposition?

    Yes. The three ways of testing those who have become slaves to vice are [a] interviewing the slave [b] surveying a number of slaves, and [c] observing how slaves act and comparing their behavior to that of a normal person. I notice, though, that you avoided the substance of my comment.

    I didn’t intend to, and I’m not sure what I missed. If you’ll point it out, I’ll address it.

    I ask them to change their opinion because I think my opinion is better. If I want to persuade them, then I need to find common values and articulate why my position achieves those values more effectively. Pretty simple.

    Yes, and they will also seek to persuade you using the same methods. Eventually, someone’s opinion will be translated into a law and everyone will have to obey that law. So whose opinion should prevail? Is it the one held by the person who argues most persuasively?

    Barring issues of coercion, that’s the view that will prevail. In my opinion, the view that should prevail is the one I prefer.

    In the earlier part of the twentieth century, most people felt and argued on behalf of the proposition that black people are inferior to white people and, as a result, didn’t deserve the same level of human rights. Blacks told everyone that they “felt” persecuted, which they were, but few people cared because they “felt” that blacks were less than fully human. In the 1960’s, however, Martin Luther King held their feet to the fire and said, in effect, “it doesn’t matter how you feel, this persecution is unjust because it violates the Natural Moral Law. It doesn’t matter how you feel or how many numbers you have on your side. You are morally wrong and you must stop it.” He prevailed because he rose above feelings and instructed his adversaries on the Natural Moral Law. That is what you call rational justification. He knew he was right and knew they were wrong and he wasn’t about to put up with any nonsense to the effect that they deserved to prevail because they had derived their own moral values from experience.

    I disagree about why he prevailed. I think he identified shared moral values, for example that it is unjust to mistreat a man based on the color of his skin. I don’t think he was identifying an objective principle. In support of that, I offer the following hypothetical: what would have happened if he had gone to Atlanta in 1810 and claimed that the Natural Moral Law required treating all men as equals? He would not have been listened to, because his audience wouldn’t have shared those predicate values. By the 1960s, though, society had come to a point where a plurality did share enough of those values for MLK to appeal to them. In effect, I think he was telling them, “You believe that all men are equal, but you are abiding by laws that do not treat all men equally. The mismatch between your principles and your actions puts a lie to your principles, unless you take action to correct it.”

    If his audience didn’t share his belief that black men deserved to be treated equally, they wouldn’t have listened to him. Just as 1810 Atlanta wouldn’t have listened to him.

    Duly noted. You believe that your moral principles are better than those of your adversary, and he believes that his moral principles are better than yours. That doesn’t speak to the issue of who ought to prevail.

    Not if you mean “ought” objectively, no it doesn’t.

    What I don’t understand is this: Do you think it is equally fair if those who believe their opinion is better than yours manage to convert their opinions into law and force you to act against your own principles?

    Fair? Sure, as long as the same rules apply to everyone. That doesn’t mean that the resulting laws will be good or right by my lights—lots of terrible things are fair. As a practical example, I’m a Texan. I think the recent spate of anti-choice laws recently enacted here are atrocious. But I think the process by which they were passed was fair.

  63. 63
    Barry Arrington says:

    PHV: “I think the recent spate of anti-choice laws recently enacted here are atrocious.”

    The babies who will not be slaughtered as a result of the passage of those laws would, when they get older, probably disagree.

  64. 64
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    It appears you accept that people have other moral principles which they sincerely believe but yours (the NLM) are self-evidently correct and theirs are not (possibly they think the same about their beliefs). Is that a fair summary?

    I can understand how it might seem that way since I am not granting moral equivalence to both positions. Think of this way. The Natural Moral Law defines behavior that is appropriate for our nature, hence the word “natural.” Among other things, it tells us what we should love and what we should hate. I think you would agree, for example, that we should love other humans more than we love power. If we reverse that order, we are acting contrary to our nature. Similarly, in accordance with our nature, we should hate tyranny and wanton violence, but we should love our neighbor. Again, if we reverse that order, we are acting contrary to our nature.
    Suppose now that a libertine, touting his subjectively derived morality and denying that humans have a nature, tells us that we are free to value sex above all else. Or, using that same rationale, suppose a bigot insists that we should love racial purity most of all. Are they wrong? If humans have no nature, then the answer is clearly no—they are not wrong. Under those circumstances, they are free to invent any morality that is congenial with their inclinations. If we do have a nature, however, then the answer is yes—they are wrong. Suppose further that the libertine and the bigot insist that their subjective morality is just as valid as ours. Again, the answer is clear. If we have a nature, they are wrong; if we do not have a nature; they are right (except for the ironic fact that they can’t be right in either case since, given their philsophy, there can be no such thing as right and wrong).

  65. 65
    Box says:

    /abortion & context

    To be clear: I believe in the existence of objective morality – StephenB, Barry, WJM and others make a very strong case. However also believe that we need a full understanding of an act before we can pass judgement.
    I for one believe in the immortality of the human soul and reincarnation. In this context abortion is a relatively small transgression. The human soul who intended to incarnate may feel disappointment, but other than that she or he is undamaged and will receive another chance elsewhere.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    Pro Hoc Vice

    Elsewhere you said that “our knowledge of the Natural Moral Law is quite primitive in the beginning and needs to be fine-tuned, either through religious education or moral training.” If two people can’t possibly disagree about what the NML says, then how can they have two different understandings of it? What could there be to teach in religious or moral training, if the teacher and student couldn’t possibly disagree even before the training begins?

    It is one thing to know a general principle in its primitive form (Thou Shalt Not Kill Thy Neighbor) and quite another thing to grasp its more subtle implications (Thou Shalt Not Wish Him Dead). It is one thing to know the letter of the law; it is another thing to know the spirit of the law.

    I’m dubious of the historical proposition here. If you mean “one hundred years ago” in the general sense of “in a bygone age,” American history is replete with laws that are grotesque to us today. Slavery, child labor, forced sterilization, Jim Crow, etc. (If you mean exactly 100 years ago, it’s no better—I certainly don’t think the South was treating blacks according to any decent standard at that time.) I don’t think you can find a real historical era in which laws were actually set according to some presumed “Natural Moral Law.” Laws are made by humans, who disagree about these things. Empirically. Even if you assume that deep down they all feel the same way, amongst one another human beings dispute about what the proper rules for society should be. And that’s always been the case.

    Much of what you say is true. However, the key point is that both the people and many of the rulers accepted the natural law in principle. They could be persuaded to change outrageous behavior on the grounds that it really was outrageous. No longer. Now the only outrage is to remind someone of the natural moral law. Also, things were better in the last century because the number of cultural indicators for moral outrages, as measured objectively, was much higher (murder, sexual immorality, theft, family disintegration, cultural depravity, deterioration of art, deterioration of education [by about six grade levels] etc).
    SB: [Could I be mistaken] About the nature of the Natural Moral Law? No.

    So to use the example of the American South, generations of otherwise good Christian men grew up believing that slavery was an acceptable practice. I take your position to be that they were all wrong.

    Of course.

    But if you can’t be mistaken about what the NML says, then what was going on in their heads?

    They knew they were doing the wrong thing, but they simply preferred to do it anyway. Some of it was peer pressure; some of it was flat out bigotry.

    I disagree about why he prevailed [Martin Luther King]. I think he identified shared moral values, for example that it is unjust to mistreat a man based on the color of his skin. I don’t think he was identifying an objective principle. In support of that, I offer the following hypothetical:

    I agree in a qualified way. Appealing to shared values was certainly a part of his strategy even if he was arguing against the majority position. In other words, he was, as you suggest, arguing with their nobler instincts while he was against their behavior. You are quite right when you say that persuasion cannot stand solely on the demand for justice. However, I would argue that he was, even in his attempt to unify (while also calling to account), appealing to an objective principle, namely the justice component of the Natural Moral Law (not simply his novel perception of justice).

    By the 1960s, though, society had come to a point where a plurality did share enough of those values for MLK to appeal to them. In effect, I think he was telling them, “You believe that all men are equal, but you are abiding by laws that do not treat all men equally. The mismatch between your principles and your actions puts a lie to your principles, unless you take action to correct it.”

    I think it is a question of depth. Everyone knows (there’s that self-evident component again) that it is unjust to persecute someone on the basis of skin color. However, not everyone is introspective about it until someone raises his consciousness. So, I don’t think there was a plurality of shared values on the surface, but I do think there was a plurality of untapped shared values. Still, these shared values were grounded in the objective truths found in the Declaration of Independence, which makes a strong claim about objectivity. (All men are Created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights) Those shared values did not just emerge through social interaction. They came from the top. (The decline came from both the top and the bottom after the top dumbed down the bottom).

    As a practical example, I’m a Texan. I think the recent spate of anti-choice laws recently enacted here are atrocious. But I think the process by which they were passed was fair.

    As Ronald Reagan once said, “I notice that all those who favor abortion have already been born.”

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    Sorry, I wrote this backwards. It should read, “Also, things were better in the last century because the number of cultural indicators for moral outrages, as measured objectively, was much LOWER. Today, those indicators are up (murder, sexual immorality, theft, family disintegration, cultural depravity, deterioration of art, deterioration of education [by about six grade levels] etc).

  68. 68
    Mark Frank says:

    #64 StephenB

    Thanks. That is the most productive comment I have seen in this debate. I am not sure what our “nature” is but let that be for the time being. How do you respond to the person who says “I admit we have a nature but there is no moral requirement to do things that are appropriate to our nature. What matters morally is …..” (and then he goes on to list his favourite moral principles). Do you just say he is self-evidently wrong?

  69. 69
    Mark Frank says:

    #67 StephenB

    Also, things were better in the last century because the number of cultural indicators for moral outrages, as measured objectively, was much LOWER. Today, those indicators are up (murder, sexual immorality, theft, family disintegration, cultural depravity, deterioration of art, deterioration of education [by about six grade levels] etc).

    Now we are talking facts. That’s much easier!

    Are you talking about the USA, the West or the world generally? Most of your indicators can be disputed – but it depends which geography you are concerned with. For example:

    Crime generally, including murder and theft, has been dropping steadily in the USA since the mid-1990s and many Western countries since the early 2000s.

    Education standards may have been dropping in the USA and the UK but they are just fine in many other largely atheist/materialist societies such as the Nordics.

    The US teenage pregnancy rate was at its highest in the 1950s and has decreased steadily since then.

    Certainly I can see no case for saying things were MUCH lower.

  70. 70
    StephenB says:

    Mark @67,

    My time line is the last one hundred years. It takes that long to get a dependable trend because of the amplitude effect. Things go up and down in the short run but the overall picture forms a graph that goes only one direction. That is because of what is known as “lag time.” It takes a few years, sometimes a few decades to experience and measure the effect from decisions and policies undertaken in the past. From the early 1900’s all the positive indicators have dropped and all the negative indicators have risen. (I would rather not discuss the reasons why teenage pregnancy went down after the Bill Clinton years).

    Education standards may have been dropping in the USA and the UK but they are just fine in many other largely atheist/materialist societies such as the Nordics.

    All education in the West has gone south. Believe it or not, a college education in 2000 was the equivalent of a high school education in 1950 and a grade school education in 1900. Many college graduates could not pass the eight grade education test at the turn of the century.

  71. 71
    Mark Frank says:

    #70 StephenB

    Homicide rates in the USA are currently lower than they were in 1910 (they went higher in the period from the 60s to 90s and then declined to a lower figure). Reference: I can find no figures for other types of crime.

    I can’t find any figures for US teenage pregnancy rates prior to 1950 but as I say they have declined steadily since then and that is a period of 60 years.  What this has to do with Clinton I cannot imagine, the trend started way before the 1990s. It can’t be anything to do with abortion – we are talking pregnancy rates not birth rates .

    Progress in education is extremely difficult to measure because no one has really decided what the objective of education is. I am certainly prepared to accept that despite apparent improvements in exam results UK child education standards have declined over the last 30 years or so as measured by my personal aims for education (this is compensated for to a large extent by a huge improvement in adult education). As to objective measures – I can’t find historical data going back more than a decade or two and I am not sure what it would mean anyway. Geographically the PISA report is very well respected and shows the top countries in order to be Korea, Finland, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Switzerland, Poland, Iceland, USA. All of the countries in front of the USA are markedly more atheistic/materialistic. So it is hard to attribute any decline in education standards to a decline in acceptance of the NML or indeed religiosity in general.

    Looking at your other measures – I don’t see how you objectively measure deterioration in art and “cultural depravity” – perhaps you can provide a few references. Sexual immorality rather depends on what you count as immoral – but I fully accept that a wider range of sexual behaviour is practiced and condoned. Family disintegration as measured by divorce has, I am sure, increased a lot since the 1910s as divorce was extremely difficult both legally and culturally in the early 1900s.  Whether families forced to stay together because of this were better off is hard to say.

    All in all it is a mixed picture of social indicators and no reason for supposing any decline is due to a lack of acceptance of the NML or religion.

    Perhaps you have some evidence to the contrary – or is it another case of self-evident?

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    Homicide rates in the USA are currently lower than they were in 1910 (they went higher in the period from the 60s to 90s and then declined to a lower figure). Reference: I can find no figures for other types of crime.

    Based on the studies I examined, the murder rate in the early 20th Century was about the same as it is now, with several ups and downs in the meantime. Either way, I agree that I cannot use that one statistic to support my thesis. However, the overall picture still indicates cultural decline, as you seem to have discovered. Did you follow up on the problem of education, which also supports my thesis?

    Perhaps you have some evidence to the contrary – or is it another case of self-evident?

    You didn’t really think that comment through. An appeal to evidence can hardly constitute an attempt to call something self evident.

    Stay tuned for my answer to your question (a good one) about the requirement to base morality on nature, stay tuned.

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank, I now understand that this alleged exception to my thesis was not really an exception. In the early part of the 20th Century, few people owned guns because few people presented a threat. When the culture began to decline, it became evident that the average citizen was going to have to protect himself from the barbarians, so more and more people purchased firearms for personal and home protection. That is a fact that is easily verified by the sales. Even at that the murder rate did not go down and would have been much higher if the number of people capable of protecting themselves had not increased. So my thesis is in tact. All the cultural indicator present pattern of deterioration–all of them. As the Natural Moral Law is abandoned, society goes into decline.

  74. 74
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    I am not sure what our “nature” is but let that be for the time being. How do you respond to the person who says “I admit we have a nature but there is no moral requirement to do things that are appropriate to our nature. What matters morally is …..” (and then he goes on to list his favourite moral principles). Do you just say he is self-evidently wrong?

    I would say that he is logically wrong. A thing’s (or a person’s) nature determines what is good or bad for it (him or her) and, therefore, what “matters.” It violates the nature of a car to put water in the gas tank or molasses in the crankcase. It violates the nature of a person to put poison in his mind.

  75. 75
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    #73 So it was the increase in gun ownership that lowered the murder rate! I thought we were looking at objective measures of the decline of society. This is shear conjecture. The murder rate is much lower in countries with far lower levels of gun ownership.

  76. 76
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB #74

    Well you can define “morally good” as “according to its nature” but that’s not my definition and we are talking about different things. I see no reason to do what you define as “morally good”. I am not sure what the nature of a being is but presumably it is part of the nature of the malaria plasmodium to cause immense suffering and death – particularly among children. Is that morally good?

  77. 77
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB #72

    However, the overall picture still indicates cultural decline, as you seem to have discovered. Did you follow up on the problem of education, which also supports my thesis?

    let’s step back from this for a moment. The question is – has there been a cultural decline in the last 100 years. You don’t say what culture so I will limit it to the USA. Let’s not confuse the issue by asking why there has been a decline or not – the question is difficult enough as it is. You say that:
     

    the number of cultural indicators for moral outrages, as measured objectively, was much LOWER. Today, those indicators are up (murder, sexual immorality, theft, family disintegration, cultural depravity, deterioration of art, deterioration of education [by about six grade levels] etc). (My emphasis)

    A few points:

    * We will disagree about what are moral outrages – aspects of sexual immorality, family disintegration in particular.

    * We may not have figures for hundred years ago but can make a good estimate if we have figures for say 60 years ago and can see the trend

    * You have not produced a single reference or statistic to back up your objective claims

    Working through your list:

    Murder and violent crime are lower than 100 years ago, peaked in the early 90s and now dropping. You have conjectured about the cause (more guns) but remember we are not discussing the cause – just the indicators.

    Sexual immorality –  I suspect our opinions as to what is decline are poles apart – the one objective indicator I produced – the teenage pregnancy – no data prior to 1950 but peaked then and has been dropping ever since.

    Theft – no data.

    Family disintegration – we probably disagree as to what is decline – divorce rates have certainly increased but I see that as purely a formalisation of families that have effectively disintegrated. I have no data on effective disintegration.

    Education. Obviously standards much higher than they were 100 years ago.   Very few children even finished high school. Over 10% of the population was illiterate and nearly 50% of blacks were illiterate.  I personally agree child education standards have dropped in the USA in the last 30 years, but I suspect adult education opportunities has more than compensated for the recent decline in children’s education standards but I can’t be bothered to dig up the figures.

    I don’t know how you objectively measure cultural depravity or deterioration of art and you have provided no figures.

      But you have been fairly selective in your list. How about:

    * Equality of effective franchise – most blacks did not have an effective opportunity to vote
    * Childhood mortality
    * Religious tolerance
    * Treatment of animals
    and so on
      All in all it is almost impossible to evaluate the cultures of the two periods. It is too subjective and too complicated. But maybe if you actually produce some data you can change my mind.

  78. 78
    StephenB says:

    #73 So it was the increase in gun ownership that lowered the murder rate! I thought we were looking at objective measures of the decline of society. This is shear conjecture. The murder rate is much lower in countries with far lower levels of gun ownership.

    Yes, it was the increase in gun ownership. You cannot legitimately compare one country with another due to a number of factors that are too complicated to summarize in one paragraph. In any given culture, the murder rate goes up when gun ownership goes down and vice versa. It is even true from city to city. When firearms become increasingly plentiful, crime goes down–every time, no exceptions.

  79. 79
    StephenB says:

    Well you can define “morally good” as “according to its nature” but that’s not my definition…. and we are talking about different things. I see no reason to do what you define as “morally good”.

    The reason that you have no definition of “morally good” is because you believe that no such thing as moral goodness exists.

  80. 80
    Chalciss says:

    Barna Group and Gallup Poll survey results reveal what SB is alluding to in terms of decline.
    Now, moral relativists may not agree with the polling results as moral behavior indicators listed in those studies may be a morally acceptable in their worldview.
    Without Bible as the basis it will be difficult for MF to agree with Barna Group and Gallup Poll survey results and conclusions.

  81. 81
    StephenB says:

    Mark

    * We will disagree about what are moral outrages – aspects of sexual immorality, family disintegration in particular.

    Actually, you have no grounds for characterizing any outrage an an outrage. Your only two categories are [a] things you like and [b] things you don’t like.

    Murder and violent crime are lower than 100 years ago, peaked in the early 90s and now dropping. You have conjectured about the cause (more guns) but remember we are not discussing the cause – just the indicators.

    If there are fewer opportunities for murder, then that context must be taken into account. Also, I examined the graphs from disinterested sources and the murder rate is about the same as it was one hundred years ago (even though the opportunities for murder are far lower today given the widespread ownership of weapons for self defense).

    Sexual immorality – I suspect our opinions as to what is decline are poles apart – the one objective indicator I produced – the teenage pregnancy – no data prior to 1950 but peaked then and has been dropping ever since.

    This is a good example of ignoring contextual elements. The birth control pill came out a short time after the “peak.”

    Family disintegration – we probably disagree as to what is decline – divorce rates have certainly increased but I see that as purely a formalisation of families that have effectively disintegrated. I have no data on effective disintegration.

    I really don’t know what to say to someone who doesn’t know about the disintegration of the family or who thinks that it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Obviously [educational] standards much higher than they were 100 years ago.

    Obviously they are much lower.

    Was that a typo or did you really mean what you wrote?

    Over 10% of the population was illiterate and nearly 50% of blacks were illiterate.

    Illiteracy has been increasing steadily for the last one hundred years.

    I personally agree child education standards have dropped in the USA in the last 30 years, but I suspect adult education opportunities has more than compensated for the recent decline in children’s education standards but I can’t be bothered to dig up the figures.

    It seems that context has suddenly become important to you. What happened to your claim that context should be prescinded from indicators? In any case, if adult education could compensate for substandard child education, then the illiteracy rates would not continue to rise. For one who insists on objective data, you are quite willing to offer your own “suspicions” as arguments. How is it that I must accept the burden of providing evidence for my claims while you feel free to exempt yourself from that same standard?

    I don’t know how you objectively measure cultural depravity or deterioration of art and you have provided no figures.

    Again, I don’t think you would recognize cultural depravity or artistic perversity because you don’t think any such things exists. For you, there is nothing exceptional or depraved about the Vagina Monologues and the photographs of Christ dipped in urine.

    * Equality of effective franchise – most blacks did not have an effective opportunity to vote
    * Childhood mortality
    * Religious tolerance
    * Treatment of animals
    and so on

    The difference is that I recognize black disenfranchishment, premature death, religious intolerance, and animal abuse as objective evils. For you, they are simply things that displease you.

    All in all it is almost impossible to evaluate the cultures of the two periods. It is too subjective and too complicated. But maybe if you actually produce some data you can change my mind.

    The problem is that you don’t think any such thing as an objectively good or bad culture exists or could exist. That is why you shrug off the problem of disintegrating families. No amount of data could change that.

  82. 82
    Daniel King says:

    Hi, StephenB

    In any given culture, the murder rate goes up when gun ownership goes down and vice versa. It is even true from city to city. When firearms become increasingly plentiful, crime goes down–every time, no exceptions.

    Those are startling claims. What is the evidence to support them?

  83. 83
    Daniel King says:

    Do Guns Make a Nation Safer?

    We then sought to evaluate whether possessing guns would make a nation safer, as has been a widespread contention.

    We used the crime rate per 100,000 population as an indicator of safety of the nation. There was no significant correlation (r¼0.33) between guns per capita per country and crime rate (P¼.10), arguing against the notion of more guns translating into less crime (Figure, B)

    From a study of Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths in 27 countries, published in The American Journal of Medicine Vol 126, No 10, October 2013.

    Link: http://download.journals.elsev.....004440.pdf

  84. 84
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB
     
    #78 Gun Ownership – I don’t want to get into this particular debate – we have too many going on already. I think you are being incredibly over simple but I haven’t the time to prove it along with everything else.
     
    #79

    The reason that you have no definition of “morally good” is because you believe that no such thing as moral goodness exists.

    I do have a definition – subjectivity does not exclude a definition – we have definitions for subjective concepts like  “funny”, “ irritating” or “attractive”. I even wrote a small piece on it.
     
    #81
    Let’s leave the dispute about subjective morals to #79. This is about whether “the number of cultural indicators for moral outrages, as measured objectively, was much LOWER” 100 years ago. I note that you have still failed to provide a single reference or statistic to support your case.
    Murder:

    If there are fewer opportunities for murder, then that context must be taken into account.

    So what – the lack of opportunity for murder is one of things causing society to be less depraved.

    Also, I examined the graphs from disinterested sources and the murder rate is about the same as it was one hundred years ago

    But you said the indicators were much lower 100 years ago. Much the same is not much lower.
    Teenage Pregnancy

    This is a good example of ignoring contextual elements. The birth control pill came out a short time after the “peak.”

    So what – the the birth control pill is one of things causing society to be less depraved. (Actually it wasn’t approved until 1960 so you still have a good ten years of decline to account for)
    Disintegration of the family

    I really don’t know what to say to someone who doesn’t know about the disintegration of the family or who thinks that it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    I guess that’s your problem. But I don’t dispute the families split up physically much more often now.

    Education – this is utterly bizarre. Do you seriously think that education standards were higher in 1913 then they are now? I suggest reading the reference I gave you. Here are few extracts:
    * In 1900 only 50% of children even enrolled in school. By 1945 it had still only risen to 75%.
    * In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education.
    * Adult illiteracy:
    This is complicated by the many different definitions of literacy. One some definitions then the USA would be nearly 50% illiterate! But if we mean can read a simple sentence then the USA currently has less than 1% literacy (see CIA world fact book). For comparison in 1910 it is 10.7%. It drops steadily with a blip in 1950 to 0.6% in 1979. There the table stops but I guess once you are that low figures are hard to discriminate.

    cultural depravity or deterioration of art
    Looks like you have no data so you content yourself with a personal comment.

    black disenfranchishment, premature death, religious intolerance, and animal abuse

    The difference is that I recognize black disenfranchishment, premature death, religious intolerance, and animal abuse as objective evils. For you, they are simply things that displease you.

    Don’t change the subject. Do you recognise them as objective indicators of the quality of US culture that have improved enormously since 1913? (Please don’t make me look up the figures – I think we both recognise that they have all improved)

  85. 85
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank:

    So what – the lack of opportunity for murder is one of things causing society to be less depraved.

    Again, you misunderstand the context. Lack of opportunity in this case means the hesitation to follow through on the intent to murder someone who is armed or who is thought to be armed. History shows that this hesitation always lowers the murder rate. I am sure of my statistics. If, therefore, the murder rate stays the same when the number of armed people increase, this is a sure sign of decline.

    But you said the indicators were much lower 100 years ago. Much he same is not much lower.
    Teenage Pregnancy

    In terms of gross numbers for murder, it is about the same. However, the net numbers (with the opportunity factor included) were, indeed, much, much lower. First, crime is primarily a young person’s game. We have murdered millions through abortion and have eliminated millions more through artificial birth control. So our proportion of young people has radically decreased. Second, we have placed a large number of those who do rape, rob, and murder behind bars in numbers that exceed those of past generations. Third, armed citizens make a difference. When the opportunity exists, people will commit murder much more readily thank they once did. That is decline.

    So what – the the birth control pill is one of things causing society to be less depraved. (Actually it wasn’t approved until 1960 so you still have a good ten years of decline to account for)

    You forgot about lag time. It takes a few years to make a cultural habit out of a new idea.

    SB: I really don’t know what to say to someone who doesn’t know about the disintegration of the family or who thinks that it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    I guess that’s your problem. But I don’t dispute the families split up physically much more often now.

    Now you are changing the subject. The issue is whether split up families contribute to cultural decline. Everyone, except you it seems, understands that it does.

    Education – this is utterly bizarre. Do you seriously think that education standards were higher in 1913 then they are now?

    Oh heavens yes. I know that they were. Today’s college students would not be able to pass the 1913 grade school graduation examination. Even many graduate students would fail. You ought to try it yourself. (A few years ago, Judge Robert Bork admitted that he couldn’t answer some of the questions.)

    I suggest reading the reference I gave you. Here are few extracts:

    * In 1900 only 50% of children even enrolled in school. By 1945 it had still only risen to 75%.
    * In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education.

    LOL. You are arguing against yourself. That is precisely because the standards were higher. In those days, it was a challenge to graduate from grade school and anyone who crossed that threshold actually knew something about history and literature. Today, by contrast, a much larger percentage of young people go to college, but they have been so dumbed down that they need remedial education in order to survive the first year. Why do you think educators have consistently changed the standard for SAT scores, making it easier and easier to get respectable scores. The answer is obvious. The kids are being made progressively more stupid by people who embrace your philosophy.

    Do you recognise them as objective indicators of the quality of US culture that have improved enormously since 1913? (Please don’t make me look up the figures – I think we both recognise that they have all improved)

    Absolutely not, for the reasons indicated.

  86. 86
    StephenB says:

    The end of the first paragraph should read, “If, therefore, the gross murder rate in 1900 is the same as today, even though the number of opportunities for murder has decreased over time, that indicates a decline.

  87. 87
    Mark Frank says:

    Again, you misunderstand the context. Lack of opportunity in this case means the hesitation to follow through on the intent to murder someone who is armed or who is thought to be armed. History shows that this hesitation always lowers the murder rate. I am sure of my statistics. If, therefore, the murder rate stays the same when the number of armed people increase, this is a sure sign of decline.

    If you are sure of your statistics why don’t you give a reference to one of them – is your entire contribution to this debate going to comprise unsubstantiated assertions?

    In terms of gross numbers for murder, it is about the same. However, the net numbers (with the opportunity factor included) were, indeed, much, much lower. First, crime is primarily a young person’s game. We have murdered millions through abortion and have eliminated millions more through artificial birth control. So our proportion of young people has radically decreased. Second, we have placed a large number of those who do rape, rob, and murder behind bars in numbers that exceed those of past generations. Third, armed citizens make a difference. When the opportunity exists, people will commit murder much more readily thank they once did. That is decline.

    I think I will leave this particular subject before I get very cross to no effect. I suggest you do some serious reading about the causes of the decline in violent crime round the Western world (hint it is not explained by a proportionally younger population – the figures don’t add up – or more guns – it is happening in places where there are less guns)

    You forgot about lag time. It takes a few years to make a cultural habit out of a new idea.

    Yes – so the birth control effect should have kicked a few years after 1960 – and yet the figures were dropping from 1950.

    Oh heavens yes. I know that they were. Today’s college students would not be able to pass the 1913 grade school graduation examination. Even many graduate students would fail. You ought to try it yourself. (A few years ago, Judge Robert Bork admitted that he couldn’t answer some of the questions.)
    …….

    LOL. You are arguing against yourself. That is precisely because the standards were higher. In those days, it was a challenge to graduate from grade school and anyone who crossed that threshold actually knew something about history and literature. Today, by contrast, a much larger percentage of young people go to college, but they have been so dumbed down that they need remedial education in order to survive the first year. Why do you think educators have consistently changed the standard for SAT scores, making it easier and easier to get respectable scores. The answer is obvious. The kids are being made progressively more stupid by people who embrace your philosophy.

    For God’s sake – what matters is not the test – what matters is what kids knew. Half of them didn’t even go to school. You continue to make assertion after assertion without producing one reference or shred of evidence. 

    Me: Do you recognise them as objective indicators of the quality of US culture that have improved enormously since 1913? (Please don’t make me look up the figures – I think we both recognise that they have all improved)

    SB: Absolutely not, for the reasons indicated.

    There were no reasons indicated. All you said was you recognize black disenfranchishment, premature death, religious intolerance, and animal abuse as objective evils.

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank,

    With respect to the teen-pregnancy statistics, please do not rely on untrustworthy sources and pay special attention to context. How often must I make this point? The baby killers love to juggle the books. Teen pregnancy is not synonymous with out-of-wedlock births, especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s where the median age of first marriage for women was 20 years old. Many teens were marrying in that era, so naturally teen pregnancy was much higher than it is now. The issue for cultural decline is out-of-birth wedlock. Please make a note of it since you have raised the issue two or three times.

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    If you are sure of your statistics why don’t you give a reference to one of them – is your entire contribution to this debate going to comprise unsubstantiated assertions?

    You really want me to provide evidence for something that you could discover by simply observing talk-show luminaries interviewing the average person in the street? Well, all right.

    A survey conducted by Conway poll service found the following:

    “Most Americans are unable to identify even a single department in the United States Cabinet, according to a recent national poll of 800 adults. Specifically, the survey found that a majority (58%) could not provide any department names whatsoever; 41% could. Only 4% of those surveyed specified at least five of the 19 executive-level departments, a figure comparable to the poll’s overall margin of error (+/-3.5%).”

    The same firm that last year revealed an eye-popping 64% of Americans could not name any of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, has now uncovered a similar lack of knowledge with respect to the Executive Branch of federal government.”

    From Conway: “An incredible 70% of 18-34 year olds failed to specify a single agency or department, and while a majority of men (52%) could name at least one, less than one-third of women (32%) could do the same.”

    “Hispanics (79%), African Americans (75%), 18-34 year olds (70%), women (68%), and Pacific coast residents are among the groups most likely to say “I don’t know” when asked to name at least one department within the current United States Cabinet.”

    Another poll found the following:

    —Less than one in four Americans can name the country that we fought to obtain our independence.

    —More than two out of three do not know what the Roe vs. Wade controversy is all about.

    —Less than one half know that states have two senators (much less do they know why)

    —Almost one in five think the sun revolves around the earth.

    —One out of every two doesn’t know that Judaism is older than Christianity. (In other words, they can’t figure out that the Old Testament preceded the New Testament.

    Government schools run by tyrants who embrace your philosophy have made our kids so stupid that many of them remain uneducable for the remainder of their lives. The facts bear it out.

    Meanwhile, a grade school graduate in 1900 would have cleaned the slate with these young modern skulls full of mush. Also keep in mind that these surveys include not just young Americans, but Americans of all age groups, including those who have obtained graduate degrees. We can safely assume that American children are even more stupid than the average American. That is why they get their clocks cleaned with the compete in international scholarship competition with non Western countries.

    LOL. You are arguing against yourself. That is precisely because the standards were higher. In those days, it was a challenge to graduate from grade school and anyone who crossed that threshold actually knew something about history and literature. Today, by contrast, a much larger percentage of young people go to college, but they have been so dumbed down that they need remedial education in order to survive the first year. Why do you think educators have consistently changed the standard for SAT scores, making it easier and easier to get respectable scores. The answer is obvious. The kids are being made progressively more stupid by people who embrace your philosophy.

    For God’s sake – what matters is not the test – what matters is what kids knew.

    Read my opening comments and weep.

    Half of them didn’t even go to school. You continue to make assertion after assertion without producing one reference or shred of evidence.

    Read my opening comments and weep.

    Me: Do you recognise them as objective indicators of the quality of US culture that have improved enormously since 1913? (Please don’t make me look up the figures – I think we both recognise that they have all improved)

  90. 90
    StephenB says:

    Since 89 became jumbled, I will reproduce the relevant sections.

    Mark Frank

    If you are sure of your statistics why don’t you give a reference to one of them – is your entire contribution to this debate going to comprise unsubstantiated assertions?

    You really want me to provide evidence for something that you could discover by simply observing talk-show luminaries interviewing the average person in the street? Well, all right.

    A survey conducted by Conway poll service found the following:

    “Most Americans are unable to identify even a single department in the United States Cabinet, according to a recent national poll of 800 adults. Specifically, the survey found that a majority (58%) could not provide any department names whatsoever; 41% could. Only 4% of those surveyed specified at least five of the 19 executive-level departments, a figure comparable to the poll’s overall margin of error (+/-3.5%).”

    The same firm that last year revealed an eye-popping 64% of Americans could not name any of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, has now uncovered a similar lack of knowledge with respect to the Executive Branch of federal government.”

    From Conway: “An incredible 70% of 18-34 year olds failed to specify a single agency or department, and while a majority of men (52%) could name at least one, less than one-third of women (32%) could do the same.”

    “Hispanics (79%), African Americans (75%), 18-34 year olds (70%), women (68%), and Pacific coast residents are among the groups most likely to say “I don’t know” when asked to name at least one department within the current United States Cabinet.”

    Another poll found the following:

    —Less than one in four Americans can name the country that we fought to obtain our independence.

    —More than two out of three do not know what the Roe vs. Wade controversy is all about.

    —Less than one half know that states have two senators (much less do they know why)

    —Almost one in five think the sun revolves around the earth.

    —One out of every two doesn’t know that Judaism is older than Christianity. (In other words, they can’t figure out that the Old Testament preceded the New Testament.

    Government schools run by tyrants who embrace your philosophy have made our kids so stupid that many of them remain uneducable for the remainder of their lives. The facts bear it out.

    Meanwhile, a grade school graduate in 1900 would have cleaned the slate with these young modern skulls full of mush. Also keep in mind that these surveys include not just young Americans, but Americans of all age groups, including those who have obtained graduate degrees. We can safely assume that American children are even more stupid than the average American. That is why they get their clocks cleaned with the compete in international scholarship competition with non Western countries.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    Mark

    Half of them didn’t even go to school. You continue to make assertion after assertion without producing one reference or shred of evidence.

    No. If a country has not achieved enough prosperity to educate everyone, that not an indicator of cultural depravity. The issue is what children are taught and how they are formed.

    Here is the earlier (and legitimate) dictionary definition of education prior to the Dewey intrusiion:
    (Appleton, Century, Crofts: New York, 1927):

    The drawing out of a person’s innate talents and abilities by imparting the knowledge of languages, scientific reasoning, history, literature, rhetoric, etc.—the channels through which those abilities would flourish and serve.

    Here is the new, dehumanizing definition used by the experimental psychologists found in An Outline of Educational Psychology in 1934:

    Learning is the result of modifiability in the paths of neural conduction. Explanations of even such forms of learning as abstraction and generalization demand of the neurones only growth, excitability, conductivity, and modifiability. The mind is the connection-system of man; and learning is the process of connecting. The situation-response formula is adequate to cover learning of any sort, and the really influential factors in learning are readiness of the neurones, sequence in time, belongingness, and satisfying consequences.

    Those were the seeds of the descent and the depravity. It was when your atheist forebears started teaching for “modifyability.” It took a while, but we have arrived. U.S. citizens are, indeed, “modifyable.”

  92. 92
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    I give up. We have totally different ideas about what counts as cultural depravity and even what counts as evidence! There is no common ground for debate.

  93. 93
    Alan Fox says:

    I’m surprised you stuck it so long, Mark! When “more guns, less murders” became an argument, well, what’s the point?

    I gave up at “lower digestive tract”.

  94. 94
    StephenB says:

    Alan Fox

    When “more guns, less murders” became an argument, well, what’s the point?

    Actually, Alan, more guns does mean fewer [not less] murders. The word “less” applies to degree while the word “fewer” applies to numbers. If you wanted to be more literate, you could write, “More guns, less crime.” Get it?
    I realize that you are impervious to evidence, but here are a few facts from John Lott:

    “Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate—as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.
    Concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. First, they reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves. Second, victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves.

    “States with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes. Thirty-one states now have such laws—called “shall-issue” laws. These laws allow adults the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness.
    The analysis is based on data for all 3,054 counties in the United States during 18 years from 1977 to 1994.”

    I gave up at “lower digestive tract”

    Based on your previous comments, I gather that you support the practice of using the lower digestive tract as a sex organ. If that is not that case, just let me know and I will retract my statement.

  95. 95
    Daniel King says:

    The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010

    Conclusions. We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.(Am J Public Health.2013;103:2098–2105. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301409)

    Open access.

  96. 96
    Daniel King says:

    I wonder if StephenB realizes that his quotation of John Lott refers to “concealed carry” laws and not to gun ownership per se. People who have passed the rigorous requirements to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons are not likely to be representative of the whole population.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King,

    John Lott has studied this latest “research” and made the following comments:

    1) Using state level data the study claims a positive relationship between the percentage of suicides committed with guns (they call this the gun ownership rate rather than what it actually is) and the firearm homicide rate. The big problem with their measure of gun ownership is that it picks up a lot of demographic information that may itself be related to homicide and to crime.

    2) Do we care about total murders or murders involving guns?

    3) “None of the existing panel studies examined data more recent than 1999.” Presumably this is what is causing some left wing outlets to claim “Largest Gun Study Ever” (at last glance the link to that article was retweeted 1,077 times). The authors seem completely unaware of the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime that looked at data up through 2005 — six years longer than they claim. Of course, my research also started with 1977, not 1981 as they did. Of course, I have also used county and city level data and have many more observations than they have. My research has run regressions with up to 96 times more observations that the 1,000 that they point to in this paper. While I account for hundreds of factors, these guys account for almost none (6 in their final reported model (23 unreported in bivariate estimates — meaning just running one of these variables at a time in explaining firearm murder rates). It would be nice if Mr. Zack Beauchamp was notified that these authors are apparently unaware of any of my research since “1988” [sic] (they couldn’t even get the year right for my first edition of MGLC).

    4) No explanation is offered for why they leave Washington, DC out of their regressions. I can offer one: it weakens their results.

    5) Only a very small percentage of the prison population are there for murder. Possibly a percent or two in any given year. Do changes in the share of the prison population for larceny or burglary really help explain a lot of the variation in murder rates? A more direct measure would be the arrest rate for murder and/or the number of people in prison for murder and/or the death penalty execution rate.

    6) “To develop a final, more parsimonious model, we first entered all variables found to be significant in bivariate analyses (we used a Wald test at a significance level of .10) into 1 model. We then deleted variables found not to be significant in the presence of the other variables, assessing the significance of each variable with a Wald test at a significance level of .05.” — The problem here is that the resulting statistical significance levels don’t mean what these authors seem to think that that do. The levels of significance for a regression assume a random draw. If you 23 specifications and then pick the variables that are significant, the variables that you are picking were picked in a biased manner.

    7) Six variables is what they finally include in their “Final Model.” Leaving out variables that affect the murder rate will cause the other variables to act as a proxy for these left out variables. This gets back to my point (1).

    8) Even if all these issues were dealt with, they have completely ignored the issue of causation. Is it increased crime that results in more guns or the reverse?”

    Also, I should point out that Lott’s work has been peer reviewed by about 25 professors from major universities. I don’t think this latest effort has been sufficiently scrutinized.

  98. 98
    StephenB says:

    I wonder if StephenB realizes that his quotation of John Lott refers to “concealed carry” laws and not to gun ownership per se. People who have passed the rigorous requirements to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons are not likely to be representative of the whole population.

    Yes, I am aware of it.

  99. 99
    Mark Frank says:

    Daniel, Alan
    On the basis of what I have read – which is pretty limited – I think there is some evidence that right to carry laws reduce crime in the USA. John Lott is a dubious character but other research has either confirmed his conclusions or concluded there is no evidence for an effect either way.
    I am not aware of any convincing evidence that gun ownership decreases homicide or crime. One thing that came out of all this silliness is I learned that gun ownership in the USA (as defined by percentage of homes with a gun) has actually declined over the last four decades while homicide and crime rates first went up and then down (Of course the NRA dispute this, but it comes from the general social survey which is one of the most reputable and methodologically sound surveys around).  In any case I don’t think even John Lott would claim that gun ownership was responsible for the decrease in homicide over the last hundred years which has taken place over much the Western world whatever the gun policy.

  100. 100
    Mark Frank says:

    Sorry – that should read:

    In any case I don’t think even John Lott would claim that gun ownership was responsible for the decrease in homicide over the last twenty years which has taken place over much the Western world whatever the gun policy.

  101. 101
    Mark Frank says:

    using the lower digestive tract as a sex organ

    This a straightforward example of the subjectivity of morals. StephenB evidently finds that there is something immoral about this. Many people including myself can find nothing wrong with it at all (although not something I would ever want to do). We can point to various factors to try and influence each other but in the end we just plain disagree.

  102. 102
    Alan Fox says:

    Many people including myself can find nothing wrong with it at all (although not something I would ever want to do).

    Exactly. It is the right of anyone to live their life as they wish to, to the extent that they are harming no-one but themselves. Would StephenB approve of aUS equivalent of the Saudi religious police?

  103. 103
    Alan Fox says:

    And thanks for the grammar lesson, Stephen. Perhaps you’d like to tell the rest of the World to stick to your grammar rules too.

    Besids, I have an excuse after eleven years in France. In French, there’s no such distinction, it’s all moins de.

    I note you had no trouble grasping my meaning.

    Probably off-topic but is there a serious claim that extending the availability of hand guns reduces the murder rate? The US is such an outlier compared to Western Europe, it’s hard to understand that anyone could suggest a case for it. Is there sound statistical evidence supporting such an assertion?

  104. 104
    Mark Frank says:

    #102 Alan

    What I find interesting is the technique that Stephen uses to make his case. If “morally bad” referred to some objective property then he should be able to prove that homosexual behaviour is bad by deduction or presenting evidence. But he resorts to describing it in a way that emphasises that this involves using one of our organs in a “non-standard” way (something we all knew – there is no additional information), and relying on an emotional reaction to that description. I don’t say that is an invalid way of arguing a moral point (although in this particular case I am not moved). In the end I believe all moral judgements come down to emotional reactions. But it is a subjective approach not a logical or scientific one.

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: this is a day when somewhat more directly damaging issues are on the table (and at a time where I have to deal with yet other issues . . . ). So pardon a summary cite on the real issue at stake in the teeth of AF’s usual ad hominems — he neglects to note that the thought police tactics in our civilisation these days are coming from those he sides with [cf. here, here and here] — and the evasions and distractions otherwise.

    Here, again is Dr Richard Dawkins, Sci Am August 1995 letting the amoral cat out of the materialist bag [which — as Plato long ago warned in The Laws Bk X — leads to relativism, of which subjectivism is one form], as already cited and studiously ignored:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    Unless and until evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers can find a base for OUGHT in the ISes of their worldviews — don’t hold your breath, then they stand in the situation of implying that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    Which is patently absurd and — as history sadly testifies — destructively chaotic.

    But if one insistently clings to absurdities for whatever reasons, one can only reject the contrary self evident truths that cut across it and/or run after red herrings led out to ad hominem soaked strawmen to be set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere, regardless of how ever more evidently absurd that is.

    (Hence — with all due respect to those who do not go along with these sadly familiar tactics — drearily repeated side tracks and the current attempt to drag in the Saudi thought police as though that naturally extends to the caricatured right wing neo-fascist creationists in cheap tuxedos that are so handy as slanderous strawman caricatures of design thinkers. (Cf the UD weak argument correctives through the resources tab above, on these oh so common fallacious talking points.) The truth is, the case of the Saudi thought police does not even properly extend its shadow to most Muslims. And, do I need to point out yet again that fascism is a statist, politically messianic ideology of the left?)

    (I suggest a glance here in context at my summary response on the main issue, in part based on the exchanges above.)

    KF

  106. 106
    jstanley01 says:

    Alan Fox:

    …is there a serious claim that extending the availability of hand guns reduces the murder rate?

    As a matter of fact there is, and it’s a slam dunk:

    John Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime.

    See also here, here and here.

  107. 107
    Alan Fox says:

    Thanks for the links, Jeff. Reading the Wikipedia entry on Lott, I get the impression his claims about a correlation between the carrying of concealed weapons and crime in general are not as clearly supported as, say, StephenB thinks. I can see there might be a reduction in crime like street mugging, where such crime was already high.

    I’m just going to indulge in schadenfreude and thank the Lord I live in a quiet corner of a country where crime levels are low enough for me to not even consider the possibility I might get held up and robbed. Whilst the odd empty property does get broken into here, violence is almost unheard of.

  108. 108
    Mark Frank says:

    #106 jstanley01

    AS I am sure you know John Lott is a controversial figure in an ongoing dispute with the National Research Council about the validity of his methods and conclusions. In the circumstances to describe the evidence that the availability of hand guns reduces crime as a slam dunk is misleading. Of the three web links you give in addition to his book, two are to John Lott himself. The other from the Wall St journal does not argue that the availability of hand guns reduces crime. It only argues that there is no evidence that guns in general increase crime which is pretty much what the NRC said – no evidence either way.

  109. 109
    jstanley01 says:

    Look again, Mark Frank. The WSJ op-ed was written by Lott also, where he’s pointing out “less guns, no effect.” So actually all of the links I posted are to his writings.

    Readers may recall that the question on the table was, “is there a serious claim?” The answer to that is “yes.”

    That “it’s a slam-dunk” is my considered opinion of course, having looking into both sides.

  110. 110
    Mark Frank says:

    #109 jstanley01

    Fair enough – strange that in the op-ed JL did not advance the claim that more guns equals less crime.

    What statistical technique does he use? Specifically is it based on significance levels or something more sophisticated?

  111. 111
    StephenB says:

    JStanley01 is correct. It is a slam dunk. Even after several groups formed to scrutinize Lott’s study, (many of which were left-leaning and politically motivated to find fault) the majority of them agreed, kicking and screaming, that Lott’s conclusions were justified.

    More evidence can be found in the streets. Chicago Illinois and Detroit Michigan, two of the premiere murder capitals of the world, both wield strict anti-gun laws. On the other hand, where the 2nd amendment is respected, crime goes down. The same theme is played out from county to county and state to state.

  112. 112
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    What I find interesting is the technique that Stephen uses to make his case. If “morally bad” referred to some objective property then he should be able to prove that homosexual behaviour is bad by deduction or presenting evidence.

    Some things really are evident to the disinterested observer. It is obvious, for example, that Americans are more stupid than they once were. While I presented evidence for that fact (and can produce more), it really shouldn’t be necessary.

    So it is with the destructive nature of homosexuality. Any society that embraces it as a norm will destroy itself. History confirms that fact. It really shouldn’t be necessary to produce evidence to show that it is objectively bad for a society to destroy itself or that homosexuality will lead to that result. It should be obvious.

  113. 113
    Daniel King says:

    StephenB @97:

    Thank you for posting the response of John Lott to the study in The American Journal of Public Health on gun homicides, taken from his blog. Have the points he made there been submitted to the Journal or peer-reviewed?

    Can you provide a reference for your claim that “Lott’s work has been peer reviewed by about 25 professors from major universities”? What work of Lott in particular are you referring to?

  114. 114
    Alan Fox says:

    Any society that embraces [homosexuality] as a norm will destroy itself. History confirms that fact.

    Really!

    What history confirms that not discriminating against homosexuals dooms a society to destruction? I should be very interested to learn of these societies that homosexuals caused to go belly up.

  115. 115
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let us remind ourselves, again, of Dr Dawkins’ key admission in the August 1995 Sci Am:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    In short, on his evolutionary materialism, there is no basis for justice, for good, for disapproving evil save for tastes and preferences subject to might and manipulation make ‘right.’ And for sure OUGHT is no more than such and on this worldview has no foundational IS that can properly ground it.

    If the cosmos were what the evolutionary materialists tell us, it would be amoral; which is what Dr Dawkins goes out of his way to argue — including trying to appeal to the problem of evil evidently unaware of the decisive nature of the free will defense.

    When therefore we see advocates of evolutionary materialism or other fellow-traveller views and ideologies demand a proof for the objectivity of morality acceptable to them, or for any particular precept that does not fit in with the current partyline fashionable views, we need to realise that for such the issue is settled long before facts, issues, the voice of conscience or the shock of a broken body of a seven year old boy who was kidnapped bound, gagged with his school socks and brutally violated sexually, expiring from asphyxiation can be heard.

    So long as they cling to their preconceptions, no matter how absurd or patently destructive the consequences, they will never acknowledge that wrong or evil rise above might and manipulation make ‘right.’ They may use the right sounding words and tug at our sensibilities, but in the end the matter is that their scheme is irretrievably amoral.

    Which is just what Prof Provine stated in the notorious Darwin Day address of U Tenn, 1998:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . .

    No wonder Plato warned us so long ago now in The Laws Bk X, of the absurd and destructive consequences of such ideologies — and yes, modern Lab Coats notwithstanding, we are dealing with an ancient speculative philosophy. One, that boils down to “seeing is believing” on steroids — never mind, that there is a major conundrum accounting for the conscious awareness involved in such seeing and understanding — not just sensing stimuli and computing of algorithms allegedly incrementally written by blind chance and mechanical necessity that led to differential reproductive success:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily “scientific” view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    Beyond a certain point, we can only point out, ring fence and warn. Let him who hath an ear to hear and a heart to understand take due heed.

    KF

  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: It seems AF will not acknowledge that human sexuality has a naturally evident Creation Order anchored purpose. One deeply connected to the formation and stability of families as the foundational institution of society — one that requires longstanding commitment [as in, easy and widespread divorce is another very worrying sign], sacrifice and unselfish service [as in porn and the culture of self indulgence it reflects and accelerates is a warning sign] to thrive and effectively nurture the next generation [as in, watch out] . . . especially young men who must in each generation be tamed from becoming wolf packs preying on society and its members from within or without, creating the chaos that demands tyranny as preferable to anarchy, triggering ruin on both horns of that dilemma. It seems, further, that he dismisses the insight that evil is best understood in light of perversion, frustration and privation of the good from purpose. So, with signs of chaos all around and the utter destabilisation of the foundational institution of social survival, he wishes to play at selective hyperskepticism in part driven by the influence of amoral ideologies that open the door to nihilism; and where beyond a certain point, the good and decent will be so defective that few will be willing to stand in the gap and lay reputation or life and limb on the line to defend it and uphold justice . . . leading to corrupt and cynical misrule, courts of injustice and abusive and destructive policing and military forces little better than organised gangs of predators and warlords running little more than protection rackets. Where of course, that which he would demand approval of is one of the cluster of signs and accelerants of the raging fire that is even now burning down our civilisation — a second time around. (He seems to have forgotten the fate of pagan civilisation and doubtless thinks this diagnosis and warning can be simply brushed aside as of no account, never mind Nero and co, the primary targets.) Poster boy, or maybe BA has a point, on someone overdoing a parody. KF

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    disaffected, not defective, pardon.

  118. 118
    StephenB says:

    [Homosexuality destroys a society]

    Alan Fox

    Really

    yes, really?

    What history confirms that not discriminating against homosexuals dooms a society to destruction? I should be very interested to learn of these societies that homosexuals caused to go belly up.

    Start with Rome. Homosexuality feminized the men to such an extent that they couldn’t fight off the barbarian tribes and didn’t even want to try. The “femmes” must have told the “butches” to stay home and soak in the hot tub. Then there is the little problem that homosexuals cannot reproduce. It’s kind of hard to maintain a society with no people.

  119. 119
    goodusername says:

    Start with Rome.

    Yes, if there’s one thing the Roman Empire is known for, it’s for its short life. 🙂

    Homosexuality feminized the men to such an extent that they couldn’t fight off the barbarian tribes and didn’t even want to try.

    Rome had risen in power and reached its height while being an empire that’s very tolerant of homosexuality.

    But Rome had become increasingly Christian and homophobic in the centuries leading towards its fall, and long before the Fall of Rome homosexual acts were even punishable by death.

    It would be hard to come up with an example – even a hypothetical – that shows the opposite of what you’re arguing.

    Then there is the little problem that homosexuals cannot reproduce. It’s kind of hard to maintain a society with no people.

    Has any society ever run out of people because of too many people becoming homosexuals?

  120. 120
    bornagain77 says:

    and then there is this stunning archeological evidence:

    The Physical Ashen Remains of Sodom and Gomorrah as described in the Book of Genesis – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qi8MnzgT3E

    But as with all things, there is a important nuance to be taken into consideration in understanding the judgement that God rendered on Sodom and Gomorrah:

    The Real Reason God Destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5325867/

    Ezekiel 16:49-50
    ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.’

  121. 121
    Mark Frank says:

    Stephen #112
    (I think goodusername has addressed your #118. )

    It is obvious, for example, that Americans are more stupid than they once were. While I presented evidence for that fact (and can produce more), it really shouldn’t be necessary.

    So
    1) You think we don’t need evidence to know American were more stupid than they were once.

    2) The only “evidence” you provided was results from a poll conducted by Kellyanne Conway – a committed Republican campaigner.   Even if the poll were valid, and I would want to know a lot more about how it was carried out to be convinced, this is evidence of ignorance not stupidity.
    3) The “evidence” only shows the current situation. If you want to know if A is worse than B then you need to measure A and B.

  122. 122
    bornagain77 says:

    The following video shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    you can see the dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public schools, at the following sites;

    Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
    http://www.alisoviejochristian.....at_10.html

    CognitiveGenesis
    http://www.cognitivegenesis.org/?page_id=1228

    What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig – May 2012 – podcast (steep decline in altruism of young people since early 1960’s)
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....secularism

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note: The slight decline in crime rate from the mid 90s until now is attributed in large part to tougher enforcement on minor crimes. (a nip it in the bud policy)
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    The following article points out the flaw in a 2007 study that found equality in education between public schools and private schools by ‘correcting’ the test scores upwardly for public schools:

    Do private schools educate children better than public schools?
    Excerpt: The results of education testing seems to show mixed results on the question of whether private schools educate children better. The results of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests showed that private school students achieved higher scores at all three grade levels tested. However, a 2007 Center on Education Policy study found that once socioeconomic factors are corrected when assessing test results, private school students didn’t perform any better than public school students. Basically, this study says that students who did well on the standardized tests would have done well regardless of whether they attended a private or public school. However, moving past the dueling tests and studies, what’s clear is that private school students have better SAT scores, and better college admission and graduation rates, regardless of socioeconomic level.
    http://curiosity.discovery.com.....ic-schools

    Of related note:

    The History of Christian Education in America
    Excerpt: The first colleges in America were founded by Christians and approximately 106 out of the first 108 colleges were Christian colleges. In fact, Harvard University, which is considered today as one of the leading universities in America and the world was founded by Christians. One of the original precepts of the then Harvard College stated that students should be instructed in knowing God and that Christ is the only foundation of all “sound knowledge and learning.” http://www.ehow.com/about_6544.....erica.html

    Of note, Finland now has the best education system in the world, and not so surprisingly Finland also has a very strong prayer ethic,,,

    Finland is much more:
    Excerpt: The main Lutheran and Orthodox churches are constitutional national churches of Finland with special roles in ceremonies and often in school morning prayers.,,,
    Over half of Finns say they pray at least once a month, the highest proportion in Nordics,,,
    http://www.democraticundergrou....._id=170358

    Moreover,

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

    Of related interest:

  123. 123
    bornagain77 says:

    The following video shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    you can see the dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public schools, at the following sites;

    Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
    http://www.alisoviejochristian.....at_10.html

    CognitiveGenesis
    http://www.cognitivegenesis.org/?page_id=1228

    What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig – May 2012 – podcast (steep decline in altruism of young people since early 1960’s)
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....secularism

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note: The slight decline in crime rate from the mid 90s until now is attributed in large part to tougher enforcement on minor crimes. (a nip it in the bud policy)
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    The following article points out the flaw in a 2007 study that found equality in education between public schools and private schools by ‘correcting’ the test scores upwardly for public schools:

    Do private schools educate children better than public schools?
    Excerpt: The results of education testing seems to show mixed results on the question of whether private schools educate children better. The results of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests showed that private school students achieved higher scores at all three grade levels tested. However, a 2007 Center on Education Policy study found that once socioeconomic factors are corrected when assessing test results, private school students didn’t perform any better than public school students. Basically, this study says that students who did well on the standardized tests would have done well regardless of whether they attended a private or public school. However, moving past the dueling tests and studies, what’s clear is that private school students have better SAT scores, and better college admission and graduation rates, regardless of socioeconomic level.
    http://curiosity.discovery.com.....ic-schools

  124. 124
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank: Stephen #112
    (I think goodusername has addressed your #118. )

    Well, of course you do. You always think that those who disagree with me are wise.

    1) You think we don’t need evidence to know American were more stupid than they were once.

    Obviously, you have never watched Jay Leno or David Letterman interview men on the street.

    2) The only “evidence” you provided was results from a poll conducted by Kellyanne Conway – a committed Republican campaigner.

    So what? The study was sound and many other like it have been conducted. You should read “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, by Charlotte Iserbyt. Further, you should study the documents written by educators between 1927 and 1940. In other words, you should acquaint yourself with the facts.

    Even if the poll were valid, and I would want to know a lot more about how it was carried out to be convinced, this is evidence of ignorance not stupidity.

    Anyone who doesn’t know that the Old Testament is older than the New Testament is stupid.

    ) The “evidence” only shows the current situation. If you want to know if A is worse than B then you need to measure A and B.

    So now you want me to remind you again about how the standards for the SAT scores have been dropping for decades? Have you taken that eight-grade graduation examination from 1920 yet?

  125. 125
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    The History of Christian Education in America
    Excerpt: The first colleges in America were founded by Christians and approximately 106 out of the first 108 colleges were Christian colleges. In fact, Harvard University, which is considered today as one of the leading universities in America and the world was founded by Christians. One of the original precepts of the then Harvard College stated that students should be instructed in knowing God and that Christ is the only foundation of all “sound knowledge and learning.”
    http://www.ehow.com/about_6544.....erica.html

    Of note, Finland now has the best education system in the world, and not so surprisingly Finland also has a very strong prayer ethic,,,

    Finland is much more:
    Excerpt: The main Lutheran and Orthodox churches are constitutional national churches of Finland with special roles in ceremonies and often in school morning prayers.,,,
    Over half of Finns say they pray at least once a month, the highest proportion in Nordics,,,
    http://www.democraticundergrou....._id=170358

    Moreover,

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 3: As the merry rhetorical dance proceeds apace, let us recall the issues at 115 ff above. KF

  127. 127
    jstanley01 says:

    Mark Frank, re:

    #109 jstanley01

    Fair enough – strange that in the op-ed JL did not advance the claim that more guns equals less crime.

    What statistical technique does he use? Specifically is it based on significance levels or something more sophisticated?

    I’m sure you’re aware — in more detail than I am — that isolating any one variable in a social science study is notoriously difficult. If you read Lott’s book, he details the statistical techniques that he used with gun ownership. I read an earlier edition than the current, but I imagine in the newest he discusses the technical objections of his critics, seeing as how his book was a hot subject for a news cycle or two back when.

    As a general reader interested in the subject, after digesting the book, I also read the back-and-forth between Lott and his critics that was available online at the time. And for numerous reasons Lott got my nod FWIW.

    I wasn’t spurred to become an expert in statistics, however, for sake of winning debates online or anywhere else on the issue. I figure that what limited free time I have to devote to it is better spent in practice at the range, drawing from concealment and placing two shots in the center of mass of a silhouette target in two seconds or less. The laws of the Sovereign State of Texas being what they are and all, lol…

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 4: just for fun since it is being debated onwards, I excerpt 116:

    ______________

    >> It seems AF will not acknowledge that human sexuality has a naturally evident Creation Order anchored purpose. One deeply connected to the formation and stability of families as the foundational institution of society — one that requires longstanding commitment [as in, easy and widespread divorce is another very worrying sign], sacrifice and unselfish service [as in porn and the culture of self indulgence it reflects and accelerates is a warning sign] to thrive and effectively nurture the next generation [as in, watch out] . . . especially young men who must in each generation be tamed from becoming wolf packs preying on society and its members from within or without, creating the chaos that demands tyranny as preferable to anarchy, triggering ruin on both horns of that dilemma. It seems, further, that he dismisses the insight that evil is best understood in light of perversion, frustration and privation of the good from purpose. So, with signs of chaos all around and the utter destabilisation of the foundational institution of social survival, he wishes to play at selective hyperskepticism in part driven by the influence of amoral ideologies that open the door to nihilism; and where beyond a certain point, the good and decent will be so [disaffected] that few will be willing to stand in the gap and lay reputation or life and limb on the line to defend it and uphold justice . . . leading to corrupt and cynical misrule, courts of injustice and abusive and destructive policing and military forces little better than organised gangs of predators and warlords running little more than protection rackets. Where of course, that which he would demand approval of is one of the cluster of signs and accelerants of the raging fire that is even now burning down our civilisation — a second time around. (He seems to have forgotten the fate of pagan civilisation and doubtless thinks this diagnosis and warning can be simply brushed aside as of no account, never mind Nero and co, the primary targets.) Poster boy, or maybe BA has a point, on someone overdoing a parody. >>
    _______________

    And BTW, by the time Rome became an Empire between the time of Julius Caesar and Octavian aka Augustus, that resort to permanent essentially unlimited dictatorship — after decades of civil war and chaos — was already the admission of societal failure. All of which were BC. [Cf here the OT debate over a king and the prophetic view that this was both a judgement of consequences and a resort to dictatorship to provide order and a centre of military strength after anarchy and chaos, with the particular note on oppressive taxes and forced labour.] The Christian faith grew to significance as a despised minority and counter-culture view in the midst of a gradually decaying civilisation under dictatorship. One that had suffered an ultimately decisive defeat and destruction of three legions at the hands of German barbarians in was it AD 9 — roughly the time when Jesus impressed the Temple elites as a boy of twelve — that prevented it from shortening frontier lines by advancing to better river lines. And recall, it nearly collapsed in the 200’s, already. Even as late as the 400’s Augustine’s City of God was written in reply to the blame the Christians for disaster mentality, after a sacking of Rome. And the deposing of the remaining Emperor in the West by a Germanic chieftain and officer in 476 was just a part of the onward process. KF

  129. 129
    kairosfocus says:

    JS01: You’ve got to be kidding — bands of young thugs stalking the streets and assaulting random people as apparently a GAME? As in, wolf-packs of young men improperly brought up and preying on what they think are vulnerable targets? Looks a little bit relevant to me. KF

  130. 130
    StephenB says:

    goodusername

    Yes, if there’s one thing the Roman Empire is known for, it’s for its short life. 🙂

    The issue is not how long Rome lasted. The issue is, what are the main elements that caused it to deteriorate in its latter stages? Empires don’t self-destruct when they are strong.

    But Rome had become increasingly Christian and homophobic in the centuries leading towards its fall, and long before the Fall of Rome homosexual acts were even punishable by death.

    Christianity allowed Rome to survive much longer that it otherwise would have. Eventually, as is usually the case, worldly forces prevailed and the empire destroyed itself. To get a better feel for the conditions that led to the downfall of Rome, I recommend City of God, City of Man, by Augustine. He was there when Rome was sacked.

    Has any society ever run out of people because of too many people becoming homosexuals?

    Homosexuality is a cause, but not the first cause. It goes like this: Rejection of the natural moral law, followed by homosexuality and the deterioration of the family, followed by a decline in the reproductive replacement rate. At the moment, all Western societies are failing to replace themselves, while Islam with its oppressive ways is multiplying. The inevitable outcome of that trend should be obvious.

  131. 131
    Alan Fox says:

    Start with Rome. Homosexuality feminized the men to such an extent that they couldn’t fight off the barbarian tribes and didn’t even want to try.

    Oh good grief!

    StephenB has jumped the shark!

  132. 132
    StephenB says:

    bornagain77,

    The following video shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    Excellent point. Thank you

    kairosfocus,

    Good comments on Christian education in the United States. What many do not realize is that the high educational standards (and the establishment of the cathedrals of higher education) were a direct result of obtaining literacy and academic competency directly from the study of Sacred Scripture.

  133. 133
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus:

    It seems AF will not acknowledge that human sexuality has a naturally evident Creation Order anchored purpose. One deeply connected to the formation and stability of families as the foundational institution of society — one that requires longstanding commitment [as in, easy and widespread divorce is another very worrying sign], sacrifice and unselfish service [as in porn and the culture of self indulgence it reflects and accelerates is a warning sign] to thrive and effectively nurture the next generation [as in, watch out] . . . especially young men who must in each generation be tamed from becoming wolf packs preying on society and its members from within or without, creating the chaos that demands tyranny as preferable to anarchy, triggering ruin on both horns of that dilemma. It seems, further, that he dismisses the insight that evil is best understood in light of perversion, frustration and privation of the good from purpose. So, with signs of chaos all around and the utter destabilisation of the foundational institution of social survival, he wishes to play at selective hyperskepticism in part driven by the influence of amoral ideologies that open the door to nihilism; and where beyond a certain point, the good and decent will be so defective that few will be willing to stand in the gap and lay reputation or life and limb on the line to defend it and uphold justice . . . leading to corrupt and cynical misrule, courts of injustice and abusive and destructive policing and military forces little better than organised gangs of predators and warlords running little more than protection rackets. Where of course, that which he would demand approval of is one of the cluster of signs and accelerants of the raging fire that is even now burning down our civilisation — a second time around. (He seems to have forgotten the fate of pagan civilisation and doubtless thinks this diagnosis and warning can be simply brushed aside as of no account, never mind Nero and co, the primary targets.) Poster boy, or maybe BA has a point, on someone overdoing a parody.

    Another great point. And well stated! It is the family (and the celebration of the family) that provides the foundation for a well-ordered society.

  134. 134
    StephenB says:

    Alan Fox

    Oh good grief!

    StephenB has jumped the shark!

    Poor Alan. He doesn’t understand what that comment means in the context of a discussion about sexual perversion.

  135. 135
    Alan Fox says:

    You’ve got to be kidding — bands of young thugs stalking the streets and assaulting random people as apparently a GAME? As in, wolf-packs of young men improperly brought up and preying on what they think are vulnerable targets? Looks a little bit relevant to me.

    Off-topic and imaginary rambling. But young gay men are overwhelmingly the victims of assault by their homophobic peers.

  136. 136
    Alan Fox says:

    Poor Alan. He doesn’t understand what that comment means in the context of a discussion about sexual perversion.

    We have to disagree on whether any activity that involves and harms nobody but the participants is perversion.

    I’d still like to learn more how homosexuality resulted in the end of the Roman Empire. Not everyone would regard the demise of the Roman Empire as a bad thing. I guess it was for those with an interest at that time in its survival.

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let us again remember what we are confronting, and why it is prone to accuse those who challenge amoral might and manipulation make ‘right’ radical relativism and subjectivism of indulging in irrational fears . . . the definition of “phobias.”

    As in Dr Richard Dawkins, Sci Am, August 1995:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    Let us remind ourselves of what evil is best understood as: the twisting, frustration, privation or diversion of that which in proper place and to proper end — built-in purpose, is good.

    Classic Case: twisting the power of communication, reasoning and persuasion as follows:

    Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

    KF

  138. 138
    jstanley01 says:

    KF:

    JS01: You’ve got to be kidding — bands of young thugs stalking the streets and assaulting random people as apparently a GAME? As in, wolf-packs of young men improperly brought up and preying on what they think are vulnerable targets?

    Yeah, and posting videos of the attacks on “social media.”

    A Clockwork Orange?

    Alex: It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.

    “Bueller?” “Anyone?” “Bueller?”

    (Alan Fox, KF is responding to my link @ 127)

  139. 139
    Alan Fox says:

    It is the family (and the celebration of the family) that provides the foundation for a well-ordered society.

    Man is by nature a social animal. Who could argue with Aristotle. (Well, I could on many issues, but not this). But didn’t the Greeks have a very relaxed attitude to homosexuality. It was indulged as an abberation of youth. A sowing of wild oats (and no unfortunate consequences) before settling down to manhood, marriage and family?

  140. 140
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: It is obvious you did not read the comment that pointe4d to emergence of wolf packs of young thugs as a part of the social breakdown, resulting from broken families. JS01 mentioned an actual case in point, what seems to be a new phenomenon of youngsters randomly assaulting people and videotaping the attacks to be posted on the Internet. That was what I responded to. Your dismissal is ill-informed and improper. But then, you are studiously ignoring the pivotal issue of the repeatedly cited statements on the amorality of evolutionary materialism by Dr Dawkins in the Aug 1995 Sci Am. KF

    PS: And BTW the much headlined Shepherd case that probably deeply informs the sentiments and perceptions you expressed, was not as was promoted in the media. Recent sobering second thoughts have come out.

  141. 141
    Alan Fox says:

    (Alan Fox, KF is responding to my link @ 127)

    How can you tell? By reading KFs posts? That’s something I try to avoid! 🙂

  142. 142
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Of course inter alia the Greco-Roman pagan culture promoted homosexuality [especially men with youths], that is part of the rebuke and warning on context and consequences for society here; written while the consequences were in progress, as already linked.

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: In short, you — again — confess to coming here only to push agendas and talking points, not to responsibly respond and actually seriously discuss. You were corrected by JS01 for snipping and sniping, and you further responded in an irresponsible way. Sadly revealing. KF

  144. 144
    Alan Fox says:

    Shepherd case

    Hmm. Gay young man horrifically and casually murdered. Sure makes the case against the gay community.

    What is the matter with you people?

  145. 145
    Alan Fox says:

    KF

    Can I ask what you think of the Darwin Trust?

  146. 146
    jstanley01 says:

    Alan Fox (emphases added):

    But didn’t the Greeks have a very relaxed attitude to homosexuality. It was indulged as an abberation of youth. A sowing of wild oats (and no unfortunate consequences) before settling down to manhood, marriage and family?

    Hmm. You might want to check. Doesn’t the Talking Points Memo say, “Stick to, ‘It’s genetic'”?

    What I’d like to learn about, in light of the tack that our society has decided upon, is any historical culture that has counted homosexual sex as a basis for marriage.

    TIA.

  147. 147
    jstanley01 says:

    sorry… “is there any known historical culture…” blah, blah, blah.

  148. 148
    Alan Fox says:

    What are you asking me, Jeff?

    I have a hard time believing homosexuality is heritable. It doesn’t make sense in evolutionary terms.

  149. 149
    kairosfocus says:

    AF; You treated me improperly by snipping and sniping, then promptly proceeded to do the same again. I think you should be aware there have been some serious second thoughts on the case that paint a far more complex picture involving a drugs culture and indications of earlier sexual involvement with one of his killers. I suggest you need to actually investigate before assuming and sniping away dismissively. Start with this Guardian report, and this NY Post one. Then consider why two cases about the same time, Jesse Dirkhising [I will not give details], and a woman murdered for objecting on principle to homosexuality, did not receive the same headlining. The situation is far more complex than you imagine. KF

  150. 150
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: And meanwhile you studiously continue to ignore the pivotal admission by Dr Dawkins in Sci Am, Aug 1995:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    Multiply that by the sort of behaviour you just again indulged, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that you are playing rhetorical manipulation games on moral sensibilities, diverting attention from the underlying amorality that would imply that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    For just one instance, can you let us know the basis — within your worldview [which seems to be a fellow traveller of evolutionary materialism] — on which you wish to project the impression that murder is wrong, as a binding principle?

    And if you fail such, tell us how you avoid the conclusion that your scheme boils down to might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    Where would that lead our civilisation?

    KF

  151. 151
    Alan Fox says:

    I think you should be aware there have been some serious second thoughts on the case that paint a far more complex picture involving a drugs culture and indications of earlier sexual involvement with one of his killers.

    Are you entering a plea of mitigation for the murderers of Matthew Shepard?

    Because?

  152. 152
    Alan Fox says:

    As a point of information, GEM, the Dawkins quote is from his book “River Out of Eden”.

    Can I ask what you think of the Darwin Trust?

  153. 153
    jstanley01 says:

    What are you asking me, Jeff?

    I have a hard time believing homosexuality is heritable. It doesn’t make sense in evolutionary terms.

    Evidently I jumped to a conclusion about your opinions, since clearly, “the consensus among scientists is that same-sex preference is rooted in our biology” (paragraph 8), but yours isn’t.

    Sorry about that.

    My question @ 146 isn’t evolutionary, but cultural, asked in light of your appeal to ancient Greek culture that I cited.

    It’s a simple question.

  154. 154
    kairosfocus says:

    AF:

    You continue to dodge inconvenient facts and twist circumstances.

    Whether on the source and substance of Dawkins’ words or on Shepard, where I have gone to the point of giving you links (including the Guardian) to better inform yourself.

    The message you are inadvertently sending is all too plain.

    KF

    PS: FYI, your little game of substituting a different source and pretending that I am in error fails. I did in fact use the article in Sci Am as cited. But of course, while trying to suggest I have my source wrong, you fail to address the pivotal substance. Revealing.

  155. 155
    Alan Fox says:

    jstanley:

    My question @ 146 isn’t evolutionary, but cultural, asked in light of your appeal to ancient Greek culture that I cited.

    What I’d like to learn about, in light of the tack that our society has decided upon, is any historical culture that has counted homosexual sex as a basis for marriage.

    It’s a simple question

    Not that simple. Reading it as if you missed out a “there”, it becomes “is [there] any historical culture that has counted homosexual sex as a basis for marriage?” I’m still not sure what you mean. In my example from Classical Greece, homosexuality seemed to be a casual norm in campaigning circumstances, if the accounts that survive are accurate. Herodotus and Xenephon both refer to the practice in a matter-of-fact way.

  156. 156
  157. 157
    StephenB says:

    [Shepherd case]

    Alan Fox

    Hmm. Gay young man horrifically and casually murdered. Sure makes the case against the gay community.

    What is the matter with you people?

    I’ll be easy on you this time since you had no way of knowing. Matthew Shepherd was murdered for agreeing to trade methamphetamines for sex. One of the murderers, Aaron McKinney, was a bisexual and a former lover. It wasn’t a hate crime. Read Stephen Jimenez’s “The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard,” Jimenez, by the way. is gay.

  158. 158
    Alan Fox says:

    I’ll be easy on you this time since you had no way of knowing.

    Not true. I managed to google.

    Matthew Shepherd was murdered for agreeing to trade methamphetamines for sex. One of the murderers, Aaron McKinney, was a bisexual and a former lover. It wasn’t a hate crime. Read Stephen Jimenez’s “The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard,” Jimenez, by the way. is gay.

    Assuming for the sake of argument Jimenez’ account is correct, so what? Does this establish your right to oppress gay people in general? I think not. You’ll need to come up with manyer* examples than just this one.

    *If there’s fewer, there has to be manyer, right?

  159. 159
    StephenB says:

    Alan Fox

    Assuming for the sake of argument Jimenez’ account is correct, so what? Does this establish your right to oppress gay people in general? I think not. You’ll need to come up with manyer* examples than just this one.

    I don’t think gays should be oppressed. I just think it is important to point out that their behavior, if normalized, will destroy our society just as it has destroyed others.

    “In the 1930s, British anthropologist J.D. Unwin studied 86 cultures that stretched across 5,000 years. He found, without exception, when they restricted sex to marriage, they thrived.

    Strong families headed by faithful spouses made for bold, prosperous societies. But not one culture survived more than three generations after turning sexually permissive.
    Noted Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found no culture surviving once it ceased to support marriage and monogamy. None.”

    What you need to understand, Alan, is that I am going after the gay movement, not individual homosexuals who happen to find themselves being attracted to members of the same sex. Here is the key point. In analyzing their strategies, we have found that gay zealots are about destroying the family first and advancing the gay agenda second. There is no other way they can legitimize their behavior or make it appear normal.

  160. 160
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: More on the so-called knockout game, yet another sign of disintegration and the rise of wolf-packs as highlighted, mocked and substantiated then studiously ignored by AF. In a context where the same just confirmed that he prefers the PC spin to the inconveniently more complex and less manipulable results of follow up investigations. Even, when they come from something as reliably liberal/progressivist as the Guardian. KF

  161. 161
    Daniel King says:

    StephenB said:

    I don’t think gays should be oppressed. I just think it is important to point out that their behavior, if normalized, will destroy our society just as it has destroyed others.

    Don’t worry, we heterosexuals have no interest in such behavior.

    And we love and enjoy our children!

  162. 162
    5for says:

    StephenB:

    “I don’t think gays should be oppressed. I just think it is important to point out that their behavior, if normalized, will destroy our society just as it has destroyed others.”

    That statement is hilarious in a very sad way.

  163. 163
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King @161

    5for @ 162,

    I have no idea what either of you are talking about. Do you have anything of substance to add?

  164. 164
    Alan Fox says:

    …their [gays] behavior, if normalized, will destroy our society just as it has destroyed others.

    On the “evidence” you have so far presented, that would be in an imaginary way. Your claim that the Roman Empire imploded due to homosexual activity is so ridiculous, I suspect Poe’s law should be invoked.

  165. 165
    coldcoffee says:

    My opinion is we shouldn’t be deciding what other people should like and dislike. We are not their creators.

  166. 166
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: To correct the ongoing toxic distractor rhetorical pattern requires some further response, to expose what is going on. Then, let us pull together to bring focus back to the pivotal matter so many are so patently desperate not to address: foundations of morality and what happens when a culture has that foundation undermined by evolutionary materialism and fellow travellers.

    FWIW, I state my theme up front: homosexualisation of a culture — and here I target an extremist ideology, not those struggling with strange, addictive attractions that are often unwelcome — is a part of a much wider disintegration, that undermines the pivotal foundational institution of sound society, the stable family based on lifelong marriages in accord with Creation Order manifest in the nature of man and woman.

    First, let me remind of my comment on what went down with Rome, from 128 above:

    BTW, by the time Rome became an Empire between the time of Julius Caesar and Octavian aka Augustus, that resort to permanent essentially unlimited dictatorship — after decades of civil war and chaos — was already the admission of societal failure. All of which were BC. [Cf here the OT debate over a king and the prophetic view that this was both a judgement of consequences and a resort to dictatorship to provide order and a centre of military strength after anarchy and chaos, with the particular note on oppressive taxes and forced labour.] The Christian faith grew to significance as a despised minority and counter-culture view in the midst of a gradually decaying civilisation under dictatorship. One that had suffered an ultimately decisive defeat and destruction of three legions at the hands of German barbarians in was it AD 9 — roughly the time when Jesus impressed the Temple elites as a boy of twelve — that prevented it from shortening frontier lines by advancing to better river lines. And recall, it nearly collapsed in the 200?s, already. Even as late as the 400?s Augustine’s City of God was written in reply to the blame the Christians for disaster mentality, after a sacking of Rome. And the deposing of the remaining Emperor in the West by a Germanic chieftain and officer in 476 was just a part of the onward process

    In short, the blame the Christians as scapegoats game is longstanding and ill-informed. For a telling contemporary analysis that lays out the pattern of social breakdown Paul’s letter to Rome c 57 AD is apt. To be seen here as in the main an informed worldviews and cultural consequences analysis of Rome in the days when things were running good under Nero and his tutors Seneca and Burrus, before he went utterly demonically mad:

    Rom 1:19 . . . what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    [a –> there is adequate, even compelling evidence that points to the reality of God and his moral government leading to duty to and under him, but men willfully suppress the unwelcome truth]

    21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    [b –> such resentful ingratitude and self will leads to darkened will, emotions and thinking . . . often portrayed as enlightenment. Professing to be enlightened and wise, men in willful rebellion against that which is evident from the world around and the inner conscious world within become utterly en-darkened, living in a Plato’s Cave of clever shadow-shows substituting for and counterfeiting evident reality.]

    22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    [ c –> whether idols in pagan temples surrounded by scandalous legends or images in museums surrounded by science ideologically controlled by Lewontinian-Saganian a priori materialism, makes little difference.

    c.1 –> And here, we should not forget Ganymede. The moon of Jupiter has that name for a reason — the chief Greco-Roman god was portrayed as taking a boy as a target of his own out of control lusts that so often were portrayed as provoking his wife. Indeed, the Milky Way itself was said to be milk spewing from her breast as she snatched away yet another love child from a liason with a mortal girl, that Jupiter was attempting to so make immortal. With a culture shaped by such, what Paul is critiquing is all too plainly what we should expect.]

    24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    [d –> turning one’s back willfully on the source of moral light leads to corruption of behaviour, with particular reference to sexual behaviour, as the power of human sexuality is necessarily strong to motivate the lifelong heterosexual bond at the core of family.]

    26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.

    [e –> In a judgement of consequences in a morally ordered world, turning from the source of sound order undermines all limits, leading to addiction to passions out of control . . . to the extent of even twisting nature out of its obvious proper path.]

    For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    [f –> Thus, we find a rising tide of the twisting of sexual behaviour, attitudes and passions into forms that run against nature.

    g –> And BTW, the my genes made me do it talking point has been soberly and cogently answered, cf. as a useful summary, here. One should at least read the summary chapter.]

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

    [h –> the choice of endarkenment and false light leads to a breaking down of the intellectual culture and to chaos, inviting dictatorship to restore order, only to see the dictators increasingly corrupt also, with Nero as emerging exhibit A. Gibbon I think summed up as: the stories of the gods were to the common people equally true, to the philosophers equally false, and to the politicians equally useful.]

    29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

    [i –> the chaos that leads to dictatorship in a desperate move to restore order. By 50 BC Rome reached that threshold, and after the assassination by the senators, civil war again broke out. Octavian was seen as a political messiah, and of course the Imperial cult began. So by the time of Jesus’ birth, the breakdown was already well advanced and in further progress.

    j –> With that sort of example from the top the pattern of the history is obvious, just fill in details.

    k –> Where, by the time we get to Nero, it was simply irretrievable.]

    32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. [ESV]

    l –> And that stage, of demanding approval of evil, is where we have now again reached.

    Remember, all opf this was analysed while it was already in progress, c 57 AD.

    The difference, I think is that in an era of mass rapid communication, technology and greater wealth and power in the hands of the corrupt than ever before, the pace of the trends has sharply accelerated. History, in short, is playing out in decades now what once would have taken generations or centuries.

    So, let me now turn to what is happening with family as the pivotal point in cultural disintegration, adapting 116 above as was also again cited by me in 128 and as was picked up by SB but has — predictably — been studiously ignored by those whose agenda, patently, is to put darkness for light. Remember, these folks as shown and confessed above, will not even read unless they have to, will snip and snipe out of context if they can get away with it, and will refuse to respond to corrective well researched facts.

    Back to the family breakdown issue, based on 116:

    1 –> AF et al will not acknowledge that human sexuality has a naturally evident Creation Order anchored purpose.

    2 –> That naturally evident purpose, however, is deeply connected to the formation and stability of families as the foundational institution of society.

    3 –> where, family is an institution that first and foremost requires longstanding bonded heterosexual — the biological reproducing unit — commitment [as in, easy and widespread divorce is another very worrying sign],

    4 –> To make that work requires sacrifice and unselfish service [as in porn and the culture of self indulgence it reflects and accelerates is a warning sign]

    5 –> all of these being necessary and widespread (indeed, overwhelmingly dominant) in a community if it is to thrive and effectively nurture the next generation [as in, watch out] . . .

    6 –> Where, we must especially properly raise young men who must in each generation be tamed from becoming wolf packs preying on society and its members from within or without, creating the chaos that demands tyranny as preferable to anarchy, triggering ruin on both horns of that dilemma.

    7 –> Where JS01 promptly provided an example in point, the novel horror of packs of youngsters seeking out people to try to surprise and knock out with one sucker punch, filming to upload to social networking sites where they boast of their prowess.

    8 –> A telling example that AF has willfully dodged.

    9 –> It seems, further, that AF dismisses the insight that evil is best understood in light of its being:

    the perversion, frustration and privation of the good from its proper, often patent, purpose.

    10 –> So, with signs of chaos all around and the utter destabilisation of the foundational institution of social survival, he wishes to play at selective hyperskepticism in part driven by the influence of amoral ideologies that open the door to nihilism.

    11 –> But beyond a certain point, the good and decent will be so disaffected that few will be willing to stand in the gap and lay reputation or life and limb on the line to defend it and uphold justice . . .

    12 –> leading to a predominance of corrupt and cynical misrule, courts of injustice and abusive and destructive policing and military forces little better than organised gangs of predators and warlords running little more than protection rackets. Where of course,

    13 –> that which he would demand approval of is one of the cluster of signs and accelerants of the raging fire that is even now burning down our civilisation — a second time around. (He seems to have forgotten the fate of pagan civilisation and doubtless thinks this diagnosis and warning can be simply brushed aside as of no account, never mind Nero and co, the primary targets of the critique in Rom 1.)

    So, homosexualist attempted destruction of creation order rooted marriage and family is just the tip of an iceberg that our civilisation is suffering a fatal collision with.

    Widespread pornography and the divorce-remarriage and sexual immorality games are equally at fault. Not to mention the widespread, deeply corrupting influence of indelible mass blood-guilt with half a generation having been slaughtered in the womb since the 1970’s, 55 million and counting just in the United States, with abortions having outnumbered live births in some jurisdictions.

    In that context, it is no accident that a first point of attack by the hate site circle that targets UD was to pick up a blog post elsewhere where I exposed shocking porn statistics, and to use that as an occasion of cyber vandalism.

    Where, surprise –NOT, one of those involved operated a photo site on seduction photography that featured thinly veiled nudity of a girl estimated by a Deputy Commissioner of Police here to be 14 – 16 years of age.

    We need to face some very unwelcome and painful, even repulsive facts, concerns and issues, if we are to truly discern the sick signs of an increasingly en-darkened and shameless time hell-bent on cultural suicide.

    Isaiah, Prince of Prophets is stingingly apt:

    Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes,
    19 who say: “Let him be quick,
    let him speed his work
    that we may see it;
    let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
    and let it come, that we may know it!”
    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

    Let us wake up and turn back, even at the brink of the abyss.

    For, God is merciful.

    (Which we most need precisely when we least deserve it.)

    KF

  167. 167
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Let us refuse to reward derailing by allowing it to succeed. Here, as again cited at 150, is the telling admission of the amorality and moral absurdity of evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers, by no less than Dr Clinton Richard Dawkins, dean of the new atheists here writing in Sci Am, Aug 1995:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    Unless and until the evolutionary materialists and their fellow travellers can provide a worldview grounding IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT, we for good reason have to view their ideological system — never mind the lab coats used to convey an unwarranted credibility, Lewontinian a priori materialist question begging is at work even in the science — as absurd, delusional and destructively corrupt.

    KF

  168. 168
    CLAVDIVS says:

    StephenB @ 159

    “In the 1930s, British anthropologist J.D. Unwin studied 86 cultures that stretched across 5,000 years. He found, without exception, when they restricted sex to marriage, they thrived.

    Strong families headed by faithful spouses made for bold, prosperous societies. But not one culture survived more than three generations after turning sexually permissive.
    Noted Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found no culture surviving once it ceased to support marriage and monogamy. None.”

    Sounds like a great argument in favour of gay marriage.

  169. 169
    jstanley01 says:

    AF @ 155:

    I’m still not sure what you mean.

    No biggie.

  170. 170
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB #130
    (explaining the fall of Rome)

    Homosexuality is a cause, but not the first cause. It goes like this: Rejection of the natural moral law, followed by homosexuality and the deterioration of the family, followed by a decline in the reproductive replacement rate.

    So presumably during the 600 years when Rome was steadily expanding it accepted the natural moral law. This was a society that accepted slavery, the horrors of the circuses, appalling treatment of conquered peoples, and religious persecution – notably the Jews. Does the NLM condone these?

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let us see if the advocates of evolutionary materialism and its fellow traveller ideologies will at length seriously address the amorality declaration put forth by Dawkins, as repeatedly cited. Absent a sober and cogent answer, we can hold appeals to rights, right, the deplorable nature of evils they don’t like etc as statements on tastes and preferences at best, or unacknowledged borrowings from a worldview that can ground morality, or even in some cases attempts to manipulate us based on our sensibilities. KF

    PS: On the creation of a counterfeit of marriage pushed under the name of the moral sentiment “equality,” Lesbian activist Masha Gessen’s statement in Australia should give pause — note the “video.” Let me cite some summary points:

    Gessen shared her views on the subject and very specifically stated;

    –> “Gay marriage is a lie.”

    –> “Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there.”

    –> “It’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.” (This statement is met with very loud applause.)

    As mentioned above, Gessen also talked about redefining the traditional family. This may have something to do with the fact that she has “three children with five parents”:

    “I don’t see why they (her children) shouldn’t have five parents legally. I don’t see why we should choose two of those parents and make them a sanctioned couple.”

    Where also Girgit, George and Anderson observe in a very important Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy paper:

    [T]he current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential fea?tures to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law 10 and replace it with the revisionist [–> i.e. homosexualised] conception . . .
    ———-

    F/N 10: Throughout history, no society’s laws have explicitly forbidden gay mar?riage. They have not explicitly forbidden it because, until recently, it has not been thought possible . . . [T]raditional marriage laws were not devised to oppress those with same?sex attractions. The comparison [to racist anti-miscegenation laws that forbade inter-racial marriages] is offensive, and puzzling to many—not least to the nearly two?thirds of black vot?ers who voted to uphold conjugal marriage under California Proposition Eight. See Cara Mia DiMassa & Jessica Garrison, Why Gays, Blacks are Divided on Prop. 8, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 8, 2008, at A1.

    [Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson, “What is Marriage?” Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, p. 250 of 245 – 287.]

    PPS: Let us therefore also remember Plato’s warning in The Laws Bk 10, speaking of evolutionary materialism-driven advocates:

    [[Thus, the evolutionary materialism-influenced (cf, the linked) teachers and avant garde hold] that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of radically relativist amorality that opens the door to nihilism], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    PPPS: So, as I have been repeatedly noting this weekend (e.g. cf here and most recently here), if we refuse to heed the lessons and warnings of history, we are condemned to repeat or echo its worst chapters.

  172. 172
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    Rome’s steady expansion was broken c 9 AD when Octavian lost three legions (of was it fourteen) in the German wilderness. That was about the time when Jesus, a 12 year old, impressed his elders in the Temple.

    Thereafter it hesitated then under Hadrian went on the long term strategic defensive, with the Rhine, the Danube and the Arabian deserts the key limits. At this time, the Christian faith was a persecuted minority.

    This I noted on and repeated above.

    FYI, the point of Paul’s analysis in AD 57 is just the opposite: our hearts are instinctively engraved with core morality, but we stubbornly rebel in too many cases, leading to the moral decline the apostle highlighted.

    Your attempt to blame the natural moral law for the sins of Rome and its successors, fails.

    Let us remind ourselves of what that core law teaches, through Locke’s citation of “the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker”, in a context where he laid the foundations for modern liberty and democracy, his 2nd essay on civil govt ch 2:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    By contrast, let us hear instead from you a grounding IS of your worldview — evolutionary materialism last I gathered — that is able to properly bear the weight of OUGHT. Perhaps, that can be done by giving us an answer to what has again been cited from Dr Dawkins.

    KF

  173. 173
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #172

    I do not see how your comment in any way addresses mine. It doesn’t matter when you date the decline of Rome. StephenB clearly puts the decline down to no longer accepting the natural moral law. From which it follows that Rome did accept the natural moral law before. So is the NML compatible with the horrors of early Rome?

  174. 174
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    The point, c 50 BC where after decades of civil war among corrupt elites the Roman republic was forced to appoint a dictator, marks a pivotal point of decline.

    As, was noted by leading Romans at the time.

    As you will also recall, the first emperor was assassinated and a high proportion of his successors died violently. The dictatorship was able to continue expanding for a while (but by 9 AD was decisively checked by German barbarians, losing a significant slice of its strategic reserve, permanent defensive followed), but even that is missing the key mark.

    For, PAGAN Rome was by that fact ever increasingly in rebellion against the evident Creator and morality. Across time that got worse and worse especially among elites until the civil wars led to dictatorship.

    In that whole process the defiance of core morality was evident, and the peak of the iceberg was the rise of homosexualism among elites, Recall, it was said of JC that he was a man to every woman and a woman to every man. Octavian tried to restore morals and family and failed, his own daughter severely disappointing him. By the time we get to Nero, the time of the cited analysis, we ave a demonic madman who was as out of control sexually as in any other way. And it went steadily downhill from there.

    Notice, what I noted on Jupiter already, and I recall that it has been said that of the first sixteen Roman Emperors fifteen were involved in homosexuality.

    Rampant homosexuality by itself is not solely responsible for Rome’s decline but is emblematic of it. It is a sign of serious breakdown of family, and its widespread social acceptance is an accelerant of the flames of disorder in the culture. By the time a culture becomes accepting of such behaviour, it is well on the way to self-ruin, and it is a marker of a watershed point beyond which return is increasingly hard.

    In the Roman case, the entire period of the principate was already one of breakdown and resort to dictatorship to try to restore order in some semblance. Which itself then accelerated the decline as worse and worse men became dictator.

    In our civilisation, the propensity to create new forms of evil is manifest, we are inventing the novelty of counterfeit marriage, to be backed up by hijacked civil rights law. This means that, if the radicals have their way, increasingly, traditional ethics will be made ILLEGAL (under false colours of Law) a process that is already out the starting gates in especially the UK.

    Across time, good and decent, competent men will be increasingly disaffected, the lack of disciplined, well trained dedicated workers and defenders of the civil peace will begin to tell, and between bad decisions and want of the economic tax base and raw manpower to stand in the lines, we will increasingly collapse.

    In that gap, we already see IslamIST settlements advancing in France and Germany. And you had better believe that we are seeing a settlement-jihad process. Captured documents affirm that. I have a retained copy of IslamIST documents that envision global conquest across this century. I think it will fail, but that we are in for a wild and bloody ride. One that as of this weekend — a Munich scale blunder — is very likely to include nuclear bombardment.

    In the case of Rome, the process took longer but from AD 9 on — the first strategically decisive defeat — Rome’s doom was certain. Not least, the man who defeated them had formerly been a Roman auxiliary. From that to the day when a German leader in the largely Germanic Roman Army would simply decide to end the circus in 476 AD is a more or less straight line.

    Not for nothing did Machiavelli rail against mercenaries!

    I strongly suggest that you read Paul’s analysis with fresh eyes, noticing how he rebukes rebellion against that which is evident as what initiates and accelerates the down spiral to sexual and general chaos and collapse.

    In no reasonable interpretation, whether of scripture or of the values guiding treatment of equals in nature can one find approval of aggressive war, murder and grand theft of defeated states.

    To even suggest such (which you did) is a travesty, and is absurd.

    KF

  175. 175
    Daniel King says:

    I have no idea what either of you are talking about. Do you have anything of substance to add?

    Happy to clarify, StephenB. You had just claimed that “[homosexual] behavior, if normalized, will destroy our society just as it has destroyed others.”

    I was trying to reassure you that the odds of such behavior becoming the norm in any society are slim, owing to the preponderance of heterosexuals everywhere.

  176. 176
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King:

    I was trying to reassure you that the odds of such behavior becoming the norm in any society are slim, owing to the preponderance of heterosexuals everywhere.

    The word “normalize” has nothing to do with the word “preponderance.”

    nor·mal·ize (nôrm-lz)
    v. nor·mal·ized, nor·mal·iz·ing, nor·mal·iz·es
    v.tr.

    To make normal, especially to cause to conform to a standard or norm—

    preponderance

    When there is a larger amount of one thing than of other.

    ————

    Notice also that the word “normalize” is a verb and the word “preponderance is a noun.

    ————

    In other words, experts like Unwin and Sorokin, who have studied the matter thoroughly, tell us that when a society begins to characterize homosexual behavior as “normal,” it will destroy itself. Put another way, it is not a question of having homosexuals all over the place. The problem has to do with defining deviancy down. Do you understand the difference?

  177. 177
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #174

    An interesting polemic – but entirely unrelated to my comment. I was not discussing the reasons for Rome’s decline. I wasn’t even discussing homosexuality. I was discussing the reasons for Rome’s success prior to its decline. StephenB seems committed to ascribing that success to acceptance of the NML. I just wonder how he manages to reconcile that with the kind of society early successful Rome was – violent, cruel, non-Christian, and accepting of homosexuality

  178. 178
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    So presumably during the 600 years when Rome was steadily expanding it accepted the natural moral law. This was a society that accepted slavery, the horrors of the circuses, appalling treatment of conquered peoples, and religious persecution – notably the Jews. Does the NLM condone these?

    What in the name of sense are you talking about? Where did I say that Rome’s acceptance of slavery and abuse was an example of following the Natural Moral Law? I simply said that rejecting the Natural Moral Law (in the context of homosexuality) diminishes respect for the family and leads to a declining birth rate.

    It would appear that you think any given society is either all good or all bad, accepting all the virtues and rejecting none or rejecting all virtues and accepting none. No society is totally good and few are totally evil.

  179. 179
    Chalciss says:

    DK @175: Any reader can easily point out that SB, KF & BA have provided an in-depth analysis supporting their assertion with facts and figures.
    On the contrary statements by you such as ‘I was trying to reassure you..’ is meaningless and is just an opinion which fails when pitted against a well-researched argument that is presented by the likes of SB, BA and KF and when it is not supported by facts, rightfully leading to the conclusion that you really have nothing of substance to say.

  180. 180
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    What in the name of sense are you talking about? Where did I say that Rome’s acceptance of slavery and abuse was an example of following the Natural Moral Law?

    Where did I say that you said that!

    I asked if the NML condoned these. Obviously the answer is no. As a result I expected you to explain how early Rome was reconciled with the NML – perhaps I should have been more explicit. It would appear from your answer that you believe the citizens of early Rome accepted some aspects but not others. It would also appear that the missing aspects are fairly major – murder and slavery (and incidentally a level of acceptable homosexuality) are rather significant exceptions n’est-ce pas?

  181. 181
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    StephenB seems committed to ascribing that success to acceptance of the NML. I just wonder how he manages to reconcile that with the kind of society early successful Rome was – violent, cruel, non-Christian, and accepting of homosexuality

    StephenB is not committed to ascribing Rome’s “success” (whatever that means [longevity? power?) to acceptance of the Natural Moral Law, nor does StephenB believe that Rome always and in every way followed the Natural Moral Law. StephenB does attribute much of Rome’s longevity to its association with Christianity, which is what I wrote.

    Also, there is a big difference between implicitly rejecting the Natural Moral Law (which Rome did in some areas and not others) and explicitly rejecting the entire Natural Moral Law in principle, which the Supreme Court of the United States did in 1947, ignoring the entire moral structure established by the Founding Fathers. That is why the United States is imploding at a much more rapid pace.

    In any case, we need not rely on my opinions. Earlier, I said this:

    “In the 1930s, British anthropologist J.D. Unwin studied 86 cultures that stretched across 5,000 years. He found, without exception, when they restricted sex to marriage, they thrived.

    Strong families headed by faithful spouses made for bold, prosperous societies. But not one culture survived more than three generations after turning sexually permissive.

    Noted Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found no culture surviving once it ceased to support marriage and monogamy. None.”

    I am simply following the lead of these experts. So, if you know of anyone who disputes their analysis (and has rational grounds for doing so) I would be open to discussing it.

  182. 182
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    You are trying to wriggle out of something very simple.

    1) You said that Rome’s decline was due to rejecting the NML. Agreed?

    2) It follows that prior to Rome’s decline its citizens accepted at least some parts of the NML.

    All I want to know is which parts.

  183. 183
    Daniel King says:

    StephenB @176,

    I, too, appreciate your grammar lesson. I’m sorry for the miscommunication. I was expressing my puzzlement at your argument from authority:

    In other words, experts like Unwin and Sorokin, who have studied the matter thoroughly, tell us that when a society begins to characterize homosexual behavior as “normal,” it will destroy itself.

    I’m having trouble understanding how countenancing homosexual relationships is supposed to destroy society considering that most people are heterosexual and will continue to practice heterosexuality happily.

  184. 184
    Alan Fox says:

    I’m having trouble understanding how countenancing homosexual relationships is supposed to destroy society considering that most people are heterosexual and will continue to practice heterosexuality happily.

    Well, exactly! Perhaps StephenB thinks homosexuality is catching!

  185. 185
    StephenB says:

    StephenB

    You are trying to wriggle out of something very simple.

    It’s not in my DNA to do that.

    1) You said that Rome’s decline was due to rejecting the NML. Agreed?

    Well, I said that Rome’s decline was largely due to sexual corruption, which is certainly in violation with the Natual Moral Law. So, I can give you a qualified yes.

    It follows that prior to Rome’s decline its citizens accepted at least some parts of the NML.

    Sure, they accepted parts of it implicitly.

    All I want to know is which parts.

    The Roman Virtues & Belief

    “These are the qualities of life to which every Citizen (and, ideally, everyone else) should aspire. They are the heart of the Via Romana — the Roman Way — and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. Today, they are the rods against which we can measure our own behavior and character, and we can strive to better understand and practice them in our everyday lives.”

    Auctoritas: “Spiritual Authority” The sense of one’s social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria.

    Comitas: “Humor” Ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness.

    Clementia: “Mercy” Mildness and gentleness.

    Dignitas: “Dignity” A sense of self-worth, personal pride.

    Firmitas: “Tenacity” Strength of mind, the ability to stick to one’s purpose.

    Frugalitas: “Frugalness” Economy and simplicity of style, without being miserly.

    Gravitas: “Gravity” A sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.

    Honestas: “Respectibility” The image that one presents as a respectable member of society.

    Humanitas: “Humanity” Refinement, civilization, learning, and being cultured.

    Industria: “Industriousness” Hard work.

    Pietas: “Dutifulness” More than religious piety; a respect for the natural order socially, politically, and religiously. Includes the ideas of patriotism and devotion to others.

    Prudentia: “Prudence” Foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.

    Salubritas: “Wholesomeness” Health and cleanliness.

    Severitas: “Sternness” Gravity, self-control.

    Veritas: “Truthfulness” Honesty in dealing with others.

  186. 186
    Daniel King says:

    Maybe this is the nub of the problem:

    Noted Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found no culture surviving once it ceased to support marriage and monogamy. None.

    That might be correct, but why can’t a society support marriage and monogamy for the majority (as ours does through its civil laws) while at the same time tolerating homosexuality for a minority (as our civil laws increasingly do)?

  187. 187
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems that, again, we must underscore the inadvertend admission by Dawkins that is being ever so studiously ignored above, an admission that goes to the heart of the matter in the main, and of the way discussion has proceeded from one tangent to the next in particular. Here he is, in Sci Am Aug 1995:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    As in, evolutionary materialism is amoral, and ends up being utterly ruinous. That starts with quite evident absence of a worldview foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT. (If they had, it would long since have been gleefully trotted out to triumphant cries that IDiots don’t know anything. Studious ignoring of a pivotal point speaks volumes.)

    So, let us not forget that as we see appeals to ought by such advocates.

    And, oh yes there were cries of how Irrelevant I was above. Not really.

    I pointed out that the transition to the principate was itself an acknowledged confession of the failure of the Roman Republic, which was manifested in the utter break down of ruling classes into repeated civil wars and chaos.

    I also took time to outline a key contemporary analysis of the driving forces of the failure. Turning from the fountainhead of the right leads to loss of self control and ruin. Ruin that — as sexual motivation has to be strong to energise marriage — will in particular be evident in this sphere of life. Where also, its twisting out of its natural course speaks volumes. So it is a sign and accelerant.

    Now, it is demanded of us to explain Rome’s success.

    Rome is one of many City States that rose to their time in the sun, and was fortunate to have a martial people who were amenable to discipline. It had the good sense to incorporate conquered Italian peoples and grew stronger. When it had to confront a largely maritime power, it took hard blows but recovered and took to the sea. Once it was master of the Western Mediterranean, it expanded East, to the natural limits. Some expansion northwards was undertaken — in key part reflecting ambitious men.

    Then, even as expansions were yet ongoing, it fell into civil wars, due to the accelerated corruption of its elites and especially youth, much along lines deplored by Plato.

    Then, in desperation it turned to a dictatorship.

    By the time of Octavian, it suffered its first strategically decisive defeat. Permanent, significant expansion was over.

    But all along, the seeds of its destruction were there, growing until c 57 AD, the stunning rebuke already cited was all too deserved.

    In a few years, Nero — hitherto hailed as launching a prosperous age [while under tutelage] — would show just how corrupt the elites were, ending as a suicide in the face of uprising, the first emperor to die by his own hand. Nor should we forget his murder of his mother, first wife [a step-sister it seems] and step-brother [son of the previous Emperor who was probably poisoned by Nero’s mother, who was then his wife], another sign of utter family breakdown at the highest levels. I should mention the report that he kicked another wife to death while she was pregnant, though some suggest innocent miscarriage. His affairs speak for themselves, as do the murders that were already swirling around him by 55 – 59 AD, the period of the letter to Rome.

    Here is a clip from Suetonius concerning Nero that — cf Google Books here — should give us sobering pause:

    Besides the abuse of free-born lads, and the debauch of married women, he committed a rape upon Rubria, a Vestal Virgin. He was upon the point of marrying Acte, his freedwoman, having suborned some men of consular rank to swear that she was of royal descent. He gelded the boy Sporus, and endeavoured to transform him into a woman. He even went so far as to marry him, with all the usual formalities of a marriage settlement, the rose-coloured nuptial veil, and a numerous company at the wedding. When the ceremony was over, he had him conducted like a bride to his own house, and treated him as his wife. It was jocularly observed by some person, “that it would have been well for mankind, had such a wife fallen to the lot of his father Domitius.” This Sporus he carried about with him in a litter round the solemn assemblies and fairs of Greece, and afterwards at Rome through the Sigillaria, dressed in the rich attire of an empress; kissing him from time to time as they rode together.

    XXIX. He prostituted his own chastity to such a degree, that (358) after he had defiled every part of his person with some unnatural pollution, he at last invented an extraordinary kind of diversion; which was, to be let out of a den in the arena, covered with the skin of a wild beast, and then assail with violence the private parts both of men and women, while they were bound to stakes. After he had vented his furious passion upon them, he finished the play in the embraces of his freedman Doryphorus 595, to whom he was married in the same way that Sporus had been married to himself; imitating the cries and shrieks of young virgins, when they are ravished. I have been informed from numerous sources, that he firmly believed, no man in the world to be chaste, or any part of his person undefiled; but that most men concealed that vice, and were cunning enough to keep it secret. To those, therefore, who frankly owned their unnatural lewdness, he forgave all other crimes. [Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero, XXVIII, XXViX.]

    A sad sign of things to come for Rome, and substantiating backdrop for Paul’s critique.

    KF

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    DK: As already was pointed out at 171, the target of the radicals is in fact plainly destruction of marriage and the moral frame undergirding it, with social, administrative and increasingly legal sanction against those who would dare object on principle. As is already beginning to happen under false colours of hijacked civil rights law. Remember, the issue is the IS that properly grounds OUGHT, absent which all becomes a brutal might and manipulation make ‘right’ power game. As Plato long since warned 2350 years ago in The Laws Bk X. So Dawkins’ inadvertent admission is the pivotal matter. KF

  189. 189
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King:

    I, too, appreciate your grammar lesson. I’m sorry for the miscommunication.

    It is my privilege to assist you.

    I was expressing my puzzlement at your argument from authority:

    You mean this? SB [“In other words, experts like Unwin and Sorokin, who have studied the matter thoroughly, tell us that when a society begins to characterize homosexual behavior as “normal,” it will destroy itself].

    Why are you puzzled? I think it is important to know that common sense has been vindicated by the study of Anthropology. Bad behavior leads to bad (and sometimes disastrous) social consequences. It seems logical enough to me.

    I’m having trouble understanding how countenancing homosexual relationships is supposed to destroy society considering that most people are heterosexual and will continue to practice heterosexuality happily.

    To assign normalcy to homosexual behavior is to say that there is nothing wrong or perverse about it and, by extension, to grant that officially sanctioned gay unions, (expressed in contemporary terms as gay marriage) are just as legitimate as heterosexual marriages. This destroys the meaning of the word “marriage,” which is more than just an exercise in linguistics.

    From a social perspective, it would mean that marriage, which has existed historically as the only way to regulate the obligations and responsibilities associated with the human capacity to procreate, no longer means that at all. If marriage doesn’t mean that, then there is no longer any institutional safeguard, or even regard for) the family.

  190. 190
    Daniel King says:

    StephenB,

    Thank you for you comments.

    “Normalcy” is defined by the majority.

    Marriage between heterosexuals who are unable to procreate is countenanced by our society and safeguarded by our civil laws. There has been no historical requirement for marriage to entail procreation.

    The civil laws remain the institutional safeguards for families and are not nullified by homosexual marriages or by homosexual relationships outside of civil marriage.

  191. 191
    StephenB says:

    Thank you for you comments.

    Daniel King,

    Thanks for your response.

    “Normalcy” is defined by the majority.

    Normal can mean either conforming to a standard or rightly oriented (as I often use the word), but it can also mean, as you suggest, something or someone who is typical or usual. Everything turns on the context.

    However, I don’t think that this problem has come up with my use of the word. I am saying that if the majority of a population comes to consider homosexual behavior as normal (regardless of how many or few practice it), then that society is doomed. That usage would be consistent with your definition, which I agree is a legitimate alternative use.

    Marriage between heterosexuals who are unable to procreate is countenanced by our society and safeguarded by our civil laws. There has been no historical requirement for marriage to entail procreation.

    .

    Right, nor should there be. We are discussing the meaning of the principle of marriage. Married couples who are open to the transmission of life, and who, in principle, could by virtue of their nature, procreate, do not violate the natural moral law if they happen to lack that capacity. On the other hand, homosexual unions cannot, in principle, produce offspring. Thus, that practice violates the purpose of sexual union as historically understood and redefines it as something to be done solely for fun.

    The civil laws remain the institutional safeguards for families and are not nullified by homosexual marriages or by homosexual relationships outside of civil marriage.

    The civil laws are safeguards for families only insofar as they maintain the meaning of the word marriage. If that definition is changed to include those who, by nature, cannot procreate, then all the obligations and responsibilities attendant to procreation are transferred from the family to the government.

  192. 192
    Daniel King says:

    The civil laws are safeguards for families only insofar as they maintain the meaning of the word marriage. If that definition is changed to include those who, by nature, cannot procreate, then all the obligations and responsibilities attendant to procreation are transferred from the family to the government.

    That’s your opinion, StephenB, but I don’t see how it follows logically. As a parent, I do not feel threatened by homosexual relationships and if homosexuals wish to marry in my jurisdiction, I do not consider myself relieved of my parental obligations or responsibilities thereby. I doubt if any sane parent would.

    And I’m confident that my neighbors and children would appeal to the civil authorities in my jurisdiction to set me straight if I behaved otherwise.

  193. 193
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King

    That’s your opinion, StephenB, but I don’t see how it follows logically. As a parent, I do not feel threatened by homosexual relationships and if homosexuals wish to marry in my jurisdiction, I do not consider myself relieved of my parental obligations or responsibilities thereby. I doubt if any sane parent would.

    Well, if you don’t agree with my projection, let’s examine the issue in the context of the big picture. From a historical and anthropological perspective, it is primarily a question of what a culture does with its sexual energy. It can either [a] convert that energy into intellectual, moral, and material prosperity, in which case it will flourish, or it can [b] squander that sexual energy through sexual immorality, in which case it will destroy itself. There is nothing speculative about that thesis since it has already been confirmed and tested. It defines every culture that has ever existed.

    In 1934, J. D. Unwin, who wrote “Sex and Culture,” collected and studied data from 86 cultures. He had no Christian convictions and applied no moral judgment. He writes, “I offer no opinion about rightness or wrongness.” Though he did not, as they say, have a “dog in the fight,” he reached the following conclusion: “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence.”

    In 1956, Pitirim Sorokin, who wrote The American Sex Revolution, reached the same conclusion. As he put it, “there is no example [in history] of a community which has retained its high position on the cultural scale after less rigorous sexual customs have replaced more restricting ones.” Loosening sexual morals in the late stages of Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Mongol, Greek, Roman, and Ptolemaic–Egyptian civilizations were all associated, Sorokin says, with the decline of these civilizations in creative vigor of all kinds.

    Again, Sorokin writes, “The regime that permits chronically excessive, illicit, and disorderly sex activities contributes to the decline of cultural creativity, [while] the regime that confines sexual life within socially sanctioned marriage…provides an environment more favorable for creative growth of the society than does the regime of free or disorderly sex relationships which neither morally disapproves nor legally prohibits premarital and extramarital liaisons.”

  194. 194
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB #185

    Thanks. I am surprised that these are all part of the NML but I bow to your expertise. I am also surprised that they are all to be found in practice in early Rome. But I will not pursue it any more.

  195. 195
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB #193

    I have to say that I think this says more about Anthropology and Sociology than it does about society. They are both disciplines where it is all too easy to let your own culture and politics determine your conclusions.

    I did a bit of reading about Unwin. He may not have been a Christian and professed to offer no opinion but he lived at a time and in a society where sexual morals were at least on the face of it much more restricted than they are now. I gather that his concept of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence was very male oriented – women needed to be virginal until marriage, faithful and subservient in marriage. Men, it didn’t matter too much. The result is that as well being a darling of the religious right he is also a darling of the anti-feminist movement.) I don’t intend to waste time obtaining and reading his books but I do wonder how he accounts for the incredibly successful but polygamous Ottoman empire.

  196. 196
    5for says:

    StephenB:
    Sexual union done solely for fun? Perish the thought!

  197. 197
    Alan Fox says:

    Sexual union done solely for fun? Perish the thought!

    It could lead to dancing! 😉

  198. 198
    Mark Frank says:

    A paradox just struck me.

    PVH is surely right that it is always possible you are wrong about an objective belief.  Take the paradigm example – 2+2=4. Very young children are frequently  wrong about 2+2=4. They are neither lunatics nor liars. Quite sophisticated adults are wrong about more complicated sums which are true for the same reasons as 2+2=4. It is a question of degree – as the maths get simpler and simpler you get more and more confident – but there is always the possibility you were a bit closer to the young child than you realised. 
    Oddly – there is a class of subjective statements which you cannot get wrong e.g. I think, I hate, I have a pain, I am angry.

  199. 199
    Mark Frank says:

    Whoops just posted #198 on the wrong thread – please ignore.

  200. 200
    kairosfocus says:

    MF:

    This is actually quite relevant, given the pivot, what is a self evident truth.

    2 + 2 = 4 we can make errors about.

    That does not change the reality that once we understand it, we see that it is so and must be so on pain of patent absurdity.

    To illustrate:

    Take 2 + 2 = 5

    Translate:

    || || = |||||

    Take away || and ||:

    ____________ = |

    Absurd, and obviously so

    More complex sums are also often in error, but the error/absurdity is not OBVIOUS on inspection.

    And certainly, one does not cling to it through a preference for what is plain folly!

    But when it comes to first principles of right reason, or conscious mindedness, or core morality, while the absurdities of rejection are as patent, there seem to be strong motives at work leading ever so many to cling to folly — often by distracting attention and/or playing with strawmen.

    As has so often been seen here at UD.

    For instance, let us turn to:

    MORAL ASSERTION 1: it is self evidently wrong to kidnap, torture, sexually violate and murder a child.

    Just try to explicitly deny it. Monstrous absurdity.

    Try to suggest a social order that rejects it: it will collapse into clan blood feuds as men fight for their children and others they care about, and thence chaos and tyranny.

    And yet, this case reveals ever so much on the absurdity of systems that imply that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    That is, it points out how we are morally governed, thus live in a world where there is a foundational IS that can bear the weight of ought. But as there is only one serious candidate — moral government under an inherently good Creator-God — this is so often fought against tooth and nail. Never mind any analysis that sees that so suppressing moral governance leads to unravelling in a whirlpool of moral chaos, with sexual manifestations as above prominent as the sexual instinct has to be very strong to secure the continuity of the race through sound families. (Indeed, that is at the pivot of the emergence of blood feuds: men will willingly go over the top in the face of machine guns to defend their loved ones.)

    So, we come back to the inadvertently revealing admission of Dr Dawkins in Sci Am Aug 1995, as he declares on the moral implications of his evolutionary materialism:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [–> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    Those who adopt such a view or its fellow-travellers, have a serious challenge to address the IS that founds OUGHT.

    KF

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    DK:

    Actually, the problem runs the other way around, once we see that:

    He who would rob me of my livelihood . . .
    threatens my life;
    He who would rob me of my conscience . . .
    threatens my soul:
    He who would rob me of my children . . .
    threatens my posterity.

    For, as we speak, under false colours of law and/or regulatory and administrative powers — across several jurisdictions — there are serious infringements against those who have principled, freedom of conscience objections to the attempted homosexualisation of marriage, law, education, employment and society. Where, people have now been repeatedly penalised in ways that directly fall under the just listed concerns.

    And, we have every right to stand up now on the matter and speak out loud and clear that fundamental freedoms and rights are already being violated under false colour of law etc, with sobering onward implications.

    As just one example (via a CT report):

    In a closely watched case on gay rights, religious freedom, artistic freedom, the speech rights of businesses, and a host of other legal hot button issues, the New Mexico Supreme Court today ruled that wedding photographers could not refuse to shoot gay ceremonies.

    “When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the [New Mexico Human Rights Act, or NMHRA] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races,” the court said in a unanimous verdict.

    The court rejected each of photographer’s Elaine Huguenin’s arguments, particularly one in which Huguenin had argued that her refusal did not discriminate against same-sex customers. Huguenin had argued that she would happily photograph gay customers, but not in a context that seemed to endorse same-sex marriage. Likewise, she said, she wouldn’t shoot heterosexuals in a context that endorsed same-sex marriage . . . .

    [I]t is Justice Richard Bosson’s concurring opinion, not the majority opinion, that is already getting the most attention. The Huguenins, he wrote “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

    This is how I commented:

    >> All of this is an outrage.

    The solution to this is very simple, and should have been done before injustice like this was enshrined under false colours of “law” and “rights”: consider the asymmetry in impact of the two alternate decisions before the court, in light of impact on right to livelihood and right to conscience.

    That is, if photographer A, for reasons of principled conscience objects to taking photographs in a given situation — say, refuses to photograph nudity (and there are nude weddings and there is such a thing as nude photography or even pornography that has been made acceptable under law. . . ) or any other morally questionable event E — the person seeking a photographer, X, could easily go elsewhere, to photographer B who would be happy to get the additional business. In short, A is doing no significant material harm to X by giving up the opportunity to have X as a customer for event E, as an alternative is readily available.

    Plainly, A is not sitting on the only source of food or water for miles around in the middle of a desert and is not acting in defiance of obvious and legitimate universal human needs.

    A is simply saying, that under circumstances E, on principle, I am willing to forgo money as I refuse to endorse E.

    That is, A is expressing principled freedom of conscience and of conscience-guided speech, at cost to themselves of business foregone.

    In this case, X — in the teeth of easily available alternatives — is obviously saying: I demand that you endorse E, and will resort to force to make you violate conscience, or go out of business or face the force of the state acting under colours of law.

    This action of X is blatantly wrong.

    Do I dare call it by name?

    Yes: CENSORSHIP.

    And X did go to the state to intervene to enforce such censorship, under what is now so plainly unjust law — under false colours of “rights.”

    (Where, if you have been taken in by the talking points on how homosexual behaviour and choosing to identify oneself by one’s questionable sexual proclivities are genetically innate so a right that justifies a demand for “marriage equality,” etc etc, I suggest you take a moment to read here on the “my genes made me do it” claim . . . )

    So also, if a Judge, J, now intervenes and demands that photographer A lend her skills and effort to the promotion of that which is offensive to her conscience, or go out of business or suffer penalty under colour of law, that is a direct threat to both livelihood and conscience, as well as to freedom of speech guided by principled conscience. >>

    So, DK, as this and several other cases show, this is not a matter of live and let live tolerance of what one disagrees with at all. It is a case of radical imposition by naked force and manipulation under false colours of law, that demands APPROVAL of what is inherently disordered and destructive; indeed, arguably a calculated counterfeit designed to supplant and destroy the foundational stabilising institution of human society. (Which will have predictably devastating impacts across time, multiplying those of easy divorce, widespread adultery, fornication, promiscuity and pornography, and more. We live in a very sick, increasingly decadent and self-destructive age.)

    In short, this is a blatant Rom 1:32 demand that we approve of evil or else. Nor is it isolated, there is a growing pattern of such abuses across already several jurisdictions. (Cf. on two pivotal cases in the UK here, and here on the recent abuse of the US Presidential bully pulpit in support of the same general agenda here. This is a watershed, irretrievably polarising and dividing point for our civilisation.)

    In reply to all of this, I again cite the prophet Isaiah about this sort of willful moral inversion:

    Is 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes,
    19 who say: “Let him be quick,
    let him speed his work
    that we may see it;
    let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
    and let it come, that we may know it!”
    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!
    22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
    and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
    23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    and deprive the innocent of his right! [ESV]

    KF

  202. 202
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I should note that being black is simply not a moral issue. Requiring me to endorse institutionalisation of questionable sexual behaviour and an associated destructive agenda that subverts the foundational stabilising social institution certainly is. and, to try to slander me for marking that difference as being the moral equivalent of a racist — the current equivalent to what blasphemy laws once were — is an utter, unspeakable outrage. All the worse, for coming directly from a judge’s bench under false colour of law.

  203. 203
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Just so, we see another case of how junk science — corrected junk science — joined to media and educators failing to do duties of care to accuracy balance truth and fairness, are serving the cause of injustice under false colours of law.

  204. 204
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: incorrigible subjective statements are — when true — truths of consciousness. KF

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