Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Logic of Bullying

In today's polarized political climate, I offer some observations on hypocrisy.

It seems that it is okay to engage in spewing poisonous rhetoric regarding the conservative stance on gay "marriage."   Childish personal attacks and  oh-so-witty and hip "arguments" are rampant.

After bullying them with such wit, they cry with shared sympathy for someone who has been bullied saying, "Don't you know it's cruel to belittle and demean someone else?"

They scream with horror that the religious right is imposing their version of morality on them, crying "who are you to tell us how to live?!"

And in the next breath, they will explain how THEY know what to do and that everyone ought to do what they say is right.

They will say "be yourself, who cares how you look to others?"

And then hold up those who do exactly that and proceed to mock them for how silly they look.

They will sneer at conservative believers who respect their own leaders.

Then they will practically worship those who think like they themselves do.

They will tell you that some people have no will in the matter of practicing homosexuality since they are born that way.

Every person looks out at the night sky, or the mountains, or the sea in awe with an innate belief in something more, certain that there is more to the universe than what can be seen.

Yet they are told that there is in fact nothing more; and they should fight this instinct to believe.  You have a choice, just suppress it.  You are not an animal at the mercy of your instincts.

Find purpose despite the fact that your life is a meaningless accident and so there logically can be no purpose.

This one-sided freedom to mock, to return hate with hate is not how Christians are to behave.  We are to bring reason, clarity and kindness to the conversation.  We are to be a light, a light that both lifts the darkness of ignorance and is a beacon to lead all people to the truth.  That truth is, after all, what we all are seeking.


  1. So basically, marriage between to people of the same gender will be legalized and this is somehowe a tragedy and now you're feeling you're being bullied for that. Look, you say allowing people to marry will influence how society looks at them, but I don't see that's the case. State marriage doesn't hold any moral quality to it, and imagine if the state makes illegal for someone to marry another because of a different religion. The fact is, you are imposing you're morality on them. You wouldn't like homosexuals to impose their morality on you, so why don't you just leave them alone. You then mention abortion, but tell me, what are you going to do if a 9 child gets raped, has 3 babies in her womb and it's not big enough, or a woman gets raped and it results in being an ectopic pregnancy? Are you going to tell me that abortion is still wrong in those cases? It's a tragedy, yes, I fully agree on that, but you can't blame the child or the woman for abortion on those cases.
    Finally you say that we are to bring kindness and charity, but you're certainly not behaving that way here.

    1. Hello Alejandro,

      Thank you for your comments.

      No one I know desires to be bullied. I showed an example (I could show many) of the type of ideological bullying I see on the internet. I am pointing out that there is a double standard by the liberal left. With which side do you agree?

      State marriage is not moral in and of itself, but provides a moral guideline to people. How many times have you heard someone say, "I can do that, it's legal"? For those who have not yet explored their own morals, the law is a natural guide for them as to right and wrong. Ben has provided many examples of arguments for state marriage being allowed only between a man and a woman. Have you read them?

      I do not impose my morality on anyone. As you point out, this behavior will continue whether or no it is called "marriage" or not. They are not prohibited from that activity, they are prohibited from expropriating the word "marriage" and redefining its meaning. Again, read Ben's reasons why the state has any stake in marriage at all.

      Your edge case of abortion is interesting and difficult. The rule ought to be not to kill anyone. Then yes, abortion would be wrong in that case. What exactly makes the 9-year old more save-worthy than the infant(s) in her womb? What gives a human being value? Instead, what if we were to try to save BOTH or ALL involved? Wouldn't that be a better choice? If some die despite our best efforts, isn't that better than killing them ourselves?

      The question of blame is a different one. If a woman chooses abortion, it is indeed a tragedy. That means NO ONE wins. The woman gains her life by taking life. She is haunted by that for the rest of that life. Who can blame someone in that situation? Is it still the wrong decision? Yes. Do we treat her with sympathy? Yes!

    2. The state in itself only provides guidelines so that a society can be free and an individual can be able to do whatever he or she wants as long as it doesn't produce harm to anyone. I consider smoking and drinking immoral for example, but making them illegal would be silly. The state simply cannot make any moral pronouncements, it can only defend the individual from harm and mantain social stability so that it allows growth and development. And yes, I've seen your arguments, they are mistaken for the reasons I've put here. The state cannot intervene in your life, it can only defend it. So for example the state can make guns illegal if it wants because guns led to social damage and threatenad the life of the people, same with a drug that can kill you. But it cannot impose a religion for example, or impose a personal moral norm, like pre-marital sex.
      And yes, we should strive to save both the mother and the children, but it just so happens that many times you just can't, in an ectopic pregnancy for example, if the woman allows the child to grow so that later he can be put in her womb through surgery, then it can lead to severe health complications that could have been avoided by merely aborting. If you don't, the woman is going to suffer for the rest of her life, and probably couldn't even have more children.

    3. Alejandro,

      It seems that what I hear seems self-contradictory. For some reason you do not wish to call things that cause an individual harm, immoral. What then do you mean by immoral?

      Are only religious things immoral? What about killing people. Don't religions prohibit killing (murdering) people? Is the state now prohibited from making murder against the law? All states outlaw murder. Is this a separation of Church and State issue? Of course not.

      It would seem that the foundational (least common denominator) ethic you have chosen is that something can be considered "bad" only if it is harmful to someone or disrupts social stability.

      Do you know of NO other things that are bad that do not fit into this category? For example, doesn't smoking cause harm (being a carcinogen)? Why is it exempt from your legal system?

      As to the baby scenario we were discussing, it seems like either we actively kill a baby and the woman suffers for the rest of her life (in my comment) or we don't do anyone harm and the woman suffers for the rest of her life (in your comment). Which does the LEAST harm to all involved?

      Thank you again for your thought-provoking comments.

    4. The fact is, you are imposing you're morality on them. You wouldn't like homosexuals to impose their morality on you, so why don't you just leave them alone.

      The fact is, one side or the other's morality will be imposed. It can be no other way. It is one thing to argue that SSM should not be criminalized - I don't know of any state that criminalizes it. But it is a different thing to force all members of society to recognize it as equal to true marriage. SSM proponents are asking for recognition of their relationship, thus it is either recognized in law, or not. If it is recognized, then everyone has to recognize it (employers have to give benefits on same basis as hetero couples, businesses have to provide services on same basis, etc.) and the pro-SSM crowd's morality is imposed. If they would just leave us alone, that would be great. They could go on doing whatever it is they want to do, as could the rest of us. But they don't want to leave us alone - they want to force others to recognize their relationship as legitimate. How is that "leaving us alone"?

      Moreover, it is quite uninformed to state that the law has no moral component. The law has as its basis nothing but a moral component. Why is it illegal to discriminate in hiring based on religion, race, gender? That is a moral pronouncement. What the state does is set the minimum level of morality for the society.

    5. Catholics don't impose their morality on society and forbid remarriage for non Catholics and society does not require Catholics to accept remarriage. Shouldn't that be a good example of how to treat SSM?

    6. R1,

      Unfortunately that isn't happening. The SSM debate is immediately expecting non-discriminatory laws of that type. Catholic clergy will be discriminating if they do not agree to perform ceremonies on SSM couples. That is indeed imposing their morality on Catholics.

      This stems from the use of the word "marriage" I think the SSM set could save themselves alot of fighting if they were to retreat to the "Civil Union" In that way they can legislate themselves all the benefits of marriages from a practical standpoint, but lose the animosity gained from this moral push into being accepted AS MARRIAGE by the Church.

      The Catholic Church CANNOT recognize them as marriages, so there is a stalemate. The Church may ultimately lose its power to civilly marry people and people will have to get both the civil part and the church wedding separately. Maybe you will be able to invite a civil official to the church ceremony to fulfill that obligation.

    7. "Catholic clergy will be discriminating if they do not agree to perform ceremonies on SSM couples." Nonsense. This has not happened in any country where SSM exists. Also are people who want to get remarried forcing Catholic priests to marry them.

      As to use of the word marrige. That is a civil designation. You can determine who is married in your church (actually you can't, that's up to the pope) but freedom of religion says that you cannot dictate to other churches who accept SSM that they cannot perform a SSM.

      In many countries (France I know for sure) the civil and religious marriage ceremonies are separate. It says religious ministers from essentially being civil servants and end ensures state religion separation.

  2. "Every person looks out at the night sky, or the mountains, or the sea in awe with an innate belief in something more, certain that there is more to the universe than what can be seen."

    Carl Sagan in the Pale Blue Dot said "How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way? A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths."

    Science isn't telling people not to believe, but it's causing them to question their humanity centred beliefs.

    "Find purpose despite the fact that your life is a meaningless accident and so there logically can be no purpose."

    Don't find a purpose, but make a purpose.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. R1,

      I would have to say that Dr Sagan was wrong. The Catholic Church glories in the creation of God. It celebrates it, it finds in it endless food for thought and study. That is one reason why modern science was born within and sponsored by that same Church.

      My point however is that as much as the world/universe has to offer, there is SO MUCH MORE beyond that to which those prophets refer. Behind the curtain is HOW it was made, WHY it was made and to what END it was made! Those are beyond the limits what science can discover and yet, if we stop with what science can learn, we lose the lion's share of it!!!

      "Don't find a purpose, but make a purpose."

      I find that unintelligible. Perhaps you meant "goal" Purposes are different. They are never made, they are given by something outside yourself. If you find a purpose within, it was placed there.

      Making a purpose is akin to paying yourself to do something. You have no more payment when done than when you started, and you then have just been passing time.

    3. One key to the discussion of purpose is the word “intended”. To a strict materialist, the universe has no intended purpose for existing, therefore, the human race has no intended purpose, therefore, you have no intended purpose.

    4. I would perhaps not use the word intended, but imposed. Most people acquire a purpose by adopting a religion that then tells them what purpose their life is to have. Their choice of religion can give radically different purposes and even with the thousands of Christian denominations a large variety of purposes exist.

      No, I don't believe their is an intelligence that created a purpose for my life. Even if I did I would have a plethora of quite different options to chose from. Rather than accept one of these meanings I seek to give my life meaning by doing something meaningful.

    5. R1,

      I am still not following. It sounds like you are saying that you don't have a purpose until you find religion. Finding religion is like finding your long lost brother. You always had a brother, but you didn't realize it and didn't act as if he were your brother (if you knew him as just some guy before). Afterwards you realize you always had it and were not acting as if you had one.

      It is the same with a purpose. Everyone was created and therefore everyone has a purpose. Finding God brings you into line with what that purpose has always been. It is not acquired, it is acknowledged.

      Finding meaning in your life is an admirable goal. One can find multiple little meanings in many places and ways. They are usually self-imposed. Bigger meanings come from without (feed the poor, help the underprivileged, etc). You find that your talents lend themselves to doing something for the betterment of the world. From that point of view, it is almost as if you were "made" for that task!

    6. Sorry is I was vague. Religions gives you a prepackaged purpose for life. And since there are quite a number of religions/denominations one can "shop" around until one finds a purpose one wishes to embrace.

      Saying that we are all created by God with a purpose and finding God reveals that purpose is begging the question. It's both not obvious we were created by God and we can easily find scores of disparate purposes out there all with divine imprint. Better to seek to formulate and constantly refine a good and rational purpose that betters oneself and others in the world around us and embrace that rather than one prepackaged and fixed by someone else (because even with all the divine purposes out there, only one at the most can be God given).

    7. As this is not being put forward as a proof for God's existence, I don't see that this is begging the question. I am certainly assuming a creator from other sources that I have not stated. If you assume there was no beginning to the universe (pretty well attested to) or that the universe created itself (logically incoherent) then that's a different conversation. I can only proceed using that starting axiom.

      Trying to decide which of the religions is true is a worthy goal. However only one can be true. To abandon the search because it's confusing is an option, but not the most reasonable one, I'll assert. Perhaps you'll decide that it cannot be known and so live the best you can without looking further. Again, we've reached the end of the line on this.

      However I AM stating that, in order for anyone to have a purpose, it must be imposed from without. Referring to a purpose that you choose would be to use the word improperly. As I said, one can choose a goal, but not a purpose.

      I also disagree that religions have prepackaged purposes. Again, a purpose is found (or discovered), not made.

      If you find you have talents, and you develop and use them, it is in that context that you can use them to better the world. That is what is referred to as a purpose. Of Aristotle's Four Causes, it is the Final cause; the end or purpose; that for which it was made.

    8. Creation from nothing is an established back in physics. Virtual particles are constantly being created and destroyed in the vacuum. Laurence Krauss's book "Something from Nothing" while still somewhat speculative takes it to the next logical step.

      Not to get weigh down in the semantical differences between goal and purpose. If you say that purposes are found not made, is your purpose any different from what was presented in the Catholic Catechism, "to know God and to love and serve him.". Can you assume a different purpose (or goal if you must) and say I seek to help my fellow humans and improve the world?

    9. R1,

      Creation from nothing (without some transcendental influence) is an incoherent concept and nowhere shown in physics. The virtual particles are created within a field in a vacuum (if I understand to what you are referring). That is not "nothing," it is a field. In every case I have heard of, there was something pre-existing as something was created. Truly something from nothing has never been shown.

      I would say you are free to not pursue your "purpose" On the other hand, how does "knowing God and loving him" look? Much of what God has revealed is to love your neighbor as an expression of your love for God. "If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20.

      This is where free will comes into play. I have to choose goals in my life. If I choose goals that are in consonance with my purpose, those are "good" goals.

    10. No rather physics shows that what we previously thought was nothing (i.e the vacuum of space) is actually teeming with activity. The only hypothetical creation of something from nothing is the creation of God.