May 30, 2008
Not good. An underhanded attempt to legalize euthanasia in CA has passed the House, and now goes to the Senate where it will probably be approved as well. The governor is likely to sign the bill.
Essentially the bill requires that doctors advise terminally ill patients with a life expectancy of one year or less, how they can be placed into a drug-induced coma and then dehydrated to death. If a physician is unwilling to advise their patient of this option, they must refer them to a physician who will. Go here for more details.
This is a half-step towards assisted suicide or euthanasia in this state.
May 30, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Apologetics
, Theism  Comments
Atheists, and unfortunately even some theists, think belief in God is irrational. I beg to differ. Given the maxim that effects require an adequate cause, and no effect can cause itself, theism makes the best sense of the world. The beginning of the universe (effect) begs for a Beginner (cause), the design of the universe (effect) begs for a designer (cause), and the moral law we intuit (effect) begs for a moral law giver (cause).
Indeed, theism is much more reasonable than atheism. Is it more rational to believe the universe popped into existence out of nowhere completely uncaused, or that it was caused by a powerful and intelligent mind? Is it more rational to believe the intricate design and incomprehensibly balanced fine tuning of our universe happened by chance, or that an intelligent agent designed it for a purpose? Is it more rational to believe moral values exist inexplicably or as the result of evolution, or that they are the product of a moral law giver? In each case, the latter seems to be the more reasonable position prima facie. The only reason to deny these conclusions would be if atheists could provide good evidence that would overwhelm our prima facie intuitions. Not surprisingly, they have not done so.
May 29, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Apologetics Leave a Comment
Apologetics is a person-specific enterprise. We are not trying to convince some generic Joe Blow, but specific individuals we encounter. Our apologetic should be tailored to meet the needs of the person we are dialoguing with.
For example, when someone tells you they don’t believe in God, the first thing you might do is ask them why. Their answer will help you to better direct your response. If the lone reason they reject the existence of God is because of the problem of evil, it won’t do much good to hit them with every offensive apologetic argument for God’s existence, beginning with a cosmological argument. No. You need to go straight to a defensive apologetic, showing the logical consistency between theism and the existence of evil.
If the reason they do not believe in God is because they do not believe there is any evidence for God’s existence, the first thing you should do is ask them what sort of evidence they are willing to accept. For example, the atheist might respond that he would believe in God if you could show Darwinian evolution to be false. In such a case your apologetic to this individual would revolve around this issue, as well as general science and faith issues.
Such a question also prevents you from running into the situation in which you offer argument after argument, while the atheist just folds his arms in response each time, saying, “I’m not convinced.” What you’ll find is that some atheists are not prepared to accept any sort of evidence for God’s existence, because they have unreasonably high expectations of what constitutes evidence. What they want is evidence that carries with it “absolute certainty” of its truth. This standard is too high, and unfair. Most of what we believe to be true we believe without absolute certainty. There is no reason to hold belief in God to a higher standard. Belief in God is warranted if His existence is more likely than not, given the evidence. Probing the atheist in this way will help you set reasonable expectations.
May 27, 2008
In an article published yesterday at Townhall, Frank Turek writes about same-sex marriage and how it will affect society. Not only did Frank advance a nearly-identical argument to the one I have been advancing here on this blog (a secular, rather than religious argument), but he brought to my attention a pro-homosexual advocate who has written a book opposing same-sex marriage for many of the same reasons.
In his book, The Future of Marriage, David Blankenhorn argues that “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.” Blankenhorn sees this as a problem.
Why? It’s not because people will stop having children. It’s because the parents will not be tied to the children as they are in a marriage. Dissolution rates of non-married parents are 2-3 times greater than married parents. And the social ills resulting from broken families are enormous.
I couldn’t agree more. And I am glad that a pro-gay Democrat is making this argument. It shows that one does not need to be religious or morally conservative to see why same-sex marriage is not good for society. Marriage is about children, but same-sex relationships are not about children: they are about the couple themselves.
Blankenhorn recognizes that there is a difference between allowing homosexuals to engage in homosex and establish lasting relationships with each other, and officially recognizing those relationships as an example of marriage.
Here’s a couple of quote-worthy statements from Turek. Turek on why the legal recognition of same-sex couples is detrimental to the institution of marriage:
“There’s no question that liberalized marriage laws will help change our attitudes and behaviors about the purpose of marriage. The law is a great teacher, and if same-sex marriage advocates have their way, children will be expelled from the lesson on marriage.”
Turek on the notion that marriage is not about children:
“Well, if marriage isn’t about children, what institution is about children? And if we’re going to redefine marriage into mere coupling, then why should the state endorse same-sex marriage at all? Contrary to what homosexual activists assume, the state doesn’t endorse marriage because people have feelings for one another. The state endorses marriage primarily because of what marriage does for children and in turn society. Society gets no benefit by redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships, only harm as the connection to illegitimacy shows. But the very future of children and a civilized society depends on stable marriages between men and women. That’s why, regardless of what you think about homosexuality, the two types of relationships should never be legally equated.”
May 27, 2008
I am told that Christian apologist, Os Guinness, thinks we should replace religion-speak with worldview-speak in the public square. The reason? Religion is something you may or may not have, but everyone has a worldview. Some worldviews simply have a supernatural element to them while others do not.
The advantage of worldview-speak over religion-speak is that it prevents non-religious folks from claiming the high ground of rational neutrality; as though we are hopelessly biased by our religious presuppositions, but they remain objective. Are religious people biased? Of course, but so are non-religious (secular) folks. No one is epistemologically neutral. We all bring certain presuppositions to the task of knowing, and use them to interpret the world. Having a religious worldview makes us no less objective than those with a secular worldview. We can no more dispense with our worldview than can the secularist, and indeed, we need not do so. While it is wise to consider a question from the perspective of a worldview different than your own, we are not required to do so in order to be rational.
I think Mr. Guinness is onto something.
May 22, 2008
Why do governments involve themselves in the regulation and promotion of marriage? Are they interested in promoting romantic love? Are they interested in personal happiness and fulfillment? While romance, personal happiness, and fulfillment may be part of marriage, these are not the reasons government involves itself in the marriage business. They regulate and promote marriage because they have a vested interest in the production and socialization of children. Children are needed for the perpetuation of society, and those children need to be properly socialized so they can be productive members of society. Heterosexual couples, and heterosexual couples alone are capable of delivering on these government interests, and thus their relationship has been privileged, promoted, and regulated by the government.
Apart from children there is no reason for the government to sanction or regulate any private relationship in any official capacity, including same-sex relationships. Seeing that same-sex relationships have nothing to do with the purpose for which civil marriage is enacted; therefore, same-sex relationships are not entitled to the benefits of marriage. They may enjoy the same love and commitment heterosexual couples enjoy, but they are not equally situated to heterosexual couples because they cannot produce children. Their relationships do not serve the same function in, and for society, and thus there is no need to officially recognize their relationships anymore than there is a need for the government to officially recognize friendships. As important as we might deem these relationships to be, they do not need, nor do they deserve the same sort of social support as marriage.
How We Got Here, and What We Can Do About It
The reason our society has come to give official recognition to same-sex relationships in varying degrees is because we have redefined the purpose of marriage so that children stand at the periphery, rather than the center. Marriage is now being defined in terms of love, commitment, and personal fulfillment rather than children. Given this redefinition it is no wonder we have considered it “only fair” to extend marriage benefits to same-sex couples.
We will only succeed in saving marriage to the degree that we can restore a cultural understanding that marriage is fundamentally about children. Unfortunately, most Christians have bought into the cultural redefinition of marriage themselves, which is why many have been fooled into believing that so long as we retain the exclusive use of the word “marriage” to describe our legally recognized relationship, we have succeeded in preserving the historic definition of marriage. While this may preserve the form of marriage (one man, one woman), it does so only at the expense of abandoning its purpose (procreation and socialization). Given the fact that the historic form of marriage is logically tied to its historic purpose, if we cede that purpose we have no further basis on which to argue for its form. It does us little good to fight over who gets to use the “M” word to describe their legally recognized relationship unless we also fight to reclaim the historic purpose of marriage, and its exclusive right to legal recognition and social support.
For a fuller treatment, including answers to the most common objections, see my article “I Now Pronounce You Man and Man?”: An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage
May 21, 2008
If there was ever a time when there was nothing, then there would be nothing still, because nothing has no potential to become something. Out of nothing, nothing comes. And yet there is something, so we know there has never been a time when nothing existed. Something must have always existed, but what is that something?
We know the universe exists, so maybe it is what has always existed. But there are several reasons to think the universe is not eternal. One such example is the thermodynamic properties of the universe. The energy in the universe is finite and increasing toward entropy. If the universe were infinitely old, we would have reached a state of entropy an infinite time ago. And yet we have not reached a state of entropy, therefore the universe is not infinitely old. It began to exist a finite time ago.
If the universe has not always existed, what has? Given the maxim that every effect requires an adequate cause, and nothing is self-caused, that which has always existed must be the causal explanation for the universe coming into being a finite time ago. What could have done so? Given that whatever caused space, time, and matter to begin to exist cannot itself be spatial, temporal, or material, we are limited to two possibilities: abstract objects, or an unembodied mind.
Since abstract objects are causally impotent by definition, they cannot be the cause of the universe, and thus are unlikely to be that which has always existed. That leaves us with an unembodied mind as the eternal something. This makes sense. Not only are we are intimately acquainted with the idea of minds creating things, but it also makes sense of the design and order we see in the universe. An intelligent agent is best explains why the universe is as it is.
Since an eternal, non-spatial, immaterial, intelligent mind is what most mean by “God,” it is best to conclude that God is that which has always existed. He is a necessary being, who contains within Himself the sufficient cause for His own existence, as well as the existence of everything else.
May 21, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Statistics Leave a Comment
The headline in the Washington Post reads, “A Debunking on Teenagers and ‘Technical Virginity’”. They discuss a recent Guttmacher Institute study that supposedly debunks the myth that a lot of teens are engaging in oral sex rather than vaginal sex to preserve their virginity. What is their evidence? That oral sex is more common among those who have had vaginal sex than those who haven’t. A full 87% of those who have had vaginal sex have also had oral sex, whereas 23% of those who have not had vaginal sex have had oral sex.
I do not dispute the statistics, but I think the Guttmacher Institute is spinning the statistics into a lie. It is not surprising that those who engage in vaginal sex are more likely to engage in oral sex. After all, if you’ve “gone all the way,” oral sex is no big deal. What they are minimizing is the fact that 23% of virgins have had oral sex, rather than engage in vaginal sex. Did you catch that? How can it be a myth that teens are engaging in oral sex rather than vaginal sex to perverse their virginity when the study admits that nearly 1 in 4 virgins is having oral sex but not vaginal sex?!
Rather than being a myth, I think this study proves it is true that a large number of teens are engaging in oral sex to preserve their virginity (although I don’t know whether this proves it is “on the rise”). Of course, many more are engaging in oral sex who have chosen not to preserve their virginity, but again, this is not surprising. Unless I am missing something, I think the Guttmacher Institute is lying with the statistics. It is irresponsible to compare the 87% to the 23%. They are apples and oranges.
May 20, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Apologetics
, Mind Leave a Comment
Check out these videos (1, 2) of conjoined twins, Abigail and Brittany Hense. Are they one person with two heads, or two persons in one body? I think it’s clear they are two persons in one body. They have different desires and proclivities. They like different foods.
They answered the top ten questions people ask them. One of the questions was “Do you have two heads?” Their response? “No.” At first I was puzzled by their response, but it makes sense from their perspective. Each girl has to answer this question, and each girl only has one head! From our perspective, though, they appear to have two heads because they have one body.
I particularly liked how they answered the question, “How do you move your arms and legs?” Their answer: “I don’t know.” I had to laugh. I don’t know how I move mine either. I just will it, and it happens.
Each girl controls half of their joint body. Every action requires them to be in sync with each other. These girls are amazing. It goes to show how great humans are, even those who are different than the rest of us.
Post Script: These twins pose an interesting moral and legal question: can they ever get married? Would it be considered polygamy?
May 15, 2008
Speaking of same-sex marriage, in a 4-3 decision the CA Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have the right to have their legally recognized relationships called “marriage.” We are only the second state in the nation to do so (MA was the first back in 2004).
The headlines and news articles are saying the Court approved same-sex marriage, but that is not true. What they did was all that was left for them to do: to give the name “marriage” to those who are already married in the practical sense of the word. Domestic partnerships in CA were already identical to marriage in every respect, but without the name. While on a practical level, then, this ruling doesn’t mean much, it is huge in terms of political and social significance. While not much more than a name (marriage) separated domestic partnerships from marriage in CA, there is a lot in a name! Now that same-sex couples have the benefits as well as the name “marriage,” they have made a huge step forward in achieving social approval. Furthermore, as goes CA, so goes the nation.
I have not read the opinion of the court (it hasn’t been released yet to my knowledge), but the news article reported this little excerpt from the majority opinion (penned by Chief Justice Ronald George: “In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation.” Say what? Nothing in the wording of the constitution has changed in regards to this issue, so what does earlier versus later times have to do with anything? Oh, I forgot. These judges don’t think it’s their job to interpret the Constitution. They think it is their job to institute progressive public policy when the public is apparently too stupid to do so. Infuriating!
May 15, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Holiness
, Theology  Comments
Believe it or not, Oneness churches are not the only Christians concerned about modesty! Reformed charismatic (yes, those two words can actually go together), C.J. Mahaney, has written a chapter titled “God, My Heart, and Clothes” for the soon-to-be released book Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. The chapter has been released in advance.
Mahaney’s approach is both Biblical and practical. I particularly liked how he emphasized the fact that modesty of attitude must accompany modesty of dress. Indeed, they are logically ordered that way. As he says, any discussion of modesty must begin with the heart rather than the hemline.
In describing what modesty is, he writes, “Modesty means propriety. It means avoiding clothes and adornment that are extravagant or sexually enticing. Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality.” Immodesty, on the other hand, “is much more than wearing a short skirt or low-cut top; it’s the act of drawing undue attention to yourself. It’s pride, on display by what you wear.”
But eventually we do come to the hemline. To women Mahaney asks, “What inspires your attire? Who are you identifying with through your appearance? Who are you trying to imitate or be like in your dress? Does your hairstyle, clothing, or any aspect of your appearance reveal an excessive fascination with sinful cultural values? Are you preoccupied with looking like the latest American Idol winner, or the actresses on magazine covers, or the immodest woman next door? Are your role models the godly women of Scripture of the worldly women of our culture?”
I am glad to see this issue is receiving attention outside holiness churches. It is a Biblical issue, and a Christian concern. And it is needed more than ever in today’s bare-all society. I know some churches have become quite legalistic over the matter, but that is no reason to dispense with modesty. It is reason to rescue true modesty from the shackles of legalism.
May 15, 2008
British journalist, Amanda Platell, wrote an article titled “How could anyone look at this photo and deny it’s time to cut the abortion limit?” She is referring to the picture of Amillia Taylor, pictured above.
Amillia was born in October 2006 at 21 weeks gestation, measuring a mere nine inches long. As you can see in the picture, for the most part Amillia looks like a newborn baby. And yet in England Amillia could have been aborted the same day this photo was taken. Current abortion law allows for babies to be aborted up to 24 weeks. Ms. Platell, who is not pro-life, is arguing that the legal limit should be reduced to 20 weeks, as proposed in a bill being considered right now by the British government. After all, she asks, how can anyone look at Amillia and argue that it is ok to kill her? Good question.
Ms. Platell argues her case in the following manner:
Each year in this country, we still legally abort 2,300 babies between 20 and 24 weeks. A foetus aborted at 20 weeks is given a lethal injection into the baby’s heart through the mother’s abdominal wall. It is then either born stillborn or dismembered and removed limb by limb. Let me repeat that. A fatal injection into the heart is given despite overwhelming evidence now even from pro-abortion campaigners like the distinguished Professor Sunny Anand of the University of Arkansas that foetuses feel pain at 18 weeks’ gestation.
I’ve seen Professor Anand talk, I’ve looked at his research. He’s not some raving pro-lifer with an axe to grind. He believes in abortion. He has carried out countless numbers of them during his career, yet he believes the medical evidence of foetal pain is now sufficient for a reduction in the legal limit to well below 24 weeks.
I’ve also seen in detail the high-resolution, 3D ultrasound images pioneered by Professor Stuart Campbell, where a foetus is clearly smiling and yawning at 20 weeks. It’s this kind of evidence that has shifted the mood in this country about abortion. Public opinion is changing, and changing fast. It is led in part by the medical profession. … Doctors are only too well aware of the moral dilemma of being told to fight to save a premature baby in one ward of a hospital – and end the life of another down the corridor.
As a pro-lifer, I could not agree more, and yet I could not help to wonder why, given these reasons, she is only advocating for a legal reduction from 24 to 20 weeks, rather than the elimination of abortion altogether. So I asked her by submitting a comment to the comments section. I wrote:
I agree with much of what you have said, but I can’t understand why you stop at 20 weeks. What is so different about the unborn at 19 weeks, or 15 weeks, or 3 weeks that would justify abortion? Is it because they can’t survive outside the womb? Why is this significant? Several years ago Amillia Taylor couldn’t have survived either. She only survived because of advances in medical technology. Can advances in technology transform babies like her from non-valuable things that can be killed at will, to valuable persons like you and me that should be protected by the law? Can medical technology change what the unborn is?
And what if future medical technology allows babies to survive outside the womb at 5 weeks? Would you support lowering the abortion limit to 5 weeks? Or what if artificial wombs become a reality in the next decade as some predict? All unborn babies would be able to survive outside the mother’s womb. Would you support outlawing abortion altogether? Clearly the ability to survive outside the womb cannot be what makes abortion right or wrong.
Maybe it’s the fact that they don’t feel pain. Would the Holocaust have been any less evil if Hitler found a way to kill the Jews without them experiencing pain? No, so why is it different for the unborn? Clearly the ability to feel pain is not what makes abortion right or wrong.
Maybe the difference is that it looks less human prior to 20 weeks. But is this morally significant? Does the way one looks give them value? Are disfigured and dismembered adults less human than you and I because they don’t look like us? Besides, the unborn do look like every one of us, when we were the same age they are. Our appearance changes throughout our life, but our value remains the same. Clearly appearance is not what makes abortion right or wrong.
What makes abortion right or wrong is the kind of thing the unborn is. If it is a human being, then no justification for abortion is adequate. But if it is not a human being, then no justification is necessary. There should be no limits on abortion at all. Choice should reign supreme. After all, if the unborn is not a human being, why set a limit on when it can be killed? We don’t set limits for when people can get their teeth pulled. The only reason it makes sense to establish time limits for abortion is because we understand that the unborn is not like a tooth. It is a morally significant being like us. But if that is the case, again, no justification for abortion is adequate.
My comments were not even published, so I highly doubt I will ever receive a response from Ms. Platell, but these questions need to be answered, not just by her, but by all those like her who make similar arguments. I am glad she is fighting to save the lives of 2300 babies a year, but I hope she’ll extend her logic even further to save thousands more.
May 15, 2008
“If our ideas are easily destroyed by those acquainted with the facts, they ought to be discarded. But if our ideas are good, they will not be upended so easily. … Developing answers to the toughest arguments against our position strengthens both our witness and our confidence in our convictions.” – Greg Koukl, May 2008 introductory letter to the May/June 2008 issue of Solid Ground
May 14, 2008
There is little I have less tolerance for than the person who claims they know you are wrong because God told them so. How might you respond to such a person? Let me illustrate one method in the form of a dialogue:
David: That’s not what that verse means.
Jason: Why do you disagree with my interpretation?
David: The Holy Spirit revealed to me that it means X.
Jason: That’s funny. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that it means Y.
David: No he didn’t. The Spirit cannot contradict Himself, and I know He told me it means X.
Jason: I agree with you that the Spirit cannot contradict Himself. And since I know He told me it means Y, He could not have told you it means X.
David: You’re wrong.
Jason: Ah, wait. The Spirit is speaking to me right now. … Oh, ok God. David, the Holy Spirit just told me that He did not tell you that it means X.
David: No, He didn’t tell you that.
Jason: Yes, He did.
David: No, He didn’t.
Jason: Yes, He did.
David: No, He didn’t.
Jason: Yes, He did.
Silly, I know. The reason it is silly, however, is that it is silly to claim the Spirit told you X, when you cannot justify X. Anyone can appeal to the Spirit as their intellectual justification, but that does not mean they actually heard from the Spirit, and it does not help to persuade anyone else of their view (even if they really did hear from the Spirit). It stifles the conversation, and persuades no one.
Furthermore, what do you do when two people think God told them something, and yet He said something different to each person? The dialogue ends in a stand-still in which each person accuses the other of not truly hearing from God. Not very fruitful, if you ask me.
May 14, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Odds & Ends Leave a Comment
It pays to shop around for books, rather than just ordering everything through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or CBD (Amazon is almost always cheaper than B&N BTW). I mentioned KIMbooks.org a few days ago for discount books. Their prices are so good that they even beat Amazon’s sale prices by a few bucks.
But there are other ways to find good deals on books. For instance, at Amazon has books you can buy through their site that are cheaper than the list price. The way to find it is to save the books you want to the cart, then access your cart, and hit the “save for later” button next to each book. This will move the book to the bottom of the page, and a new field will appear showing you cheaper prices for the book from Amazon sellers. Sometimes the price isn’t much different, but sometimes it is. For example, Dethroning Jesus was $15 new from Amazon, but I bought a nearly-new copy for $1.35!
My best advice, though, would be to go to bookfinder.com. Bookfinder searches for new and used books. You can save a bundle. The only potential drawback is that to get the best deal you will probably have to order through several different book distributors. That might increase your postage, but you can measure this. They include the price of postage in their quote.
To show you how much you can save, I looked up six books I want to buy at Amazon. The total cost was $123 (shipping was free). Between using bookfinder and the “discount” Amazon section, however, I was able to buy those same books for $80. That’s a 35% savings. It takes a little more time and hassle, but it’s well worth it.
Does anyone else have any boo-buying tips they would like to share?
May 13, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Apologetics
, Tactics  Comments
I had an experience today that is instructive in what not to do, tactically speaking. I was composing a response to a question about free will while riding the train home from work. The train was less than a minute from its destination, when the gentleman next to me—having noticed what I was writing about—asked me if I studied theology. I explained that I do, at which point he asked me, “Do you really believe in what you are writing about?” By this time the train had come to a complete stop, and the man was getting out of his seat to exit the train. As I was putting my computer in my bag I answered him, “Yes, actually I do.” As he continued to walk away I added in a slightly louder voice, “And for good reason.” But it was too late. He was already walking out the door.
Hindsight is always 20/20, this being no exception. I missed out on the chance of continuing our dialogue by giving a direct answer to the gentleman’s question. What I should have done is responded with a question. I might have asked an open-ended question such as, “What do you mean by believe?” or “What is it you think I am claiming to believe?” That would have compelled him to stick around a little longer, rather than continue his commute home. Who knows where the conversation would have ended had I done so. Lesson learned.
May 13, 2008
While the law is a moral enterprise on its face, it is not possible, nor is it wise to legislate against every kind of moral wrong. For example, while it is morally wrong to deliberately harm one’s body, and smoking cigarettes deliberately harms one’s body, it is generally not advisable to deny one the freedom to smoke cigarettes by outlawing smoking. The general principle is that we should only legislate against moral wrongs that have a major impact on the common good, or interfere with the exercise of the fundamental rights of our fellow citizens. A certain measure of liberty should be left to the individual to choose even those things that are morally wrong, because outlawing that evil may result in an overall increase in evil, and because it is practically impossible for the State to legislate against every form of moral wrong, yet alone to enforce it.
Some attempt to employ this principle as an argument for the legalization of same-sex marriage. It is argued that since liberty is to be preferred to constraint unless an exercise of liberty is to the detriment of the common good, the liberty of marriage should be extended to same-sex couples (even though same-sex marriage is immoral) because same-sex relationships are not detrimental to the public good. How might opponents of same-sex marriage respond to this argument?
While it is true that we should not legislate against all instances of moral wrong, this principle cannot be employed indiscriminately. If it were, no laws aimed at prohibiting immoral behavior could be passed! The burden of proof is on the person arguing we should not legislate against this or that particular moral wrong, to show why we should not do so. In this case, it is being argued that same-sex marriage, though morally wrong, does not negatively affect the public good. Like smoking, then, it should not be prohibited. Is it true that same-sex marriage will not impact the public good in a negative way? There are good reasons to think this is false.
First, extending the institution of marriage to same-sex couples is social declaration that homosexual sex/relationships and heterosexual sex/relationships are equal. This is manifestly false. The purpose of heterosexual sex and homosexual sex are very different (the former is for procreation and recreation, while the latter is only for recreation), as well as the health risks involved with both behaviors. There are virtually no health risks for engaging in monogamous heterosexual sex, but there are many health risks for engaging in (even) monogamous homosexual acts.
Second, it is a social declaration that moms and dads are not necessary for optimal child development. There is no denying the fact that the legal recognition of same-sex couples to adopt and rear children naturally and legally follows from the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as a valid form of civil marriage (in some instances the legal right to adopt actually precedes the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as a valid form of civil marriage). Granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, then, has ramifications for child-rearing. To recognize same-sex relationships as civil marriage is a tacit admission that moms and dads are not necessary for optimal child development—that two moms or two dads will equally suffice. This is wrong. Both moms and dads are needed for optimal child development.
This argument also fails because it ignores the critical difference between allowing people to participate in certain immoral behaviors without the threat of law, and actively declaring through the law that such behaviors are legally protected. The law is a moral teacher. To enshrine something into law is to make a moral declaration about that something: that it is good, or that it is bad. To give legal sanction to same-sex marriage where such sanction did not exist previously would require the creation of new legislation to redefine the institution of marriage. This legislation would have the effect of actively declaring that our society finds same-sex marriage to be a moral good. This is utterly different than the situation we find ourselves in today, in which same-sex couples can openly engage in committed relationships with one another, but without the blessing of society. The difference is one of social approval. Allowing them to engage in committed relationships without the threat of law is to grant them liberty; sanctioning their relationships by enacting laws recognizing their relationships as valid instantiations of civil marriage is to grant them social acceptance.
Ultimately, then, the argument from liberty fails. We should not open up the institution of marriage to same-sex couples. Not only would same-sex marriage negatively impact the common good of our society, but doing so would have the implicit effect of teaching society that a moral wrong is a moral good.
May 12, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Odds & Ends Leave a Comment
I received an email ad from KIMBooks, purportedly the worlds largest non-profit bookstore. I haven’t actually purchased anything from them yet, so I cannot vouch for their service, but I checked their prices on some books I’ve been looking to get, and they are cheaper than Amazon. They claim to offer books 40% off retail. It’s worth checking out.
May 9, 2008
Posted by jasondulle under Apologetics
, Mind Leave a Comment
Journalist Denyse O’Leary co-authored a book with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard titled The Spiritual Brain. The book explores evidence for the existence of mind/soul from the field of neuroscience. One of the evidences they present is the placebo effect. The placebo effect is when people feel better because they think they are supposed to feel better. I would highly recommend the book, but in the meantime I will direct you to a short article Denyse wrote giving concrete evidence of the placebo effect in medicine. It’s very interesting.
May 9, 2008
When the topic of abortion comes up, invariably the question of when life begins is put forth. And invariably, someone will claim that no one knows when life begins (most often, but not always, this will be the person supporting abortion rights). And invariably, they will use this “fact” as the basis on which to argue that the decision to abort or not abort is a personal decision that government should not meddle in.
This logic has always struck me as odd. It seems to me that ignorance of when a human life begins is the best reason not to abort the unborn, and the best reason for government to step in and put a moratorium on the procedure until the question is finally and fully answered. But that is not what I want to focus on here. I want to focus on a quick tactical response to the assertion that ignorance regarding when life begins requires the government not to interfere with a woman’s choice to abort.
We might respond to this assertion by asking, “Does that mean that if it could be determined when life begins, and we discover that it begins at conception, you would agree that government should interfere in the choice of others to abort their babies?” If they say no, then it exposes their argument as a front. They think women should have the legal right to choose an abortion even if the unborn is a human being.
If they say yes, then point out to them that the question of when life begins has been settled for decades. A new, distinct human life begins at conception. Offer proof, such as quotes from standard texts on embryology. If they truly think the right to abortion free from government interference is justified on the basis of ignorance about when life begins, they should change their mind on the matter upon confirming the evidence. If they persist in their pro-abortion anti-government-involvement stance, chances are their argument was just a front for a deeply held belief/desire they have no intention of giving up. They are pro-abortion for reasons other than what they stated: emotional and preferential, rather than rational. In my own personal experience I have found that most pro-abortion advocates will maintain their belief in abortion rights, even when all of their rational arguments have been demonstrated to be fallacious or mistaken. But even with these people, at least the question serves to get to the heart of the matter, and expose their true commitments for what they are.
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