Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The "born that way" myth

At the end of November, 2008, I wrote a three-part ramble on some questions surrounding the origins of same-sex attraction (SSA) called “Challenging the Conventional Wisdom”. Although I’ve left it posted, and occasionally refer back to it, it’s not the clearest, most concise effort I’ve ever made. As such, I don’t ever refer to it in posts on other blogs.

However, one paragraph definitely bears repeating:

If homosexuality is not an innate orientation, present at conception, we must still realize that—for the most part—it’s also not … a matter of conscious choice, born of a desire to be different. Rather, if—as the reparative therapists inform us—homosexuality is one of many symptoms of certain childhood traumas, then it is a seeking-out of reconnection with the world of the gender that they were pushed out of. To indulge ourselves in a language that treats them as inferior or intentionally evil is to exacerbate the trauma and separation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Euthyphro dilemma

 “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”
—Plato, Euthyphro

With these words, Socrates set forth a dilemma that still challenges theists today: Does God command what is good because it is good, or is it good because God commands it? The first horn implies that “good” has a value independent of God, and therefore God can’t be its source. The second horn implies that “goodness” is arbitrary, that the statement “God is good” is meaningless because a tautology (“God is good” = “God is God”), and that it argues from a putative fact to a statement of value.

Let’s recast the argument into formal logical terms:

1.   If God commands m because m is objectively good, then m’s goodness is independent of God.
2.   If m is good because God commands m, then m’s goodness is contingent: theoretically, He could have commanded ~m, and we would in that case call ~m “good”. Because it’s contingent, it can’t be objective in nature.
3.   Either God commands m because m is good, or m is good because God commands it.
4.   Therefore, either God did not create goodness, or goodness is arbitrary.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

God and the Holocaust

 I just recently re-read Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming, by Roy H. Schoeman (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003). Schoeman, a convert to Catholicism, spends a good portion of the book analyzing the religious and philosophic roots of the German cultural anti-Semitism which Adolph Hitler and the Nazis manipulated and magnified with such malignant, satanic genius. (This in turn led me to start re-reading William L. Shirer’s classic opus The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to see how that background mixed with the political and social semi-anarchy that characterized the Weimar Republic.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

What does God want?

 Does the existence of non-believers prove that God doesn’t exist? Let’s follow a particularly drastic formulation:

1.      If God exists, then God wants everyone to come to believe He exists before they die.

2.      If God exists, then God could bring about a condition such that everyone believes He exists before they die.

3.      If God exists, then God would not want anything that would conflict with and be at least as important as His desire for all people to believe He exists before they die.

4.      If God exists, then God always acts in accordance with what He most wants.

5.      However, not everybody learns to believe in God before they die.

6.      Therefore, God does not exist.