Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just a little follow up on the debate I did back in April

 

Sorry, I’ve not been posting lately, I’ve been super busy with packing and moving for my move to Oakland with my fiancé. I have a couple of posts I would like to work on but have been too busy to write them.

Anyway, there was a bit of a conversation on my opponents web site back in May about the debate. I was too busy to continue it, and quite honestly didn’t see much point given some of the weird arguments being employed, but I thought I’d repost the comment section that came from here, read it and tell me what you guys think.

  • Jim,
    Definitely an interesting exchange both during and after the debate. I could definitely see the effect opposing worldviews have on the interpretation of the issue.
    I find it interesting when atheists like Dylan or Dan Barker make a point to describe themselves as "former fundamentalist Christians for XX years" when they introduce themselves as if that should deliver some sort of impact to the minds in the audience. Maybe it does for some people. But I don't think claims like that carry any weight whatsoever with someone who desires to be faithful to the Christian worldview and listens to what God has told us about the nature of his creation. I don't have any problem Dylan making that sort of claim and see it as him freely indicting himself as a rebel similar to who Paul spoke of in Romans 1. It's bold, if anything. He knows he's in rebellion and needs to repent. I'm not the only audience member that sees that in his claim.
    I also found it curious how Dylan seemed to be using "Risk Assessment when considering homosexual acts" as a sort of trump card to any evidence that those acts might cause unwanted harm to the persons engaging in them. Further, it was curious that he dismissed your argument by claiming you were exaggerating the statistics. So, he's not concerned? At what point do the statistics or the nature of the consequences become concerning for Dylan? Regarding what we should do about our concern, we need to be doctors to understand that some of the health risks are life-threatening? We're just supposed to keep quiet or say "Gosh, I don't know if homosexual acts could lead to something like AIDS, you'll have to ask a bona-fide doctor for an expert opinion on that."? Come on, that's not very compassionate or very loving, but I can see how it aligns with an atheistic worldview. Based on the previous debate, Dylan also remains unconcerned about 50,000,000+ lives ended in the US alone since Roe v. Wade. But to be fair, I gathered that he either sees the unborn as some non-human life form which eventually becomes a human, or at least if he does see the unborn as a human life, there is some gradient upon which he judges the value of one life over another depending on one's age, developmental state, or some other arbitrary degreed property. Getting off topic...
    Last, I wish there could have more time to focus on the same-sex marriage issue. I would have been interested to hear more of Dylan's possibly scientific explanation of why there is no difference between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions, despite the fact that one as a group by rule can produce the next generation and the other cannot. Why does the government bother to grant marriage licenses to heterosexual couples? What benefit do heterosexual marriages bring to the State such that the government would promote them by granting certain privileges to those who partake? Why should the government be obligated to grant the same privileges to groups of people that do not as a group by rule return the same benefit? Those are the root questions that Dylan didn't convincingly argue for in either the debate or his post-debate blog.
    Thanks again for the great debate BPR.

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    Dylan Walker4:29 PM

    Jim you have completely misread my intent of saying that I am a former believer, I know most believers think that I was never "truly" saved, and my mom thinks I will "return to the fold" someday. I only meant to imply that I know your belief system well because I lived it. You may conclude any thing you like about me including how I "need to repent" and it doesn't really have any affect on me.
    If you want me to believe in god you need to prove he exists, I can't rebel against something that doesn't exist. I'm no more in rebellion against the Christian god than you are in rebellion against the Muslim one or the Hindu one.
    Jim, if you think that the sole reason for marriage is having children do you think that the marriages of heterosexual couples who do not have children are invalid? To me that seems like an absurd argument so arguing that gay people should not be able to get married simply because they are unable to have children is also absurd.
    Why does there have to be a benefit to the state? The state exists to benefit the public not the other way around. Only a totalitarian would argue that we exist to benefit the state.
    There is a recent story of an elderly gay couple in which one of them had developed Alzheimer's. Even though they had been together decades and the other member had power of attorney a gold digging relative of the person who had Alzheimer's had him committed, had a restraining order placed on the other person in this gay relationship and sold the house they have lived in more than a decade living him both homeless and unable to see his partner again. I don't care what you happen to think this is WRONG, and it wouldn't have happened if they had been able to marry.

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    Dylan Walker4:34 PM

    Oh, and once again I will point out that AIDS is not a gay disease. It is communicable by all kinds of sexual contact as well as contact with other bodily fluids, such as blood.
    This sort of ignorance makes me feel like I've been transferred back to 1985.

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    Vocab Malone6:03 PM

    Dylan,
    I think Jim’s point is that when atheists (or Mulsims) say, “I was once a Christian” or “I used to believe everything you believe” or things like that, this claim does not automatically result in credibility in our mind. We have heard folks say this stuff time and time again and then we soon realize, said person has no idea what they are talking about.
    What makes it worse is when someone says, “I’m a former fundamentalist so I know.” Well, most evangelicals don’t call themselves fundamentalists. Only those not in the know lump fundamentalists and evangelicals together. Or Arminians and Calvinists for that matter.
    I mean, what do you think when you hear a Christian say, “I was once an atheist.” Do you think that means they understand *you*? I’m not saying we don’t believe you (in fact, I most certainly do believe you) or that you don’t know anything about Christianity (you know more than most atheists I meet about Christian doctrine).
    Dylan, Jim never said the *sole* reason for marriage was for having children. He also never said the #1 reason two men cannot get married is only because they cannot have children. It is easy to call an argument absurd but when it’s not the person’s argument, it does not really help anyone. Look again at some of his comment:
    “I would have been interested to hear more of Dylan's possibly scientific explanation of why there is no difference between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions, despite the fact that one as a group by rule can produce the next generation and the other cannot. Why does the government bother to grant marriage licenses to heterosexual couples? What benefit do heterosexual marriages bring to the State such that the government would promote them by granting certain privileges to those who partake? Why should the government be obligated to grant the same privileges to groups of people that do not as a group by rule return the same benefit?”
    He specifically mentioned wanting a scientific explanation from you to defend your claim. He gave one example of the fact that homosexual unions are not the same as heterosexual unions.
    He also never said anything about us existing to benefit the state – he is a follower of Jesus Christ, for goodness sakes! He simply said if two women together do not provide the same benefits, then why should the state confer the same privileges to them? The answer is clear, the state should not, it is not in the public interest at all. But advocates push for this because they are really after forced acceptance and the legitimization of homosexual activity in the public square.
    And you, and the President, and the general populace may approve. But this does not mean that the Sovereign God to whom all are accountable approves – and neither should those whom are his people.
    Shalom
    Vocab

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    Dylan Walker8:02 PM

    I'm not aware of a strict demarcation between "fundamentalists" and "evangelicals," I've known many Christians who consider themselves both, just like I am an atheist, and skeptic and a humanist.
    Of course there is quite a bit of difference between Arminian thought and Calvinist, but that really wasn't the point, all I was saying is that he misapprehended my reasoning for saying I was a former fundamentalist, I was not thumbing my nose at you merely stating that I had recognized your arguments and typical of believers.
    Now, I cannot respond to arguments he did not make so if he wants to bring up other ways in which the homo and heterosexual relationships differ I can respond to those, he brought up an example and I told him why I think that example is not a good argument. If he wants to bring up other examples then he can posit them himself.
    He said, and I quote:
    "What benefit do heterosexual marriages bring to the State such that the government would promote them by granting certain privileges to those who partake?"
    This statement indicates to me that Jim feels that the state grants the privilege of marriage because it benefits the state in some way. Again just pointing out why I don't agree. Marriage is a right not a privilege, and it need not benefit the state at all to be granted. I'm part of the public and it IS in my interest to see gay marriage legalized, as well as the interest of many gay people. To claim it is not in "public interest" requires that you believe that the only people who actually count are you and yours and those who do not share your beliefs or religion do not deserve equal say, fortunately the bill of rights does not allow Christians that sort of authority.
    "And you, and the President, and the general populace may approve. But this does not mean that the Sovereign God to whom all are accountable approves – and neither should those whom are his people."
    Fine, but allowing gay marriage does not require that you personally approve, it only requires that you let all those people out there who either don't believe in god, or don't agree with you about what he says live their lives too.
    Telling me god does not approve is pointless until you (or god himself) proves he exists, as far as I'm concerned he is a concept that people thought up and not a real entity, but that is besides the point. We live in a secular democratic republic, this means your opinions about what god wants are irrelevant to how we ought to run the country and what rights we ought to give people. If you think otherwise then you might as well label yourself a dominionist and get it over with.

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  • Jim9:37 PM

    Dylan said:
    “I only meant to imply that I know your belief system well because I lived it.”
    Yes, I know that. As Vocab correctly commented, my main point was that your claim to know our belief system well does not give you any credibility in our minds. You don’t know it as well as you think you do. Case in point…
    Dylan said:
    “If you want me to believe in god you need to prove he exists”
    Yes, I want you to believe in God. No, I don’t need to prove to you that he exists for that to happen. If you understood our belief system you would understand that God is not in the dock, and you are not the judge.
    Dylan said:
    “Jim, if you think that the sole reason for marriage is having children do you think that the marriages of heterosexual couples who do not have children are invalid? To me that seems like an absurd argument so arguing that gay people should not be able to get married simply because they are unable to have children is also absurd.”
    No, I do not think that heterosexual marriages that do not produce children are invalid. But again, as Vocab noted, I wasn’t making an argument that having children is the sole reason for marriage. Although, children are certainly central to why government sanctions marriage. I was pointing out a reason why heterosexual unions are different than homosexual unions – which they clearly are, biologically. Two men cannot come together to procreate and neither can two women. Only a man and a woman can do that. Even in the case of artificial insemination, a man and a woman have to be involved.
    Dylan said:
    “Why does there have to be a benefit to the state? The state exists to benefit the public not the other way around. Only a totalitarian would argue that we exist to benefit the state.”
    First, we are the State. Those of us who make up society, are the State. Second, part of government function is to prohibit, permit, or promote behaviors to help society flourish. The government promotes behaviors that bring benefit to society often by granting certain privileges to those who partake. The government obviously promotes marriage between heterosexuals by granting them privileges. So, what benefits does the State experience from traditional marriage? I know you think it’s a civil rights issue. It’s not. You are misguided as to why the government promotes the institution of marriage in the first place. It’s not because two people love each other. It’s not a right to have your relationship promoted by the State, it’s a privilege.

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  • Jim9:37 PM

    Dylan said:
    “Oh, and once again I will point out that AIDS is not a gay disease. It is communicable by all kinds of sexual contact as well as contact with other bodily fluids, such as blood.”
    Correct. But, I never said it was a “gay disease.” You apparently misunderstood my comment to mean that I thought homosexual acts create AIDS. What I actually said was engaging in homosexual acts could lead to something like AIDS. As in, AIDS is a potential consequence of homosexual contact, since sexual contact is a means by which HIV is transmitted from person to person. Of course, heterosexuals can receive HIV from a sexual partner too, but MSM is a particularly high risk group for such a consequence. The CDC agrees: “MSM account for nearly half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States (52%, or an estimated 592,100 total persons. MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the United States each year (61%, or an estimated 29,300 infections).” But, as you’ve already expressed, statistics are just being exaggerated by folks like Vocab and myself. You are not concerned. It’s just 592,100 poor risk managers – big deal, they probably should have just been educated better to take more precautions. I, on the other hand, am grieved by the fact that over half a million lives may be cut short because these people willingly engaged in unhealthy behavior.
    Dylan said:
    “This sort of ignorance makes me feel like I've been transferred back to 1985.”
    LOL, http://www.gargaro.com/MaRvInWaVs/angry.wav Come on down and get out of the DeLorean, you misunderstood.

A couple of points here on Jim’s posts which I think employ some very strange logic. He argues that I don’t understand his religion because I ask for proof, but I would submit that he doesn’t understand atheists very well.  I understand quite well that many varieties Christianity teach that it is wrong to ask for physical proof. I even know the proof texts that Christians would use to argue that.

Deuteronomy 6:16 for instance:

Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. (many translations use the word “test” instead of “tempt”)

So the problem isn’t one of understanding it is one of rejection. Namely I reject the notion that one should believe any claim without evidence. If God exists but does not wish to proof himself then that is his problem not mine as I am perfectly happy not believing in him. If he wishes me to believe in him but refuses to provide evidence of his existence in a manner consistent with good standards of evidence per the nature of the universe that he created (assuming he exists) then he is foolish or just a horrible being. The fact that Jim can, with a straight face, suggest that he wishes me to believe a claim he is making but then act like it is totally reasonable to refuse to provide any evidence for said claim makes it clear that no reasonable dialog is possible with him on the subject of his religion.

In a previous conversation he claimed to be an engineer, he did not say in what field but I imagine that no one in his job would take him at his word in such a way. I’m just not willing to treat god claims as a special exception when it comes to demands for proof. A lack of belief in a claim does not mean one misunderstands it, in fact to properly accept or reject a claim one must understand it. He states that I am not the judge, I would point out that I am, in fact, the only one who can judge if a claim has been proven to my satisfaction.

He agrees that a lack of reproduction does not invalidate straight marriage but then argues the lack of reproduction is a valid reason to reject gay marriage. On the point I’m not sure if Jim is intentionally being obtuse or honestly lacks the ability to understand why these two statements are logically contradictory.

Of course the claims that they are really just concerned about people’s well being ring hollow. Consider this quote from the CDC’s website on smoking.

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.

So when Christian groups start denying smokers civil rights because they “care” I could at least believe they are being logically consistent. For instance, when they start fighting to keep smokers from jobs that work with children because they might encourage kids to smoke or other comparable issues. Until then I will call this concern exactly what it is, a made up justification to push their religious ideas onto everyone else.

Then there is the ridiculous personal attack that Jim engages in by claiming I just don’t care about the half a million people that died or whatever. Allowing people to make their own choices is not the same as not caring about what happens to them, but Christians do love to characterize atheists as unfeeling automatons with no empathy. Jim, if you ever read this, understand that it is my empathy that drives me to fight for gay marriage and if you spend even a little bit of time reading my or any of 1,000 other atheist blogs out there you would find that we care about a variety of people very deeply.

The points I made about how the incorrectly quoted studies or quoted studies that were outright fraudulent stand because both Vocab and Jim failed to address any of my criticisms except to just baldly assert I was “biased.”

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