Intelligent Design

Hatred of Religion By Materialists More Virulent Than Previously Thought Possible

Spread the love

See update at the end of this post.

In the comment section to the last post Bill Dembski alluded to an NSF staffer who attempted to justify surfing porn at work.  The staffer’s justification:  he was only trying to help provide a living to poor overseas women. Denyse O’Leary suggested that if this loser had really wanted to help poor women overseas he could have made a donation to any of the various religious orders that actually help poor women overseas instead of participating in ensnaring them in sexual slavery. Dembski responded by posing tongue-in-cheek the following question:

Denyse, You raise an interesting question for Richard Dawkins: If we had to choose one or the other, helping “poor overseas women” by (1) frequenting at taxpayer’s expense porn sites that pay these women a cut, the porn sites presumably constituting a purely secular activity or by (2) donating money to Catholic/Protestant charities that care for these women by providing shelter, food, and medical care, these charities constituting a religious activity, which should we prefer? I suspect RD, given his virulent hatred of religion, would opt for (1).

At least Dembski thought the question was tongue-in-cheek. Who could have expected the reply from someone who calls himself Seversky? First Seversky defended pornography on the ground that it has been around a long time. Seversky, rape, murder, and theft have been around for a long time too; does that make you in favor of those activities as well?

Then Seversky  takes a swipe at Christians who have caused scandals by falling to sexual sin. I suppose Seversky is pushing the risible notion that these handful of failures are somehow representative of the hundreds of millions of Christians who strive daily to live lives marked by adherence to the Golden Rule.

But Seversky’s defense of porn and his attempt to smear millions both pale in comparison to this gob-smacking passage: “I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization [sic] as part of their program.”

 There you have it. Our opponents count among their number a man who would rather see a young woman live in sexual slavery if that’s what it takes to insulate her from the influence of Christians who would try to help her. After I picked myself up from the floor, my first inclination was to delete the comment and ban this moral monster from the site. Then, I thought better of it. Instead, of deleting the comment, I will put it out there for everyone in the world to see. And I say this to our opponents who appear at this site: How do you answer Dembski’s question? Do you agree with Seversky? If not, will you remain silent or will you come on here and distance yourself from the views he expressed?

Update:  As I write this 27 comments have been made.  As I expected, the materialists have stood by their man Seversky, mainly by advancing patently absurd interpretations of his comments.  And they’ve even attacked me, also as expected.  Pathetic.  Again, I was tempted to delete their comments, but I will not.  Instead, I will leave their moral squalor on display for all to see.

41 comments now and still not one materialist has condemned Seversky’s views.  Astounding.

126 Replies to “Hatred of Religion By Materialists More Virulent Than Previously Thought Possible

  1. 1
    Monastyrski says:

    Hmmm, I read Seversky’s comment more charitably (no pun intended). It sounded to me as if (s)he prefers to give to charitable donations that do [I]not[/I] proselytize – as opposed to those that [I]do[/I] proselytize.

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    If I want rabid, Christian-hating atheist whargarrbl, I generally go to Fark.com, not Uncommon Descent.

    Wow…just wow.

    I really am trying to wrap my brain around Seversky’s comments about porn being okay since it’s been around for a long time and how seeing a woman living as a sexual slave is also okay, but I’m afraid my mother raised me right and I just can’t.

    The next time someone posts, “Hey, atheists have morals too!” point them to Seversky’s post and reply, “Oh, really?”

  3. 3
    T. lise says:

    “my first inclination was to delete the comment and ban this moral monster from the site. Then, I thought better of it. Instead, of deleting the comment, I will put it out there for everyone in the world to see”

    A good choice!! Exellent example of tolerance. i.e letting the individual have his/her say, yet engaging with his/her idea. Can we find such example from people like Dawkins??

    Me think Behe might want to answer this question, given the fact that Dawkin keep on distorting his argument.

  4. 4
    quaggy says:

    Seversky writes:

    “As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization [sic] as part of their program.”

    Barry responds:

    Our opponents count among their number a man who would rather see a young woman live in sexual slavery if that’s what it takes to insulate her from the influence of Christians who would try to help her.

    Umm, is there some other comment from Seversky that hasn’t seen the light of day? Because, try as I might, I cannot twist Seversky’s statement regarding his choice of charitable organization to arrive at Barry’s inference regarding him. I see nothing more than S. saying his preference is for secular charities. I certainly don’t see anything that remotely could be construed as support for sexual slavery.

  5. 5
    Learned Hand says:

    Mr. Arrington,

    What an appalling and dishonest post. You wantonly mischaracterize Seversky’s comment.

    Seversky:

    Whether we like it or not, pornography seems to have been a by-product of human sexuality at least since recorded history began. Societies have, at various times, indulged it or tried to suppress it. Neither approach stopped it.

    BA:

    First Seversky defended pornography on the ground that it has been around a long time. Seversky, rape, murder, and theft have been around for a long time too; does that make you in favor of those activities as well?

    Seversky is not defending pornography. He is observing that it has been around for a long time, and is difficult to suppress. At no point does he make a moral judgment in favor or pornography. His point appears to be a criticism of the implied connection between the subject’s position as an NSF staffer and his misdeeds, not a defense of those deeds. We can see this from his next paragraph:

    Nor has religious affiliation been as successful at immunizing believers against sexual misbehavior as its adherents like to believe.

    In other words, the institutions of science and the institutions of ID are both staffed with human beings, with human failings. At no point does Seversky “defend[] pornography.”

    You bizarrely continue:

    Then Seversky takes a swipe at Christians who have caused scandals by falling to sexual sin. I suppose Seversky is pushing the risible notion that these handful of failures are somehow representative of the hundreds of millions of Christians who strive daily to live lives marked by adherence to the Golden Rule.

    Seversky’s point is exactly the opposite of what you imply. In fact, he explicitly refers to “a few Catholic priests” (emphasis added). He does not suggest in any way that the failings of a few are extensible to the many; it appears, in fact, to be entirely contrary to his point.

    You smear Seversky referring to his “defense of porn and his attempt to smear millions,” but neither is supported by his actual words, which you fail to provide for your readers.

    Your post is a deeply misleading and unfair attack, Mr. Arrington. But it peaks with your astonishingly crass accusation that Seversky “would rather see a young woman live in sexual slavery if that’s what it takes to insulate her from the influence of Christians who would try to help her.” Nothing in his comment suggests this. He says that he “would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization as part of their program” (emphasis original). He does not say that he refuses to give to such programs in the absence of a preferred alternative, and your assumption that this is so is both unwarranted and uncivil. There is certainly no cause for calling the man a “moral monster.”

    The only moral failing I see in this chain is yours, in wantonly and brazenly mischaracterizing Seversky’s comment. I recall that you are an attorney, sir, and that disappoints me. I have always believed that the reputation of lawyers as men who are careless with the truth was misconceived and unfair, given our uniquely fiduciary roles, but you give life to the stereotype. If any post ever deserved to be swallowed by the Uncommon Descent memory hole, it is this vicious, barbaric, and utterly unjustified attack.

    If you disagree, I ask you to point out where, exactly, Seversky “defended” pornography, and where he said that he would prefer to see women raped than subjected to religion. I would rather see you muster the decency to offer a sincere apology, but I doubt it will happen; I suspect rather that both Seversky and myself will be silently banned to protect your twisted slurs.

  6. 6
    Learned Hand says:

    Barb,

    I really am trying to wrap my brain around Seversky’s comments about porn being okay since it’s been around for a long time and how seeing a woman living as a sexual slave is also okay…

    Can you show me where those comments are? I don’t see anything like that in the one comment Mr. Arrington identified, nor do I see any others in which Seversky says anything remotely like what you say.

    …but I’m afraid my mother raised me right and I just can’t.

    Did she raise you rightly enough that you would apologize for accusing him of approving of rape? As I see it, you’ve said a terrible thing and entirely unjustified thing about him. What makes that right? What do you do if it’s wrong?

  7. 7
    tragic mishap says:

    All that’s required to prove Barry wrong is Seversky showing and saying that he doesn’t believe what Barry says he does. So how about it Seversky?

  8. 8
    BillB says:

    Barry, perhaps you should re-read Seversky’s post, here, I’ll reproduce it:

    Whether we like it or not, pornography seems to have been a by-product of human sexuality at least since recorded history began. Societies have, at various times, indulged it or tried to suppress it. Neither approach stopped it.

    Nothing in that sentence is an endorsement of pornography, it is factual observation – or are you going to deny that pornography has a long history?

    Seversky also said:

    As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization as part of their program.

    To which you reply:

    There you have it. Our opponents count among their number a man who would rather see a young woman live in sexual slavery if that’s what it takes to insulate her from the influence of Christians who would try to help her.

    Is that what Seversky said? No. He said he would prefer to give charitably to secular organisations in order to help these people. He did not say that he would rather let them suffer.

    Can I ask – have you put Seversky in moderation or will he be allowed to defend him/herself?

    Can I also ask that you pay more attention to the notion of ‘bearing false witness’

  9. 9
    BillB says:

    Barry:

    If I said “Hitler killed lots of Jews”, would you then accusing me of defending Hitler?

  10. 10
    Learned Hand says:

    All that’s required to prove Barry wrong is Seversky showing and saying that he doesn’t believe what Barry says he does.

    Mr. Arrington didn’t read Seversky’s mind, he read a single comment. His insults are based on that single comment. All that’s required to prove Mr. Arrington right is for him to show where in that comment he finds any basis for accusing Seversky of preferring rape to religion. Seversky needn’t defend himself, as he is not in the wrong here.

    IDists seem to pride themselves on their superior moral instincts, but I see no basis for that here. This is an appallingly unethical post, and I’m shocked that Barb and tragic mishap don’t seem to put any value on an honest appraisal of what’s been said.

  11. 11
    Nakashima says:

    On reading Seversky’s comment in the context of the thread, I think the stress (bolding) of the word ‘prefer’ in the original shows that Seversky is trying to opt out of Dr Dembski’s odious false dichotomy.

    Mr Arrington, you’ll have my response right after you post Diffaxial’s.

  12. 12
    Clive Hayden says:

    Learned Hand,

    Seversky’s point is exactly the opposite of what you imply. In fact, he explicitly refers to “a few Catholic priests” (emphasis added). He does not suggest in any way that the failings of a few are extensible to the many; it appears, in fact, to be entirely contrary to his point.

    He points out that Christianity doesn’t absolutely and in every case immunize everyone from sexual misdeeds by mentioning a few cases. The implication is that Christianity doesn’t stop sexual immorality in general. Barry’s characterization is right. Seversky’s point would be trivial if he only meant it to apply to a few men in the history of the faith and the enormous numbers of believers over that history. And, not to mention, how could anyone know how many people have refrained from sexual immorality because they were Christians? How do we know that it hasn’t been a calming effect on the otherwise rampant nature of the sexual impulse? The individual testimonies of Christians is such that this is vindicated as an outlook on the whole affair.

    The only moral failings I see in this chain are yours and Seversky’s. Barry’s characterization of Seversky is exactly correct and spot on. That you would attempt to turn the argument around shows your intentional intellectual dis-ingenuousness to back your side when your side is clearly wrong, and this flies in the face of common decency. I recall that you claim to be an attorney sir, and this disappoints me. You give life to the atheistic/materialistic stereotype that perverts justice and argues vainly. I wonder about your interpretative ability, you see the opposite of what should be seen as obviously written and obviously intended. This has happened over and over, to the point that I doubt we can have any useful conversation. Claiming that pornography has been around a long time whether we like it or not, is implying that it is something that just “is” wherever humans are as a result of being human, and something that just “is” a result of being human and existing over the course of human history is to give it a normative place in humanity. This implication is obvious, but for you, either you don’t get it, or you intentionally avoid this implication to back your side of the argument. I think you get it, and I think that you think that the gray area is enough for you to move in. That anything short of explicit and unalterable declarations, you have room to change meaning from what was originally implied. I’ve seen this consistently from you, and it’s very annoying. I bet you even pride yourself with this manipulative ability. It certainly seems evident that you consider yourself talented enough to be brazen in your employment of it, that’s obvious. And the interesting thing is that you’re quick to fault Barry for what you perceive to be the same tactic. Barry doesn’t have the guile that you have, nor the self-referential incoherence, nor the hypocrisy. Good day sir.

  13. 13
    prhean says:

    I was unaware that pornographers do not proselytize. Now I know.

  14. 14
    NZer says:

    Within a “materialism only” worldview, what on earth is wrong with his pro-porn/anti-Christian comment. How can porn be objectively morally wrong if right and wrong are just constructs of societies?

  15. 15
    BillB says:

    Claiming that pornography has been around a long time whether we like it or not, is implying that it is something that just “is” wherever humans are as a result of being human, and something that just “is” a result of being human and existing over the course of human history is to give it a normative place in humanity.

    Are you claiming that pornography has not been around for long? – I seem to remember seeing some Roman porn at Pompei. Making a factual observation like ‘Pornography has been around for a long time’ in no way advocates it – remember Barry said this:

    rape, murder, and theft have been around for a long time too;

    So does that mean he endorses them?

    I suspect this is not about what he said so much as finding a way of manufacturing an excuse to ban a long time ID critic who has always behaved civilly, and never given you a convenient excuse to silence them.

    The FACT is that Barry’s post is deeply dishonest and an immoral slur, the kind of thing we normally expect from KF.

    And I’ll just re state my earlier question: If I said “Anti-semitism has been around for a very long time” would you claim I was advocating anti-semitism?

    I suspect you would, if it suited your purpose.

  16. 16
    Clive Hayden says:

    BillB,

    rape, murder, and theft have been around for a long time too;

    So does that mean he endorses them?

    The difference is the implication that pornography wasn’t objectively morally wrong with the preface “Whether we like it or not”. It’s the moral relevancy implied by Seversky that wouldn’t apply to rape and murder. And the the following implication that it is normative. That is the difference. I should have made that point explicit, because I thought someone would bring it up.

  17. 17
    Clive Hayden says:

    BillB,

    The FACT is that Barry’s post is deeply dishonest and an immoral slur, the kind of thing we normally expect from KF.

    It is not even shallowly dishonest. And I don’t appreciate your slur on KF either. Maybe this should be the post which acts as a clearinghouse of all you who want to get off your chest what you really think and risk being banned.

  18. 18
    Monastyrski says:

    Clive,

    The difference is the implication that pornography wasn’t objectively morally wrong with the preface “Whether we like it or not”.

    I don’t see at all how that is implied. Can you explain, please?

  19. 19
    Clive Hayden says:

    Nakashima,

    Mr Arrington, you’ll have my response right after you post Diffaxial’s.

    I banned Diffaxial, so you’ll be waiting a long time.

  20. 20
    Clive Hayden says:

    Monastyrski,

    It’s claiming that some folks in general find it morally okay, that is to make it relevant. If you don’t see how that implies moral relativism, I’m not sure what else I can do for you.

  21. 21
    Clive Hayden says:

    NZer,

    Within a “materialism only” worldview, what on earth is wrong with his pro-porn/anti-Christian comment. How can porn be objectively morally wrong if right and wrong are just constructs of societies?

    That is the relativism that Seversky was implying, that since pornography was a result of our human sexuality as a result of being human, and that since it had always been around wherever humans are, and that some folks like it and some folks don’t, hence a defense.

  22. 22
    Jordan says:

    Clive,

    Your argument strikes me as weird.

    “Whether we like it or not, X is true” simply implies that the truth of X is not subject to our preferences — i.e., X is true, regardless of how we feel about it. Example: “Like it or not, we’re in a recession.” There’s nothing normative about it, and it certainly doesn’t imply “moral relativism.”

  23. 23
    Borne says:

    Atheist hatred for religion (especially Christianity) is becoming livid, fanatical and disgusting these days.

    There is now a bumper sticker going around that says, “so

    many Christians, so few lion”.

    The Christians will no doubt tolerate this, as they do everything else the threatens their very existence today.

    But what do you think would happen if people were driving around with a sticker that said rather, “so many Jews, so few death camps”, or ,”so many Muslims so few grenades”?

    It wouldn’t last more than 20 minutes before being pulled over, stoned or Molotov cocktailed and then becoming a national disgrace generating rage across the region if not the country.

    Pathetic how these lame brained atheists dimwits can get away with this and Christians are supposed to roll over and play dead – pretend it isn’t happening.

    I for one am sick of this spineless wimp version of Christianity that seems to prevail these days.

    I posted this on a Christian forum and asked what positive, appropriate action Christians should take. All I got was fluffy and foolish “I’d just love them back” and “accept that they are merely acting as per their sinful nature” or basically “leave it to God and do nothing”. Some even said “rejoice its an honor to be persecuted for God”.

    Not a single viable proposal for social action or outcry against such messages!

    The next generation of Xians are the ones who will end up paying the ultimate price for our sinful tolerance.

    About 170,000 Christians are martyred every year.

    If we continue doing basically nothing against such publicly displayed messages (showing homicidal sentiment) that’s what America will start to see.

  24. 24
    Borne says:

    sorry for the typos – it should read, “so many Christians, so few lions”.

  25. 25
    Joseph says:

    Seversky:
    Whether we like it or not, pornography seems to have been a by-product of human sexuality at least since recorded history began. Societies have, at various times, indulged it or tried to suppress it. Neither approach stopped it.

    Apologies Barry but I do not read that as defending porno.

    Explaining it perhaps, but not defending it.

    Seversky:
    Nor has religious affiliation been as successful at immunizing believers against sexual misbehavior as its adherents like to believe. The scandal of abuse by a few Catholic priests has already been alluded to and there is surely no need to remind onlookers of the cases of other prominent Christians who have fallen below the standards of morality they preached to others.

    Maybe a little overboard but not a lie.

    He was making a point. People in glass houses type of deal.

    Seversky:
    As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization as part of their program.

    That is borderline stupid by lumping all Christians together.

    However Seversky seems to have missed the point.

    Sherkin’ the gherkin on taxpayer’s money is a no-no.

  26. 26
    Mark Frank says:

    #25

    Congrats to Joseph for a calm and reasonable assessment of Seversky’s comments. As for the last paragraph:

    As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization as part of their program.

    He is only answering the question that Dembski asked. It was light-hearted question (I hope) and I read it as a light-hearted response.

    Barry – this is an utterly absurd outburst.

  27. 27
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Hayden,

    It will be Mr Arrington waiting a long time, not I.

    But, you could always unban Mr Diffaxial, and see what happens.

  28. 28
    O'Leary says:

    This is becoming a hot topic, so I will try to move the kettle off the stove for a bit.

    A couple of reflections:

    Pornography tends to corrupt relations between men and women for several reasons:

    – Little pornography is prepared for women. This fact tells you something right away.

    (Note: If you know of some, do not send any of it to me. I can be one mean granny when people abuse my Inbox. I am here as a help, not a target for any kind of abuse.)

    – Pornography leads to expectations that typical women cannot meet. That leads men to want things they will not get from normal relationships with, for example, wives who make good mothers, who will support the guy in time of trouble and during the difficulties of old age. Remember that in most societies, women live longer than men … So the guy winds up a loser because he was ogling more beautiful but far less personable women.

    – I doubt this can be proven, but pornography is probably a factor in violence against women. A police officer once told me that it was rare NOT to find pornography when searching the flat of an accused perp. So pornography probably functions as a lure for sex tourism.

    – Pornography is NOT a fact of life, any more than public profanity is. If you have a big porn industry, you will have lots of porn. If you have a small porn industry, you will have little of it. In the same way, if someone starts using profanity on a TV show and tens of thousands of people just change the channel immediately, what do you think will happen to the ratings and the advertising revenue?

    – As a free speech journalist, I am always leery of laws in these areas, because laws are useless compared to public distaste and disapproval. Of course I think sexual abuse of minors should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and I assume that all decent people agree. But the first step is broad public disapproval of the practices and the mindset that leads to them.

  29. 29
    ShawnBoy says:

    Isn’t Seversky a previously banned commentator?

  30. 30
    tragic mishap says:

    Seversky’s comment taken as it was, did not actually answer Dembski’s question, but created a new question which was easier to answer.

    Dembski’s question was would RD use the money to:

    1) Pay for porn to help poor women
    or
    2) Give to religious charities to help poor women

    Seversky said he and RD, given the following options:

    A) Give money to a religious charity to help poor women
    or
    B) Give money to a non-religious charity to help poor women

    would choose B).

    Basically, he changed the question and then answered it. I would like to see his answer to the original question. Of course, he cannot be assumed to speak for RD but one can hope.

  31. 31
    Hedge says:

    Barry, are you lumping Joseph (comment #25) into the materialistic “moral squalor” camp? Just curious.

  32. 32
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Arrington,

    The interest in the responses is not in the expected, it is in the unexpected. It isn’t just teh ebil materialists that think you have overshot.

    But following Mrs O’Leary, lets shift the discourse slightly. Is there moral squalor in odious false dichotomy? If a trial lawyer asks a witness “Have you stopped beating your wife? Just answer the question!” is there any element of moral squalor in the approach? In the American advocacy system of pursuing justice, who is allowed to object to that kind of question? Is the witness allowed to object? Does the American Bar Association have a position on this kind of questioning?

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    —–Learned Hand: “Seversky is not defending pornography. He is observing that it has been around for a long time, and is difficult to suppress. At no point does he make a moral judgment in favor or pornography. His point appears to be a criticism of the implied connection between the subject’s position as an NSF staffer and his misdeeds, not a defense of those deeds.

    Seversky’s first point is that pornography is not worth fighting. For him, society has tried as various times and places to stop it, but they just couldn’t get the job done. That is what is called the famous Darwinist “it’s-just-reality-you-are-going-to-have-live-with-it” defense. They do the same thing with pre-teen sex and abortion.

    Seversky’s second point is that pornography is a “by-produce of sexuality,” meaning that it is quite natural and to be expected. That is yet another defense.

    —-“In other words, the institutions of science and the institutions of ID are both staffed with human beings, with human failings. At no point does Seversky “defend[] pornography.”

    On the contrary. He is, in yet his third defense of pornography saying this: A commitment to a Christian world view is no more likely to curb pornography than any other world view. That is obviously a ridiculous statement. Whoever heard of a Darwinist recommending self control the sake of a higher good? Whoever heard of a Darwinist pointing out that immersing oneself in pornography is like is like pouring sewer into the mind? Whoever heard of a Darwinist warning gullible onlookers that pornography can enslave the will and destroy the faculty of reason? Seversky’s point is very simple: Pornography is not worth fighting, and, in any case, religion offers no mental, volitional, or moral tools to fight it. That is a defense of pornography.

    —-“Seversky’s point is exactly the opposite of what you imply. In fact, he explicitly refers to “a few Catholic priests” (emphasis added). He does not suggest in any way that the failings of a few are extensible to the many; it appears, in fact, to be entirely contrary to his point.”

    Wrong again. Seversky’s point is that Christians are hypocrites. For him, they fall short of their own standards, which is an extension of his earlier argument. We should not try to fight pornography, pornography is natural, and Christians are hypocrites for preaching against it because some of them have failed their own test of morality. For seversky, and for you, I suspect, pornography is not nearly as big of a problem as those

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    The last sentence @33 should read as follows: For seversky, and for you, I suspect, pornography is not nearly as big a problem as those who criticize it.

  35. 35
    quaggy says:

    As I expected, the materialists have stood by their man Seversky, mainly by advancing patently absurd interpretations of his comments.

    I am not a materialist, but am still wondering why you are drawing an equivalence between Seversky’s stated preference to support secular charities with a desire to keep women in sexual slavery. I have to assume you are referencing additional comments from Seversky that were too odious to publish because, like most of the other commentors I can see no chain of fact statements that lead from S’s comment to your conclusion.

    Since you plan on leaving their (and apparently my) moral squalor for the world to see, perhaps you could use this as a teachable moment to draw the line between supporting secular charities and supporting forced sexual slavery? I don’t appreciate being painted with the same broad brush and would appreciate a better explanation.

  36. 36
    Barb says:

    Learned Hand: “Did she raise you rightly enough that you would apologize for accusing him of approving of rape? As I see it, you’ve said a terrible thing and entirely unjustified thing about him. What makes that right? What do you do if it’s wrong?”

    According to evolution(which Seversky supports), rape is a natural part of the human condition (see, for example, the book The Natural History of Rape by Randy Thornhill et al). Why wouldn’t he approve of something that is perfectly acceptable to evolutionary biology?

  37. 37
    Jordan says:

    Barb,

    Disease, earthquakes, death, etc. are all “natural parts of the human condition” as well. Does this observation imply approval? The fact that something is the case doesn’t mean it ought to be the case, whether or not it is “natural,” and whether or not you believe in evolution.

  38. 38
    Barb says:

    Seversky never said that he opposed pornography, either.

  39. 39
    Jordan says:

    Barb,

    Is that how it works? Guilty until proven innocent? If I don’t explicitly tell you that I’m not a fan of earthquakes, then I must be an earthquake supporter?

    And please don’t try to tone down your original accusation, either. You didn’t just accuse him of supporting pornography. You accused him of supporting “sexual slavery.”

  40. 40
    Clive Hayden says:

    Jordan,

    You have to take what Seversky said as a whole. And I know from other discussions that he is a moral relativist. Thus his defense of pornography can be seen in previous comments. I’ve already explained this about 3 or 4 times. To continue to do so will just be redundant.

  41. 41
    Clive Hayden says:

    Nakashima,

    If you’re waiting on Diffaxial’s comment, you will be waiting a long time.

  42. 42
    vjtorley says:

    I believe in the principle of charitable interpretation, so I don’t wish to accuse Seversky of upholding morally odious views when he hasn’t explicitly advocated them. In any case, he’s a grown man, and can speak for himself.

    Instead, I’d like to turn his own comments around on him. I’m going to substitute “religion” for “pornography,” and illustrate how a secular humanist could equally well argue that it is futile to combat religion, and that when compared to pornography, religion is relatively harmless. Here goes.

    “Whether we like it or not, religious belief seems to have been a by-product of human psychology at least since recorded history began. Societies have, at various times, indulged it or tried to suppress it. Neither approach stopped it.

    “Nor has affiliation with a professional scientific organization been as successful at immunizing members against religious belief as adherents of secular humanism would like to believe. The scandal of the psychological abuse suffered by the children of a few militant “scientific atheists,” who were indoctrinated from an early age against any form of religious belief has already been alluded to. In some cases the mental trauma these children endured from being told they lived in a bleak, pitiless universe, obeying blind mechanical laws, even resulted in their converting to religion, in an attempt to find meaning in their lives. And there is surely no need to remind onlookers of the cases of other prominent secular humanists who have fallen below the standards of religious non-affiliation that they preached to others, by getting married in a church, allowing their own children to go to church, and even having church funerals when they died.

    “As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins, but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include the corruption of public morals and the objectification of women as part of their program, as pornography does.”

    Seversky spends considerable time fighting the religion meme, but believes that it is futile to combat pornography. I’d like to know why.

  43. 43
    Clive Hayden says:

    StephenB,

    Seversky’s second point is that pornography is a “by-produce of sexuality,” meaning that it is quite natural and to be expected. That is yet another defense.

    Right. I meant to mention the above point in my explanation to LH as to how Seversky was implying that pornography was a normal outcome of humanity “whether we like it or not”, which could have the follow-up line “so we just better get used to it.”

  44. 44
    Seversky says:

    Just a brief note to thank those contributors such as Monastyrski, BillB, Learned Hand, Mark Frank, Jordan and Nakashima who have come to my defense.

    I have not been in a position to write anything longer today but, if permitted, I will post a detailed response tomorrow.

  45. 45
    Mark Frank says:

    #44

    I thought you had been banned! Remember to acknowledge the ID supporters (Joseph and to some extent Vjtorley) among your defenders.

  46. 46
    fbeckwith says:

    Pornography is just intimacy in a cheap tuxedo.

  47. 47
    Graham1 says:

    Any idea what sort of porn we are talking about here ?
    I mean, is Playboy a hanging offence ?

  48. 48
    Mark Frank says:

    #46

    Absolutely. Context is all. An image which seems offensive on the internet might inoffensive in a medical text book and laudable in an art gallery.

  49. 49
    Shazard says:

    Hmmm how meny of those Pro_Porno dudes have their daughters, sisters and wives in the business?

  50. 50
    djmullen says:

    Well, Hugh Hefner’s daughter is just retiring after about 40 years of running her father’s empire for him and one of the things she did was to open up a hardcore division.

  51. 51
    Barb says:

    Jordan: “Is that how it works? Guilty until proven innocent? If I don’t explicitly tell you that I’m not a fan of earthquakes, then I must be an earthquake supporter?”

    Silence is acceptance. The fact is, not everyone involved in the porn business is there willingly and for Seversky to say “Well, it’s never been done away with” is a copout.

    The entire issue revolves around someone using my (and your) tax dollars to support a porn habit. This is wrong, and everyone knows it.

    “And please don’t try to tone down your original accusation, either. You didn’t just accuse him of supporting pornography. You accused him of supporting “sexual slavery.”

    I’m not toning anything down. Neither is Seversky, from what I can see. I don’t see anyplace where he suggested that sexual slavery should be done away with.

    I compare it to Sam Harris’ revelation that given the opportunity to eradicate either rape or religion, he’d choose religion.

  52. 52
    Mark Frank says:

    #50

    “I don’t see anyplace where he suggested that sexual slavery should be done away with. ”

    I don’t see any place where you suggest rape and murder should be done away with. Are you therefore condoning both?

  53. 53
    Barb says:

    Non sequitur, Mark. I didn’t make the inflammatory post to begin with, so don’t try and turn this on me.

    I condone neither rape nor murder, which is more than I can say for evolutionists.

  54. 54
    quaggy says:

    Barry:

    41 comments now and still not one materialist has condemned Seversky’s views. Astounding.

    Again, not a materialist, but allow me to respond. No one has done so because everyone finds Seversky’s comments innocuous and your version of his comments a gross misinterpretation.

    So, fine, I’ll play your game. I specifically condemn the idea you have presented as your interpretation of what Seversky said, while I believe that you have completely misrepresented what he said. I would also note that I have directly asked you a question twice and you have yet to answer it. So, let me try again.

    Since so many commenters disagree with your representation of Seversky’s comments, I would find it useful for you to make the case that someone stating a preference for secular charities is equivalent to them wishing to keep women in sexual slavery. Now would be a good time to exerise those lawyering skills.

  55. 55
    DNA_Jock says:

    Barry, I believe I would meet your criteria as a “materialist” (I use methodological naturalism), and I second quaggy’s comments: I deplore any statement that “…would rather see a young woman live in sexual slavery if that’s what it takes to insulate her from the influence of Christians who would try to help her.”
    and I eagerly await your justification for this outrageous claim.

  56. 56
    tsmith says:

    this is not a surprise. It like darwinists can see no wrong in darwin, or his theory. They will go to any lengths to excuse the racism and eugenics that are implicit in evolution, and have been practiced since the theory was first posited.

    this is why atheists side up with radical islam, and they see nothing wrong with it, they are too busy condeming christianity, which they hate with a passion.

  57. 57
    ScottAndrews says:

    While sidestepping the question of what Seversky meant, I’ll say this: Anyone who discounts the seriousness of pornography clearly has never seen it pop up on their computer, and doesn’t understand the effect it can have on people.

    One cannot take pleasure in such gross degradation of a woman (or anyone else) while still viewing her as fully human. (Some are sick enough to think that attractive women are “fortunate” to have such an option, and aren’t being exploited.) And then we act surprised and shocked when men grab women and girls off the street, disregarding the interests of their victims as they fulfill their own desires.

    I’m not saying that one follow the other every time. But if society accepts pornography it should also accept rape, abduction, and the consequence of murder. Because pornography exploits fellow humans for pleasure, and the rest is certain to follow.

  58. 58
    ScottAndrews says:

    I’m curious, BTW: What exactly is the problem with proselytizing? If someone just doesn’t like it, then fine, that’s their preference. But does anyone feel that it’s actually wrong, or does it depend on the message?

  59. 59
    Dave Wisker says:

    Barry’s post represents the nadir of discourse on this blog, IMHO.

  60. 60
    DonaldM says:

    Quaggy

    Since so many commenters disagree with your representation of Seversky’s comments, I would find it useful for you to make the case that someone stating a preference for secular charities is equivalent to them wishing to keep women in sexual slavery. Now would be a good time to exerise those lawyering skills.

    I can’t answer for Barry, but will give you my own response. I don’t think Seversky’s position is misrepresented at all. All he/she did was introduce an additional condition not present in the original post and responded to that. Be that as it may, it changes nothing with respect to the implication of the argument, for Seversky is in effect saying that given the choice between “helping” women by using porn, or helping by funding a religious organization that may also engage in some sort of proselytization, he would, apparently prefer the former, since he finds proselytization a bad thing. That does seem to be the upshot if his comment (reproduced here)

    As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization as part of their program.

    The original choice was a)use porn or b)give to a Catholic (and thus by Seversky’s lights, a proselytizing) agency, not between b and a secular (and presumably non-proselytizing)agency. So, I think it is a very fair reading of Seversky’s comment that he would reject the Catholic charity in the original choice, and thus one can conclude he’d prefer “help” by using porn, seeing that as less bad than proselytizing, since that is the only other option on the table in the original post to which he/she responded.

  61. 61
    vjtorley says:

    In an earlier post (#42), I remarked upon an apparent inconsistency in Seversky’s thinking: he seems to believe that it is futile to combat pornography, which he views as an ineradicable feature of human societies, and yet at the same time he labors mightily to discredit religion, which is even more ingrained in the human psyche than pornography is. If he were consistent, he would either attack both religion and pornography (I’m assuming here that Seversky does not approve of pornography) or leave them both alone.

    In this post, I’d like to draw attention to Seversky’s professed distaste for charities which include religious proselytism as part of their program. (Note: in fairness to Seversky, apparently “proselytization” is a bona fide word in English. Like Barry, I was extremely doubtful when I first saw the word, but then I looked it up on the Internet and found that Merriam-Webster listed it. I have to say I still prefer “proselytism,” and I should add that Wikipedia redirects readers who type in “proselytization” to its article on proselytism, although Seversky could justifiably urge that “proselytization” is a more precise word, as it refers exclusively to the act or process of proselytizing, whereas proselytism can also mean the state of being a proselyte.)

    First of all, I would like to say that I find it deeply ironic that Seversky characterizes religious charities as engaging in proselytism: that is about the last thing that they would think of doing, these days. Indeed, if I wanted to make a list of charities that focused entirely on deeds, not words, then the Salvation Army, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence would be up there at the top. The avowedly secular International Planned Parenthood Federation would be somewhere near the bottom. If pushing abortifacients on poor people, lecturing them on the evils of “overpopulation” and telling them how many children they should have isn’t a form of proselytism, I don’t know what is. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it bullying. It’s also infanticide. I believe in calling a spade a spade.

    But let’s assume for argument’s sake that Seversky’s portrait of religious charities is an accurate one – as it might have been, 40 or 50 years ago. Suppose that they do proselytize. My question is: what’s wrong with that?

    I can hear splutters of outrage from the secular humanists, but it is one of their own number who has written the best defense of proselytism that I have read in a long time. I’d like to quote from the blog of the atheist philosopher, Bradley Monton:

    [I]f Christians think that some people are saved and some are not, and there is something really worthwhile in being saved, and those who aren’t saved are really missing out, then why aren’t they spending more energy encouraging people to be saved? (One standard account is that the saved people go to heaven, while the unsaved don’t, but I recognize that different Christians differ on these details.) Yes, there are people who devote their lives, or at least significant portions of their lives, to missionary work and evangelism, and I admire them for following their convictions. It’s the Christians who don’t do this that I have trouble understanding. I know people who profess to be Christian and yet who live their lives pretty much like atheists do, except for the occasional trip to church, or prayer over dinner. For these people, their behavior is deeply at odds with their professed beliefs, and it makes me wonder if they really believe what they say they believe.

    There you have it: an atheist who admires and respects proselytizers. Now there is a fair-minded man.

    I might add as a personal observation that in my experience, the proportion of atheists who proselytize is higher than the proportion of Christians who do, although there are, of course, plenty of atheists and Christians who don’t.

  62. 62
    vjtorley says:

    In case anyone’s wondering about the source of my quote from Bradley Monton in #60, here it is:

    http://bradleymonton.wordpress.....th-belief/

  63. 63
    quaggy says:

    DonaldM

  64. 64
    quaggy says:

    Sorry about that. Not sure what happened.

    Donald M

    I don’t think Seversky’s position is misrepresented at all. All he/she did was introduce an additional condition not present in the original post and responded to that.

    The question, as originally posed, presented a false dichotomy and, as I see it, Seversky answered the question as if it was a real life choice. That is to say, he would prefer to support a secular charity. That he chose an answer not implied with the question is more indicative of a poorly constructed question.

    Be that as it may, it changes nothing with respect to the implication of the argument, for Seversky is in effect saying that given the choice between “helping” women by using porn, or helping by funding a religious organization that may also engage in some sort of proselytization, he would, apparently prefer the former, since he finds proselytization a bad thing.

    The key words here being “in effect”, indicating that you are not reiterating Seversky’s actual answer, but imposing one on him. For shame.

  65. 65
    DonaldM says:

    Quaggy

    The key words here being “in effect”, indicating that you are not reiterating Seversky’s actual answer, but imposing one on him. For shame.

    No, I don’t think I am. First off, I reject the notion that the question as posed is a false dichomotmy. It isn’t because Dembski wasn’t implying that these two options represent all available options. He was making the larger point that if choosing between just these two options (and thus ignoring all other options), Dawkins (by virtue of both his atheism and his anti-Christian bias) would likely reject supporting a Catholic charity and opt for “help” by porn. Seversky’s answer rejects supporting the Catholic charity, therefore by elimination he/she opts for the other alternative presented in this particular question.

  66. 66

    Let us refocus.

    Seversky was presented with two choices of how best to help poor women:

    #1 View pornography (presented by the NSF as a ludicrous excuse for their slacking off – one that would never be accepted in any workplace)

    #2 Donate to a Christian charity (presented by Ms. O’Leary as an alternative to #1 that has been proven to actually help poor women).

    The first part of Seversky’s response was to expound on the naturalness and ubiquity of pornography. At best, this is a non-sequitur; at worst it implies Seversky supports the ridiculous excuse of the NSF.

    The second part of Seversky’s response was to express his/her preference not to give to a Christian charity because Christian charities proselytize. At best, this is displays Seversky’s eager acceptance of anti-religious stereotypes in that it implies that all Christian-based charities proselytize; at worst it implies that Seversky believes pornographic exploitation is more beneficial to women than charity and proselytism.

    Did Seversky ever condemn the NSF for its inappropriate use of tax dollars and research time?

    If not, how much pornography viewing on my part would constitute enough work to get ID accepted as good science by the NSF?

  67. 67
    quaggy says:

    DonaldM:

    First off, I reject the notion that the question as posed is a false dichomotmy. It isn’t because Dembski wasn’t implying that these two options represent all available options.

    So, I take this to mean that you agree that there are more options than were presented in the original question. And I will also assume that you would accept that supporting a secular charity is one of those available, but unstated, options.

    Seversky’s answer rejects supporting the Catholic charity, therefore by elimination he/she opts for the other alternative presented in this particular question.

    Well, I would first note that Seversky did not reject the idea of supporting a Catholic charity. Here merely stated that he would prefer to support a secular charity.

    Additionally, by limiting the response only to those answers which allow you to score rhetorical points, you belie your seriousness about having this dicussion. So, when Seversky states his honest preference of supporting a secular charity, you assume this means he would never support a religious one and further assume he would rather support sex workers by…umm…frequenting their business instead. And the result of these assumptions is to allow you to reject Seversky’s answer and assign him one yourself. Again, I say, for shame.

  68. 68
    Tim says:

    “Whether we like it or not, pornography seems to have been a by-product of human sexuality at least since recorded history began.”–Seversky

    Seversky’s point as I read it is that pornography is a by-product of human sexuality. How could I read it otherwise? Unfortunately for the materialist, the statement can be extended to ” . . . a product of human behavior . . .” then to ” . . . a product of animal behavior . . .” then to ” . . . a consequence of nature. . . ” finally to “Pornography IS.”

    Seversky’s problem is not so much that he can’t say whether pornography is supportable or not supportable; his problem is that he can’t say either. When combined with squirming sideways about giving, things only got worse. Personally, I can’t understand why he doesn’t just admit that he’d painted himself into a corner and condemned pornography even while admitting that according to his beliefs about its origins, there is nothing to be done about it. Seems as though he prefers to be more scoundrel than fool. I am much more comfortable being a fool.

    I have to say that it’s amusing to watch BarryA set a trap,

    “At least Dembski thought the question was tongue-in-cheek. Who could have expected the reply from someone who calls himself Seversky? First Seversky defended pornography on the ground that it has been around a long time.”–BarryA

    Then, watch numerous materialists fall in.

    And finally, watch StephenB nail the trap shut. (@33) Thanks guys, that was fun.

  69. 69
    NoterFromtheUnderground says:

    Lomg time reader, first time poster.

    There’s what’s said, and there’s [not sic] the implications of what’s said. The reader draws the implications, not the writer. However, the writer may be so general as to draw manifold implications, which I sespect has happened here between Seversky, Mr. Arrington, and many others on the board from both sides of the argument.

    There are two seperate board posts on U.D. due to Seversky’s post, and I suppose s/he should be congratulated for sparking such a large ethical debate, but rereading the original post I can’t see how this ever came about.

    “Whether we like it or not, pornography seems to have been a by-product of human sexuality at least since recorded history began”

    This is a remarkably safe comment. Not safe because it has facts or cites histories, but safe because it uses ‘seems’ on top of a broad general statement. It also says as much as: pornography is a by-product of human sexuality. Reread the previous sentence a few times to savor its meaninglessness.

    “Societies have, at various times, indulged it or tried to suppress it. Neither approach stopped it.”

    Speaking of meaninglessness, neither approach stopped it? So indulging in pornography did not stop pornography? This must have been written as a joke.

    “Nor has religious affiliation been as successful at immunizing believers against sexual misbehavior as its adherents like to believe.”

    I guess one can take his/her word for it. It’s as general a statement as anything else made here so far. One really wonders if people are so simmilar to be grouped into ‘religiously affiliated’ or ‘religiously unaffiliated’. And who exactly are the ‘adherents’ who like to believe that they immunize people against sexual misbehavior? There’s a lot of wanted information.

    “The scandal of abuse by a few Catholic priests has already been alluded to and there is surely no need to remind onlookers of the cases of other prominent Christians who have fallen below the standards of morality they preached to others.”

    The above makes the claim that some Christians fall below the standards of morality.

    “As for charitable donations, I cannot speak for Richard Dawkins but I know I would prefer to give to those that do not include proselytization [not sic] as part of their program.” Brakets mine.

    Another broad sweep. The most prominent implication here would be that all religious charities proselytize [not sic, why was there ever a sic? Don’t we know what’s being said? Doesn’t English allow these constructions?].

    In context with the main UD post (that tax dollars have been going to the NSF (and therefore is relevant science/social news, theredore relevant to I.D. news) to fund a few higher-up’s porn) and the first few comments, it is difficult to fit S.’s post in also. It seems to go off on it’s own and make little more than genralizations.

    And so, why did U.D. make two more posts about it? Why were ad hominem words used like ‘materialist’ as if a Darwinist were saying ‘creationist’? There were probably more diplomatic ways to go about this, like pointing out the generalizations and begging the questions. I just don’t think this was anything to get riled about or make some big statement about. It will come across as petty later on if it hasn’t already.

  70. 70
    NoterFromtheUnderground says:

    [note: could a moderator please convert the spelling of ‘lomg’ to ‘long’ in my previous post. Jeezz, that’s great that it has to be the first word I ever typed here.]

  71. 71
    Seversky says:

    First, as Mark Frank suggested, I would also like to thank those ID supporters like Joseph and vjtorley who spoke out on my behalf.

    I confess I was somewhat surprised and taken aback at the vehemence of Barry Arrington’s response to my comment and the fact that what I wrote could have been misinterpreted so completely. Let me try to clarify my position.

    The original post by William Dembski highlighted a report in The Washington Times headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Porn surfing rampant at U.S. science foundation”. This post and the subsequent exchange of comments with Denyse O’Leary suggest that their purpose was to smear atheists and evolutionists through guilt by association. The evidence for this lies in the observation that a report about employee misconduct at the NSF was used as a springboard to tasteless and totally unwarranted speculation that Richard Dawkins, being an atheist, would prefer to support the use of pornography rather than support religious charities trying to help women caught up in sexual slavery:

    Denyse, You raise an interesting question for Richard Dawkins: If we had to choose one or the other, helping “poor overseas women” by (1) frequenting at taxpayer’s expense porn sites that pay these women a cut, the porn sites presumably constituting a purely secular activity or by (2) donating money to Catholic/Protestant charities that care for these women by providing shelter, food, and medical care, these charities constituting a religious activity, which should we prefer? I suspect RD, given his virulent hatred of religion, would opt for (1).

    Even allowing for the fact that there is clearly no love lost between Dembski and Dawkins, there was no call for this sort of comment.

    In any event, a close reading of the Times report shows that the facts as reported do not justify the headline or the sensationalist construction the journalist places on them.

    According to the report:

    Documents obtained by The Times through an open records request show the foundation’s inspector general closed 10 employee misconduct investigations last year, up from just three in 2006. There were seven cases in 2007. Of the 10 cases closed last year, seven involved online pornography, records show.

    In other words, in 2008 the Foundation’s inspector general closed a total of seven investigations into employee misconduct involving online pornography. No one is trying to pretend that employee use of online pornography in the workplace is not serious misconduct but I would argue that seven cases out of a workforce of 1200 does not support the allegation that “porn surfing” is “rampant” at the agency.

    I sidestepped the false dichotomy posed by Dembski’s question by saying that I would prefer to donate to secular charities. That said, let me make it quite clear that if the only charity in a position to aid women held in sexual slavery were religious then, of course, it should be supported. Forced prostitution is a grave breach of the women’s human rights and a serious criminal offense in any civilized country. Any objections to proselytizing charities are insignificant in comparison.

    The subsequent debate has focussed on three separate although related issues: pornography, prostitution and sexual slavery and, of course, the morality of all of them.

    At this point I should say that my own view of morality is based on two principles. The first is the Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The second is derived from On Liberty, John Stuart Mill’s treatise on the rights of the individual in society which argues, in part, that individuals should be free to do whatever they like up to the point at which their actions harm the rights or persons of others. The fundamental rights to which we should all be entitled, and which should be held inviolate except where to uphold one would cause an even graver injustice than to set it aside, are set out admirably, in my view, in the United States Constitution.

    Atheists and agnostics have been accused of moral relativism, of having no basis on which they can justify any particular moral code, of denying the existence of any form of objective reality and there is some truth to such allegations. But there is merit in the counter-arguments as well. It is questionable whether objective morality is a coherent concept. If it means that the morality of believers is grounded in the unassailable authority of their god then, unless they can demonstrate the existence of that god, the claim is baseless. And are believers really saying that they would not know that murder, rape or child abuse are wrong if their god had not told them?

    I would like to take this further but I think I will do something I have never done before and take it to a second post.

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    Moving away from the criticism of one person, who I think has been hit hard enough, there is a broader point to be made. If a man does not change his behavior to harmonize with a philosophy of life, he will change his philosophy of life to harmonize with his behavior. Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled lecher

  73. 73
    Monastyrski says:

    StephenB,

    Now, now. Your posts demonstrate very clearly that Darwin’s work wasn’t necessary to be an intellectually lazy lecher.

    For example, you wrote in this thread:

    Whoever heard of a Darwinist recommending self control the sake of a higher good?

    I have plenty of times. For example, this is what “arch-darwinist” Richard Dawkins said:

    From a Darwinian point of view, the problem with sustainability is this: sustainability is all about long-term benefits of the world at the expense of short-term benefits. Darwinism encourages precisely the opposite values. Short-term genetic benefit is all that matters in a Darwinian world. Superficially, the values that will have been built into us will have been short-term values, not long-term ones.

    But this is not a reason for despair, nor does it mean that we should cynically abandon the long-term future, gleefully scrap the Kyoto accords and similar agreements, and get our noses down in the trough of short-term greed. What it does mean is that we must work all the harder for the long-term future, in spite of getting no help from nature, precisely because nature is not on our side.

    Humans are no worse than the rest of the animal kingdom. We are no more selfish than any other animals, just rather more effective in our selfishness and therefore more devastating. All animals do what natural selection programmed their ancestors to do, which is to look after the short-term interest of themselves and their close family, cronies and allies.

    If any species in the history of life has the possibility of breaking away from short-term Darwinian selfishness and of planning for the distant future, it is our species. We are earth’s last best hope, even if we are simultaneously the species most capable in practice of destroying life on the planet. When it comes to taking the long view we are literally unique. No other species is remotely capable of it. If we do not plan for the future, no other species will.

    Having educated you thusly, I trust that in the future you will no longer resort to such lazy broad brush characterizations.

  74. 74
    vjtorley says:

    I’d like to commend Seversky for his dignified response.

    I think we all agree that the Golden Rule is generally a sensible guide to what’s right and wrong.

    I think there are few, if any, believers who would happily commit murder if God hadn’t told us not to. Scripture itself says that we have the moral law written on our hearts (Romans 2:15), so we don’t need a revelation to know that nurder is wrong.

    I see from Seversky’s response that he is a fan of John Stuart Mill, so I’d like to ask him a substantive question which I hope he will tackle in his second post: how free does he think human beings are, and why? If he believes in libertarian freedom, how does he reconcile this with his belief in materialism?

  75. 75
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Vjtorley,

    Are you conflating materialist and determinist in your last comment? I think Roger Penrose bases his idea of free will on QM.

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    I wrote: “Whoever heard of a Darwinist recommending self control the sake of a higher good?”

    Monastyrski: “I have plenty of times. For example, this is what “arch-darwinist” Richard Dawkins said…………..[a long extended irrelevant quote]

    You example has nothing at all to do with exercising self control over one’s sexual passions or using restraint in avoiding pornography. Nor do Darwinists believe in a “higher good,” since they don’t accept the proposition that there could be any such good higher than survival. Darwinists don’t even believe that humans possess a will that would facilitate the self control.

    Thus, it is you who needs to augment your education.

  77. 77
    StephenB says:

    —-seversky: “That said, let me make it quite clear that if the only charity in a position to aid women held in sexual slavery were religious then, of course, it should be supported. Forced prostitution is a grave breach of the women’s human rights and a serious criminal offense in any civilized country.”

    You have written not one word in your response condemning pornography. Rather, you changed the subject rather dramatically, implying that you don’t think pornography is the equivalent of sexual slavery, which means that you have left the door open for continuing to defend the former. Also, you have nothing to say about the poor fool who has become addicted to it and needs some kind of liberation.

    You have already declared that mankind has never been able to stop pornography and that it is a natural result of human sexuality. So, which is it? It is natural or unnatural? If it is natural, why fight it? If, on the other hand, we should fight it, why do you suggest that we give up trying? Is pornography sexual slavery or something different?

    If “coherence” is your standard, you are miles away from having achieved that goal.

  78. 78
    quaggy says:

    StephenB lowers the boom:

    You have written not one word in your response condemning pornography. Rather, you changed the subject rather dramatically, implying that you don’t think pornography is the equivalent of sexual slavery, which means that you have left the door open for continuing to defend the former. Also, you have nothing to say about the poor fool who has become addicted to it and needs some kind of liberation.

    I would also add that Seversky has not specifically condemned the consumption of internet bandwidth by people downloading pornography thereby removing said bandwidth from business enterprises that would use it to help get us out of the recession. Therefore implying that Seversky doesn’t want the economy to improve.

  79. 79
    Monastyrski says:

    StephenB,

    You example has nothing at all to do with exercising self control over one’s sexual passions or using restraint in avoiding pornography. Darwinists don’t even believe that humans possess a will that would facilitate the self control.

    You asked whether anyone had ever heard of “a Darwinist recommending self control [for] the sake of a higher good?”. I didn’t realize that for you self control is restricted to sexual contexts. In the interest of young readers I shall not ask you to explain why.

    Nor do Darwinists believe in a “higher good,” since they don’t accept the proposition that there could be any such good higher than survival.

    I have to educate you again. Please pay attention this time. Darwinists typically do not derive an “ought” from an “is”, as my above quote of Dawkins exemplifies very nicely. Your caricature of Darwinists is about as silly as saying that Einsteinists don’t believe in parachutes.

    Darwinists don’t even believe that humans possess a will that would facilitate the self control.

    Really? You say this with such confidence that I have to assume you have some data showing that Darwinists are more likely to indulge in porn than non-Darwinists. Please share your information with us.

  80. 80
    StephenB says:

    —-Monastyrski: “I didn’t realize that for you self control is restricted to sexual contexts. In the interest of young readers I shall not ask you to explain why.”

    Nice try. The issue is not whether self control is limited to sexual contexts, but rather whether it exists at all. Materialist Darwinists say no. As a Darwinist, you are bound to say no as well. Obviously, you can’t recommend the use of something that you do not believe exists.

    —-“Darwinists typically do not derive an “ought” from an “is”, as my above quote of Dawkins exemplifies very nicely. Your caricature of Darwinists is about as silly as saying that Einsteinists don’t believe in parachutes.”

    You are very confused. We are not discussing deriving an “ought” from an “is.” Darwinists have no standard through which they can evaluate morality—period.. Thus, they cannot declare that pornography is a good thing or a bad thing. Indeed, seversky, and you I gather, think it is a natural result of sexuality. Materialism rules out objective morality in principle, or is that news to you? That is why I can say with confidence that you, as a Darwinist, do not believe in any “higher good” to be arrived at through self control since you believe neither in self control or the “good.” If you contest that point, explain what you think that higher good might be, why it qualifies as a “good,” and explain the source of the self control that makes it possible.

    —-“Really? [Darwinists don’t even believe that humans possess a will that would facilitate the self control].You say this with such confidence that I have to assume you have some data showing that Darwinists are more likely to indulge in porn than non-Darwinists. Please share your information with us.”

    You seem to have great difficulty focusing one argument at a time. I said that Darwinists, don’t accept the reality of a human will, which means of course, that they have no faculty with which to exercise self control.

  81. 81
    Monastyrski says:

    StepehnB,

    Nice try. The issue is not whether self control is limited to sexual contexts, but rather whether it exists at all. Materialist Darwinists say no. As a Darwinist, you are bound to say no as well. Obviously, you can’t recommend the use of something that you do not believe exists.

    You obviously have no idea what Darwinists believe. You have created your own little fantasy world in which you get to play Don Quixote, bravely fighting the Darwinian windmills. I hope you wake up one day.

    You are very confused. We are not discussing deriving an “ought” from an “is.” Darwinists have no standard through which they can evaluate morality—period.. Thus, they cannot declare that pornography is a good thing or a bad thing. Indeed, seversky, and you I gather, think it is a natural result of sexuality.

    It is you who is confused. Darwinists have rational standards with which to evaluate morality. You on the other hand rely on “the imaginary guy with the biggest gun (God) is right” kind of morality.
    Pornography is not always a bad thing. If consenting adults wish to film their sexual intercourse and show their cinematographics to other consenting adults, then there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Do you disagree with that? If so, why?

    Materialism rules out objective morality in principle, or is that news to you? That is why I can say with confidence that you, as a Darwinist, do not believe in any “higher good” to be arrived at through self control since you believe neither in self control or the “good.” If you contest that point, explain what you think that higher good might be, why it qualifies as a “good,” and explain the source of the self control that makes it possible.

    Your so-called objective morality is not objective at all. First, you have to assume that whatever your god declares moral is objectively moral, which is begging the question. Second, you have to assume that your god exists, which is subjective. Therefore, you have no credible claim to know whether objective morality exists at all, and even if it does you cannot know what it is. Therefore, your attacks on the morality of Darwinists are entirely misguided.

  82. 82
    StephenB says:

    The issue is not whether self control is limited to sexual contexts, but rather whether it exists at all. Materialist Darwinists say no. As a Darwinist, you are bound to say no as well. Obviously, you can’t recommend the use of something that you do not believe exists.

    —-Monastyrski “You obviously have no idea what Darwinists believe. You have created your own little fantasy world in which you get to play Don Quixote, bravely fighting the Darwinian windmills. I hope you wake up one day.”

    I know very well what Darwinists believe, which is why I can ask them questions that they cannot answer. In that context, I just made an argument, and you just dodged it.

    —-“Darwinists have rational standards with which to evaluate morality. You on the other hand rely on “the imaginary guy with the biggest gun (God) is right” kind of morality.”

    What are those standards and what is their source?

    —-“Pornography is not always a bad thing. If consenting adults wish to film their sexual intercourse and show their cinematographics to other consenting adults, then there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Do you disagree with that? If so, why?”

    Are you saying that it is, at other times, a bad thing, or are you equivocating again? How could you know one way of the other since you have no standard by which to judge sexual morality? On what basis do you declare that pornography is “not always a bad thing?” How do you assess the inherent dignity of the human person or the objectification of one person to another? How do you assess the internal dynamic of one who has become addicted to it? How does the phony intimacy of pornography contribute to the real intimacy strived for in human relationships. As a materialist Darwininst, you have no tools to analyze the situation in any context at all.

    To answer your question, yes, pornography is always a bad thing. It devalues human dignity, promotes the loveless objectification of one human being by another, and, given time, enslaves all its victims, compromising their capacity to make rational judgments on matters of intimacy, morality, and social justice.

    Materialism, I must point out again, rules out objective morality in principle. That is why I can say with confidence that you, as a Darwinist, do not believe in any “higher good” to be arrived at through self control since you believe neither in self control or the “good.” If you contest that point, explain what you think that higher good might be, why it qualifies as a “good,” and explain the source of the self control that makes it possible.

    —–“Your so-called objective morality is not objective at all. First, you have to assume that whatever your god declares moral is objectively moral, which is begging the question. Second, you have to assume that your god exists, which is subjective. Therefore, you have no credible claim to know whether objective morality exists at all, and even if it does you cannot know what it is. Therefore, your attacks on the morality of Darwinists are entirely misguided.””

    I didn’t argue on behalf of objective morality. I pointed out that materialist/Darwinism rules it out in principle. I didn’t say a word about God or religion. I simply pointed out that you, and all other Darwinists, have no standard for morality—-and you don’t. I also pointed out that you disavow any concept of the “good” or any meaningful concept of self control. Both statements are obviously true, and you obviously have no answer.

  83. 83
    Monastyrski says:

    StepehnB,

    I know very well what Darwinists believe, which is why I can ask them questions that they cannot answer. In that context, I just made an argument, and you just dodged it.

    No, obviously you have no idea what Darwinists believe. You have made up own your little autistic world where that is the case. You gave up on trying to understand other people a long time ago. Too bad for you.

    What are those standards and what is their source?

    The standard is the golden rule. This seems to be human nature, but it doesn’t work without some policing. I think the source of that is evolutionary selection of stable social groups.

    Are you saying that it is, at other times, a bad thing, or are you equivocating again? How could you know one way of the other since you have no standard by which to judge sexual morality? On what basis do you declare that pornography is “not always a bad thing?” How do you assess the inherent dignity of the human person or the objectification of one person to another? How do you assess the internal dynamic of one who has become addicted to it? How does the phony intimacy of pornography contribute to the real intimacy strived for in human relationships. As a materialist Darwininst, you have no tools to analyze the situation in any context at all.

    You seem to be incapable of having a theory of mind, something even lesser primates are capable of. Pornography is not a bad thing if it doesn’t hurt anybody. Can you conceive of that possibility?

    Materialism, I must point out again, rules out objective morality in principle. That is why I can say with confidence that you, as a Darwinist, do not believe in any “higher good” to be arrived at through self control since you believe neither in self control or the “good.”

    Who the hell do you think you are to judge my believe in any higher good or my ability of self control? It is people like you that dehumanize other people, based on your self-righteousness, and caused much human suffering.

  84. 84
    suckerspawn says:

    Golden Rule?

    Would you support a woman’s choice to terminate an unwanted fetus because you would want to have the same choice?

    or

    Would you be opposed to killing an unborn baby because if you were an unborn baby you would not want to be killed?

  85. 85
    HouseStreetRoom says:

    @Monastyrski

    You need to relax. It’s just a discussion on a message board. StephenB has been most charitable with your position thus far. He has simply asked you to justify it:

    “What are those standards and what is their source?”

    “Are you saying that it is, at other times, a bad thing, or are you equivocating again? How could you know one way of the other since you have no standard by which to judge sexual morality? On what basis do you declare that pornography is “not always a bad thing?””

    There are more, but you have yet to answer any of them. Take a step back, and reason through this. Throwing around baseless claims/insults such as:

    “You have made up own your little autistic world where that is the case. You gave up on trying to understand other people a long time ago. Too bad for you.”

    “You seem to be incapable of having a theory of mind, something even lesser primates are capable of. Pornography is not a bad thing if it doesn’t hurt anybody.”

    “Who the hell do you think you are to judge my believe in any higher good or my ability of self control? It is people like you that dehumanize other people, based on your self-righteousness, and caused much human suffering.”

    This won’t get you anywhere. It’s no use getting upset if you cannot defend your position in an argument you started. There’s no reason to make it personal, either.

    What, besides how you “feel,” are you basing your beliefs on?

  86. 86
    Seversky says:

    Coming now to the question of pornography, perhaps we should take closer look at it – metaphorically speaking.

    The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘pornography’ is as follows:

    Main Entry: por·nog·ra·phy
    Pronunciation: \-f?\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Greek pornographos, adjective, writing about prostitutes, from porn? prostitute + graphein to write; akin to Greek pernanai to sell, poros journey — more at fare, carve
    Date: 1858

    1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
    2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
    3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction

    Qiute clearly, this covers – dare we say it – a multitude of sins. At the milder end of the spectrum, it is difficult to distinguish the erotic from the pornographic, assuming there is a meaningful distinction. Is the famous nude photograph of the young Marilyn Monroe erotic or pornographic, for example? What of the various depictions of the story of The Rape of the Sabine Women by great classical artists like Poussin, David or Rubens? At the opposite end of the scale we have horrifying images which associate sexual gratification with extreme violence against women or the abuse of children. In between there is a vast range of material catering to almost any conceivable taste.

    The question is what can we or, indeed, should we do about it? Quite clearly there are some who find it offensive in any form but equally clearly Internet search statistics and the size of the porn industry are evidence of the fact that there are many who take a different view.

    As I see it, there are rights at issue here. One is freedom of expression. The fact that some find an image or a book offensive is not necessarily a reason to censor it. There is no recognized right not to be offended, nor should there be. On the other hand there is little doubt that some pornography involves the coercion and exploitation of vulnerable women and children. This is a clear breach of their human rights and involves criminal offenses. There is an argument for banning this sort of material on the grounds that it should be an offense to profit from criminal activities since it will tend to encourage others to commit similar offenses if they see there is money to be made.

    Going back to Mill, in my view the issue should be decided by the freedom of the individual. What consenting adults do with – or to – each other in private is nobody’s business but theirs. In the words of the Victorian actress, Mrs Patrick Campbell, commenting about homosexuals: “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do– so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!” But it also goes without saying that vulnerable women and children both have rights and society has an overriding duty to ensure that they are protected from exploitation and harm.

    If pornography is not forced on those who want nothing to do with it, if the production and consumption of pornography is voluntary and no one – and no animal – is harmed in the process, then I see no objection.

    On the related question of prostitution, it hardly needs to be said that people have been exchanging sexual favors for money or some other form of reward since time immemorial. That, of course, is an observation not a justification. However, on the presumption of the freedom of the individual, it needs no justification. As long as the contracting parties are consenting adults, their business is their own and none of society’s.

    The exception, of course, is forced prostitution or sexual slavery. These are rightly serious criminal offenses and indefensible on any grounds.

  87. 87
    Seversky says:

    vjtorley @ 42

    “Whether we like it or not, religious belief seems to have been a by-product of human psychology at least since recorded history began. Societies have, at various times, indulged it or tried to suppress it. Neither approach stopped it.”

    “Nor has affiliation with a professional scientific organization been as successful at immunizing members against religious belief as adherents of secular humanism would like to believe…”

    That is pretty close to what I believe. We are nowhere near the eradication of religious belief and it is highly unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. Nor, I think, should we be trying. What people choose to believe is their business provided it does not lead them harm others. The most I would hope for is that at some time in the future the default assumption will be that there is no god and the various faiths will then have to persuade people that there is such a thing.

    “The scandal of the psychological abuse suffered by the children of a few militant “scientific atheists,” who were indoctrinated from an early age against any form of religious belief has already been alluded to. In some cases the mental trauma these children endured from being told they lived in a bleak, pitiless universe, obeying blind mechanical laws, even resulted in their converting to religion, in an attempt to find meaning in their lives.”

    Again, I think there is a lot of truth there. I suspect a lot of people turn or belong to religions precisely because they find the alternative assumption bleak and intolerable. The answer, of course, is that we see no reason to think that the Universe was set up just for our convenience and that, in any event, the fact that a godless Universe is intolerable to us does not mean the opposite must be true.

    “And there is surely no need to remind onlookers of the cases of other prominent secular humanists who have fallen below the standards of religious non-affiliation that they preached to others, by getting married in a church, allowing their own children to go to church, and even having church funerals when they died.”

    As someone else said: “People in glass houses…”

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    —–Monastyrski “The standard is the golden rule. This seems to be human nature, but it doesn’t work without some policing. I think the source of that is evolutionary selection of stable social groups.”

    The golden rule is a beautiful standard, but it is too ambiguous to anchor a moral code. Indeed, it cannot even instruct you on the problem of pornography, which you submit “is not always wrong,” while providing no reason for thinking so. And, as suckerspawn has pointed out, it may well not inform you position on abortion as well. In any case, if its source is evolutionary selection, then it will soon be obsolete, since it too along with everything else would be transient.

    —–“You seem to be incapable of having a theory of mind, something even lesser primates are capable of. Pornography is not a bad thing if it doesn’t hurt anybody. Can you conceive of that possibility?”

    That is quite funny given the fact that I believe in minds, while you believe only in brains or else minds grounded in matter, which are not really minds at all.

    Materialism, I must point out again, rules out objective morality in principle. That is why I can say with confidence that you, as a Darwinist, do not believe in any “higher good” to be arrived at through self control since you believe neither in self control or the “good.”

    —-“Who the hell do you think you are to judge my believe in any higher good or my ability of self control? It is people like you that dehumanize other people, based on your self-righteousness, and caused much human suffering”

    I have asked you several times to articulate your notion of a “higher good,” your perceptions about self control, and the faculty of the human will, which makes it possible. You have no answer. It is not I who dehumanize, but rather the Darwinists who refuse to acknowledge the inherent dignity of the human person, the power of self control, and the possibility of acquiring virtue. Those are the things that humanize us, and you, as a Darwinist, are bound to disavow them. Indeed, like seversky, you can’t even condemn the dehumanizing aspects of pornography.

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    —-seversky: “If pornography is not forced on those who want nothing to do with it, if the production and consumption of pornography is voluntary and no one – and no animal – is harmed in the process, then I see no objection.”

    Thank you for acknowledging that which we already knew and stated, even though our critics accused us all along of misrepresenting your position.

    —-“On the related question of prostitution, it hardly needs to be said that people have been exchanging sexual favors for money or some other form of reward since time immemorial. That, of course, is an observation not a justification. However, on the presumption of the freedom of the individual, it needs no justification.”

    Thank you again for acknowledging that which we already knew even before you confirmed it.

  90. 90
    zeroseven says:

    StephenB says the silliest things. I am a so-called “Darwinist”. I have self control. I believe in a higher good. So, just proved you wrong. Unless I am really a fundamentalist but don’t know it.

    One higher good I believe in is tolerance (within the framework of not harming others). If people want to watch pictures or films of other people having consensual sex, why shouldn’t they? Who are you to pass judgement?

    I’m happy to say that I do not think there is anything about pornography per se that needs defending. You should try it, you might enjoy it.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    —quaggy: “I would also add that Seversky has not specifically condemned the consumption of internet bandwidth by people downloading pornography thereby removing said bandwidth from business enterprises that would use it to help get us out of the recession. Therefore implying that Seversky doesn’t want the economy to improve.”

    Now that seversky, to his credit, has acknowledged that he finds nothing wrong with pornography and prostitution, your insinuation that I was connecting dots that weren’t there reveal the superficial level of your analysis, or rather, I should say, your uninformed visceral reaction.

  92. 92
    Brent says:

    Monastyrski,

    It seems that the materialists have really begun to cling to the “Golden Rule” as an (attempted) easy out of an embarrassing predicament they are clearly in.

    The problem is that it does exactly zero to extract them from their situation.

    To what authority or logic can you appeal when someone comes up and says, “‘F’ the golden rule! I’ll do unto you as I please!”

    If you can explain that, again, logically, then the Golden Rule has done something for you— otherwise, nothing at all.

  93. 93
    StephenB says:

    —-zeroseven: I am a so-called “Darwinist”. I have self control. I believe in a higher good. So, just proved you wrong. Unless I am really a fundamentalist but don’t know it.”

    How can you have self control without free will? Materialist Darwinists don’t believe in free will, or haven’t you heard? They think free will is an “illusion.” Even Darwin understood the problem and felt quite guilty about it. Also, here is a clue: Tolerance is not a higher good. At best, it is a passive virtue acquired for the sake of a higher good, which you have yet to identify.

    —-“One higher good I believe in is tolerance (within the framework of not harming others).”

    Yes, those who defend pornography are always real big on tolerance. That one was easy.

    —“Are you saying that If people want to watch pictures or films of other people having consensual sex, why shouldn’t they? Who are you to pass judgement?”

    I have already given several reasons why pornography is a bad thing. I didn’t pass judgment on any of these commentators; I simply stated their position for them until they finally decided to confess it. In any case, who are you to pass judgment on me for passing judgment. By what moral standard do you declare that I shouldn’t pass judgment on bad behavior.

    —“I’m happy to say that I do not think there is anything about pornography per se that needs defending. You should try it, you might enjoy it.”

    Thank you for your confession. I sincerely hope that, someday, you can liberate yourself from those chains.

  94. 94
    quaggy says:

    StephenB:

    your insinuation that I was connecting dots that weren’t there reveal the superficial level of your analysis, or rather, I should say, your uninformed visceral reaction.

    Well, no, that wasn’t my exactly point. At least I didn’t think it was. But, since you have demonstrated a rather self-assured understanding of what other people are really thinking, despite their statements to the contrary (Seversky, Monastyrski, and zeroseven}, who am I to assert what I meant? I am just honored that you took the time to tell me what my point was.

  95. 95
    Mark Frank says:

    #93 StephenB

    Materialist Darwinists don’t believe in free will, or haven’t you heard? They think free will is an “illusion.”

    Like many materialists/darwinists/evolutionists I find materialism and determinism compatible with free will. I have no doubt you are aware of this.

  96. 96
    Berceuse says:

    zeroseven@90

    Calling yourself a “Darwinist” and saying “I believe in a higher good” doesn’t prove anything. I think StephenB’s point is that given the consequences of Darwinism, you can’t subscribe to those beliefs. If you do, you’re a hypocrite and not an actual Darwinist. It’s like saying “I’m a vegetarian, but I eat meat” to argue that not all vegeterians don’t eat meat.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    —-Mark Frank: “Like many materialists/darwinists/evolutionists I find materialism and determinism compatible with free will. I have no doubt you are aware of this”

    As I recall, you subscribe to a kind of loose compatibilism, which reworks the definition of free will into a meaningless formulation. If you can’t alter your fate from that which determinism bounds you, then you don’t have free will.

  98. 98
    StephenB says:

    —-quaggy: “Well, no, that wasn’t my exactly point. At least I didn’t think it was.”

    Always beware when a Darwinist follows up by telling you what he didn’t mean, while refusing to say what he did mean. That usually means that the one interpreting his remarks got it right.

    —“But, since you have demonstrated a rather self-assured understanding of what other people are really thinking, despite their statements to the contrary (Seversky, Monastyrski, and zeroseven}, who am I to assert what I meant? I am just honored that you took the time to tell me what my point was.”

    It doesn’t take that much savvy to know what a Darwinist thinks, if that Darwinist is a true believer. So, I am happy to explain the significance of your world view to you and to other Darwinists, who labor under certain delusions about what a Darwinist can believe while being a Darwinist.

  99. 99
    Laughable says:

    Would anyone even be able to reference a charity that explicitly looks after poor overseas women who would otherwise have to turn to pornography to survive?

    Which countries would these charities operate in? In my -limited- exposure to the porn world most participants come from either America, Europe, and former states of the USSR (or Japan if you’re that way inclined), which aren’t the most destitute of countries where charities usually operate.

    Furhter, do the same concerns about exploitation that apply to women apply to men in gay male porn? There’s no exploitation of women in that, nor can there be much said about sexual slavery. Does gay porn lead to violence against men? Are there charities that would help poor gay men out who would otherwise have turn to pornography to make ends meet?

  100. 100
    quaggy says:

    StephenB:

    It doesn’t take that much savvy to know what a Darwinist thinks, if that Darwinist is a true believer. So, I am happy to explain the significance of your world view to you and to other Darwinists, who labor under certain delusions about what a Darwinist can believe while being a Darwinist.

    Well, I had stated in both comments 35 and 54 that I wasn’t a materialist. But, I am certainly glad you set me straight on that point. Now that I know that I really am a materialist, you will excuse me while I go off and embark on a crime spree.

    In all seriousness, I do not consider myself a materialist, but from the willful misrepresentation of Seversky to your prideful arrogance at assuming you know better what is in my heart and head than I do, I am appalled by what I see here. You have elevated pride of intellect over Christian charity. I would suggest you ponder both Proverbs 16:5 and Job 15:6, then ask yourself where you stand with regard to John 13:34-35

  101. 101
    Mark Frank says:

    #97

    As I recall, you subscribe to a kind of loose compatibilism, which reworks the definition of free will into a meaningless formulation. If you can’t alter your fate from that which determinism bounds you, then you don’t have free will.

    My main point is that many Darwinists subscribe to this philosophy. So Darwinists don’t think free will is an illusion.

    There is nothing particularly loose about compatabilism and it is a mainstream philosophical view – Daniel Dennett is probably the most well-known modern proponent. The point is that free will does not mean doing something without any motive. It means acting without constraint. To exercise free will is to act according to one’s motives. So if the causal chain goes:

    External stimulus + Motive => Action

    Then you have free will. The question is simply – does this chain require a non-material element? I see no reason why it does.

    It is easiest to understand if you step outside your own free will and consider another species e.g. dogs. If I show my dog his lead, I start a causal chain which with a high degree of certainty will lead to him going mental with excitement. There is no reason to suppose anything other than material events in that chain but he is certainly acting with free will.

  102. 102
    Tim says:

    Mark Frank at #101: “(the dog) is certainly acting with free will.”

    What???

    I’ve been around a lot of dogs, and I’ve never been convinced that they have operated out of anything other than instinct, learned behavior and/or stimuli.

    Chesterton (again?): “We talk of wild animals; but man is the only wild animal. It is man that has broken out. All other animals are tame animals; following the rugged respectability of tribe or type. . . So that this first superficial reason for materialism is. . . a reason for its opposite; it is exactly where biology leaves off that all religion begins.”

    I believe StephenB’s complaint is that you posit that “man has broken out” after putting yourself under the strict pace of a “biology” which can never “leave off”.

    My complaint is that now you’ve let the dogs out, too.

    Unless I see a dog act in a way that is not explained by instinct, learning and stimuli, why should I believe otherwise?

  103. 103
    Mark Frank says:

    #102

    What does it look like when a person is acting in a way that is not explained by instinct, learning and stimuli?

  104. 104
    Clive Hayden says:

    Monastyrski,

    It is you who is confused. Darwinists have rational standards with which to evaluate morality.

    What are they? What are your standards? What are they based on and grounded in? Do you make them up as you go along?

  105. 105
    Clive Hayden says:

    Monastyrski,

    Your so-called objective morality is not objective at all. First, you have to assume that whatever your god declares moral is objectively moral, which is begging the question.

    “When we attempt to think of a person and a law, we are compelled to think of this person either as obeying the law or as making it. And when we think of Him as making it we are compelled to think of Him either as making it in conformity to some yet more ultimate pattern of goodness (in which case that pattern, and not He, would be supreme) or else as making it arbitrarily … But it is probably just here that our categories betray us. It would be idle, with our merely mortal resources, to attempt a positive correction of our categories. … But it might be permissible to lay down two negations: that God neither obeys nor creates the moral law. The good is uncreated; it could never have been otherwise; it has in it no shadow of contingency; it lies, as Plato said, on the other side of existence. [But since only God admits of no contingency, we must say that] God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.

    These may seem like fine-spun speculations: yet I believe that nothing short of this can save us. A Christianity which does not see moral and religious experience converging to meet at infinity … has nothing, in the long run, to divide it from devil worship.”

    C. S. Lewis, The Poison of Subjectivism

  106. 106
    StephenB says:

    —-Mark Frank: “My main point is that many Darwinists subscribe to this philosophy. So Darwinists don’t think free will is an illusion.”

    Darwinists think that real free will is an illusion, which is why some of them, not many, change its definition into something meaningless and insignificant, such as the freedom from coercion.

    —-“There is nothing particularly loose about compatabilism and it is a mainstream philosophical view – Daniel Dennett is probably the most well-known modern proponent. The point is that free will does not mean doing something without any motive. It means acting without constraint. To exercise free will is to act according to one’s motives. So if the causal chain goes:….”

    Freedom from coercion or constraint is a meaningless concept. Real free will is the capacity to make choices that can influence ones fate or one’s destiny—to make things different from what they might have been. Free will, properly understood, cannot be reconciled with determinism. Either we are nature’s plaything, or we are not. It can’t be both.

    Thus, for the determinist, if nature bids you to watch pornography, you watch it because you have no mind or will to resist the brain’s impulse, which, in itself, is really nothing but a physical organ that follows the laws of nature. If, on the other hand, you have a mind that tells you that pornography is bad, and if you have a will that is strong enough to follow the mind’s lead, you can resist the brain’s impulses and become a free agent.. Darwinism does not leave that door open. With that mindset, if you were determined to watch pornography, you will watch it.

    —–“Then you have free will. The question is simply – does this chain require a non-material element? I see no reason why it does.”

    In order to have free will, one must have a faculty of will in the first place.. If, as Darwinists believe, no such thing as a will exists, then obviously a will that doesn’t exist can hardly be free.

    —–“It is easiest to understand if you step outside your own free will and consider another species e.g. dogs. If I show my dog his lead, I start a causal chain which with a high degree of certainty will lead to him going mental with excitement. There is no reason to suppose anything other than material events in that chain but he is certainly acting with free will”

    As I say, you have redefined free will to such a degree that you attribute it to dogs.

  107. 107
    Mark Frank says:

    #106

    StephenB

    Freedom from coercion or constraint is a meaningless concept.

    Well of course that is not true. If I put you in a straightjacket I think you will find it quite meaningful. I guess what you mean is that it is not the same as free will.

    Real free will is the capacity to make choices that can influence ones fate or one’s destiny—to make things different from what they might have been.

    Well if you are constrained then you can’t make choices ….. but let that ride for a moment. My dog makes choices all the time which influence his destiny. He decides whether to obey or disobey. For some time he decided which bedroom to sleep in until we constrained him by locking the kitchen door.

    If you don’t regard these as decisions we must be using the word “decide” in a different manner from each other. And it is going to be very difficult to proceed.

    Maybe you are looking for something special about human decisions. But what is this deciding characteristic? How do you know that humans other than yourself have this characteristic? What difference would it make if they didn’t? How do you know that dogs don’t?

  108. 108
    zeroseven says:

    StephenB,

    You must have a different definition of Darwinist. Where I come from (NZ), if the word is used at all, it just means someone who accepts the TOE as legitimate. (Which by the way is just about everyone. It always amuses me in these posts that IDists seem to believe – or at least pretend that they believe – that TOE is a dying theory).

    Anyway, the existence or otherwise of free will is a huge philosophical question that while it can be considered in the context of both evolution and religion cannot be legitimately reduced to “if you believe in evolution your position on free will is x and if you are religious it is y”.

    Finally, there is a lot of evidence that other animals such as dogs do exercise free will and do in fact make moral decisions also.

  109. 109
    StephenB says:

    —–“Well if you are constrained then you can’t make choices ….. but let that ride for a moment. My dog makes choices all the time which influence his destiny. He decides whether to obey or disobey. For some time he decided which bedroom to sleep in until we constrained him by locking the kitchen door.”

    You can always make choices in any situation. If you are constrained in a straightjacket, you can decide whether or not to resent it or to contend against it. If your freedom is taken away, you can become a freedom fighter. The more important issue is this: do your decisions make any real difference? Can you make things different than they would have been had you not decided? Should you allow your dog to die in a kennel or take him in? Can you improve your character by making good choices? Can you improve your life by making good choices? Can you say yes or no to the prospect of getting addicted to pornography? After you get addicted, can you break free? Based on what you decide to do, will others follow you or disown you—hate you or love you? Can your positive words inspire someone? Can your negative words send them sobbing all the way to the grave? Your dog cannot make those kinds of choices; you can. Determinism says that you cannot. Real free will says that you can. Compatibilism evades the issue, and is, therefore, irrelevant.

    —–“If you don’t regard these as decisions we must be using the word “decide” in a different manner from each other. And it is going to be very difficult to proceed.”

    These decisions do not, in any way, change the fate of the decider. If they did, the chain of determinism, which, for the determinist, does the deciding, would not be a causal chain at all, meaning that it would no longer be determinsm. That is the whole point of determinism and, for that matter, materialism: to challenge the possibility of a self directed lifestyle, defined in terms of personal responsibility and made possible by the human mind and the human will, the exercise of which, positive or negative, determines our ultimate destiny.

    —–“Maybe you are looking for something special about human decisions. But what is this deciding characteristic? How do you know that humans other than yourself have this characteristic? What difference would it make if they didn’t? How do you know that dogs don’t?”

    The point is less about human decisions and more about their impact on the future. We either have some say about our future or we don’t. If we do, then determinism/materialism is wrong; if we don’t, then we are, indeed, nature’s plaything. There is no middle ground. Instinctively, everyone understands this. Even those who promote determinism, materialism, and fatalism violate their own philosophy each time they comment here, hoping to change the current balance of power caused by human volition and purposeful action. Darwinists [and Darwinist compatibilists] would like to tighten their grip on our culture; IDers would like to loosen that grip. Determinism, on the other hand, couldn’t care less. However it plays out, free will and its impact on the future will be the deciding factor. If your side can convince the non-committal skulls full of mush that they have no free will, which is compatibilism’s ultimate position when you strip away all the false definitions, you win; if our side can convince them that their dignity and their free will are inseparable, we win. Both of these world views cannot define a culture at the same time; to feed one is to starve the other.

  110. 110
    StephenB says:

    109 is for Mark Frank.

  111. 111
    StephenB says:

    —-zeroseven: “You must have a different definition of Darwinist. Where I come from (NZ), if the word is used at all, it just means someone who accepts the TOE as legitimate. (Which by the way is just about everyone. It always amuses me in these posts that IDists seem to believe – or at least pretend that they believe – that TOE is a dying theory).”

    Your definition is incorrect. Darwinistic macro evolution, which explains all biodiversity, all mental activity, and all volition in terms of unguided, naturalistic, forces, leaves no room for free will or objective morality.

    On the other hand, non Darwinian macro evolution, which can be either guided or programmed, leaves the door open to free will and objectice morality.

    —–“Anyway, the existence or otherwise of free will is a huge philosophical question that while it can be considered in the context of both evolution and religion cannot be legitimately reduced to “if you believe in evolution your position on free will is x and if you are religious it is y”

    Materialist Darwinism rules out free will in principle. We have already been over that. Darwinism is religion, not science.

    —-“Finally, there is a lot of evidence that other animals such as dogs do exercise free will and do in fact make moral decisions also”

    Yes, just the other day, my dog shared with me his dream of someday starting a human kennel, but he feels that he must first get therapy for his pornography addiction, which, according to his psychiatrist, was brought on by a previously undiagnosed Oedipus complex. Also, he experiences pangs of guilt from taking a bone away from a smaller dog and no longer enjoys playing with it. He has been trying to find the little fellow so he can give it back.

  112. 112
    Seversky says:

    vjtorley @ 74

    I see from Seversky’s response that he is a fan of John Stuart Mill, so I’d like to ask him a substantive question which I hope he will tackle in his second post: how free does he think human beings are, and why? If he believes in libertarian freedom, how does he reconcile this with his belief in materialism?

    I do not believe we are free in any absolute sense but neither are we simply puppets.

    Suppose we sit a volunteer at a table and lay some bags of chips of different flavors in front of him and ask him to choose one. Suppose his favorite flavor is cheese. Most probably, he would choose the cheese-flavored bag.

    Suppose we then tell him that this is a test of his free will. The second time he might opt for a different flavor just to show that he is free to choose and not a slave to his taste buds. But we have influenced his decision by telling him this is a test. His second choice was a response to what we said to demonstrate he has free will. So, to what extent can we say he has free will?

    Suppose we run a long sequence of such tests with two subjects who both prefer cheese-flavored chips. One subject we simply allow to choose without saying anything, the other is told it is a test of his free will. What do we think might be the outcomes?

    Perhaps the first subject would make predominantly cheesy choices changing occasionally when he became bored with cheese. The second subject might choose evenly amongst all the flavors for a while just to prove a point but then settle on the cheese flavor because he became bored with proving a point and decided he was happier satisfying his own tastes.

    My own view is that at any point in time we can be presented with a narrow range of options. For example, I have a choice of whether to drive or walk to work. If it is raining I will most probably drive, if it is dry I will most probably walk. But I cannot fly to work because I am not Superman and I do not own a personal jetpack, nor can I be beamed to work because the technology does not yet exist.

    I think we area able to make purely rational choices freely from amongst the limited options available to us. But we are also influenced by preferences that were shaped by circumstances of which we were unaware at the time they were affecting us.

    We are made what we are by so many influences of which we were unaware or over which we had no control that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that although free will may not be an illusion we are far from being the free agents implied by the concept of free will.

  113. 113
    Seversky says:

    As an aside, I notice that there have been no recent comments from Learned Hand or BillB. Have they been banned?

  114. 114
    Seversky says:

    StephenB @ 89

    —-seversky: “If pornography is not forced on those who want nothing to do with it, if the production and consumption of pornography is voluntary and no one – and no animal – is harmed in the process, then I see no objection.”

    Thank you for acknowledging that which we already knew and stated, even though our critics accused us all along of misrepresenting your position.

    You will notice that I offered neither a blanket condemnation nor unconditional approval.

    Those NSF employees who viewed pornography on their office computers were guilty of misconduct and abusing their positions at the Foundation. But their offenses do not mean the NSF is irredeemably corrupt any more that the small number of Catholic priests who abuse children mean that the whole church is tainted or that the National Association of Evangelicals has followed their former president, Ted Haggard, in his fall from grace.

  115. 115
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Seversky,

    If LH and BillB have been banned, it was bound to happen, and had nothing to do with the moderators’ free will. 🙂

  116. 116
    StephenB says:

    —-Seversky: “You will notice that I offered neither a blanket condemnation nor unconditional approval.”

    To have “no objection to,” pornography or to characterize it as a “natural by product of sexuality” or to suggest that it is not worth fighting or contending against, will suffice as approval for me. Perhaps others will assess the matter differently.

    —“Those NSF employees who viewed pornography on their office computers were guilty of misconduct and abusing their positions at the Foundation.”

    Yes, but your acknowledgement doesn’t really speak to the issue of pornography does it? One could say the same thing about playing Chinese checkers on company time.

    —“But their offenses do not mean the NSF is irredeemably corrupt any more that the small number of Catholic priests who abuse children mean that the whole church is tainted or that the National Association of Evangelicals has followed their former president, Ted Haggard, in his fall from grace.”

    If I thought that we were talking about a “small number,” I would agree with you since abberations can occur anywhere. However, the report said that number was “so pervasive they swamped the agency’s inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.”

    It also alludes to a “6-fold increase in employee misconduct cases and associated proactive management implication report activities.”

    I would not interpret that description as a small number, and I don’t think anyone else would either.

  117. 117
    StephenB says:

    Oops, I mean, “aberrations” can occur anywhere.

  118. 118
    tragic mishap says:

    Thanks for answering the question. You appear to be an excellent example of who Paul was speaking about here:

    Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

    Romans 2:14-15

  119. 119
    Mark Frank says:

    #109

    You can always make choices in any situation.

    That’s true – assuming you are conscious. Constraint and freedom are relative terms not absolute.

    The more important issue is this: do your decisions make any real difference? Can you make things different than they would have been had you not decided? …. Your dog cannot make those kinds of choices; you can.

    Well of course my dog’s decisions do make quite a lot of difference to his life and ours. If chooses to disobey and run off to chase deer he will have a great time for 30 minutes and get a telling off when he returns. You can even see him debating whether it is worth it! As far as I can see the main differences are that he cannot plan nearly so far ahead or in as much detail as we can and he doesn’t have the same motives. He isn’t moved by compassion or a sense of fairness but he is moved by guilt, loyalty, hunger, fear and a desire to play (no longer sex in his case).

    I don’t see that the range of motives or the ability to see far ahead are the determining characteristics of free will.

    We either have some say about our future or we don’t. If we do, then determinism/materialism is wrong; if we don’t, then we are, indeed, nature’s plaything. There is no middle ground. Instinctively, everyone understands this.

    You assert these things but you don’t prove them. The best you seem able to come up with is that “instinctively everyone understands this”. Well I don’t.

    One way to get a grip on the subject – maybe even settle that we are talking about the same thing – is epistemological. How do you know that you have free will and that other people do? What would it be like if they didn’t?

  120. 120
    Mark Frank says:

    #116

    If I thought that we were talking about a “small number,” I would agree with you since abberations can occur anywhere. However, the report said that number was “so pervasive they swamped the agency’s inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.”

    It also alludes to a “6-fold increase in employee misconduct cases and associated proactive management implication report activities.”

    If you read the report you will see that there were 3 cases of employee misconduct in 2006, 7 in 2007 and 10 in 2008. Of those 10, 7 were related to pornography. Out of a workforce of some 1,200. Is that large? I would say it needs investigating but as someone else pointed out it really depends what type of employees they were. We know one was an executive but the others could have been security guards watching some porn because they were bored.

    Bear in mind this is all second hand from an antigovernment newspaper. It is little more than gosip.

  121. 121
    avocationist says:

    I’d be grateful is someone would explain to me what it is about materialism that implies determinism, and if this is the reason that Darwinists cannot believe in free will?

    Haven’t some religious people believed in determinism, and isn’t it possible for a god to create a fully deterministic universe?

    I’d also like to know why having a soul means that you have a truly free will and not a constrained free will?

  122. 122
    Tim says:

    Mark Frank @ 119

    Your dog debates? That must be the most human dog ever!!!

    Your dog chooses to disobey? Wow! I have never, ever, had a dog disobey. Nobody has!!! Try this out the next time your dog chews your remote control, roll up a newspaper to prepare for a good old fashioned beating — but not the dog, beat yourself senseless with it. Perhaps then you will notice that the dog’s “debate” and “disobediance” are nothing more than words you have put onto your dog’s chewing up a piece of plastic.

    “He isn’t moved by compassion or a sense of fairness but he is moved by guilt, loyalty, hunger, fear and a desire to play. . .”

    This is the utterly confused. Fairness is out but loyalty is in? Guilt is understood, but compassion is not? Uh, the pit bull feels guilt after tearing into a human, but the fabled St. Bernard can show no compassion on the stranded traveler? What?

    Mark Frank: “What does it look like when a person is acting in a way that is not explained by instinct, learning and stimuli?”

    What does what look like? By “it” I’ll assume you mean behavior. Unfortunately behavior driven by free will (and btw behavoirs are often driven by a combination of things) looks so much like behavior driven by other causes that, for some people who rely solely on what it looks like, the causes are seemingly intermixed, dilute or inaccessible. Then, we get debating dogs and no reason to condemn adults who freely consent to participate in all manner of pornography.

    Of course, there is more than what behavior “looks” like.

  123. 123
    Mark Frank says:

    #122

    Tim – do you own a dog?

  124. 124
    Tim says:

    I fail to see how my history of dog ownership is relevant to this discussion, but we are well down onto the second page, so here goes: I have owned three dogs spanning fourteen years, but I do not have any pets currently. None of my dogs ever mulled over an option and chose to disobey me. None of them ever had any compassion, loyalty or sense of fairness either. Two were poorly trained, and one was expertly trained — man’s best friend.

    The great thing about domestic animals like dogs is that they are so consistent in reacting to the nature of their training that we are seemingly totally free to project all manner of human traits onto them, and they NEVER complain –man’s favorite mirror.

  125. 125
    Seversky says:

    StephenB @ 116

    —-Seversky: “You will notice that I offered neither a blanket condemnation nor unconditional approval.”

    To have “no objection to,” pornography or to characterize it as a “natural by product of sexuality” or to suggest that it is not worth fighting or contending against, will suffice as approval for me. Perhaps others will assess the matter differently.

    I thought I had made clear that I thought that some types of pornography were bad, in particular, those which exploit and abuse women and children.

    That objection is based on my belief that society has a right and a duty to uphold the rights of all its members but especially those who are weak and vulnerable.

    However, I assume that, as a citizen of a country which prides itself on defending individual freedom, you will share my belief, following Mill in On Liberty, that society should allow the greatest latitude for individual freedom, that freedom being bounded only by the point at which an individual’s actions cause harm to others. The relevant passage from On Liberty is as follows:

    The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right…The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

    You are free to view pornography with distaste, find it morally offensive have nothing whatsoever to do with it or campaign vigorously against it. That is your right. Equally, those who wish to use pornography should be free to do so providing it causes no harm to others. As long as that condition is met then neither you nor society has any right to interfere.

    I regard pornography as just another facet of human sexuality which is neither good nor bad but an inescapable – dare I say it – fact of life. Like anything else it can be abused in a way that causes harm. Those abuses are wrong not the thing which is being abused.

  126. 126
    Mark Frank says:

    #124

    Just wanted to see what common ground we had.

    I agree that dogs do not show compassion or a sense of fairness. I am surprised none of yours showed any sense of loyalty. But surely they exhibited guilt? And surely they made decisions and at times were indecisive going from one option to another?

    It seems to me that we may actually be using the word “decide” in different ways.

Leave a Reply