Monicks: Unleashed

Thinking Critically

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The Negative Impact Of Gay Marriage

There would be none.

From the religious standpoint, it is a violation of an ancient lawa bible verse from the Book of Leviticus written two thousand years ago. By this logic, (and I’m using the word very lightly), we should legalize slavery and define the rules on how to beat your slave.

Preposterous, right?

But, that is what you believe is the inerrant word of your god. So, okay, let’s dance to that tune. Guess what. It still doesn’t affect you!

Wanna favorite it, retweet it? Here’s the original Twitter link.

The fact that you, (and I), don’t fully understand how someone can feel romantic love for a person of their same sex, or that your religiosity makes you see gay love as an abomination; furthermore, that you might be grossed out by thinking about the ‘how’s of gay sexuality, are not good reasons for gay people to be denied the right to get married.

If you think that homosexuality is a choice, please think really hard and try to remember when you decided to be heterosexual. You won’t be able to remember, because you didn’t. You were born that way, and so were they.

Why should heterosexuality be more valued, or viewed as more normal, or more moral than homosexuality? It isn’t.

Why should you be concerned with what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home?

Gay marriage is a matter of justice. Gay people are people, they deserve the same privileges and protections associated with marriage that everyone else is granted.

More importantly, homosexuality is a form of love, and just for that it deserves respect.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
― David Foster Wallace

Saying that other people’s marriage is against your religion is like saying that I can’t have cake and ice cream because you are on a diet. @Monicks

48 Responses to The Negative Impact Of Gay Marriage

  1. Mark Joseph says:

    Hi Monica:

    Excellent post; thank you. Here are a few comments, and one nit-pick.

    Leviticus would have been written about 2,500 years ago, not 2,000 (how’s that for nitpicky! ;-)

    The tweet is awesome, as is the idea “If you think that homosexuality is a choice, please think really hard and try to remember when you decided to be heterosexual. You won’t be able to remember, because you didn’t. You were born that way, and so were they.” This will be remembered for further use.

    “Why should you be concerned with what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home?” This is easy–because if they *weren’t* concerned, they might have to spend some time and effort on applying their religion to themselves–and that is the last thing they want. Theirs is the opinion that “the Bible is full of good suggestions for other people to do” (don’t remember the source; sounds like Mark Twain).

  2. imbrocata says:

    During the long years when I started to stop believing in God, I actually met some gay people.. (OMG IKR!).. and what I discovered was: they’re real people. Just like you wrote up there.. people are people!
    Great post > following:)

  3. I have to agree fully with all the sentiments expressed above, it really annoys me that so called ‘Christain’ care so little about the teachings of their ‘Christ’ as opposed to Saul of Tarsus and the Old Testament Books of the Law. I’m really glad it looks as though this debate may well be settled (in a legal sense anyway) over here soon. I blogged about this recently – http://wp.me/p1TXXQ-5A

  4. I wonder whether atheists would stop citing Leviticus if the fundies did.

  5. Jasmyn says:

    For some people, they did choose to be heterosexual. It’s a choice they make every single time they have to suppress a same-sex urge. For those of us going with the flow, this isn’t an issue.
    Every time someone uses the “choice” argument, I make the same point you did. On occassion, I’ve had people proudly claim to make a heterosexual choice. If you call them on their bullshit and let them know that forcing yourself to choose every day is not the norm they typically get pretty embarrasses.

  6. Monicks says:

    um.. not quite, Jasmyn. The way they choose to act on their sexual orientation is, indeed, a choice; their sexual orientation per se, is not. What you called “urge” is not what gay people choose to desire.

    The fact that they suppress that same-sex urge only confirms their gay sexual orientation, otherwise they wouldn’t need to suppress their natural inclination.

    Your sexual orientation is not a choice, no.

  7. Monicks says:

    Thank you, Imbrocata, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

  8. Monicks says:

    Thank you for your comment, Mark Joseph. I stand corrected, 2,500 years ago, thank you. Not that that makes that much of a difference for my argument, but I should be more accurate about these things.

    I’m happy you liked the rest of my post. :)

  9. I just don’t get why talibvangelicals have their knickers in a knot over this.

  10. hoverfrog says:

    Yeah. If they kept their religion out of our lives then we’d let them believe whatever nonsense they like.

  11. hoverfrog says:

    I don’t care who you marry. You almost certainly don’t care who I marry. Why does the Religious Reich care so much who marries who? No-one is getting hurt and even if they were it is their choice. Everyone involved is willing and able to give consent. Your marriage, my marriage or their marriage takes away nothing from a gods fearing Republican’s marriage. It is a complete non-issue that seems designed only to spread hatred and distract from their political agenda.

  12. maverick says:

    I know I may get ridiculed for this (and ultimately many will choose not to keep reading after they find what side I’m on), but I feel it is best to make an argument for Christianity. But first, I’ll start with a disclaimer: I believe in the idea of everyone (heterosexual or homosexual) getting civil unions through the government. I feel the biggest issue many Christians have is because the term marriage is used (70/30 split in favor of civil unions compared to a 70/30 split against gay marriage).

    Now, for the issues I have with the blog. Using the argument that a person “should think of when they chose to be heterosexual” is clever, but invalid. The belief behind homosexuality being a choice is based on the idea that heterosexuality is the NATURAL way of things and that people chose to be homosexual based on issues in their life. Therefore, regardless of whether homosexuality is a choice (I believe it is not), a person would not be able to ‘remember when they chose to be heterosexual.’

    Also, the idea as whether heterosexuality should be viewed as more normal: the answer is a blatant yes. Being as most estimates set the population of homosexuals at 10%, heterosexuality is normal…..being as normal means “the usual, average, or typical state or condition.” Should it be valued more depends on your view of value in sex. As a species, once again, yes heterosexuality is more valuable; it allows for procreation. As an individual, heterosexuality is only more valuable if you are heterosexual….because heterosexuality makes you happy. Homosexuality will be valued more by the homosexual.

    Quick comment on Leviticus: Only the sins matter in Leviticus because it is a history. After Christ died, the rules changed (we went from the Age of Law to the Age of Grace). As such, bringing slavery back is another comment based on a misunderstanding by many (both ignorant Christians and atheists alike).

    Finally, the argument that it doesn’t affect Christians isn’t really that helpful. The ideas many Christians that are against gay marriage are that A)homosexuality is sexually immoral and therefore should not be allowed (similar to the idea of rape or incest) or B)homosexuality is a sin and they should do all in their power to help stop their fellow brethren (all people believers and non-believers) from committing such a crime if at all possible.

    Once again, I am for civil unions for gays and straight people alike. I feel the term is what causes most of the issues. I believe that many people are misinformed about the Bible’s teachings on the subject on both sides; ultimately the Bible may not even teach anything AGAINST gay marriage (there are only 6 verses that even mention it and they are all used in ways that would be immoral even if they weren’t homosexual or translation errors).

  13. hoverfrog says:

    It’s a good thing that you’re prepared, maverick. ;)

    Given that you support the right for marriages under another name for secular people but wish to reserve marriages for religious people as different I have a helpful compromise that might appeal to you. Let’s keep “marriage” for all unions authorised and recognised by the state (as they all are to gain legal status) and extend this to gay people. We’ll entirely remove any religious connotations from the term and have marriage just for secular people.

    Religious people can have the option of going through with their chosen religious ceremony in a “religious union” that isn’t recognised by the state. If they want a “marriage” then it has to be performed by a recognised agent of the state. Maybe the state could appoint certain religious ministers to act for the state? They’d have to abide by state regulations and permit marriages for anyone legally entitled to them of course.

    Does that seem fair to you?

  14. maverick says:

    I’m sure this will sound horrible…but no. The term marriage, even back in Greek, Roman, and ancient Egyptian times has always had a religious background. Marriage has only recently became a government term…..so just as I wouldn’t ask for history books to change the Industrial Revolution name if we had another, I don’t think we should ask any religious group to change theirs.

  15. hoverfrog says:

    Don’t worry, maverick. Long before people invented gods they were forming personal bonds and going through rituals to tie them together as couples. In Greek, Roman and no doubt Ancient Egyptian times these ceremonies included fabulous gay couples from time to time.

    How about another compromise? Let’s get the state entirely out of the marriage business and leave it purely as a religious term with no legal protections or rights. Superstitious people can get their religious leader to mutter some appropriate magic words and their friends and family can get a warm, fuzzy feeling about it. The legal protections and responsibilities will have to be decided without the intervention of divine beings, perhaps something based on habitation.

  16. maverick says:

    I apologize….not Egyptian (they closest they had was a contract). Ancient Hebrew marriages are however (go figure). We are looking at 2000 years of history though.

  17. maverick says:

    Many historians believe gods were one of the first creations of man…even before actual marriage.

    Ironically, if my idea were to get passed, I totally intend that religious marriages would not count by the state….no tax breaks. You could receive both a religious marriage and a civil union to receive the tax breaks…..but a religious marriage would not suffice.

  18. hoverfrog says:

    I just want to point out that the argument from tradition (we’ve done it this way for ages so we should always do it this way) is a fallacy. When it comes to marriage we don’t even have to go outside of the bible to see the variety of marriages that wouldn’t be accepted today but according the “tradition” we should accept them. If we go back a mere half a century the arguments against inter racial marriage were about tradition just as the arguments against gay marriage are today. Nobody wants their arguments to be conflated with racists.

    I, and many secular people, have a very simple approach to marriage. If you are willing to marry then you should be permitted to marry. This willingness obviously included consent and ability for all parties. You have to know what you’re getting into and what it means. If two men want to marry then let them. If two women want to marry then let them. If two men and a woman want to marry then let them. You can carry on with whatever permutations that you want as long as everyone is willing.

    Do you know why? It is because it isn’t my business or yours what other people choose to do that doesn’t hurt anyone else. We recognise it because we want the same courtesy from them. That’s it. If you seek to block the marriage of someone else then you should expect that courtesy to be withheld for you too because that social convention of accepting that what other people do is their business has broken down when you interfere with it.

  19. maverick says:

    History is only a fallacy when used incorrectly. Churches honestly have the most to lose from changing the term to marriage for gays. They can lose their tax exempt status (something that has some precedence in our history) which would bankrupt many of them. They receive absolutely no funding from the government and as such must raise their money from donations alone.

    I know many secular believers don’t mind if a church goes bankrupt, but that’s callous. Many Christians and secular people alike receive the benefits of churches in their area. Churches are home to some of the largest charities in our country. They provide clothing, food, and even housing for many. I went to a church with only around 250 members in Nebraska…and we still went to New Orleans, Haiti, and other homes of natural disasters to help rebuild.

    Whether or not God exists, our world will be a much darker place without religion.

  20. hoverfrog says:

    Maverick, for me religion is like a Curate’s Egg. It has good parts and bad parts but the whole is spoiled. Losing churches may well mean that charities change. If churches aren’t sponsoring charities then secular organisations will pick them up. You can see that now with Catholics abandoning adoption services and secular charities beginning to provide these same services.

    Losing churches might mean that we lose some charities but we also might lose superstitious organisations that beat people to “exorcise” them of demons. We might lose churches that teach people to pray illness away rather than go to a doctor. We might lose churches that teach people to hate gays and strip away or deny their rights. We might lose churches who teach ignorance in the form of creationism over science or who actively work to undermine history. We might lose churches who organise pickets of abortion clinics or planned parenthood centres in order to bully and harass women. We might lose churches who tell their congregations that women should submit to their husbands even while the women are being beaten.

    Whether or not gods exist, our world would be a brighter place without religion.

  21. maverick says:

    I am sorry for your loss then. For everything in this world has that issue. The belief in atheism will allow for some that have little morals to act as they please without any fear of punishment (especially with the idea of the death penalty fading). A person can take science and harness it to create weapons of death…does this mean we should write off science completely? We breathe the air around us which is full of toxins….should we quit breathing? An argument that some have used religion in ways that hurt others doesn’t make the religion bad; only the people using it in that way.

  22. hoverfrog says:

    There’s no loss, maverick, in freedom. Atheism is also not a belief but a lack of belief.

    An argument that some have used religion in ways that hurt others doesn’t make the religion bad; only the people using it in that way.

    Surely you must see that this goes for the reverse as well. All we need do to decide whether or not religion is of value is to apply Christopher Hitchens challenge to it:

    Name one moral or ethical action or behaviour committed or carried out by a believer that could not have been committed or carried out by an atheist.

    Name one immoral or unethical action or behaviour that has been committed or carried out in the name of God.

    The examples that you listed can and are carried out by secular people. The things that I listed are done in the name of Christian and other faiths.

  23. maverick says:

    I’ll start with the first serious issue. Atheism is the belief there is no God – not the lack of a belief. No matter what, a person has a belief in the existence of a supreme being. If you accept that there is no God (whether because there is no convincing proof or because you just don’t want to) then you BELIEVE he doesn’t exist. As there is no proof for or against God directly, then one must choose to believe in Him or not.
    Even Christopher Hitchens himself accepts that he believes that God doesn’t exist (merely because there is no proof for one).

    As for Christopher Hitchen’s challenge, it has three issues:

    A)He makes the points in a way that makes you look at only the negatives of Christianity and ignore the positives.

    B)He also makes an argument doesn’t offer any empirical evidence for the AMOUNTS at which these crimes happen. Religious people are MORE LIKELY (by almost 25%) to donate time and money then secular (according to a study by Stanford using data collected from Roper Center for Public Opinion Research).

    Finally, C)As a Christian, I can tell you there are many who claim to be Christian, but in no way follow the teachings of the Bible. If I claimed to be an atheist, but I continued to try and convince others of the existence of God..would I REALLY be an atheist?

    Christopher Hitchens, as well as many other ‘professional debaters’ (secular or not) are very good at twisting facts. That’s the idea behind oration….winning the argument, not necessarily being right. It reminds me a bit of an Internet picture going around talking about all the great things Hitler did…ending with a statement that you can tell lies with the truth.

    (P.S. I am not sure if this allows for HTML so I haven’t tried italicizing and as such have used caps for emphasis. I promise I am not shouting lol)

  24. hoverfrog says:

    Maverick, are you an atheist? You’re not so please believe one when he tells you that atheism is a lack of belief in gods and try not to be so presumptuous as to tell me that I’m wrong when it is my thoughts that I’m talking about. For the record I have no belief in any gods whatsoever. I find the entire concept of gods to be nonsensical and unnecessary, the concept means nothing to me and nobody has ever been able to explain what they mean by gods. Tell me that I have a positive disbelief in gods is like me telling you that you have a positive disbelief in fraagletties. I’m not going to tell you what I mean by fraagletties but how dare you claim that you believe that they don’t exist.

    I place whichever god that you have chosen as your favourite alongside all the other gods that I lack belief in. If you’re a Christian then I put your book of myths alongside the myths of the Norse and Greek gods. if you’re a Hindu then your holy books are as much mythology as the legends of Buddhism or the Native American religions. I’m using “myth” here not as a pejorative but in its meaning as a collection of stories with a cultural meaning for a group of people.

    Hitchens was a strong atheist who dismissed gods as ridiculous and religion as dangerous nonsense. I support those views but I still don’t make a claim that gods do not exist. I make a claim that no evidence for gods exist so I reject the claims that they do. If that’s too subtle a distinction then by all means read it again. No, that’s not agnosticism. Agnosticism is a lack of knowledge of gods. I’m an agnostic too. They aren’t mutually exclusive and they aren’t on the same scale of belief.

    A)He makes the points in a way that makes you look at only the negatives of Christianity and ignore the positives.

    He really doesn’t. He allows that there are positives in religion but points out that they are not exclusive to religion. That’s the point. He also points out that there are some exclusive negatives to religion

    B)He also makes an argument doesn’t offer any empirical evidence for the AMOUNTS at which these crimes happen.

    Which is irrelevant as he is simply pointing out that many of the the evils of religion are exclusive to religion. That in itself is damning enough.

    Religious people are MORE LIKELY (by almost 25%) to donate time and money then secular

    When you allow for church donations to maintain a megachurch leaders third jet or extra condo I’m sure that these will even out. Giving to a church to make a pastor wealthy isn’t giving to charity. Is it?

    C)As a Christian, I can tell you there are many who claim to be Christian, but in no way follow the teachings of the Bible.

    Really? You really want to use a No True Scotsman fallacy and claim that bad Christians are responsible for all the bad things that Christians do. Maybe you should be working to get your own house in order then. Maybe you should bump up the entry requirements to Club Christian. I can’t read minds so I’m going to have to say that anyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian. They might be lying or deceiving themselves but I’ll never know that unless they tell me that they don’t believe in gods, will I?

    If I claimed to be an atheist, but I continued to try and convince others of the existence of God..would I REALLY be an atheist?

    That’s an interesting point. If you didn’t believe in gods then you’d be an atheist. How you spend your time is your business. I know an ex pastor who lost his faith but continued to work as a pastor for years. He was and is an atheist but acted as a Christian because it was his job and his home. You could argue that he was a hypocrite and being dishonest but unless you can read minds you can’t argue that he wasn’t an atheist.

    As an aside there are some atheist Christians who believe that Jesus existed but actually and permanently died. They believe that the Christian message is a good one but that no gods exist. I find that strange but that’s the claim.

    It reminds me a bit of an Internet picture going around talking about all the great things Hitler did…

    I think that someone can acknowledge the truth about someone while also acknowledging that the picture is incomplete. Hitler was a monster responsible for tens of millions of deaths but he also loved dogs. Hitchens was a great debater and prolific writer who cut through the nonsense of religion wonderfully. He was also a heavy drinker, smoker, pro war and a bit of an arse at times. That doesn’t make him any less right about religion though.

  25. maverick says:

    You are jumping to conclusions to believe that I am trying to tell you what you believe. I am saying that according to you that you are an atheist, and that the definition of atheism is “the theory or belief that God does not exist.” Whether you choose, as Hitchens has, to give a word a different definition is up to you. Also, the definition for belief is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” Therefore, once again, if you reject the idea that something is true (such as God’s existence) you do NOT BELIEVE in it. Once again, I am not telling you what you believe, just what words describe what you have told me you believe.

    As for fraagletties, I DO understand that I don’t believe in them. If I have no proof that they exist or any knowledge of what they are (and you are not willing to give me a definition)….I believe that it is a made up word and therefore don’t believe they exist. If you can give me a legitimate definition that can be verified, my belief on the subject may change.

    Now on to the three challenges:

    You argue he doesn’t show only the negatives about Christianity. How about we look at it from a different direction?

    Name any immoral act that religious people can do that atheists cannot.

    Name any moral act that has been carried out in the name of God.

    As I feel there is a large chance you will use this argument, the REASON an action is performed does not matter (Therefore someone killing in the name of God is no different than someone killing). The reason I make this argument is arguing against Hitchen’s statement with atheists can kill (as long as they can get away with it) based on the idea that there is no punishment after life would be unacceptable. It’s still killing, regardless of reason.

    In the end, this argument points out only the positives of religion. It too is imperfect and cannot be used to decide whether religion is good or bad. The whole picture has to be observed.

    To point out the negatives of religion without taking into the positives it adds….such as the amount people are giving is purposefully offering misleading comments. If I give you a graph that with two numbers on it, 21 and 22, and the graph is labeled by halves, this graph will be extremely close together. If I do the same thing, but cut off the half numbers below 18, 21 and 22 look like they double in size. That is what happens when you look at an argument without taking into account the full picture.

    Also, the argument that giving to a church doesn’t count is perfectly acceptable….and the study doesn’t include that. They are NOT allowed to count donations to the church, such as collection, doesn’t qualify. Also, donating TIME to help others is just as likely (such as rebuilding houses) which doesn’t make anyone more rich.

    As for the No True Scotsman fallacy, I disagree in the idea that it is a fallacy. The definition of Christianity is “a belief in Jesus Christ and his teachings.” We can only ASSUME what someone believes based on their actions and what they say. This pastor I’m sure put on a face at church that he was a Christian to save his job. As such, his parish I’m sure believed he was a Christian….but you argue he wasn’t. That’s the point I am making. If this pastor had killed 15 people….the crime on paper would go against Christianity. However, an atheist did the deed. The Bible teaches to treat others with respect, show love and caring for believers and non-believers alike, etc. So, if I say that I am a Christian, but I do not follow his teachings, then I have decided to forgo my Christian beliefs, regardless of what I SAY.

    As for whether or not Hitchens made it through the ‘nonsense of religion’ is a matter up for debate. If you believe in atheism of course you believe he has. As a Christian, I see a lot of his arguments pointing towards the existence of no god beforehand based on the WAY he says it. Such as the argument that no loving God would put someone in Hell….we are trying to put our idea of love on it and we don’t even understand our OWN love. We punish our children, so does that mean we don’t love them? That argument has been used so often yet doesn’t take into consideration that 1) God is also just and 2) that love is not defined by a lack of punishment.

  26. hoverfrog says:

    The definition of atheism is “lack of belief in gods”. We’re not the ones making positive assertions. The religious are.

    if you reject the idea that something is true (such as God’s existence) you do NOT BELIEVE in it.

    YES. You do not believe in it. NOT you believe the opposite. “Do not believe in gods” is not the same as “believe in no gods”.

    I believe that it is a made up word and therefore don’t believe they exist. If you can give me a legitimate definition that can be verified, my belief on the subject may change.

    The same goes for “gods”.

    Name any immoral act that religious people can do that atheists cannot. Name any moral act that has been carried out in the name of God.

    Jihad, denying gay marriage on the grounds of religion (as it is Monica’s topic), suppressing or denying science and history because it contradicts with a holy book, “exorcisms” that harm the recipient, forced prayer, lies about condom use because it is against a religious tradition, denial of health services to women because of religious opinion, “Christian counselling” by the untrained and unqualified simply because they are a minister, praising gods for good things while blaming oneself for bad things, prayer rather than action, the concept of hell, the escape of child rapists from justice under the protection of the church using its claim to diplomatic immunity, escape from prosecution for the Catholic churches evils under the guise of being a state, religious hypocrisy, religious intolerance, religious war.

    I can’t think of a single moral act that is exclusive to belief in gods.

    You says that the whole picture has to be observed and I agree but you’re only taking the positives of charity and giving which aren’t exclusive to faith. Taken as a whole I return the the Curate’s Egg analogy. There are good and bad parts but the whole is spoiled.

  27. maverick says:

    I copied the definition of atheism from Princeton….the secular and religious alike are making the claim that atheism is the belief in no God. I have to discount your claim that a positive disbelief is any different than not believing in something. If there are only two options available, then a decision is made to accept one side or the other. To choose to NOT believe in God is equivalent to saying there is no God. This is based on logic (if p then not q is equivalent to if not p then q).

    Let’s start with your negatives

    Jihad – is simply war in the name of God, atheists can fight a war.
    denying gay marriage – regardless of REASON, atheists can do the same
    suppressing science and history – atheist liberals like to change history to fit libertarian views and vice versa
    exorcisms – are meant to heal ‘demons’ (not sure if possession happens anymore); are you saying that no atheist has come up with a cure that was later found to be harmful?
    Lies about condoms – again you are choosing to add in the REASON; atheists can choose to lie about condoms (maybe to scare their kids into not having sex)
    Forced prayer – you may have me here, albeit it isn’t something I support many religions do or have in the past forced prayer
    Health services based on religious opinion – once again reason
    Christian counseling – few if any ministers tell a person not to receive extra counseling, but regardless unless you are saying that atheists do not find counseling from friends, family, etc. that are not qualified this one too is invalid
    Praising god while blaming oneself – this isn’t necessarily bad…you believe it is, but I have no problem accepting that my good deeds are due to God’s gifts whereas my
    bad ones are due to my sinful nature
    escape of child rapists due to diplomatic immunity – if you honestly believe that no atheist ambassador has abused his rights to break the law, then you too believe in ‘fairy tales’…everyone has bad eggs that misuse the system
    escape from prosecution under the guise of being a state – I do not know of an atheist state…but that is not exclusive to a religion
    hypocrisy – once again reason is not included in the statement, only acts
    intolerance – see above
    war – see above the above

    So your only negative that doesn’t take into account any form of reasoning is forced prayer (something that truly only someone who believes in prayer can due while someone who cannot can). Although, you can make the argument that forced prayer is not taught under any faith and therefore is an act created by man under the guise of religion….I’ll accept that you may have ONE reason religion is bad.

    Now on to the positives

    You make the argument that there is no exclusive positive to religion. That is not the question. The question is to name moral acts that are done in the name of God. This is the exact twisting of words Hitchens uses. By asking for someone to name the ‘immoral acts done in the name of God’ he is arguing that only a religious person can do these acts….but in reality only a religious person can do those acts with that REASON. Honestly, the Crusades, or something similar, would have happened without religion. Byzantine wanted the money and land (which was fertile). Sure, religion was the REASON they used, but Byzantine would have fought anyway (in fact the Crusades were started because the Byzantine asked for help in the fight). Brutal persecution like the Catholic Inquisition has happen by non-religious people (Romans brutally murdering many Christians based on the fear of an uprising).
    So to help you with the list of moral acts done in the name of God
    soup kitchens
    offering assistance after a natural disaster
    providing hope
    offering advice
    volunteering
    etc.

    I’m not going to continue as I figure you get the picture. I do not believe that anything I just listed is exclusive to Christianity or religion….just that they are ‘moral acts done in the name of God.’ That’s the problem with Hitchen’s argument: his statements ask the listener to define his premise in a way that distorts reality. People are moral or immoral; religion is just one of the means that they use to do their deeds regardless of their moral standing. Nationalism is another as is science and politics (sadly).

  28. hoverfrog says:

    I can see that you will continue to use apologetics to justify your belief that religion does only good things and that religion should have a monopoly on “marriage”. I’m surprised that you don’t appreciate the anger that this causes in those who do not buy into your religion.

    religion is just one of the means that they use to do their deeds regardless of their moral standing

    Exactly. They do wicked, evil things and the list goes on and on, you would deny marriage to gay people, all justified by faith. Yet you maintain that faith is a good thing because it sometimes has good things too. It isn’t unbelievers who want to deny people the right to marry just because a few thousand year old book calls gay people names.

    That religion is used to justify horrors and sweep away objections as if they don’t matter is reason enough to discard it. That is continues to perpetuate and allow some of the most revolting behaviours on the planet is enough of a reason to work to undermine it.

    Here are some more reasons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUI_ML1qkQE

  29. maverick says:

    I never said religion does only good things…in fact my argument is that religion does neither good nor bad. People do good; people do bad. Religion is just something people use to do good things or bad things. I can hit someone with a car; does that make cars are designed and meant for running people over? Atheists murder, rape, steal, and commit other heinous crimes….so do Christians. An atheist’s reason will be based on something other than God, but a Christian’s may not.

    Second off, my argument above was explaining why Hitchens’s argument is in fact invalid. It purposely aims to show religion as bad; he had a conclusion before he even put forth the argument the first time. Just as many Christians will not listen to reason and have already decided that all religion is good, so Hitchens was determined to state it was all bad. In the end, they are both wrong. As stated before, religion is neither inherently good or bad. Correct is another matter entirely, and one we both will vehemently disagree on.

    As for gay marriage, once again I believe that is only the WORDS that make it an issue for so many people. If I use a word like ass in a elementary classroom, even if I am talking about a donkey, I will offend many people. So, in response, I don’t use the word ass in front of children. I wouldn’t use the word ‘fanny’ in England because I don’t want to offend. However, I’d be willing to use the word ‘fag’ if I was trying to get a cigarette there. Words have power; my argument is to use a term (civil union) for ALL legal bindings and leave marriage without any tax breaks or benefits other than that it is recognized by God. No rights are being withheld. Heck, if they want to call it a marriage informally, go right ahead.

  30. hoverfrog says:

    my argument is that religion does neither good nor bad

    Then what’s the point of it?

    Atheists murder, rape, steal, and commit other heinous crimes….so do Christians.

    But atheists do this far less frequently that Christians if the religiosity of prison populations is any indicator.

    Hitchens’s argument is in fact invalid. It purposely aims to show religion as bad; he had a conclusion before he even put forth the argument the first time. Just as many Christians will not listen to reason and have already decided that all religion is good, so Hitchens was determined to state it was all bad. In the end, they are both wrong.

    There you go reading minds again. Hitchens had concluded that religion was a bad thing but you don’t know how he arrived at that conclusions. His challenge serves to highlight part of the process to reach that conclusion in a simple and easy to appreciate way. You’re dismissing it as bigotry without giving it due consideration.

    You’ve already agreed that it doesn’t take religion to do good things in life and admitted that it does take religious motivations to do at least some bad things in life. You already agree with the conclusion. You still try to frame religion as a good thing though. I think that says more about your efforts to resolve your cognitive dissonance than anything else.

    As for gay marriage, once again I believe that is only the WORDS that make it an issue for so many people.

    I’m not the one who has a problem with gay people getting married. I’m not the one who objects to marriage on the grounds of religious tradition. I’m not the one who would deny gay couples the right to marry because I want to keep my religious privilege.

    my argument is to use a term (civil union) for ALL legal bindings and leave marriage without any tax breaks or benefits other than that it is recognized by God. No rights are being withheld. Heck, if they want to call it a marriage informally, go right ahead.

    My counter argument was to use marriage for all legal bindings and allow the term religious union for religious people if they want. You rejected that because you want your religion to have a privileged position as the sole arbiter of marriage. Well tough. Gay people want to get married and I have absolutely no reasonable grounds to deny them. Nor do you.

  31. maverick says:

    I sadly feel that you are not listening. I am NOT arguing that religion is good, and yet you insistently keep saying I am. The point of religion is the same as all ideas or belief systems, to inspire. They do not do good or bad, only the people who use them do.

    While my comment about Hitchens’s argument is over-presumptuous, it is not without a reason. When a person makes an argument that is specifically twisted to return a certain point (the negatives of religion), they usually have the idea already in their head. I will concede that Hitchens could merely have been wrong without having the idea first. I have given his challenges due consideration. I realize that his two premises automatically lead to a specific conclusion. If I tweak his argument, I get a completely contradictory response. This is evidence of a fallacy. For me to show you any further fallacies I have to know how you would define morality.

    As for the gay marriage argument, you seem to miss the idea of a compromise. You don’t compromise to the side that doesn’t have an issue…you compromise towards the side that does. If I don’t like a deal but you do, I am the one who will ultimately close the deal. You are going to accept it because you don’t have a problem with it. Therefore, yes I am okay with mine over yours. Mine helps lead to something everyone can be happy with (being as many have an issue with the word marriage being used) whereas yours only complicates the issue. I am offering a solution that doesn’t take away any rights; yours does too. That’s not the problem. It’s only the fact that yours doesn’t do what a compromise is meant to do….help reach a conclusion to the argument.

    In fact, your argument that “i’m not the one with the problem with gay marriage” is the EXACT problem with any form of reaching an agreement. You are not willing to compromise, even in a way that ultimately doesn’t hurt anyone.

  32. Kind of odd what parts of the “old” testaments remain important. Funny how a Xian can condemn a gay couple over a shrimp salad wearing a mixed fabric article of clothing after not stoning an unruly child.

  33. Have to agree with Monicks on this one. I’ve never had to suppress my urges and when discussion forced me to think about my non-preference it caused dissonance. Sexuality shouldn’t be a choice any more then you’re favorite flavor of ice cream.

  34. By my studies, the self deluded didn’t get in on the marriage concept until about 600 years ago. In fact, the church didn’t fully take over the business of marriage until 1563 at the Council of Trent. So, come now…quit believing your own bullshit or the bullshit of the asshole taking your tithe.

  35. maverick, you must puff, puff…then pass. The prisons contain 0.25% Atheists….it’s the believing that is dangerous. You may commit any crime against humanity you choose, then tell an imaginary friend your sorry, then you’re Scot Free for eternity. Atheists don’t have pretend friends to forgive and must live with any transgressions.

  36. maverick says:

    If you believe that you can just say sorry and everything is forgiven, you really do not understand Christianity. You 1) have to trust in God and try to live up to his perfect nature and 2) if you do make a mistake you repent…meaning ask for forgiveness and truly do your best to never do it again.

    The biggest problem with your argument, though is that we have to live with any transgressions for eternity; you only have to til the day you die. Christians don’t get out of criminal charges because they said I’m sorry anymore than an Atheist on Earth. We have two punishments; one of which is forgiveness is offered. Atheists only believe there is no eternal punishment that is forgivable. I contend that you are the one that needs to learn to pass :P (jk)

  37. maverick says:

    Ummm, the marriage concept began in Genesis for Christian belief. So, while the government didn’t necessarily accept the marriage that doesn’t mean the marriage wasn’t qualified ordained by the church. Also as a side note, I do not tithe.

    Finally, regardless on who ‘runs’ marriages, I am making a compromise to allow everyone to keep their rights but to allow gays to get married. I am for the union of gays because I believe that whether or not it is a sin, they will answer to God not me. However, many Christians are worried about the sanctity of marriage but have no problem with a civil union. If you move a civil union to EVERYONE you stop discrimination. Then leave the term ‘marriage’ with the religious. If a non-religious person wants to call their civil union a marriage informally so be it. I really don’t mind.

  38. maverick says:

    I agree that they don’t have a choice. I have a feeling you have had to suppress an urge, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you never had a crush on someone who didn’t feel the same way. Maybe as a child you never wanted the cookies on a counter, but knew mom or dad would get mad. Maybe you never had to do homework but really wanted to surf the web or play outside.

    I don’t think they should have to choose being gay. They can’t. Do I believe they have to answer to God after they die? Yes, but so do I. I have lied and even stolen a piece of candy as a child. Do I think all gays are going to be in Hell? Nope. I don’t even believe that gays that decide to suppress their sexual urges will. I only thing non-Christians won’t. I could be wrong and I accept that. I won’t hate gays because they choose that. I won’t share a room with a gay, but then I wouldn’t share a room with a woman unless I was in a relationship with her. Just a personal preference, nothing against gays.

  39. hoverfrog says:

    Maverick, religious people do not have a monopoly on the term marriage. Whatever the origins, that no doubt go back to pre-history, people of all religious beliefs and none may get married if they wish. They may have an entirely secular ceremony or may opt to include religious elements within it. Religion does not get to decide who can marry and who cannot. If a Jew wants to marry a Hindu it has nothing to do with their religions (though adherents will no doubt add their views anyway) because marriage is a secular institution.

    If you want to differentiate your marriage from secular marriages then go ahead and give it a suitably religious name like religious union. You don’t get to define everyone else’s marriage under your terms simply because you believe in a god.

  40. hoverfrog says:

    Do I think all gays are going to be in Hell? Nope. I don’t even believe that gays that decide to suppress their sexual urges will. I only thing non-Christians won’t

    Why should someone live a sexless life because of your religious views? Why should someone live without the love of a partner just because your religion condemns it?

    As an aside even the religious support for a literal hell is poorly supported. Thanks for being so clear that you condemn us unbelievers to fiery hell though. Not because we’ve done anything wrong but just because we don’t believe in the same deity that you do.

    I won’t share a room with a gay

    Why not? Do you think that you’re that irresistible that no gay man could keep his hands off you? This comment above all your others paints you as a homophobe.

  41. maverick says:

    Honestly, I don’t know how you don’t understand this. I am not arguing because I am religious. I am not arguing because I believe that marriage is religious. I am arguing to change the name because I understand how compromise works. Having a hard head and not being willing to compromise is what causes the issue to not reach a settlement. Regardless of my religion, I would feel the same way. I realize that many people may not get this, but I don’t look at my religion when I make decisions. I look at what is best for everyone involved and what allows people to reach a settlement that makes the most people happy. You have continuously argued for what makes you happy. That doesn’t get anywhere in a compromise.

  42. hoverfrog says:

    I am not arguing because I am religious. I am not arguing because I believe that marriage is religious.

    And I am saying that you are wrong. Flat out wrong. Marriage is recognised and supported by secular law. Religions have certainly coopted elements of it and added their own rituals but it is not the exclusive domain of religion. As such religion does not get a say in who can and cannot marry and who can and cannot use the term marriage. That is for governments to decide.

    I am arguing to change the name because I understand how compromise works.

    I agree which is why I’ve offered a counter argument to change the name of religious marriages to “religious unions” and to leave marriage for secular, state run unions.

    I realize that many people may not get this, but I don’t look at my religion when I make decisions.

    I have to ask again: what is the point of it then?

    I look at what is best for everyone involved and what allows people to reach a settlement that makes the most people happy.

    The majority of people want gay people to gain the same rights in marriage as straight people. More importantly it is the right thing to do to offer everyone equal rights under the law. Your objections are that your religion will lose some of it’s privilege and control. I say that’s a good thing and have no sympathy for anyone whining about it. if you want your religion to survive in a modern, progressive and liberal society then your religion will have to change to fit society. If it doesn’t then it will get pushed to the fringes of society or die. Either option is good for me and good for society.

  43. maverick says:

    Ahh, and this ‘quote’ also paints you to be the same as many atheists I argue with. You like to twist others words to fit what you want to believe. I am not a ‘homophobe’ (which is an extremely poor word to use btw as it is blatantly incorrect for most who are against gay marriage). I said that I wouldn’t share a room with a gay OR a woman I was not in a relationship with. This is because of a purity issue. I choose not to for my sake. To think this makes me a homophobe is just to show how blatantly you are okay with twisting facts; I guess I should have known better than to reason with you when you continuously ignored what I was saying and tried placing words in my mouth. I apologize for believing you could be reasonable; it was very selfish.

  44. hoverfrog says:

    Maverick, from princeton: homophobic (prejudiced against homosexual people). By seeking to deny equal rights to gay people you are acting in a homophobic manner. That does make you a homophobe.

  45. maverick says:

    “I would not share a room with a gay” How does this prove that I am prejudiced? I already explained that I would not share a room with a woman either as a purity issue. It’s a preference, not a prejudice. Just as I would not share a car with someone who drives me insane for the very reason that I love my sanity.

    As an aside, while the definition of homophobe is technically prejudiced against homosexuals it is only because that is what mainstream have made it. If you define the end ‘-phobe’ or ‘-phobia’, they are an irrational fear…which doesn’t accurately define most people who are against gay marriage. As it is, I am done arguing with you as you are not willing to listen to reason, and are completely changing everything I say. When I say that I want equal rights but a different word, you argue that I am acting homophobic. When I say I have a preference against sharing a room with a gay OR woman if I am not in a relationship with them, you call me homophobic. If I say religion is neither good nor bad, you say I am trying to say it is good. Your view on religion is based on a biased argument that you are not willing to listen to the logical fallacies that are wrong with it. Yet you try to use fallacies to argue against me which I in turn accept and amend or argue why it is not a fallacy. You are not listening to logic, and therefore I bid you adieu and God bless. ;)

  46. hoverfrog says:

    “I would not share a room with a gay” How does this prove that I am prejudiced? I already explained that I would not share a room with a woman either as a purity issue.

    So you’re a misogynist too. You can have as many negative labels as your behaviour warrants.

    When I say that I want equal rights but a different word, you argue that I am acting homophobic.

    That’s really the point though, isn’t it. Gay people don’t want “equal but different”, they want “equal”. I see absolutely no reason to deny them this, certainly not to deny them equality because of religious bigotry and a desire for the religious to hold onto their privilege.

    If I say religion is neither good nor bad, you say I am trying to say it is good.

    I’m saying that you cite only the good in support of your view and brush away the bad. You admit that the bad does exist but that it’s not really the fault of the religion but a few people who aren’t True (TM) Christians. I’m sorry that you can’t see it but the Curate’s Egg analogy fits well. Good and bad exist as parts of your faith but the whole is rotten because of the bad. you don’t try to pick out the good parts of a rotten egg. You throw it away.

    Your view on religion is based on a biased argument that you are not willing to listen to the logical fallacies that are wrong with it.

    Right back at you. Except that you haven’t yet pointed out a single flaw with my logic whereas I pointed out quite early that your argument from tradition was a fallacious argument. You’ve made the claim that religion is good because it is connected to charity. Well atheists have just raised $40k for charity http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/04/11/atheists-raise-40000-for-charity-in-three-months/ and FBB is an atheist charity that is dedicated to offering humanist aid to those in need. That’s demonstrating your own bias.

    But the question is about gay marriage, not about charity. Your Christian view of gay people is that they are sinful, just like everyone else. As horrible as I think that is at least it’s fair and equal. I still don’t see why gay marriage, gay secular marriage, is an issue except that you want to retain Christian privilege and tradition has it that only straight people marry. Well tradition doesn’t mean squat if it serves no purpose and I’d strip away all your Christian privilege if I could.

  47. davidstarlingm says:

    Unfortunately, the “when did you choose to be heterosexual” argument won’t work very well on the homophobic fundamentalists. They think heterosexuality is the default and that homosexuality is a conscious rejection of “natural” sexuality. As wrong as this is, you’ll have to show that you understand it if you want to get through to them.

  48. maverick says:

    As a Christian, I want to say you are right and wrong. Heterosexuality is the default. Without heterosexuality, the human race would not exist. However, I do agree with you that they are wrong about homosexuality being a conscious rejection of heterosexuality. While this is true for many, I don’t think I could say it is true for most. In fact, I would say it is more likely that there are more homosexuals pretending to be heterosexual than the other way around.

    However, many Christians from the area I’m in understand this and do not hate gays. They hate homosexuality the act. However, to take that out on the homosexual is hypocritical. Since, in God’s eyes, all sins are the same, that would be equivalent to hating ourselves because we have lied, cheated, stolen, or committed some other sin. I cannot hate gays without hating myself. However, if you have read any of my other comments, I think many people from both sides are misunderstanding the other side (the more reasonable arguments of course…the Westboro Baptist church is about as Christian as the KKK is American).

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