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The nuanced position

In a comment on my last post, NotAnAtheist writes:

[As] I see it, there are two options:

1. You can decide that the point at which the rights of the fetus should be considered cannot be based on anything objective, and is merely a point that is decided upon for some legal / logistical / personal / societal convenience. While this is logically valid, it leaves open the question of why not draw the lines other places? We already have articles in medical journals talking about so called “after-birth” abortions, basically saying that the “line” should be pushed back past birth.

This to me, as far as I can see it, is the pro-choice position. Draw the line for purposes of convenience only, and if there are facts supporting your position, great! If not, no worries, just bluster.

2. You can decide that if there are lines to be drawn at all, they should be drawn as safely and as conservatively as possible and be based on the best data possible to avoid killing those who are “enough of” a person to have a right to life. Note that this does not mean that we must draw the line at conception. Nor does this absolutely mandate that one must believe that “before time X all abortions are ok and after X they are wrong.” It is the belief that we should act on the side of caution, and not convenience when deciding when the rights of the child should even be considered (note, I said considered, not necessarily honored).

This, to me is a “nuanced” position, and it is also one that is completely incompatible (as I see it) with the pro choice position.

I can’t help but notice some significant problems with this dichotomy.

Notice first of all that the woman does not seem to exist in either of the options presented—or at least, if she does exist, her rights are irrelevant. That’s significant because how can you draw lines “as safely and conservatively as possible” when you’re not even acknowledging the existence of the person whose rights you are going to violate? The safe and conservative line has to be the one drawn at or before the person’s rights are violated. You can’t do that so long as you refuse to include a consideration of those rights in your list of options.

The second significant problem I see in the dichotomy presented above is that it has things exactly backwards. The pro-choice position is the right position because it is based on the objective facts of human development. We know that, biologically, the individual fertilized egg has none of the qualities of personhood. It has no mind, no thoughts, no emotions, no desires, no memories, no will and no perceptions. None of the biological systems supporting those functions has yet developed. Gestation is a period during which those functions gradually assemble, along with other systems needed for autonomous existence. Some day this will result in the production of a human being, assuming all goes well, but it’s not going to reach that point until much later on, and even then you’re not going to be able to pinpoint the precise moment when this transition occurs.

That said, however, we can still know objectively when it has not yet occurred. Certainly it does not occur before viability, because the absence of viability itself indicates that the development process is not yet complete. And how long will it be before the development process is complete? Why not let nature itself tell us when the fetus is ready to make the transition to independent personhood? The process is complete when the baby is born. Birth is nature’s way of saying, “Ok, it’s ready to go.”

We’re not saying, “Oh, let’s be pro-choice and ignore the facts.” We’re pro-choice because of the objective evidence. We don’t just arbitrarily pick a number out of a hat and say “It takes nine months for a person to develop from a fertilized egg.” That’s an objective observation. It varies somewhat from individual to individual, but we observe that, on average, it takes nine months. And that’s nature making the determination. Not anybody’s opinion. Not anybody’s convenience. Nature itself.

So let’s be conservative and draw the lines as safely as possible for all persons concerned. Once a child is born, nobody has a right to kill them, because they’re a person. A premature baby might not be fully formed yet, biologically speaking, but let’s be safe and conservative and protect their rights too. But prior to birth, nature is telling us the development process is not yet complete, and so the fetus is a pre-person, a person under construction. Anyone insisting that pre-persons must also be protected is doing so not based on anything objective, but is merely doing so for some legal / logistical / personal / societal advantage. This to me, as far as I can see it, is the pro-life position. Draw the line for purposes of political advantage only, and if there were facts supporting your position, great! If not, no worries, just bluster.

Comments

  1. Tracey says

    NAA certainly blows all the dog-whistles, doesn’t he? He manages to completely miss the point of any rational argument put before him, and instead exist in a rosy-colored fantasy world where a newly-fertilized egg is paramount and the woman who carries it is just a Slutty McSlut-Slut who cares only for “convenience” (more dogwhistles!) and obviously wants an abortion “one minute before birth!” so she can magically fit into her slut-clothes and go out partying.

    There’s no way to have a rational conversation with someone so entrenched in the anti-choice fantasy.

  2. sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

    Taking the conservative approach only works if there isn’t a tension. As you noted, being conservative toward the fetus means violating the rights of the women. This means that how conservative we are depends on the balance we need to strike. This implies that there is really more than one line we need to draw, depending on the magnitude of the right of the women. That is, that there is a difference between the line we should draw for abortion on demand and the one we would draw for “protect the life of the mother”, etc.

    • says

      Repeat after me – NO ONE has the right to draw the “balance we strike” line besides the *one* woman involved. There is no “we” in this decision. Get over yourself and your arrogant tendencies.

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        Do you think that saying it angrily makes it so? Birth may be a convenient bright line marker but it is a hard sell even in the secular world. Developmentally, we go from a single cell to a fully formed human in the course of 9 months, every minute of that time we progress further along the scale. As the Supreme Court noted in Roe V. Wade, commensurate with that development is an increasing level of independent rights. Just as it is absurd to claim that a single cell has any compelling right to life, it is just as absurd to say that an unborn baby does not one moment and then does one minute later, after it is born.

        As the Supreme Court said, before viability the child cannot realistically be said to be an independent person. Afterward though the problem is more nuanced as the good Deacon has said.

      • says

        And again, I remind you, that is is NOT *your* decision to make. The “line that is drawn” can ONLY be done by the person the decision impacts most: the woman you are still ignoring. Though I am generally happy with Roe v Wade, trying to further refine and legislate a one size fits all decision to a process even you admit is complex and nuanced is ludicrous.

        At every point, the choice comes down to the woman, her doctor, and her conscience. WHATEVER the decision is, it is NOT the business of any self-designated, self-inportant “we”. Seriously, stop being a voyeur into other people’s complex and difficult problems. Have you nothing better to do?

      • rowanvt says

        If you use ‘personhood’ and ‘right to life’ with a fetus, you are denying me MY right to bodily autonomy.

        And sad as it may be for those who want children, fetuses die all the time. Even late in the pregnancy they can die. Should a woman be FORCED against her will to carry to term an anencephalic fetus that is most likely going to die almost immediately, and will be pretty much guaranteed to not live past the age of 3 and never have a personality because all it has is a brain stem?

        I should not be FORCED to have another entity in my body if I do not desire it. You, however, do want to MAKE me have to do that thing, but your mental image is of a super cuddly perfect little baby, sans woman. Your whole thinking is sans women.

      • sawells says

        A “fully formed” human being takes _years_ to form, not nine months. Assigning personhood at birth is _already_ well in advance of real personhood; we draw the line at birth in order to avoid slippery slope arguments subsequently.

      • says

        Sex is to rape what a wanted pregnancy is to an unwanted pregnancy.

        Nobody has the right to use anyone’s body against their will. Once consent is revoked, usage must end. It can be ended with lethal force if necessary.

      • No Light says

        A fellow poster on RHRealityCheck is called “ForcedBirthIsRape”.

        FBIR grew up in an abusive religious family, where girls over 14 were impregnated and forced to carry, birth, and raise children that they did not want.

        She said that what her grandmother, mother, aunts and other female relatives went through repeatedly over years and years, forced occupation of their bodies followed by extreme unmedicated genital pain, acted as a ten month version of the rapes that impregnated them in the first place.

        It completely ruined any sense of self they had, any sense of safety or agency.

        The thought of anyone wanting to force girls and women to birth turns my stomach. Why? Punishment for sex, punishment for not living a “proper” lifestyle, or just out of sheer, undisguised and malicious hatred?

        Anti-choice is anti-woman, and I’m not going to lie, in 2012, that fucking disturbs me.

      • Len says

        Just as it is absurd to claim that a single cell has any compelling right to life, it is just as absurd to say that an unborn baby does not one moment and then does one minute later, after it is born.

        People are given rights at specific times through their lives – that’s normal and it’s what society has decided. For example, when can you legally drive a car? When can you vote? When are you considered an adult? You get these rights when you reach certain ages in your life (when the clock strikes midnight), regardless of whether you’re mature enough to handle them properly.

  3. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    This implies that there is really more than one line we need to draw, depending on the magnitude of the right of the women. That is, that there is a difference between the line we should draw for abortion on demand and the one we would draw for “protect the life of the mother”, etc.- sc_blah

    No, it doesn’t, and no, it isn’t. Women’s bodily autonomy requires an unrestricted right to end a pregnancy, by whatever means is medically optimal, at any point.

    • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

      My argument in reply above applies equally to this comment. A woman’s bodily autonomy is of great concern, but it is not the only consideration, and ultimately is decreasing as the childs rights are increasing. One minute before birth how is it reasonable to say that bodily autonomy is a valid excuse for killing the child? The baby is coming out either way, so how could it possibly be be okay to kill the child in one minute and then a crime worthy decades in prison the next?

      • sosw says

        My understanding (someone correct me if I’m wrong) is that at a point where labour is expected at any time, induced labour is the medically optimal (assuming otherwise normal development) method of terminating a pregnancy.

        So an “abortion a minute before birth” seems to me a straw man at best.

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        On the contrary, it was an extreme position. Your point means that reality is even more favorable to my position. As you point out, at sometime even earlier than one minute before birth the woman’s bodily autonomy becomes irrelevant because the pregnancy is going to terminate either way, in the same fashion. The only question at that point is are you going to kill the child before removing it?

        I am not arguing against abortion, far from it. I am just pointing out that granting full rights to a single cell is as lacking in nuance as is granting none to a fully formed human being simply because of the physical space it occupies.

      • says

        Actually, this is a very easy issue. A woman can do what she wishes with her body. Period. If she wishes something removed from her body, that’s her prerogative. Stating that she must go through a life altering condition for the betterment of some one else is to ignore that you would never condone other forced conditions.

        Would you advocate forcing people to donate kidneys or pieces of their liver? Hell, even something as benign as donating blood? Would you advocate mandatory blood donations?

        The debate about the point at which it is a separate being is not necessary.

      • says

        So, how do you think about the way women give birth?
        Say, the fetus is breech and the doctor recommends a c-section because there’s a high risk for the fetus with a breech birth.
        Do you think she still has the right to decide her mode of birth or do you think the fetus’ “right” supercedes hers?

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        My previous argument was neither a strawman (which is substituting a different argument for your opponents and arguing against that) nor a false dichotomy (which is claiming that there are only two choices, yours and some obviously wrong way, and simply claiming it so does not make it so. Please enlighten me as to how what I said fits either of those two definitions.

        And simply claiming that the woman’s bodily autonomy is the only consideration also does not make it so. Especially when such an extreme position is not only contrary to the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade (a ruling which I presume you would not want overturned) but also contrary to belief of most people. If you want to make the case, please do so. But simply saying it is so is not going to convince anyone. Even those that would ascribe full personhood at the moment of conception have an argument for that position, what is yours?

      • No Light says

        1) American law doesn’t cover the world. Perhaps you should consider that some of us don’t care about your Supreme Court or Roe vs Wade.

        2) If someone wanted to have an abortion a minute before labour started, she go through an induced birth which would proceed in exactly the same way as a live birth.

        Why would someone choose to go that far before deciding to terminate? She won’t fit into a prom dress or bikini, her recovery will be the same, the delivery cost would be the same.

        So my own point of view is that someone wanting to end that pregnancy without a live birth at such a late stage, must really, really have a desperate need for it.

        Nobody gives instant abortions on demand, nobody gives abortions to obviously mentally impaired women, and nobody goes ahead with any procedure without prior counselling over what’s involved, and consent forms being read and signed.

        Those are fantasy situations.

        So, why do you think that this “One minute before onset of labour situation” would ever happen if it was legal? Women aren’t idiots, or children prone to flights of family. They are entitled to sole control of their own bodies, and. the contents thereof.

      • says

        It is very easy and I’m going to type it slowly:
        Nobody has the right to use another’s body without consent.
        This principle applies to all situations where such a conflict between actual people arises. Even if the fetus were a person, the same rules would apply to it.
        You have no right to my blood, bone marrow or kidney, not even if I am actually responsible for you needing it in the first place.
        So, unless you want to argue that fetuses are superpeople with more rights than anybody else I don’t see where you have a leg to stand on.

      • Seeing/analyzing says

        Ah, yes, the anti-choice dogwhistle that the Slutty McSlut-Sluts always choose abortion “One minute before birth!!!”

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        Not at all. Nobody is seriously saying that most or even any one would make that choice. The point is to show that birth as a bright line is absurd philosophically even if it is very convenient choice. You might not agree and I think that a case can be made for that position. But if you do see the absurdity of using birth as such criteria, then we are back to the original point of what line do you use? My point is only that there is no reasonable line that can be used for all purposes.

      • says

        You do understand that even if there is argument over whether or not an ova/zygote/embryo/fetus is a ‘person’, the woman to whom the uterus belongs is most definitely a person, right?

        Would you please explain why you feel any ‘person’, from conception to age 163, has the right to use a woman’s body without her consent, and why you feel that the woman does not have the right to revoke that consent?

      • Seeing/analyzing says

        sc_whatever:”obody is seriously saying that most or even any one would make that choice.”

        I beg to differ–YOU made that very argument. And were laughed at because it’s ridiculous. So sorry that hurt your feelings.

      • standancer says

        Really, you don’t listen do you? I’m a male, and so will never have this dilemma to consider, and do not believe I or anyone but the woman who is pregnant, in consultation with her doctor and her conscience, should have any right to determine whether or not she will carry the fetus (which is in no way a human being) to term. She, and only she, should have the right to decide at any point of pregnancy prior to birth whether or not she agrees to give birth. I agree with others who have responded: Get over yourself.

  4. ACN says

    In the clever dichotomy, NotAnAtheist doesn’t seem to give a shit about the woman’s bodily autonomy rights.

    Weird, right?

  5. Nemo says

    I have a hard time even calling my 21-month-old nephew a person yet. At this stage, he’s more like a pet. But don’t tell my sister I said that.

    • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

      And neither do we grant full human rights even at birth. We recognize that there are certain rights that require even greater maturity before it is reasonable to grant them. And likewise, we grant a lot of autonomy to the parents simply because their rights are being impinged upon by their children and a balance must be achieved.

  6. Kevin K says

    This is an unpopular opinion, but it’s mine.

    I think the Supreme Court pretty much got it right in Roe v Wade. Which means you can’t just perform a third trimester abortion without some sort of medical reason.

    Roe v Wade basically established that there is a continuum where the rights of the woman eventually get superseded by the rights of the developing child. In other words, an abortion one minute before labor is ethically (and legally) as wrong as killing the child one minute after it’s delivered.

    Seems to me under normal development, the pregnant woman does abdicate some of her rights to the developing child — not any at the beginning, and more as the fetus develops.

    The biggest issue is that there is no bright line — it’s 270 shades of gray. So the religious concept that a fetus is a person at “moment of conception” is nonsense to the highest degree. But the further along you get, the more that line starts to intrude on the decision-making process.

    The whole concept of “personhood” seems to be somewhat of a canard, though. I don’t think a newborn – term or not – is a “person”. It’s a proto-person — try having a conversation with a newborn, or getting a ride to the grocery store.

    Nor do I think the term “viability” has much meaning — a newborn laying in the crib is no more viable without adult intervention than it was in its mother’s womb. Someone has to feed it, protect it from the elements, etc. Biologic viability — developed/functioning lungs, heart, other organs — is just one step in the process.

    But we do legally protect newborns in their cribs. We prosecute mothers with postpartum depression who kill their children. Why? Because the born have more rights than the unborn.

    But that doesn’t mean that until the thing pops out, that the fetus has zero rights whatsoever.

    Just way fewer than the religious want to grant it. And, in my opinion, more than some pro-choice advocates would be willing to grant it as well.

    I also think most of the anti-abortion crowd have no idea how tough a decision it is. I had a friend whose sister had an abortion because the fetus was anencephalic. Despite the fact that there was zero hope for the fetus and grave risk to the mother, she agonized over the decision, and the day of the abortion is still one of the saddest in her life.

    Show me the woman who blithely has an abortion with no feelings whatever, and I’ll show you a person who would be an unfit parent.

    • Nepenthe says

      Seems to me under normal development, the pregnant woman does abdicate some of her rights to the developing child — not any at the beginning, and more as the fetus develops.

      Which rights and when? Please be specific.

      • rowanvt says

        Yes… I’d like to know this too.

        And do you, too, believe that medical science now prevents all medical complications of pregnancy?

        Your position says you must believe something like that. After all, if I as a woman give up certain rights late in pregnancy that surely means I can’t kill a baby to save my own life in case of something like… oh… placental abruption, or pre-eclampsia. We may potentially both die then, but it’s better than killing a baby, right?

      • says

        Does it make much sense to ask that a person provide you with a specific “when” that a fetus’ rights overtake a woman’s when the person has literally expressed the belief that such a specific “when” does not exist? You’ll most likely just end up talking past each other.

      • Nepenthe says

        If a “when” does not exist, then why are we talking about it? For our health? Mental masturbation about how the “rights” of the fetus must eventually override the rights of the incub–excuse me, woman–is pointless and obnoxious without the ability to state what exactly these rights are, when they are attained (doesn’t have to be a specific gestational day/week, could be an event), and why at that point the interests of the fetus override the person who owns the body it occupies.

      • rowanvt says

        I’m so tempted to take a photo of my snake incubator and caption it “The fetuses inside this have more rights than the incubator. You will note this is not a woman.”

    • says

      Fine. You’re right.

      It’s still NOT YOUR BUSINESS to make the decision on whether or not to abort a pregnancy, either way the choice falls, for anyone other than yourself. Having you personally or some group second guessing a woman’s decision is a very anti-woman stance.

      • jenny6833a says

        Gwynnyd says, “It’s still NOT YOUR BUSINESS to make the decision on whether or not to abort a pregnancy, either way the choice falls, for anyone other than yourself.”

        There are those among us who believe that everything is their business. You can’t change that.

        “Having you personally or some group second guessing a woman’s decision is a very anti-woman stance.”

        I hope that your argument doesn’t depend on your perception of what anti-woman means.

        We need to make good arguments.

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        And there are those among us that think that it is mostly a woman’s own choice up to a point. There is no bright line and my personal inclination is to push that line as far as is reasonable, and I fail to see how that stance could be deemed anti-woman. Some on this thread maintain that it is only the concern of the woman and her doctor and I might be persuaded of that, but no one has even attempted to explain why the child should not have any rights at all, they just assert it.

        Reading over the arguments in this thread, by and large they appear to completely ignore the actual positions of the comenters. What is worse, it appears that everyone on this thread is pro-abortion, so we are really arguing between “no limitations” and “almost no limitation”. One would expect the arguments between those positions to be quite nuanced (which is what started the thread in the first place) but the “no limitation” crowd hasn’t put forth an argument at all.

      • sawells says

        It’s a woman’s choice up until she becomes a slave. Which is never. So it’s always the woman’s choice.

        Woman are people. Fetuses aren’t. Simple.

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        Well, at least that is an argument and not a terrible one at that. But society balances conflicting rights all of the time. You could apply the same reasoning after birth as well.

      • kevinkirkpatrick says

        One would expect the arguments between those positions to be quite nuanced (which is what started the thread in the first place) but the “no limitation” crowd hasn’t put forth an argument at all.

        Well, here you go. Legally speaking (a WHOLLY separate discussion from “morally speaking”, which I’ll not be delving deeply into) I look at the abortion debate strictly in terms of bodily autonomy. I consider it a self-evident truth that each of us, minimally, owns one thing in our lives: our body. “Legal slavery” is defined right out of existence; so long as I am alive, the ownership of my body cannot be transferred to another. In this same vein, a woman’s body belongs to her and nobody else. It does not belong to her impregnator. It does not belong to her parents. It does not belong to her doctor. It does not belong to her children. It does not belong to the zygote/embryo/fetus/baby developing inside of her. It certainly does not belong to any government. It is her body, and hers alone. As such, being the sole owner of her body, she may LEGALLY make whatever medical decisions about it that she desires (with obvious caveats, e.g. she’s of a sound psychological mind to make medical decisions). And I do not hesitate to take that to the logical end: this would include legally allowing a pregnant woman to abort/kill a 9-month-old not-yet-delivered baby (yes, I’d even call that baby a person) in her uterus, and to do so for any reason she deems fit. Similarly, a 3-month-old newborn’s mother can LEGALLY opt for a life-saving mastectomy, or even cosmetic plastic surgery, even if it meant certain death for her 3-month-old baby.

        I should reiterate: These are where I draw LEGAL lines, not MORAL lines. It’s almost (almost!) unthinkable that any woman, not suffering from severe PPD or some other psychological ailment, would carry a baby to term, deliver the baby, learn that the baby has a condition whereby it will die without access to her mammary glands, and yet choose to have a cosmetic boob-job in lieu of nursing her child. In such a case, I’d fully expect her to experience the full backlash of societal ostricization (which is a form of free speech). But still, as despicable as the actions seem, I do NOT want to live in a country where there are legal ramifications for such a choice.

        Switching it up a bit; if my brother were in a horrific car accident, and would certainly die within 24 hours unless I donate a kidney to him; it is legally my choice to donate that kidney. Not his choice, not his wife’s choice, not the choice of his potentially-fatherless-children. And, most pertinently to this conversation, it is NOT the government’s choice. I cannot be coerced under threat of law to give my kidney to my brother, because I and I alone own my body. Nobody, not even my dying brother, has a legal right to it. Morally? Again, that’s a different dimension to thi… I don’t think even I’d want to live with myself if I was so cowardly as to withhold the life-saving kidney from my brother.

      • Nepenthe says

        Reading over the arguments in this thread, by and large they appear to completely ignore the actual positions of the comenters.

        Okay, directing the question of the hour to you: what is your position? Which rights of women should be abrogated during pregnancy, when, and why? And which rights does a fetus gain in utero, when, and why?*

        It’s much easier to argue against a defined position with warrants than a shrug and a I’m-not-sure-but-late-term-abortion-just-seems-icky-to-me, so you could shoulder some of the responsibility that this thread is not proceeding in way that you’re happy with.

        You also may want to read the three previous posts on abortion on this blog in which we were entertained other forced-birth advocates who refused to delineate their positions to see why some pro-choice commenters might be getting a bit testy.

        *Note that “I dunno” is not an adequate response, even if it takes you 400 words to say it.

      • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

        As I said, I am pro-choice. I am pro-choice and am not completely adverse to the position espoused here that a women’s bodily autonomy is the deciding factor. I am merely pointing out that you cannot just assert that as a fact. I have given an argument why birth is not a good demarcation, and I am not sure viability is a good demarcation on the other end. I am sure conception is ridiculous as the *upper* line. While the good Deacon started taking a humanist position, it is not clear that viability marks a point where any of the supposed required attributes come into existence except viability itself. After viability there is an alternative to abortion therefore the bodily autonomy argument weakens drastically. Since on the pro-life to pro-choice spectrum I think I am pretty radically pro-choice, if you can’t convince me how will you ever convince those further down the spectrum?

      • Nepenthe says

        @googlemess,

        So, in other words you refuse to define your position, that is, you refuse to give us the point at which, to you, fetal interests override women’s interests and why*. Since you are obviously not pro-choice in the strictest sense, your failure to provide your actual position besides “pro-choice” leaves the rest of us floundering.

        *At this point, I’d even settle for a solid “when”, since I’ve given up on any forced-birther giving a “why” that doesn’t involve souls or personal squeamishness.

      • No Light says

        After viability there is an alternative to abortion therefore the bodily autonomy argument weakens drastically.

        What is this “alternative” you speak of? Because, and I may be wrong, I have a sneaking suspicion you mean adoption. Do you?

        If you do, then no, it isn’t a viable alternative, and NO, it doesn’t weaken anything.

        Pregnancy is dangerous. Abortion is the solution to unwanted pregnancy, because no woman should have to risk her life and health for something she does not want.

        Abortion is safe, and when made freely available and without cost, most can be performed before the nine week mark.

        See, xml keep saying you’re pro,choice. while pushing this “Well, it’s icky to do it after the foetus is viable” line.

        As you, and all the other Devil’s Advocates have been told, women aren’t choosing to terminate their pregnancies at 20+ weeks for shits and giggles, to fit in a swimsuit, or be a bridesmaid, or go on a hawt date with Brad from accounting.

        Post 24 week abortions (as rare as they are) are even more clear cut. They’re virtually all therapeutic abortions, either because the foetus has catastrophic defects, or because the mother’s physical/mental health is in danger, or she’s risking imminent death. A large chunk are due to HELLP. Look that up, then get back to me about “bright lines”.

        So, once more for the dogs…

        Abortion exists to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancy.

        Adoption exists to solve the problem of unwanted parenting.

        The only people vested in eliding the former, in order to promote the latter, are the parasitic baby brokers who trade off the misery of others for pure profit. The American system of selling babies to the highest bidder, then convincing the first-mothers (usually young. teens) that they’re doing God’s work, is morally and ethically bankrupt.

        So there are bright lines.

        Woman’s rights always trump foetal rights.

        Nobody deserves, has a right to, or is owed a baby. Nobody gets to use “But I really want a baby and I can’t have one, so you should be grateful” or “Think of all the people out there that could give that baby a home”. Not ever.

        Freely-chosen adoption, with no ties to a religion, and not facilitated for profit? Fine. The US system as is? Rotten to the core. Babies aren’t commodities.

        Finally, there is no such thing as “Pro-choice but…”.

        You either support and trust women to know and do the best thing for them and their families, or you don’t.

        The “But” argument is even more irritating when trotted out by men without uteruses, JSYK. You cannot ever, possibly even comprehend making that decision. You cannot ever know the sickening, paralysing fear of your bodily autonomy being restricted or removed entirely, because someone’s bleating about “We know what’s best”.

        Doesn’t matter whether it’s restricting or denying access to contraception, or removing access to legal abortion, coercing some women to stay pregnant, and pressuring others to terminate their pregnancies, it is still terrifying.

        No. Buts. If we don’t have control of our own bodies we have nothing. We have less than nothing, we have Gilead.

      • Seeing/analyzing says

        sc_whatever seems to have forgotten that a zygote/embryo/fetus is not a child, not a teenager, not an adult, not a geriatric. It has no rights until it is born. The woman it occupies, however, is inarguably a person, and inarguably has the right to determine what happens to her own body.

  7. jenny6833a says

    Kevin K says in part, But we do legally protect newborns in their cribs. We prosecute mothers with postpartum depression who kill their children. Why? Because the born have more rights than the unborn.

    What we do now isn’t necessarily what we ought to do, or what we will do in the future.

    I also think most of the anti-abortion crowd have no idea how tough a decision it is. I had a friend whose sister had an abortion because the fetus was anencephalic. Despite the fact that there was zero hope for the fetus and grave risk to the mother, she agonized over the decision, and the day of the abortion is still one of the saddest in her life.

    Second hand anecdotes don’t cut it.

    I might add that I didn’t find my decision to abort tough at all, have never been sad, and have had zero regrets.

    Show me the woman who blithely has an abortion with no feelings whatever, and I’ll show you a person who would be an unfit parent.

    That remark doesn’t even deserve to be labeled as ‘opinion’ because even opinions require some degree of logic and evidence. Kevin K, that remark is sadly lacking in both.

    FWIW, my husband and my several kids would vehemently disagree with what you said there.

    Hey, people, whatever one’s POV, let’s all try to make good arguments.

    • sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

      I am with you on that Jenny. There are a lot of studies that say that a lot of the supposed psychological damage associated with aborting a child comes from the societal view that it is “murder”. If it were not so treated the damage would be much less. Part of the problem of course is that we can seem to make a decision as a society and stick to it.

      • jenny6833a says

        sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says, There are a lot of studies that say that a lot of the supposed psychological damage associated with aborting a child comes from the societal view that it is “murder”.

        What baloney! ‘Murder’ is a legal concept that specifically does NOT include abortion. ‘Society’ doesn’t hold the view you claim it does. No ‘child’ has ever been aborted. Psychological ‘damage’ is a figment promoted by propagandists and accepted only by fools.

        The predominant psychological reaction is relief.

      • im says

        Um, I think they’re saying that if people would stop falsely saying that abortion is murder, women would face less psychological harm after abortion.

      • jenny6833a says

        People with an axe to grind will say false stuff in hopes that it will be believed. There’s no way to stop them.

        The solution is for listeners to stop believing baloney.

      • Brian M says

        I’m sorry, but what is your point here? You are arguing trivial semantics here. As well as being outright wrong in other cases.

        For instance…claiming that there are no social pressures against abortion (Octobre 22 @4:57), that there is no propaganda campaign using that very term “murder” to desfribe abortion and that the only emotion is “relief”…do you really believe these statements?

        I am male (and gay) so I have zero skin in this game, but to read this series of rather querrolous statements of semantics and missing the point off the cuff slams deserves a response.

      • says

        I got Jenny’s point just fine: the distinction between asking “when is it okay to have an abortion” and “when is it okay to enlist the power of the state to force women to give birth against their will” is a distinction without a difference.

        I think you got Jenny mixed up with someone else.

      • jenny6833a says

        Dear Brian,

        I didn’t say any of the things you said I said. You see, I try to write carefully. You should try to read carefully.

        As an example for you to consider, at whatever length may be necessary, some members of society do describe abortion as murder, but society does not.

        Here’s another: I didn’t say that the only emotion was relief. I said, and I quote, “The predominant psychological reaction is relief.”

        Distinctions are important. They’re often made using adjectives. In future, I hope you’ll pay more attention to such pesky words.

        Your friend,

        Jenny

    • Deacon Duncan says

      A fertilized egg is neither an unborn baby, nor a part of the woman’s body, nor a wart. It is the beginning of a process that will eventually construct a baby out of physical materials provided by the mother’s body over roughly a 9-month period.

      • murk says

        so:

        “beginning of process” + 9 months + stuff supplied by mom = baby

        in the same way baby + 1 year or so = toddler
        child + 18 years = adult
        and so on..

        difference is baby / child are identified as real things
        “beginning of process” is well defined as a process.
        and processes are not made of matter
        but fertilized egg is composed of 1 sperm and 1 egg (lots of matter, billions and billions of organized atoms)
        so what is it?

      • murk says

        got me there, i guess i did:)

        so this fertilized egg is at the same time a beginning of a process

        when does this material and metaphysical thing become a human?

      • murk says

        Thanks for links

        Ah i see viability “outside the womb”

        definition of human is therefore: able to live outside the womb

        This entails following presuppositions:

        human is ultimate and able to define when non-human becomes human.

        It is implied that two conditions must be satisfied, for the product of the reproductive activities of one male and one female human , to actually be human

        1. location (outside the womb)
        2. capability (capable of living outside the prescribed location)

        Since this definition can only be derived from a human who has attempted to deem him/her self of sufficient ultimacy to determine this

        and :

        Since there are many humans who therefore need to be granted same ultimacy

        it is arbitrary

        if humanness is a function of location and capability then:
        seniors not capable of living outside the nursing home
        2 year old’s not capable of living outside of a shelter which they cannot build or maintain
        injured / sick people not capable of living without life support outside of a place that has this life support (hospital etc.)
        addicted gamblers – not capable of living outside of the casino if they have money

        and so on

        are not human and could therefore be terminated or shut down
        this would not be murder – since they are not human
        they do not satisfy the above definition of human

        with a little thought you and i could, by this arbitrary standard, be defined as non-human

        me glad that people who think like this are restrained from following their espoused metaphysical system to its logical conclusion

        scary stuff

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Ah i see viability “outside the womb”

        definition of human is therefore: able to live outside the womb

        That’s certainly not my definition of “human”. The fertilized egg is as human as the sperm and the egg that produced it, and like them it is not a person because it is not complete. Lots of things are human without being people: human hair, human feelings, human thoughts, human stubbornness, etc.

        if humanness is a function of location and capability then:
        seniors …
        2 year old’s …
        injured / sick people…
        addicted gamblers …
        and so on
        are not human and could therefore be terminated or shut down

        Sick people are people. Sperm cells and egg cells are not. The law should protect people, not non-persons. And it definitely should not infringe on the rights of real people in order to protect non-persons. What kind of world would it be if a man could be arrested and charged with murder every time one of his (human) sperm cells died?

        with a little thought you and i could, by this arbitrary standard, be defined as non-human

        me glad that people who think like this are restrained from following their espoused metaphysical system to its logical conclusion

        Then no doubt you will be greatly relieved to discover that this whole train of thought is a strawman based on using the word “viability” entirely contrary to how I used it in my posts.

      • murk says

        “The fertilized egg is as human as the sperm and the egg that produced it, and like them it is not a person because it is not complete.”

        i am bald and missing my appendix
        or amputees

        how do we define a person based on completeness where we include
        the bald guy and war amp and not the incomplete child in the womb?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        how do we define a person based on completeness where we include
        the bald guy and war amp and not the incomplete child in the womb?

        The same way we define a person based on completeness where we include a toddler but not a sperm cell: by considering completeness in terms of those things which make us people, i.e. our minds and wills and personalities. Human hair has dna, so why isn’t it murder to get a haircut? It’s because individual hairs do not have minds and personalities of their own. Why isn’t it a crime to bury the dead? It would be a crime to bury a person, but once they’re dead, the thoughts and feelings and perceptions and desires that make them a person are gone, even though the body retains its dna. I’m missing my appendix, my gall bladder, and a good sized chunk of my large intestine, but I’m still a person because those things aren’t what make us persons.

        God supposedly has no body at all, yet He is regarded as a person. Why? Not because He has human dna, but because He’s supposed to have a mind, a personality, just like man. Fertilized eggs, like sperm cells, do not have that. The fertilized egg begins a construction process that might one day produce an organism capable of supporting a human, sentient mind—a human soul, if you wish. But unless and until that process completes (and a lot of them don’t, even apart from induced abortions), the only actual person involved is the woman whose body must be taxed in order to bring the process to completion. That means that the only person whose rights must be considered is the woman.

      • says

        @ murk

        That’s an equivocation fallacy. “Complete” in this context is obviously referring to developmental completeness and not how many parts of your body you have left. Attention to detail, brother.

      • murk says

        “It would be a crime to bury a person, but once they’re dead, the thoughts and feelings and perceptions and desires that make them a person are gone, even though the body retains its dna.”

        are you telling me that there is something non-material about a person ?

        Since it is non-material, and therefore cannot be tested in a test tube (empirically) then how do you know that the fertilized egg does not posses this metaphysical property at conception?

        that is a lot to know
        (someone who deems himself sufficiently ultimate to pinpoint when humans become persons would need to justify this claim no?)

      • Deacon Duncan says

        are you telling me that there is something non-material about a person ?

        No, but I’m aware that many people think there is (which makes it rather odd that they would try to reduce personhood to the mere physical order of nucleotides in a physical molecule, don’t you agree?).

        Thoughts, feelings, perceptions and so on are material processes, which is why they can be affected and even halted by other material phenomena like disease, drugs, injury, and oxygen deprivation. That’s also why we can detect them with physical devices like EEG’s. We have a verifiable, objective basis for saying that true personhood does not begin before the underlying physical mechanisms reach a certain minimal level of development, and that once those underlying physical processes cease, the physical body is no longer the person.

        I agree with you, though, about the impracticality of using metaphysical ideas about personhood as the basis for making moral decisions. Real-world policies have to be made on the basis of real-world, verifiable observations like those behind the pro-choice position.

      • murk says

        “Real-world policies have to be made on the basis of real-world, verifiable observations”

        this is a metaphysical position (you cannot have sense perception of the very statement that under girds your claim as to the validity and reach of sense perception)

        you invoke the very thing you are attempting to deny

        futile and arbitrary

        if thoughts are nothing more than material processes then your prior assertions about laws to protect people are absurd

        how can one get from the movement of atoms to moral law?

        if peoples thoughts are material processes then there can be no debate regarding abortion. Yet here we are.

        Are the laws of logic we use for rational thought material?
        are they conventional?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        I’m not quite sure what you mean here. Are you saying you deny the existence of reality-based observations? What else should our real world policies be based on? Fantasies? That hardly sounds reasonable.

        To say that thoughts are material processes is simply to say that they really exist, that they’re real. Why is it absurd to base laws on real thought processes? What’s so bad about basing morality on actual real-world consequences?

        Why would having real, material thoughts make it impossible for there be any debate regarding abortion? If you mean the real-world facts are all on the pro-choice side, I’d definitely agree, but somehow I doubt that’s what you’re trying to say here. But what do you mean, then? I get the impression that you’re trying to find some basis for defending a pro-life position, but you’re finding so little evidence for your position that you’re driven all the way back to trying to question the basis for logic and rational thought. If the pro-life position were really the correct position to take, would you be driven to such desperate extremes trying to find something you can use to defend it?

        I can partly understand where you’re coming from—I used to be a pro-life evangelical Christian myself. But it’s tiresome and pointless to be struggling against the facts all the time, and especially so when then end result is to needlessly oppress innocent women. The pro-choice position is the most moral, thoughtful, and responsible position to take, and I say that as someone who argued the contrary position for many years before finally giving in to the evidence.

      • murk says

        “We have a verifiable, objective basis for saying that true personhood does not begin before the underlying physical mechanisms reach a certain minimal level of development”

        could you put parameters on what this certain minimum level of development is please?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Again? Ok: first we observe what the characteristics of personhood are, i.e. what do we have, that microorganisms, plants, and animals do not have, that makes us persons and them not persons. We have DNA, they have DNA. We have physical cells made of proteins and other organic chemicals, and so do they. We have brains and hearts, and animals, at least, do too. What makes us persons are the thoughts and feelings and self-awareness and so on that we have and that bacteria, for instance, do not. That is why religious people suppose that God is also a person, despite having nothing in common with humans except those same characteristics of thoughts and feelings and will and so on. Whether or not any such gods exist, we include them in our concept of persons because they are supposed to possess these same, person-defining attributes.

        Now, biologically, we can identify the physical structures which generate these thoughts and feelings and perceptions. We can measure them with EEG’s, and correlate these readings with the presence or absence of thoughts and so on, as reported by people experiencing sedation, disease, injury, oxygen deprivation, and so on. Because of this, we can safely and reliable administer treatments that reduce or prevent the experience of pain, that relieve depressed thoughts, that calm irrational impulses and hallucinations, and so on. There’s a lot we still have left to explore, but we’ve got the fundamentals down, like where the cutoff point is between a mind that switched on and one that’s switched off. So we’ve got a reliable, workable, real-world basis for knowing when the physical structures are or are not in place to support the emergence of those mental and emotional processes that go together to make up what we call a person.

      • murk says

        “To say that thoughts are material processes is simply to say that they really exist, that they’re real.”

        so what is real or what really exists is therefore true
        (i agree fully with this) however you cannot account for truth via material processes.
        the supports for rational thought are also non-material in nature.
        you depend on non-material things prior to being able to make sense of material things. (laws of logic, reasonableness of reason, uniformity of nature, predictability of the future, laws of science, validity of induction and so on and so on)
        So the non-material is more ultimate.
        and this has an application to the beginning of human life, if one desires consistency and truth

        “Why is it absurd to base laws on real thought processes? What’s so bad about basing morality on actual real-world consequences?”

        because then it is based on man (often enforced by might)and we can say nothing about the behavior of Adolf Hitler, for he was trying to nurture some real world consequences and eliminate other real world consequences.

        it also requires presupposing a standard that is more authoritative then basing laws on real thought processes
        perhaps yours is maximizing pleasure, or the greatest good for the greatest number

        either one is impossible to determine (even with the aid of computers)

        Why would having real, material thoughts make it impossible for there be any debate regarding abortion?

        because a moral absolute must be assumed by both sides prior to there being the possibility of debate. if everything is material in nature there can be no right or wrong. We do not say that copper is wrong and zinc is right. Yet you “know” that the pro-life position is wrong. How do you know this? What is your standard?

        (you must believe in causation (or absurdity and meaninglessness results) thus if thoughts are material processes only they are deterministic – we have no free choice our atoms are just moving differently – so debate is not possible. You take for granted the reasonableness of your reason, uniformity of nature, absolute moral laws etc. etc. and then destroy these concepts with you attempt at attributing them all to material processes. you are schizophrenic – this futility is a consequence of denying the only possible source for knowledge.)

        my questions probe into what reality is and how we can know anything so it is relevant to the abortion issue.

        i refuse to argue as many do – by declaring ourselves and our ability to reason as ultimate because then i would be defeated as many are on this website, before i even get out of the gate.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        so what is real or what really exists is therefore true
        (i agree fully with this) however you cannot account for truth via material processes.

        I think you may be working from an outdated understanding of materialism. The trouble with materialists is that when we find answers we don’t stop asking questions, and that means we keep learning. We found out a long time ago that there’s more to material reality than just “that which can be made out of atoms.” The key distinction modern materialists make is not between what is and is not made out of atoms, the key distinction is between things that exist in and of themselves, versus things whose existence depends on the perceptions of some particular observer. Material reality is objective reality: the category of all things that exist in and of themselves without depending on the perceptions of any third party observer. This includes things that can be made out of atoms, like DNA molecules, and also things that are not made of atoms, like time and space and natural laws.

        You may be interested in the more detailed discussion I’ve begun over at my other blog, on this topic. Meanwhile I heartily agree that our discussion of abortion ought to consider both things made of atoms (like DNA) and things not made of atoms (like principles of reason and evidence). When we consider all aspects of the question, the case for the pro-choice position becomes even more justifiable.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        What’s so bad about basing morality on actual real-world consequences?

        because then it is based on man (often enforced by might)and we can say nothing about the behavior of Adolf Hitler, for he was trying to nurture some real world consequences and eliminate other real world consequences.

        Well, no, it’s the other way around, actually. Reality-based morality allows us to maintain a more consistent standard because we can assess the probable consequences in the light of their consistent real-world context. Thus, to use your example, we can say that genocide is wrong when Hitler orders it against the Jews, and is also wrong when God orders it against the Amalekites, because the real-world consequences are the same. Arbitrary and inconsistent moralities happen when men wander off into their own minds, and try to invent a non-reality-based standard that satisfies some sort of subjective desire.

        it also requires presupposing a standard that is more authoritative then basing laws on real thought processes

        Yes, exactly, and there can be no more authoritative standard than reality itself. All morality is ultimately materialistic in origin, unless it’s a completely arbitrary morality. Morality springs from our awareness that some things have consequences that benefit us, and other things have consequences that harm us. It starts with physical harms and benefits, but then extends from that to more subjective harms and benefits, like raising or lowering one’s social standing, or enhancing/impeding their career prospects, etc. But ultimately it all comes from the fact that we’re material beings who are subject to material benefits and harms.

        The alternative to having a reality-based morality is to invent a completely arbitrary standard that has no inherent connection to any actual good or actual bad. You could end up saying that it’s a sin to wear yellow, or to pick up sticks on a Saturday, or to say the word “wobble.” It’s pointless, because it’s disconnected from any real-world benefit or harm. True, fair, objective morality has to be based on actual consideration of real-world consequences. Any moral system that requires you to reject reality is defective and arbitrary.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Why would having real, material thoughts make it impossible for there be any debate regarding abortion?

        because a moral absolute must be assumed by both sides prior to there being the possibility of debate. if everything is material in nature there can be no right or wrong. We do not say that copper is wrong and zinc is right. Yet you “know” that the pro-life position is wrong. How do you know this? What is your standard?

        So you’re saying that it’s not possible to assume a moral absolute if you have real thoughts? Or if not, why would having real thoughts make it impossible to have a debate?

        My experience has been that the lack of a clear right and wrong often generates more debate rather than rendering it impossible. I’ve heard people argue for days over who was the best rock band, let alone arguing religion and politics. But debates become resolvable when both parties agree to evaluate their arguments in the light of material reality, measuring subjective opinions against the objective and impartial standard of the real world.

        Like I said before, all genuine, non-arbitrary morality ultimately comes from material reality. The reason “right” and “wrong” even exist is because we can correlate them to actual material outcomes in the real world. Is it wrong to hold a pencil in your left hand? You can’t answer that question without referring to the material context which determines what the consequences are for doing so. You can’t even describe the question without reference to physical realities like “pencil” and “hand.” And because the real-world consequences of holding it in your left hand are trivial and innocuous, we can reliably answer that no, it is not wrong.

        Reality is the only objective and reliable basis we have for making good, moral decisions. If we reject reality, if we try and base morality on unfounded metaphysical speculations, we leave ourselves without any way to check our work. We could end up with arbitrary and superstitious regulations, like forbidding the eating of pork, or requiring parents to mutilate their babies’ genitals with a knife or sharp stone. There’s no objective standard, apart from reality itself, that you can use to evaluate a moral system and say, “This is a good system” or “That is a bad one.” But because material reality does give us an objective and reliable moral standard, we can not only debate whether it’s immoral to deprive a woman of her free will and bodily autonomy, we can also answer—objectively and reliably—that yes, it is immoral, as is the genital mutilation of babies. Any moral system that fails to detect the wrongness of such things is a defective moral system.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        (you must believe in causation (or absurdity and meaninglessness results) thus if thoughts are material processes only they are deterministic – we have no free choice our atoms are just moving differently – so debate is not possible. You take for granted the reasonableness of your reason, uniformity of nature, absolute moral laws etc. etc. and then destroy these concepts with you attempt at attributing them all to material processes. you are schizophrenic – this futility is a consequence of denying the only possible source for knowledge.)

        Well, thanks for the free psychiatric evaluation, but I think you’ve gotten things a little confused. Understanding the principles of causation and the reality of material thoughts does not in any way destroy them. It merely explains why (to give an example) we can cause thoughts and perceptions to temporarily stop happening, through the use of anaesthetics, so that surgery patients feel no pain during the operation.

        Also, I do not merely take for granted the reasonableness of reason and the self-consistency of reality and the material nature of moral laws. I’ve thought about them, and applied the principles of logic and evidence to my observations. Nor do I deny the only possible source for knowledge, which is reality itself. Futility would be if I were to take something that was not real and use that as my only source for knowledge, because then my perceptions and actions would be disconnected from the real world, and I’d find my worldview perpetually in conflict with the reality around me. I know what I’m talking about, too, because I used to be a Christian and I experienced this first hand. The truth is both much more satisfying and much less work, because I don’t have all the internal and external contradictions to rationalize any more.

        i refuse to argue as many do – by declaring ourselves and our ability to reason as ultimate

        That’s a good start. Reason is only a tool by which we can reliable understand the ultimate truth, which is reality itself. That’s why we need to check our work, and not just assume our conclusions are necessarily correct because they seem right in our own eyes. When all is said and done, everything needs to be measured against the infallible standard of reality itself, because no matter how convinced you may be about something, if it doesn’t match what actually exists in the real world, it’s not truth.

      • murk says

        “Material reality is objective reality: the category of all things that exist in and of themselves without depending on the perceptions of any third party observer. This includes things that can be made out of atoms, like DNA molecules, and also things that are not made of atoms, like time and space and natural laws.”

        Are you certain that objective reality (truth) exists?

        Are you certain that the fertilized egg does not contain something not made of atoms called life?

        if so how do you know this?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Are you certain that objective reality (truth) exists?

        Are you certain that the fertilized egg does not contain something not made of atoms called life?

        if so how do you know this?

        Yes, I’m certain that objective reality exists. As I said before, I know that I exist, and I cannot be mistaken in that knowledge, because if I did not exist then I would not be able to make mistakes. Since I necessarily must be perceiving the truth when I perceive my own existence, my existence must be objective fact, and therefore objective reality does exist.

        Regarding fertilized eggs containing life: some do and some don’t. A living sperm cannot fertilize a dead egg and a dead sperm cannot fertilize a living egg, so if the egg is fertilized, we’re talking about a situation where both sperm and egg are alive, and therefore the fertilized egg is also alive. Sometimes, however, the fertilized egg can have some sort of defect that prevents it from growing and developing into the next stage, in which case it will eventually become a dead fertilized egg.

        Ultimately, this presence or absence of what we call life boils down to the presence or absence of material biological processes—things that involve atoms but are not themselves made of atoms. And to answer the question I think you’re really asking, we know this based on the principle that reality is consistent with itself: we can make (fallible) observations and then draw (fallible) conclusions, but then we go the extra step and compare our conclusions with the infallible standard of reality itself. Where we find that our observations and conclusions demonstrate consistency with objective reality, we can rightly regard them as having been verified, and if/when we find that any inconsistencies exist, we can study the inconsistencies and learn something about where we went wrong, and correct our conclusions.

        It’s that last step of verification that is crucial to true knowledge, and indeed is the essence of all reliable science. It exploits the self-consistency of reality in order to make the search for knowledge into a self-correcting and self-improving process.

      • murk says

        “It’s that last step of verification that is crucial to true knowledge, and indeed is the essence of all reliable science. It exploits the self-consistency of reality..”

        verification hinges on uniformity of nature, laws of logic, reliability of senses and memory etc. Can these supporting things be verified without doing one of the following:
        circularity (on the same plane)
        infinite regress
        assuming thing to be verified in the proof

        Can you verify that verification is crucial to knowledge?

        And how do you know that reality is self consistent?
        how can this be verified?

        “I know that I exist. I cannot be mistaken about that because if I don’t exist, there is no one to make the mistake.”

        i like this :)
        but it does presuppose universal invariant unchanging law of contradiction
        and objective nature of: mistake (or error – not comporting with reality)

        for this statement to make sense we are subject to these laws
        now where do they come from in a material chance world?

        and how can we verify them via sense perception?

        By the same standard a christian can only reason from God. (Prov 1:7, Col 2:3…) So how can a christian reason away from God? How did you manage to do this?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        verification hinges on uniformity of nature, laws of logic, reliability of senses and memory etc. Can these supporting things be verified without doing one of the following:
        circularity (on the same plane)
        infinite regress
        assuming thing to be verified in the proof

        Sure, as long as you really understand what “necessary being” implies. Necessary being is the precondition for everything else that exists, but necessary being has no preconditions for its own existence. That means that necessary being is going to have some unique characteristics when we go to try and verify its truth, and one of those characteristics is that it won’t be possible for it not to be true—hence the term “necessary” in the phrase “necessary being.”

        As I’ve already pointed out, self-consistent reality is the necessary being. It is not possible for self-consistent reality to be false, because the very difference between “true” and “false” depends on the self-consistency of material reality (meaning not “the reality that is made of atoms,” but “the reality that exists in and of itself, independent of anyone’s perceptions”). Let’s suppose that no such self-consistent material reality existed. Would the idea of a self-consistent reality then be false? It couldn’t be, because there would be no self-consistent reality for it to be inconsistent with. The idea itself could not even exist, because “to exist” means to be part of the self-consistent material reality. So there is literally and infallibly no way material reality could be false. It is literally and infallibly the necessary being.

        Now then, what are the laws of nature and the laws of logic (and the laws of mathematics and so on)? They’re just reality being consistent with itself. When we say 2+2=4, we’re describing a consistent pattern that exists in material reality. When we say “If A implies B, then A cannot be true if B is false,” we’re describing a consistent pattern that exists in material reality. We don’t just make these rules up because we like them; we observe them operating in the real world, and we either learn them and embrace them, or else we suffer the consequences of failing at math and logic.

        Someone might say that we’re only using logic to demonstrate the self-consistency of material reality, and that’s circular reasoning because logic itself is part of the self-consistency of material reality. But that’s not really an issue, for two reasons. One is that the alternative to using logic is to appeal to irrationality, and the appeal to irrationality is a fallacy, not a proof. Thus, all objections to the self-consistency of reality are necessarily fallacious and self-contradictory, which leaves a self-consistent reality as the only reasonable alternative. And the other reason is that everything has to start somewhere. I’m perfectly happy with a philosophy that’s dependent on the existence of rational truth; if anyone wants to propose a philosophy or religion based on rejecting rational truth, they should go for it.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Can you verify that verification is crucial to knowledge?

        And how do you know that reality is self consistent?
        how can this be verified?

        To answer your second question first, we know that reality is self-consistent because it’s literally impossible for any other alternative to be true. Truth—in the sense of real-world truth and not some personal, subjectively-defined “truth” unrelated to reality—truth means “that which is consistent with reality.” If someone says “Jesus was a pedophile who abused little boys,” and yet in reality Jesus never molested any children, we say that the accusation is not true, meaning that the description “Jesus was a pedophile” is not consistent with reality.

        Obviously, it would be meaningless to try and assess whether a thing we consistent with reality if reality were not consistent with itself. A reality that was not self-consistent would be a reality in which there would be neither truth nor falsehood nor existence nor non-existence, besides being a world without logic, reason, or order. Since logic, reason, and order do exist, however, and since we can speak meaningfully about the difference between truth and falsehood, the self-consistent nature of reality must exist as the nature of the necessary being.

        As for verification being crucial to knowledge, we can certainly verify that. In fact it’s trivially easy to do so: all you have to do is cite some instance where you believed that something was true when it was not. Knowledge, in the absence of verification, is merely fallible belief, as we each experience on a continual basis, both through our sense experience and through our reason. You can’t have reality-based knowledge in the absence of any connection to reality, and hence in order to possess genuine knowledge, the connection back to the real world must exist. That connection is verification.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        but it does presuppose universal invariant unchanging law of contradiction
        and objective nature of: mistake (or error – not comporting with reality)

        for this statement to make sense we are subject to these laws
        now where do they come from in a material chance world?

        and how can we verify them via sense perception?

        By the same standard a christian can only reason from God. (Prov 1:7, Col 2:3…) So how can a christian reason away from God? How did you manage to do this?

        As I’ve already pointed out, necessary being (i.e. self-consistent reality) must exist because it is the logical precondition upon which everything else must necessarily be contingent (including any God, were such a being to exist).

        Take your remark about how Christians can only reason from God. How could you know this, were it not for the necessary being of a self-consistent reality whose nature defines such fundamental laws as “A thing is the same as itself,” and “A thing, plus the contradiction of the thing, cannot both be true”? You cite the Old and New Testaments, yet without a self-consistent reality, the words in those books would have no meaning, and thus you could never know what they meant, in order to learn from them about any God (who also could not exist in the absence of a self-consistent reality).

        And if you could, somehow, assign some arbitrary meaning to words that might or might not be able to exist, what then? You could never know whether those words were true unless there was a self-consistent reality against which you could measure them. And even if you could compare them to a non-self-consistent reality, the exact contradiction of those words might be equally “true,” due to the absence of a fundamentally self-consistent reality within which the thing and its contradiction are constrained, by the nature of reality itself, from both being true.

        Nor can you derive these qualities from any deity (except possibly a pantheistic deity that was equal to reality itself), because without a reality whose nature constrains real things to be the same as themselves, God would not be God. Never mind the fact that He could not be a person; the lack of a self-consistent reality would mean He could not even be Himself. The whole concept of God would be a concept that would have no meaning. And clearly if “God” were meaninglessness, it could not be the source of meaning.

        So the bottom line is that all genuine, valid, reality-based knowledge and reasoning must be based ultimately on the necessary being of material reality, which is the ultimate source of all order and reason and knowledge. God Himself cannot exist without material reality, but material reality can and must exist even without God.

    • murk says

      @ michealbrew

      “That’s an equivocation fallacy. “Complete” in this context is obviously referring to developmental completeness”

      So what happens when we apply absolute, immaterial/invariant/universal laws of logic to the context of a fertilized egg…?

      or is not absolutely fallacious to commit a logical fallacy?

      • says

        So what happens when we apply absolute, immaterial/invariant/universal laws of logic to the context of a fertilized egg…?

        Well, I imagine that when one applies universal laws of logic to the context of anything—assuming one’s premises are correct—one will generally come to a logical conclusion concerning that thing. What’s your point?

        is not absolutely fallacious to commit a logical fallacy?

        Fallacies are fallacious, if that’s what you’re asking. Wood also tends to be woody and fur tends to be furry. I’m not sure if I would use the adjective “absolutely.” In any case, it’s generally better for your argument not to commit them, especially when the fallacy involves your using the wrong definition for a word. Makes proper debate a little difficult when you’re not even arguing about the same thing.

      • murk says

        using abstract non-material laws of logic in an attempt to state that fertilized eggs do not have metaphysical properties because humans and human thought is matter only is self refuting and absurd.

        you cannot have sense perception that all knowledge is gained by empirical means.

        How can you then have knowledge about when a person begins?

        Since you do not like the notion of absolute laws of logic-Could you be wrong about everything you know?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        I’m sorry, you seem to be making a number of false assumptions here. I think perhaps your post would be more appropriate to my post on the fallacies of a contingent God? You’re not really discussing the abortion issue any more.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Could you be wrong about everything you know?

        Well, no, not everything. I know that I exist. I cannot be mistaken about that because if I don’t exist, there is no one to make the mistake.

      • murk says

        @ no-light – let me know why you want evidence / proof – for this assumes universal / invariant / immaterial laws of logic – which you cannot account for apart from God. so to argue against Him you must assume Him.

        @ Deacon: “Goodness” only exists relative to the material benefits that apply to material creatures.
        does this statement have the property of absolute truth? (thus not dependent on material creatures with birth dates?)

        read Psalm 51:5 re when life begins,
        or try Gen 25:22 re unborn are called babies or children

      • Deacon Duncan says

        “Goodness” only exists relative to the material benefits that apply to material creatures.
        does this statement have the property of absolute truth? (thus not dependent on material creatures with birth dates?)

        I’m sorry, your question seems a bit garbled. First of all, what do you mean by “absolute truth”? What kind of truth would not be “absolute”? Are you referring to the difference between subjective “truth” (like religion) and material truth? If so, then yes (with a slight clarification), moral goodness exists relative to the material benefits that apply to material persons. That’s why it can be good to, say, shave off your beard, even though doing so damages the hairs you shave off. Those hairs may possess human DNA, but they’re not persons, so the harm they suffer does not constitute a moral evil.

        read Psalm 51:5 re when life begins,
        or try Gen 25:22 re unborn are called babies or children

        I’m glad you brought that up. Let’s look at those two passages.

        Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
        And in sin my mother conceived me.

        The Psalmist speaks of being conceived in sin, suggesting that his mother was not married at the time she became pregnant. We know that the Psalmist himself had not committed any sins when he was conceived, both because a single-celled organism is not capable of sinning, and also because Romans 9:11 explicitly tells us that before people are born, they have done nothing good or bad. So there’s nothing in Psalm 51 about fertilized eggs being sinners, or even people.

        But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her,

        “Two nations are in your womb;
        And two peoples will be separated from your body;
        And one people shall be stronger than the other;
        And the older shall serve the younger.”

        How many people does it take to make a nation? If that poor woman had a couple million kids in her womb, or even only a few tens of thousands, it’s no wonder she was distressed.

        You see what’s happening here. You are quoting Bible verses which you interpret as having a pro-life significance. It’s doubtful, however, that your understanding of these passages is correct, and in fact all of your arguments against materialism are arguments against the possibility of your understanding being reliable. When you read the Bible, you’re trying to practice the same kind of empiricism as the scientist, except you’re applying it to stories told by men instead of to verifiable material evidence. When you compare Scripture with Scripture, you’re looking for the same kind of self-consistency as scientists look for in material reality, except you’re looking for it in the translated, out-of-context, inconsistent legends and dogmas of the ancient past.

        I appreciate your continued participation in this discussion and I especially appreciate all the questions you raise about how we know things, because our source of knowledge—material reality—has good answers to those questions, and the Christian source of knowledge does not. Everything you think you know about God comes to you from men, and even then you cannot know what men say unless materialists have a solid basis for all the things they conclude based on observing the real world and verifying the claims of men against the necessary self-consistency of real-world truth.

    • murk says

      “Reality-based morality allows us to maintain a more consistent standard”

      of course behind this you must presuppose the absolute nature of reality, which is non-material in nature – and which can only be accounted for in God and His revealed word
      (try as you might an absolute points to God – and you cannot deny absolutes – think about it)

      you also must take many things for granted as absolutes to reason about this – none of which can be accounted for in a chance material universe where anything can happen.

      and at the same time you consider yourself ultimate and thus above this reality – as evidenced by your assertion of allowing “us to maintain a more consistent standard”
      which presupposes that a consistent standard is good – thus an absolute moral law – good is good

      now i can account for this – consistency = more conformed to truth (or reality) this entails: not breaking law of contradiction because this amounts to lying – and God does not lie and we are made in his image and therefore we have a justification on why we should not lie.

      is lying absolutely wrong? How can this be in a big bang universe?

      if this ultimate absolute reality of which you speak also consists of life forming at conception, and that life is female
      (which is determined at conception no?) then which female gets veto power?

      re: Hitler? what are we to do (if anything) about people who commit mass genocide?

      What is God to do about people who commit genocide or other brutal atrocities?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        of course behind this you must presuppose the absolute nature of reality, which is non-material in nature – and which can only be accounted for in God and His revealed word
        (try as you might an absolute points to God – and you cannot deny absolutes – think about it)

        You seem to still be thinking of “material” as meaning only “that which is made of atoms,” which is an incorrect understanding of what material reality is. Material reality is that which exists in and of itself, independently of any third party’s perceptions, misperceptions, imaginations, preferences, and so on. God cannot account for this reality, because He Himself cannot be real unless He is part of it, and if He is not real, then obviously reality does not depend on Him. He, however, does depend both on material reality (since if reality does not exist, then nothing can be real, including Himself) and on the self-consistent nature of material reality (since it’s meaningless to try and identify “God” in a context where there is no consistent distinction between “God” and “not-God”).

        Material reality is the ultimate absolute, and all lesser absolutes—if they are real absolutes—are merely aspects of material reality. These absolutes depend on the self-consistency of material reality, because you can’t have absolutes in the absence of self-consistent reality. Without this self-consistency, things that are “absolutely” true could just as correctly be identified as false, and thus wouldn’t really be absolute. What would “absolute” even mean, in a world where there was no consistency from one instant to the next regarding what was right and what was wrong? Absolutes are not even possible apart from a fundamental, objective self-consistency in reality. Thus, they point, not to an arbitrary deity, but to the nature of material reality itself.

        you also must take many things for granted as absolutes to reason about this – none of which can be accounted for in a chance material universe where anything can happen.

        And that’s why it’s important to understand the self-consistent nature of material reality. Material reality is governed by laws, unlike the supposed “supernatural,” which by definition is the realm where it can truly be said that “anything can happen.” The laws of material reality are nothing more nor less than the self-consistency which is the defining characteristic of material reality: the reason it’s not true that “anything can happen” in the material world is because material reality is constrained by its own self-consistent nature, and therefore the only things that are possible are the things that are consistent with reality.

        That’s also one of the evidences against the supernatural, because if the real world were subject to supernatural interventions that violated the self-consistent nature of material reality, then the universe would be much less regular and predictable, because there would be more deviations from the normal and even mechanistic self-consistency of the material world.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        and at the same time you consider yourself ultimate and thus above this reality – as evidenced by your assertion of allowing “us to maintain a more consistent standard”
        which presupposes that a consistent standard is good – thus an absolute moral law – good is good

        Well, let’s think about that. In order for me to consider myself above reality, I would need to either be above reality, or to have some source of wisdom and knowledge from above reality. In order to be above reality, however, this “higher truth” would have to lie outside reality, which means it would have to be false, unreal, a lie. If you read back over what I’ve been posting, however, you’ll find that I’m arguing against the idea that there’s some “higher truth” that lies outside the boundaries of reality. As I’ve said before, reality itself is the ultimate and only infallible standard of real-world truth—whatever is consistent with reality is, by definition, true, and whatever is not consistent with reality is false. I think I’ve been pretty clear about this all along.

        As for absolute moral laws, again, you can have two kinds of morality. You can have the morality that derives from material reality, in which right is right because it produces real material benefits, and wrong is wrong because it produces real material harm. Or you can have the kind of arbitrary morality that has no basis in real-world truth, that forbids and punishes things that are perfectly innocent and harmless, while rewarding and demanding things that have no real benefit. If you choose the kind of absolute morality that comes from material reality, you’ve chosen a morality that is naturally self-consistent, since it’s based on a self-consistent reality. If you prefer instead the arbitrary absolute morality, you end up with tyranny and inconsistency, since you’ve fallen short of the ideal of reality-based morality. If you decide to mix the two, and have a little of the reality-based morality with a little of the arbitrary morality, you’re compromising the best possible moral system with the worst possible one. And why would you do that?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        now i can account for this – consistency = more conformed to truth (or reality) this entails: not breaking law of contradiction because this amounts to lying – and God does not lie and we are made in his image and therefore we have a justification on why we should not lie.

        Then you also have a justification for being pro-choice, because when God knew that Eve was thinking of eating the Forbidden Fruit, He refrained from violating her freedom of choice, even when her decision meant not just physical death for her offspring, but in most cases their spiritual damnation as well. And Eve’s bodily autonomy wasn’t even at stake, so God is way more pro-choice than I am. Why does God still allow sin and evil in the world today? Freedom of choice is more important to Him than the deaths—physical and spiritual—of His own children, so it’s the pro-lifers who are sinning and rebelling against God’s example.

        Granted, that story is just a myth, as you can tell by the inconsistency between God’s alleged actions and His alleged “moral absolutes.” If you want a real basis for moral values, what better source than reality itself? Myths aren’t going to give you a consistent standard.

        is lying absolutely wrong? How can this be in a big bang universe?

        So the Nazis burst into your home, shouting, “Where are you hiding the Jews?” You’re an honest man, and you aren’t hiding any Jews, so you truthfully tell them, “I am not hiding any Jews.” No moral dilemma here, right?

        But suppose you are hiding a family of Jews, including their infant son. The Nazis burst in and shout, “Where are you hiding the Jews?” If you do not lie, you will be handing over an innocent family to known murderers. Even if you refuse to answer, the Nazis will know you’re hiding Jews, because if you weren’t you wouldn’t be struggling with any moral dilemmas. Is it absolutely wrong to hand over innocent victims, including a baby, to a bunch of wicked murderers? How can this be in a created universe?

        When you have a reality-based moral system, you can objectively understand why wrong things are wrong: it’s because of the real-world consequences they entail. Thus, lying is wrong because it has negative real-world consequences. Sometimes, however, there are other actions whose consequences are even worse than the consequences of lying. Having a reality-based moral code will allow you, in those cases, to select the best possible outcome.

        I remember reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, about a Christian family in Holland who hid Jews during the Nazi occupation. At one point the Nazis burst in and said, “Where are you hiding the Jews,” and Corrie’s sister didn’t even blink. She told them exactly where the Jews were, and the whole family was bustled off to the concentration camps. Corrie was shocked, but her sister assured her that God wanted them to tell the truth, and that He was sure to watch over the family despite her betrayal. The “happy ending” was that the family survived years of cruelty and starvation in the camps, so that made everything “ok” somehow. Years of needless suffering, just so that one believer could brag about how “honest” she was (while blinding herself to the sin she committed by betraying the trust of her innocent friends). And that’s just one example of how you can do more harm than good by mindlessly following an authoritarian moral system that’s not reality-based.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        if this ultimate absolute reality of which you speak also consists of life forming at conception, and that life is female
        (which is determined at conception no?) then which female gets veto power?

        Obviously the person does, since the single-celled organism has none of the attributes that would allow it to have a preference in the matter. That’s why we don’t give germs the opportunity to vote and/or veto a decision to apply antibiotics.

        But there seem to be a few misconceptions underlying your question. Life does not form at conception: a dead sperm will not fertilize a live egg, nor a live sperm a dead egg. The sperm and the egg are already alive (even though they don’t get to vote, at least under the US constitution). Also, the gender doesn’t really matter—the right to bodily autonomy and freedom of choice is not a female right, it’s a human right. The only reason we tend to associate freedom of choice with women is because a woman’s free will and bodily autonomy are more likely to be attacked and compromised by unjust laws.

        re: Hitler? what are we to do (if anything) about people who commit mass genocide?

        What is God to do about people who commit genocide or other brutal atrocities?

        That’s a tricky one isn’t it? How can God declare genocide to be a violation of moral absolutes when He Himself is guilty of it, and has on more than one occasion commanded His followers to engage in it, eventually depriving King Saul of His blessing because Saul wasn’t thorough enough in wiping out every last man, woman, child and baby in Amalek?

        Reality-based, materialistic morality does not suffer from this self-compromising inconsistency. The wrongness of the action is defined by the amount of harm that it does to innocent people, and genocide does massive amounts of harm to large numbers of innocent people. From a materialistic perspective, we can not only say that genocide is wrong, but we can also explain why it is wrong. God can’t do that, or at least, not without resorting to the same reality-based and materialistic moral principles. All non-arbitrary morality is materialistic in nature and in origin. God can either conform to materialistic morality, or He can substitute an arbitrary morality where what’s “right” has no benefit and what’s “wrong” does no harm. And what kind of moral system would that be?

    • murk says

      “Is it wrong to hold a pencil in your left hand? You can’t answer that question without referring to the material context which determines what the consequences are for doing so.”

      Is it wrong to use logic to deny the laws of logic?

      Is it wrong to deny reasonableness of reason?

      Is it wrong to say that there are no absolutes?

      is it wrong to knowingly assert that 3+3=7 in base 10?

      there are no material contexts possible in the above questions.

      re: debates about rock bands

      do the two sides not have to agree about a host of more fundamental assumptions prior to being able to debate about which rock band is the greatest?

      some of which are:
      law of contradiction (only one can be the greatest in a given measurement system)
      meaning of (English) words
      music is art – art implies an ideal – which band more closely attains that ideal
      that one note played cannot be “wrong” but once a commitment is made (say key of C) that the musicians cannot break from that commitment or it sounds “wrong” or terrible
      music is about expectation – this alone requires a lot of underlying assumptions
      reality of external world
      perceptible event
      law of identity
      reliability of memory
      uniformity of nature
      and so on…

      they cannot even argue over by what standard they could measure to see who the greatest rock band is (say the fastest and most accurate guitarist) without presupposing some of the above (and many more) more fundamental immaterial invariant and universal assumptions….

      Now where could these things come from……Who could guarantee them?

      Why does everyone in the world, even the non-musically trained know when a wrong note is played after a sequence of notes has been played?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Is it wrong to use logic to deny the laws of logic?

        Yes, but only because we are asking this question in the context of a self-consistent material reality. Remember, there’s more to material reality than just “that which is made up of atoms.” Material reality is everything that exists in and of itself, independently of any third party observer’s perception of it. Such a reality is the true necessary being: the self-consistency of reality is what gives meaning to concepts like “right” (i.e. consistent with self-consistent material reality) and “wrong” (inconsistent with material reality). In fact, without the self-consistency of logic’s material context, there wouldn’t be any laws of logic.

        Is it wrong to deny reasonableness of reason?

        Again, in the context of a self-consistent and material reality, it’s wrong to deny the reasonableness of reason. In other words, it’s inconsistent with the consistent nature of material reality. It’s also wrong in a moral sense, because when you deny the reasonableness of reason, you are influencing people (or trying to influence them) in a way that will impair their ability to gain a truthful understanding of material reality. The amount of harm you do may be relatively small, and then again it may be very large indeed. The 9/11 attacks were based at least in part on asserting the supremacy of revelation over reason, which is a form of denying the reasonableness of reason, since it silences any reasonable critique of the revelation.

        Is it wrong to say that there are no absolutes?

        You can’t answer that question without referring to material reality, because material reality is that which exists in and of itself. In order to be truly absolute, a thing would have to exist in and of itself, and thus be part of material reality. If it’s not, if it’s a thing that exists only relative to some individual observer’s subjective perceptions, then it’s not truly absolute, since it depends on the observer.

        is it wrong to knowingly assert that 3+3=7 in base 10?

        In the context of material reality, yes it is, because one of the ways that material reality is consistent with itself is that it has consistent patterns of arithmetical relationships. If that material reality did not exist, then we could not truthfully declare that “3+3=7″ is “wrong” in any meaningful sense, because the lack of material context would fail to define what 3+3 ought to be (or even what “3” was).

        there are no material contexts possible in the above questions.

        On the contrary, in every case, a material context is necessary in order for you to even formulate the question. I think you mean that none of the above questions is made of atoms, but as I’ve already pointed out, there’s a lot more to material reality than just atoms, as scientists and philosophers have known for centuries.

      • murk says

        i’m trying to wrap my head around this “self-consistent material reality”

        it appears to have purpose and direction
        it implies moral absolutes
        yet it is impersonal

        is this like the “force” in Star Wars?

        could it trick us?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        it appears to have purpose and direction

        This is why it is important to make a distinction between material reality—that which exists independently of our thoughts and perceptions—from subjective “reality,” the personal worldview we make up according to our own biases and experiences and frailties of human perception and reason. I’m sure you’ve had the experience more than once of doing something accidentally and being accused of having done it on purpose. As ordinary mortals, we’re perfectly capable of perceiving “purpose” even where no actual purpose exists. That’s why it’s important to take our subjective perceptions and verify them against material reality, to make sure we’re not compounding subjective errors of perception and conflating them into a whole superstitious animism (like primitive shamans used to do).

        it implies moral absolutes

        That’s not quite accurate. It implies material consequences that are independent of our intentions and desires, and since we are material beings, we respond to those consequences just as our evolutionary ancestors did (if they were successful in passing on their genes, anyway). We prefer the material consequences that benefit us, and avoid the material consequences that bring us harm. This is the material nature of morality, or at least of genuine, reality-based morality. You can have arbitrary, superstition-based moralities that denounce things that actually do no real harm, like eating non-kosher foods, or lighting a fire on Saturday. But then again, such arbitrary and irrational prejudices are not based on material reality, so materialism has no real obligation to try and explain why they ought to be true. And that’s just as well because there’s no reason why they ought to be true.

        yet it is impersonal

        Better to say that it is “meta-personal.” It supplies the material components (both components made of atoms and components not made of atoms), and out of those material components, properties like personality emerge. Material is not less than a person, it is more than the sum total of all persons, and at the same time, the precondition and possibility of every person. Indeed, I rather pity those whose God is reduced to being only something like a person, because Reality is so, so much greater and more awesome, and includes every real thing that has any personality at all.

        could it trick us?

        No, people who want to be tricked have to do that themselves, or find someone to do it for them.

      • says

        Murk,

        What makes you think reality appears to have purpose? That seems to be a baseless assumption. Furthermore, we’re the ones who trick ourselves, though I suppose we count as part of reality. Reality is nothing like the Force, which is supposed to be a magical energy field with some form of consciousness. Reality is not conscious as a whole, it is simply everything that exists.

      • murk says

        “That’s why it’s important to take our subjective perceptions and verify them against material reality, to make sure we’re not compounding subjective errors”

        and for what reason then should i make sure that i’m not compounding subjective errors

        (try to answer without reference to purpose:)

        We prefer the material consequences that benefit us,

        so the person who benefits from riding on the efforts of others – (eg. stealing the old lady’s purse) should be commended

        you consistently invoke what you attempt to deny

      • Deacon Duncan says

        and for what reason then should i make sure that i’m not compounding subjective errors

        (try to answer without reference to purpose:)

        Simple: you’re a material being living in a material reality that has material consequences some of which you find pleasant and some of which you find painful. When you deliberately or inadvertently wrap yourself up inside a worldview that isolates you from the real world and causes you to believe things that are in error, you become less effective at interacting with the material world in a way that will be materially satisfying.

        Remember: the only purpose behind your behavior is your purpose. Even if you think you are somehow trying to submit to the presumed purpose of some alleged God, you are doing so because it is your desire to do so. Would you deliberately sin if you believed God’s purpose for you was for you to end up suffering for all eternity in agonizing torment? According to the Bible, that’s God’s purpose for a lot of people, but you would never embrace that as your own purpose no matter who God was, because it would be contrary to your own best interests. You’re a material being, and you have to look out for yourself, because it’s no one else’s responsibility to look out for you.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        We prefer the material consequences that benefit us,

        so the person who benefits from riding on the efforts of others – (eg. stealing the old lady’s purse) should be commended

        you consistently invoke what you attempt to deny

        You steal old lady’s purses, you go to jail. Does that sound like a benefit to you?

        The thing about reality-based morality is that you quickly discover that real benefit requires more than just trivial consideration of only the immediate consequences. Reality is a bigger world than that.

        Would you kill that old lady if God told you to do so, like He supposedly has done numerous times, according to various Old Testament stories? Would you say, “Well, morality has to be defined relative to God’s purpose, so it must be ok?” If so, then you do not believe morality is absolute. But if morality is absolute, then you must decide whether killing people is good or bad. Or you can fall back on reality-based, materialistic morality and judge the rightness or wrongness of an action in terms of the material circumstances and consequences. That’s what all valid morality must ultimately do, because anything else is just arbitrary tyranny controlling people’s actions for no good reason.

      • murk says

        @ Michael brew What makes you think reality appears to have purpose?

        i don’t know Michael, why are you debating if there is no purpose?

        you betray yourself here

        if there is no purpose, thus absolute morals anything goes

        is beating up widows for fun absolutely wrong Michael?

        or is it a conventional thing based on what benefits survival?

        if it is for survival is that not a purpose?

        how do you get to survival is good, when death was required for you to get here? (according to your worldview)

      • murk says

        “That’s what all valid morality must ultimately do, because anything else is just arbitrary tyranny controlling people’s actions for no good reason.”

        mmm sounds like you are absolutely right and i am wrong.

        (but of course this is not arbitrary because……well its not coming to me at the moment:)

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Just think it through. It’s not arbitrary because it comes from material reality. When you forbid things even when they do no material harm, and require behaviors that do no material good, you are invoking an arbitrary morality because there’s no relationship between what you call “bad” and any actual, real-world harm, or between what you call “good” and any actual real-world benefit.

        This is really not a difficult concept to grasp, or at least it wouldn’t be if people weren’t so conditioned to mindlessly embrace arbitrary moral systems like Christianity. I do not agree that religion poisons everything, but this is one case where religious ethics does make it more difficult for people to understand fundamental principles of real-world morality.

      • murk says

        “Would you kill that old lady if God told you to do so, like He supposedly has done numerous times, according to various Old Testament stories?”

        murder is wrong – God made this clear from Abel – Noah – 10 commandments

        now if He existed and is just – could he exercise justice on those who murder their own children?

        the biggest crime in history is the torture and execution of Jesus – who is one with God
        and yet He has a perfectly sufficient reason for this happening

        that is why i’m posting here

        you people do not consider it a moral absolute not to murder

        100% of new born babies are pro-life

      • Deacon Duncan says

        murder is wrong – God made this clear from Abel – Noah – 10 commandments

        So you have a clear absolute moral guideline by which to answer the question I asked you. Would you kill the old lady if God told you to kill her? Or to use a slightly different example, if God told you to band together with several other men, hijack and airliner, and crash it into the World Trade Center, would it be wrong?

        now if He existed and is just – could he exercise justice on those who murder their own children?

        As opposed to murdering other people’s children, you mean? Would a God Who commanded the killing of Amalekite children, and Who personally killed all the children and babies in Sodom and Gomorrah, not to mention every single baby and young child on the whole earth—would a God like that then turn around and condemn someone for interrupting a biological process that hadn’t even produced a baby yet? I suppose He might, if He were a tyrant and hypocrite.

        the biggest crime in history is the torture and execution of Jesus – who is one with God
        and yet He has a perfectly sufficient reason for this happening

        Ok, so you have a moral basis for suggesting that He might have a perfectly sufficient reason for what you would call lesser crimes (like abortion) as well. You know that God is pro-choice, because if He were pro-life, He would have staged a pro-life intervention in the Garden of Eden, and so prevented Eve from making a choice that would have resulted not only in the deaths of her babies, but the eternal damnation of most of them as well. So if God has a good reason for being pro-choice, who are you to second-guess His judgment?

        you people do not consider it a moral absolute not to murder

        Do you consider it a moral absolute not to lie and slander people? And if so, then why do you lie about us and slander us unjustly? Your own God, according to your own Scriptures, has killed millions more babies and young children than any abortionist is accused of having killed. Yet thanks to Christian moral relativism, it’s only “murder” when we do it—even when what we do cannot be murder, objectively speaking, since no person has yet been formed, and you cannot commit murder against something that’s not a person.

        No valid moral system would require you to lie in order to make slanderous and unjustifiable accusations against innocent people, whilst simultaneously excusing the excesses of a bloodthirsty and unrepentant God. That’s why a reality-based moral system is better.

      • No Light says

        if He existed and is just – could he exercise justice on those who murder their own children?

        He’d have to punish himself pretty hard. Of the blastocysts that are formed, only about half implant. Of the implanted ones, a significant number detach before even registering on a test. Then there are 40ish weeks of spontaneous abortion and stillbirth. Then, if a baby is born, SIDS, respiratory issues, chromosomal abnormalities are lurking to wipe it out.

        Your god is a vicious, cruel bastard, isn’t it?

        the biggest crime in history overhyped shtik drek in fiction is the torture and execution of Jesus – who is one with God the central character. in the Yahweh fanfiction known as ‘The New Testament’, and yet He has a perfectly sufficient reason for this happening.

        that is why i’m posting here

        you people do not consider it a moral absolute not to murder

        We people? As in, people who don’t look to the bedtime stories and superstitions of hill-dwelling shepherds (that have led to innumerable deaths, wars, torture and colonisation) for our moral guidance? Your magic book is pretty amoral. Even complete gubbins like Interview W/th the Vampire would be a better choice.

        100% of new born babies are pro-life

        [citation needed]

        They’re not even sentient, let alone political. But if they aren’t born, they don’t exist, therefore they are incapable of having opinions.
        .

      • murk says

        “No valid moral system would require you to lie in order to make slanderous and unjustifiable accusations against innocent people, ”

        to have a valid moral system you must first presuppose intrinsic goodness – and you cannot do this
        because your view of morality is “reality based”

        and this is just fancy speak for determined by people

        but i doubt you can see this tension

      • Deacon Duncan says

        “No valid moral system would require you to lie in order to make slanderous and unjustifiable accusations against innocent people, ”

        to have a valid moral system you must first presuppose intrinsic goodness – and you cannot do this
        because your view of morality is “reality based”

        But again, if you presuppose that lying, for example, is intrinsic goodness, then you’re going to end up with a moral system that’s arbitrary and effectively immoral. “Goodness” only exists relative to the material benefits that apply to material creatures. If you think that it’s moral to lie in order to make slanderous and unjustifiable accusations against innocent people, especially when you are doing so as part of a plan to deprive people of their fundamental right to bodily autonomy, then you can presuppose all you want, but so long as the “goodness” you’re presupposing is unrelated to reality, your morality is effectively a lie.

        and this is just fancy speak for determined by people

        but i doubt you can see this tension

        No, “fancy speak for determined by people” would be if I rejected a morality based on real-world consequences and embraced instead a moral system based on what some people wrote in a book that other people said was revealed by God, and whose meaning and interpretation were determined by still other people.

        Think about it. Why is it that the atheists have a consistent basis for saying that genocide is wrong (because it causes the real deaths of innocent men, women and children), but theists end up having to say that genocide isn’t absolutely wrong, and depending on the circumstances it can sometimes be the will of an allegedly “good” God? It’s because Christian morality is determined by people: by the people who wrote the Bible and the people who edited the Bible and the people who canonized the Bible and the people who interpret the Bible according to the need of the moment. The Bible doesn’t even say that life begins at conception! The pro-life position is determined by people who want to use it to manipulate the gullible into voting for programs that benefit the rich at the expense of the working class.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        and this is just fancy speak for determined by people

        but i doubt you can see this tension

        “Canonized” is fancy speak for determined by people. Can you see the tension?

      • murk says

        well NoLight

        by what standard do you deem the life / death / resurrection of Christ fiction?

        you speak as though you are cock sure about these matters

        am i out of line to ask for your justification?

        Can you do history without first having a philosophy of history?

        Can you make these statements without assuming validity of laws of logic ( that they are not conventional)

        where do you get these from then?

        Does the existence of evil “prove” the non-existence of God (as per your Eve analysis)?

        You must presuppose absolute evil and goodness to make this case.

        Where do you get that in your worldview?

        I do not know why He plans everything He does (including misery)

        but i can account for good and evil

        you cannot

      • No Light says

        murk – Evidence, or rather, lack of evidence.

        Where is the proof that Yeshua bar Yosef existed? That Abram Aveinu existed? That Moshe bar Eliezer existed?

        The three crucial pillars of the two dominant Abrahamic religions, the two main pillars of Judaism, but where is the proof they ever existed?

  8. im says

    TO me this whole debate has become an arguement between two Utility Monster Impersonators. Of course, I know what side I am on (it’s the one that gives women more bodily autonomy) but it really, really bothers me that bodily autonomy has become this kind of black-hole right even when played against ANOTHER bodily autonomy.

    • Bill Openthalt says

      The whole objective of the discussion is to determine if, and if when a foetus acquires bodily autonomy (i.e. the right to decide what to do with its body).

      For me, the moment of birth has a number of issues:

      1. from about the 37th week onwards, the safest way, for the woman, to terminate a normal pregnancy is to allow the foetus to be born. Of course, this implies having to take up responsibility for the child, or giving it up for adoption. It does not “erase” the pregnancy. Unlike being forced to donate organs (which has a life long effect on the donor), pregnancy has a natural end.

      2. a woman cannot safely terminate a late pregnancy by herself (other than by waiting for the foetus to be born), and needs medical assistance for an early termination. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made available. In addition, if the medical procedure has effects on the health of the woman, society will carry part of the burden and hence should be involved in determining in which circumstances this risk is warranted.

      3. terminating a pregnancy close to the moment of birth, with death of the foetus, in a situation where early termination is available, accepted and supported by society (e.g. through the British NHS) looks very much like not taking responsibility for one’s actions. I do not think bodily autonomy means “let’s pretend pregnancy does not exist until the moment of birth”.

      Could it be that the real issue is not the right to bodily autonomy, but the right to refuse responsibility for a developing human? One thing is certain, having a child changes the life of a woman forever (it’s the same for most men :)), and there are moments when one would rather be rid of the consequences. But isn’t adulthood about taking responsibility for one’s actions?

      In reaction to another comment, I want to mention that one cannot compare being forced to donate a kidney with pregnancy. The simple reason is that the donor is in no way responsible for the failing kidneys of the recipient, whereas a woman in the last weeks of pregnancy is quite clearly at least partly responsible for her pregnancy (in a society where early termination is available, accepted and supported).

      • says

        a woman cannot safely terminate a late pregnancy by herself (other than by waiting for the foetus to be born), and needs medical assistance for an early termination. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made available.

        A man cannot safely treat a heart attack by himself (other than by waiting to die) and needs medical assistance for a prolonged life. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made avaible.

        A man cannot safely have a vasectomy by himself (other than waiting to become infertile), and needs medical assistance for an early termination of his fertility. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made avaible.

        A woman cannot safely prevent contraception by herself (other than by abstaining from sex and never get raped), and needs medical assistance for acquiring birth control. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made avaible.

        A man cannot safely extract a wisdom tooth all by himself (other than waiting for it to fall out), and needs medical assistance for removal. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made avaible.

        Seems to work perfectly for all kinds of medical decissions.

      • No Light says

        I wish I could pass a huge cake to you via internet protocol.

        You are consistently smashing.

      • says

        Yeah, so, when was the last time there was legislation introduced which said that you cannot have your wisdom tooth removed unless your life is in danger?
        Your argument is void because all those decissions are made between patient and doctor, not between patient and society.

      • No Light says

        Unlike being forced to donate organs (which has a life long effect on the donor), pregnancy has a natural end.

        AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

        *takes a breath, wipes away tears*

        HAHAAAAHAHAHAAAAHAHOMG

        Really though? Really?

        Jesus wept. Do you know how babies are made? They’re not self-forming organisms that just grow inside the uterus. They are literally formed from the blood, bones, and flesh of the woman. They’re made by depleting nutrients, minerals, and every other building block of life from the woman’s body.

        Pregnancy is not beneficial to the woman, and changes her body for life. Roughly a third of women suffer permanent illness or injury after pregnancy.

        if the medical procedure has effects on the health of the woman, society will carry part of the burden and hence should be involved in determining in which circumstances this risk is warranted.

        Abortion is far, far safer than carrying to term. Should women get permission to give birth? Should society get to determine the “acceptable risk” in women who wish to bear children?

        terminating a pregnancy close to the moment of birth, with death of the foetus, in a situation where early termination is available, accepted and supported by society (e.g. through the British NHS) looks very much like not taking responsibility for one’s actions.

        I just don’t even…

        OK. It’s been mentioned five or six thousand times, but here I go again.

        NOBODY is waking up at 36/37/38 weeks and saying “Aww, y’know what? I’m fucking bored with this. I miss pate, and brie, and getting shitfaced. Baby go byebye!”

        Women, the absolutely tiny statistically insignificant group of women, who are undergoing termination at such a late stage, are woman with nurseries already decorated, wardrobes full of tiny little clothes, pushchairs, cots, bottles, breast-pumps, and a hospital bag packed and ready,

        These are women who will. go through the same labour as if they went to term, or major abdominal surgery. Their bodies will look the same as if they’d gone to term, their milk will come in, but if that pregnancy isn’t ended immediately they will DIE.

        If the foetus can’t survive? Tough. Do you know what HELLP is? DIC? You mentioned the NHS (my former employers, I know what I’m talking about) in your little pile of blame-droppings. We’re really fucking lucky that the NHS recognises that women may need emergency therapeutic abortion at any stage of pregnancy. In the US? Women are often killed by the decision to put an embryo or foetus ahead of the woman carrying it.

        Death from cancer, stroke, DIC. Some “lucky” women get to live with their limbs, yes all of them, amputated after surviving DIC. Yeah, dead baby, emergency hysterectomy and no arms and legs, but HEY, can’t have the ambulatory incubating bitches ditching their responsibility, isn’t it?

        Tell you what, you get to decide what “responsibility” and “acceptable risk” are when YOU are able to get pregnant. Your “arguments” are neither novel, nor interesting, nor grounded in any level of reality.

      • Bill Openthalt says

        Please note I am not talking about situations where a pregnancy puts the life of the woman at risk.

        Abortion is far, far safer than carrying to term.

        I agree that abortion as currently practiced is one of the safest medical procedures. This means, however, only until the 24th week of pregnancy.

        At 37 weeks, given a healthy woman and foetus, vaginal live birth is the safest way to end a pregnancy. There are risks, but it is safer than surgical interventions such as a hysterotomy or D&C. The simple fact is that the only “advantage” of an abortion close to full term is the death of the foetus, thus avoiding thorny issues like who has to care for the “newborn”.

        Accepting that a woman can at all times during the pregnancy ask for the removal of the foetus based on her right to bodily autonomy, after viability the real question is if (and until when) she has the right to decide on the life of the foetus. If and when not, society should be prepared to care for the child.

      • No Light says

        At the risk of repeating myself, Bill, answer this please:

        A woman is at 37 weeks, which can be full-term (estimating due dates is not precise, these can be +/-4wks leeway).

        There’s almost certainly no way she could have hidden this. She almost certainly has lots of stuff ready, her body has changed as much as it’s going to pre-labour. Scene set, ok?

        Given this information and going on your hypothetical scenario that the woman and the foetus are totally healthy, why would she choose to abort?

        She will go through the same labour (actually a bit worse, a dead baby can’t “assist” in the birth, live ones are easier to push out). Her body. will have the same appearance and. changes. If she’s in the US it will cost her about the same.

        So why would any woman wake up, at term, and decide on an abortion?

        WRT society “taking care of the baby”, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

        OK, let’s give this baby a better chance, let’s make it British instead of a baby American.

        Rightn, child poverty has risen dramatically under the coalition, and was bad enough before they weren’t elected to power.

        The NHS is being fucked three ways from Sunday, social service depts all over the country are devastatingly overburdened:/ Trust me when I say that the foster care system is at the point of implosion in many counties. The.adoption system is slow moving, and honestly? It’s broken. Few adoptions are approved every year.

        Baby was not wanted. It will languish in foster care. Some kids move scores of times before they age out of care.

        Please tell me who’s waiting there with open arms for her? What if baby suffers a birth injury? Because, let me tell you, Britain despises people with disabilities. You have to scream, and battle, and beg and fight to get assistance. Then you get some ridiculous amount that will barely cover 10% of the expenses. Then, maybe only weeks later, the cycle starts all over again.

        There’s almost no local authority help since the cuts, same with social services, charities are stretched beyond breaking point. Unemployment is high, jobs are scarce, money is tight.

        This is not a good time to be pushed unwanted into the world.

        But the thing is, it’s all irrelevant, because who aborts at full term? Who could get the necessary doctors, two of them (UK), to even permit it?

        Abortion that late does not make the foetus, the bodily, hormonal, and mental changes disappear. She has to go through labour and. birth, the post-partum changes, the milk coming in, the stretchmarks and scars/tears. The (I can guarantee this) disapproval, even hatred from friends, family, colleagues.

        Who would do this Bill, why? Tell me who this woman in your scenario is.

        Do you know the breakdown of terminations (by gestational age) in the UK and US?

  9. lorn says

    This is a society that uses normal, fallible human beings to determine a person’s legal status, legal status that can lead to death or lifetime incarceration. We trust citizens to make that important and difficult call.

    I think that the best course is to lean on and again trust the citizen/s most intimately involved and best aware of the situation and the surrounding context, namely the woman, advised by her doctor, or anyone else she deems suitable for counsel. The duty of the surrounding society for a woman in these situations is to support her to the extent possible, and to respect her decision.

    The surrounding society should not be in the business of telling a woman what she can, or cannot, do or pressuring her one way or another.

  10. says

    i don’t know Michael, why are you debating if there is no purpose?

    Because I have my own purposes, not one determined for me by some supernatural entity. In this case, my purpose is to reduce false ideas and increase true ideas. The reason being, of course, because false ideas lead to bad decisions, which leads to bad actions, and since other people’s actions can affect me, I feel it necessary to at least attempt to make sure that others are thinking critically.

    you betray yourself here

    if there is no purpose, thus absolute morals anything goes

    Absolute morality does not require a supernatural entity deciding on purposes. I refer you to the Euthyphro dialogues.

    is beating up widows for fun absolutely wrong Michael?

    or is it a conventional thing based on what benefits survival?

    if it is for survival is that not a purpose?

    First off, you’re gonna have to be a little messed up to find beating up widows fun. Secondly, how would this benefit survival at all? Not just survival, of course, because humans also tend to want to lessen negative consequences in general and increase positive consequences. Beating up widows for fun carries a pretty high risk that I would go to jail, be mistrusted and looked down upon by society, and even suffer mental stress if I had to keep up a secret like that. So… yeah, beating up on widows would be absolutely wrong because it is detrimental to society which ultimately is detrimental to yourself.

    how do you get to survival is good, when death was required for you to get here? (according to your worldview)

    You obviously don’t know what my worldview is.

    • murk says

      “In this case, my purpose is to reduce false ideas and increase true ideas. ”

      what if my purpose was to increase false ideas and decrease true ideas as an aid to my survival?

      who would be right between us?

      your statement requires belief in absolute truth. Now where did that come from?

      you are right i don’t know your worldview.

      i do know if you deny the creator who revealed Himself to you – you must explain origin somehow.

      and if it wasn’t Him with purpose and direction – it had to be chance

      (and there can be no chance that it wasn’t chance)

      and although Darwinism is absurd i can’t think of another option.

      let me know if i’m wrong

      are you telling me that anyone who beats up widows for fun is messed up?
      by what standard do you know this moral absolute to be true?

  11. says

    what if my purpose was to increase false ideas and decrease true ideas as an aid to my survival?

    who would be right between us?

    Well, let’s see… if your purpose was to increase false ideas and decrease true ideas, you would start making decisions based on false information. You would, perhaps, think you could fly and thus jump off a building. However, you would fall to your death since reality doesn’t care what you think. I, on the other hand, would make mostly decisions that resulted in positive outcomes for me. I think that pretty clearly, and based on objective reality, shows that I would be right and you would be wrong.

    your statement requires belief in absolute truth. Now where did that come from?

    It comes from the fact that there are things about the world which are objectively true and things which are objectively false. There are ways by which we can determine what is objective versus what is subjective, primarily through the scientific method and validity and reliability designs as well as through logic. Do you think that the fact that objective reality exists requires some kind of supernatural entity that defies all natural laws? I certainly don’t see why you would.

    you are right i don’t know your worldview.

    i do know if you deny the creator who revealed Himself to you – you must explain origin somehow.

    No, I don’t. I can be honest and say “I don’t know” instead of making up some emotionally satisfying story about people made from mud and magic talking snakes.

    and if it wasn’t Him with purpose and direction – it had to be chance

    (and there can be no chance that it wasn’t chance)

    and although Darwinism is absurd i can’t think of another option.

    let me know if i’m wrong

    Not really. Is it chance when ammonium chloride and calcium hydroxide mix and produce ammonia gas? Is it chance that a square has four sides? The way things work is the nature of our reality. It’s undirected, but that doesn’t make it “random chance” in the colloquial sense you use it.

    are you telling me that anyone who beats up widows for fun is messed up?
    by what standard do you know this moral absolute to be true?

    Because it’s detrimental to the well-being of society and to the person performing the action. It’s really simple if you actually use your brain. A person goes around beating up people, regardless of whether or not they’re widows, by the way, and the rest of society is going to notice. The targeted group is going to be angry, the friends and relatives of that group are going to be angry, and the general population is going to be afraid that this person might end up targeting them, as well. Therefore, society is going to punish that person. This is material evidence of “messed up” behavior. It’s messed up because it leads to crappy consequences for everyone.

    • murk says

      of course if the guy who beats up widows is more powerful and has more allies, would he have crappy consequences?

      re: ammonia gas / square – precisely – these things are not chance – and to know this you have to first know that nature is uniform, induction is valid, senses are reliable, reason comports with external world……..
      none of which you can empirically verify
      all of which are underpinned by laws of logic

      so before you have learned of the nature of reality
      you have determined what nature of reality is

      as we both know – everyone needs a starting point for knowledge to be possible
      and before we can answer “how do we know” we have to first answer “what do we know”
      usually this is inadvertent or suppressed

      metaphysical commitments are unavoidable, the only question is which commitment a human will claim,
      and is it true?

      so your accusation of magic in creation account is not a reason for rejecting it, rather a restatement of your
      commitment to holding yourself as autonomous (what you know)

      if you are autonomous then the magic you must hold as true renders knowledge impossible

      • says

        of course if the guy who beats up widows is more powerful and has more allies, would he have crappy consequences?

        Yes. It would probably be even worse. After all, you’re talking about a person harming people for no justifiable reason, and that society apparently endorsing that kind of irrationality. That kind of attitude was present in the American south with groups like the KKK. Did members get away with things? Yeah. Did they suffer no negative consequences? No. Arbitrary violence or discrimination against any person or group of people puts everyone at risk.

        re: ammonia gas / square –precisely –these things are not chance –and to know first know that nature is uniform, induction is valid, senses are reliable, reason com external world…….. none of which you can empirically verify all of which are underpinned by laws of logic

        Yes, they can. See the scientific method.

        metaphysical commitments are unavoidable, the only question is which commitment a human will claim, and is it true? so your accusation of magic in creation account is not a reason for rejecting it, rather a restatement of your commitment to holding yourself as autonomous (what you know) if you are autonomous then the magic you must hold as true renders knowledge impossible

        ICdon’t hold magic as true. Metaphysics=/=magic. Maybe you could try figuring out what I believe before you try refuting it.

      • murk says

        “Yes they can see the scientific method.”

        you can empirically verify induction? uniformity?
        can you empirically verify that all knowledge is gained by sense perception?

        i erred in assuming that i know your worldview, my apologies

        i am a Christian

        what is your worldview?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        i erred in assuming that i know your worldview, my apologies

        I don’t think you’ve failed to identify it so much as you’ve simply failed to understand it. How many times have you been told that material reality is more than just “that which is made of atoms,” and yet you seem to continue to insist that anything not made of atoms is somehow a contradiction of the universality of material realism? If you just take the time to think through what you’re being told, you’ll understand why the “problems” you keep raising are really only problems for non-reality-based worldviews like Christianity. A reality-based worldview does not need to attack the foundations of empiricism in order to try and create a gap in knowledge big enough to sneak a God into, because the reality-based worldview is already consistent with reality, and thus our ability to know reality does not pose any problems for our worldview. The only people who have problems with empiricism are those who discover that reality-based reason and empiricism conflict with what they want to believe.

      • murk says

        “After all, you’re talking about a person harming people for no justifiable reason, and that society apparently endorsing that kind of irrationality. ”

        Michael i agree with you, because my worldview:

        justifies the requirement of justification, because justification rests on the only absolute, invariant, immaterial
        being that necessarily exists – God and He has justified me with His own blood

        accounts for rationality: as anything rational conforms to what is real or true
        and the concept of truth has no meaning apart from the only One who can guarantee it.

        you mention two metaphysical things here that must be absolute and universal for your statements to make sense. these things cannot exist in a worldview where anything can happen. in fact they cannot exist apart from God who determines reality and history

        to attempt to refute the existence of God (and He made his existence plain to all people)
        one first has to assume Him

      • Deacon Duncan says

        my worldview:

        justifies the requirement of justification, because justification rests on the only absolute, invariant, immaterial
        being that necessarily exists – God and He has justified me with His own blood

        So what justification is there for making good people suffer in order that evil people can benefit? Suppose I murder someone, but the judge likes me so much that he sentences you to death instead. Your death may be a punishment for the murder I committed, but that does not change the fact that I’m the one who actually committed the murder, and that you’re being put to death for a crime you did not commit. If you happen to be depressed and suicidal, and you volunteer to be executed as the punishment for the murder that I committed, that also does not change who the actual murderer was, nor does it change the fact that you’re using a corrupt court to kill yourself for no reason. Thus, my crime is no justification for your execution, and your execution is no justification for letting me go unpunished for my crime.

        And these two unjustified evil deeds are what you call the foundation upon which all justifications must be based? If that were so, then true followers of God ought to be inflicting harm on innocent people and preventing the wicked from receiving the due penalty for their sins, because the whole basis for “justified” social conduct is derived from harming the innocent so that the wicked can go free. In fact, if you believe life begins at conception, and that the fertilized egg is a person, then you ought to be trying to force women to get abortions, and encouraging them to get pregnant through promiscuity and adultery.

        Do you see why it’s such a bad idea to base morality on the stories men tell about gods? Only reality-based morality can give you a consistent basis for distinguishing genuine, material good from genuine, material bad.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        accounts for rationality: as anything rational conforms to what is real or true
        and the concept of truth has no meaning apart from the only One who can guarantee it.

        And that One can only be material reality, the necessary being. Superstition won’t help you here, because trying to ascribe the origin of logic and reason to some personal Being puts you in the position of declaring that God must be crazy. He can’t be a logical, rational being unless logic and reason already exist, and logic and reason can only exist if the nature of reality itself is logical and rational. Imagine, for a moment, if reality were not logical and rational in and of itself. If that were true, then a logical and rational God would be something different from reality, which is the same as saying that God is not real. But if He’s not real, then He can hardly be the origin or basis for logic and reason in reality.

        I’m sorry, but your worldview contradicts itself. It tries to make mere superstition a source of empirical knowledge, and that’s just not sound reasoning. Logic and reason cannot come from, or be based on, any non-pantheistic deity, because if reality were not already logical and reasonable, no logical and rational deity could exist. And if reality already IS logical and reasonable, then there’s no logical necessity that any God exist. Thus, your whole worldview is based on lying about whether or not God is the necessary being. He isn’t, and you can’t make Him one just by assuming that He is.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        of course if the guy who beats up widows is more powerful and has more allies, would he have crappy consequences?

        Interestingly, that was God’s defense for the evil that happened in Job’s life. “I am so powerful, I don’t need allies. Therefore I can do whatever I want, and it’s ok.” Genuine morality takes into account the consequences for all involved parties, and not just for the most powerful ones. Thus, I can say that it’s wrong to murder the old ladies whether it’s a bully committing murder because he likes to kill or whether it’s God ordering the murders of the old Amalekite ladies because of something the ancestors of the Amalekites did to the ancestors of the Jews. Christians cannot be so consistent, and end up having to assert a moral relativism in which it’s ok for God to order people killed for things their ancestors did, just because He’s God.

        re: ammonia gas / square – precisely – these things are not chance – and to know this you have to first know that nature is uniform, induction is valid, senses are reliable, reason comports with external world……..
        none of which you can empirically verify
        all of which are underpinned by laws of logic

        And all of which, in turn, is contingent upon material reality, the necessary being. Thus, we can know infallibly that material reality does exist, since it is not possible for a self-consistent, logical reality to fail to exist. It is possible for God to fail to exist, since He is a contingent being. But the necessary being, material reality, cannot fail to exist, nor can it fail to be self-consistent. From this necessary property of reality come all the rest: reason and induction and verifiability and empiricism. Even your faith necessarily depends on material reality as the source of empirical knowledge, otherwise you would not be able to perceive any revelation, even assuming that God did exist. No Bible to read, no prophets to speak, not even any meaningful sense in which God could be said to exist. Ultimately, your worldview cannot hope to be true unless the materialist is correct about the existence and nature of reality, so anyone who tries to undermine materialism is really undermining himself.

        metaphysical commitments are unavoidable, the only question is which commitment a human will claim,
        and is it true?

        so your accusation of magic in creation account is not a reason for rejecting it, rather a restatement of your
        commitment to holding yourself as autonomous (what you know)

        On the contrary, when we observe the magical qualities of creation myths, we observe their failure to manifest the self-consistent nature that identifies real-world truth, as distinct from falsehood.

        To deny that we have the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood is to assert a kind of universal and invincible agnosticism. And when the real world evidence drives you to embrace agnosticism in order to make it possible to cling to your faith, what does that tell you about your faith? Those of us who embrace reality-based truth find that we never need to flee into the arms of agnosticism to escape from the evidence, because the evidence is already consistent with our beliefs. That’s a huge advantage, and it’s one of the most significant ways my life improved after I ceased believing what Christians were trying to tell me about God.

      • says

        to attempt to refute the existence of God (and He made his existence plain to all people)
        one first has to assume Him

        I see you like TAG, which means you’re probably a presuppositionalist or something similar. Deacon has already addressed this concept here and here, if you want to check it out before pressing any further with this. However, I’ll sum up for you why I, personally, don’t buy into that particular brand of Kool Aid. In order for what you call a god (a sapient, all powerful being, all knowing, et cetera being) to be necessary for the laws of logic, the laws of logic could not apply to your god. If that’s the case, then this god would be able to be god and not god at the same time, or he could believe something that is both true and false, or the attributes which describe him could change at random (that latter bit does seem to happen depending on what theist one asks, of course). How can such a being exist? Well, in short, it can’t. Being subject to the laws of logic is a prerequisite for existence because the laws of logic are simply the universal attributes we’ve discovered of all things that exist. Any god, if it existed, would have to be subject to logic rather than the creator of it, therefore saying that using logic assumes a god is false.

        you can empirically verify induction? uniformity?
        can you empirically verify that all knowledge is gained by sense perception?

        Yes. You can’t? Try the scientific method. It’s scienterrific.

        i am a Christian

        what is your worldview?

        Well, A) saying you’re Christian says little about your worldview other than that you believe that there was a guy named Jesus who was the “anointed one” of some supernatural entity known as YHWH, or Jehova. B) my worldview isn’t prettily confined to labels that end in “ian” or “ist.” I suppose you could say that I am primarily a skeptic, one who tries to acquire as few false beliefs as I can by setting a certain standard of credibility on concepts presented to me.

      • murk says

        you argument re: justice hinges on absolute moral law
        this in turn presupposes the existence of good and evil
        How can evil exist if existence is primary?

        Why do you call material reality material since you admitted it is not all made of molecules?

        Why do you call it material reality a being? (maybe we don’t share a common definition of being)

        God has a perfectly sufficient reason for allowing the evil that exists
        He will ensure justice is served
        Your knee will bow and/or you will run to the mountains and say rocks fall on me
        when He returns and ends how things currently play out

        Your accusations against God’s justice are piecemeal
        People (like us) dragged Him through the street and crucified Him
        Unjust – yes – good reason yes
        no one can thwart Him or mock Him

        ” I am primarily a skeptic, one who tries to acquire as few false beliefs”

        obviously your not skeptical about the existence of absolute truth since you belief in false.
        you cannot get to absolute truth in a universe without purpose or direction
        and these two things cannot exist without God

        in principle skepticism is impossible – because you would even have to be skeptical about being a skeptic

        it is an admission of limitations – primarily that certainty is elusive – however even this is self refuting
        for it is a claim that is certain.

        as i said – no certainty = no possibility of knowledge (and since this is a knowledge claim i’d do well to justify it:) or the law of contradiction can be broken
        since we are temporal / spatial beings and our eyeball inspection can never confirm or deny the nature of reality – nor limits of possibility – we cannot IN OURSELVES have certainty

        but since we cannot live without certainty (again above claim is a certainty) we betray ourselves
        eg. there are no absolutes, we cannot know anything for sure, are all self refuting

        we can only know things if we know someone who knows everything
        and all people – yes including you – are made in His image
        the one who made reality (or material reality as you say) also fashioned our brains and the laws of thought
        that we use – so we do know things

        Science can verify induction, uniformity ?
        i’m afraid you do not understand science
        it requires these metaphysical absolute realities as necessary supports (among other things)
        but science itself cannot verify them

        science requires uniformity – but any attempt to scientifically verify uniformity presupposes it first
        even invoking probability assumes uniformity
        thus it cannot support uniformity either

        since change is a property of the universe
        how can you account for uniformity?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        you argument re: justice hinges on absolute moral law

        This is incorrect: justice hinges on reality, not on absolute moral law, which is a misnomer. “Absolute moral law” is an empty symbol used to try and browbeat people, but it has no real content. Think about it. What is the absolute moral law regarding using someone else’s body against their wishes? If you say it is an absolute moral evil, then you’re agreeing with the abortion rights advocates that no one, not even the fetus, has a right to use a woman’s body against her wishes. But if you say it’s not an absolute moral evil, then you’ve left yourself without any basis for rejecting rape (and slavery, and assault, and so on) as wrong. Even people who claim to believe in “absolute” moral law, actually practice situational morality when it comes to real-world issues. Genuine right and wrong come from material reality, and must be determined in the light of material circumstances.

        this in turn presupposes the existence of good and evil
        How can evil exist if existence is primary?

        If existence is primary, that puts certain constraints on what kind of evil is really evil. Only evil that actually exists is truly evil.

        But it’s not existence that is primary, assuming I’m understanding correctly what you mean by that. The primary thing—the first cause, the necessary being, the prime mover, whatever you want to call it—is the necessary, ordered, self-consistent nature of reality itself. Everything else that exists depends on those preconditions for its identity, its meaning, its nature and its existence. Even God, if such a person or persons were to exist, would necessarily depend on the preconditions of a self-consistent and ordered reality, otherwise it would be meaningless to speak of gods or persons or existence. And given that reality itself must possess those ordered and self-consistent qualities, it is an error to claim that those qualities require the existence of any god or gods. It is the gods whose existence must be contingent on the properties of reality, and not the other way around.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Why do you call material reality material since you admitted it is not all made of molecules?

        I call it material reality in order to distinguish it from superstitions, worldviews, and other subjective “realities” that people sometimes confuse with the real thing. And as for the word “material,” there has always been more to material reality than just molecules. The physical distance between molecules, for example is a real part of material reality, even though distance itself is not made of molecules. “Material” as an adjective means “of or relating to matter” as well as meaning “things made of matter.” As it relates to the kinds of philosophical discussion we’re having here, material reality is best described as “that which exists in and of itself, apart from and independently of any third-party perception of it.”

        Why do you call it material reality a being? (maybe we don’t share a common definition of being)

        “Being” has a few different meanings, and I’m sure we have most or all of them in common. In the context of asking where the intelligibility of the universe comes from, we obviously would be wrong to use the term “being” in the sense of a sentient, self-aware person, since (a) that would be elementary superstition, and (b) the qualities of sentience, self-awareness, personhood, identity, origin, and so on, are all preconditioned on material reality itself being ordered, intelligible, and self-consistent. If material reality were not already intelligible, well-ordered, and self-consistent, then those necessary preconditions could not exist, and thus no “being,” in the sense of a sentient, self-aware person, could exist either. And likewise, if material reality already possesses the qualities of being intelligible, well-ordered, and self-consistent, then no “being,” in the sense of such a person, is required. Obviously, therefore, when we talk about the fundamental order and intelligibility of reality, we’re talking about “being” in the more fundamental sense, and not in the personal (and/or superstitious) sense.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        you cannot get to absolute truth in a universe without purpose or direction
        and these two things cannot exist without God

        That’s an interesting observation, since you can get to material reality without purpose or direction, as long as you are willing to give up superstition. That suggests that perhaps “absolute truth” isn’t quite the same thing as reality, and may in fact be simply a case of exaggerating the importance of superstitious beliefs.

        in principle skepticism is impossible – because you would even have to be skeptical about being a skeptic

        You are confusing skepticism with denialism. Skepticism means reserving your belief for only those conclusions which can be verified as being consistent with material reality. Skeptics are skeptical about being skeptics: skepticism, in practice, validates those beliefs which reflect real-world truth, and rejects those things which fail to conform to reality.

      • murk says

        “Genuine right and wrong come from material reality, and must be determined in the light of material circumstances.”

        is this something you are claiming to be absolutely true?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Well, “absolutely” seems to be a loaded term, and I’m not sure it’s not just a placeholder for some kind of superstition. I’m claiming that it’s really true, meaning that this is the kind of morality we actually care about in the real world. As I’ve pointed out before, the Bible itself portrays God behaving in ways that defy definition as absolutely good or absolutely evil. You either make moral judgements based on material, real-world consequences, or else you impose arbitrary tyranny on others, and falsely call it “morality.” History is full of examples of the latter, and not a few of them from Church history.

      • murk says

        “justice hinges on reality, not on absolute moral law”

        and who might be the judge if two people differ on what reality is or what the consequences of an action are?

        this entails that morality is person dependent

        it also entails that the concept of goodness is not person dependent (thus self refuting)

        it also entails that we cannot condemn the action of a person doing an evil deed (take your pick)

        because to that person reality may be interpreted different

        but we can’t live like that

        the law He has written on our hearts – as you expose clearly

      • Deacon Duncan says

        and who might be the judge if two people differ on what reality is or what the consequences of an action are?

        That’s only a dilemma if you define “reality” in terms of what people believe. That’s why I say genuine morality has to be based, ultimately, on material reality, the reality that exists independently of what any individual person might believe is real.

        What happens when two people differ on what God defines morality as? You have the same problem, except there’s no way to find out who is right. With reality-based morality, objective reality exists and is accessible to all parties, and thus a determination can be made as to who is right and who is wrong. And sometimes there is no clear right versus wrong, and the only options are either all equally good or all equally bad. But even then, material reality is a better standard, because at least then you have an objective, neutral standard by which to determine that the situation lacks any definitive moral imperative, good or bad.

        this entails that morality is person dependent

        Morality is indeed partly dependent on people, since there would be neither good nor evil if there were no one to experience either good or bad consequences. But morality is also objective, because it comes from material reality, and people have no choice about, say, whether going too long with no food will lead to death by starvation. Nor can people decide whether or not certain injuries will result in pain and/or debilitation. As material creatures, we care about such things (because we inherited such concerns from ancestors who cared enough to survive and pass them on to us), but our common experience of material reality gives us enough common, objective basis for our moral concerns that we can speak meaningfully to each other about what right and wrong are.

        it also entails that the concept of goodness is not person dependent (thus self refuting)

        That’s a mistaken conclusion. Goodness and badness are concepts that arise from material persons interacting with a material environment. We don’t get to pick what hurts and what doesn’t, so morality is not personal in that sense. But we do care, because we, as persons, experience the pain of harm and the pleasure of benefit. Of course, our odds of decreasing the former and increasing the latter improve greatly when we base our morality on the material reality that gives it meaning.

        it also entails that we cannot condemn the action of a person doing an evil deed (take your pick)

        Sure we can, because (again) objective, material reality gives us a common experience of what “harm” and “benefit” are, so that we can speak objectively about what is “good” (in terms of material benefit) and what is “evil” (in terms of material harm). And since we are material beings who are subject to material harms and benefits, we are absolutely entitled to condemn the harm, because material persons care about such things.

        because to that person reality may be interpreted different

        Which is yet again the reason why it is wrong to base morality on subjective worldviews instead of on material reality.

        but we can’t live like that

        the law He has written on our hearts – as you expose clearly

        It is nice that the same God wrote the same laws on everyone’s heart. That way nobody ever disagrees about what’s right and what’s wrong.

  12. murk says

    “Being subject to the laws of logic is a prerequisite for existence”

    i agree – for us (people)
    Logic is founded in God – it is part of His character / nature
    in your worldview there is no reason why the law of contradiction could not be broken

    but does the existence of the laws of logic serve as their own foundation?
    is this logical?

    and earlier you stated that existence is primary
    now logic precedes existence

    i’m getting a little dizzy

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Logic is founded in God – it is part of His character / nature
      in your worldview there is no reason why the law of contradiction could not be broken

      If God were logical, but reality were not logical, then that would mean God was not real, because His nature would not conform to the nature of reality. The logical order of reality must reside within reality itself.

      but does the existence of the laws of logic serve as their own foundation?
      is this logical?

      Yes, absolutely. It is the nature of necessary being that the necessary being cannot be contingent upon anything else. That means that once you follow the logical preconditions of things back to their necessary logical foundation, you will arrive at a fundamental logical order upon which everything else depends (directly or indirectly) but which has no preconditions on which itself depends. What you and I perceive as “the laws of logic” are simply the ordered characteristics of necessary being, upon which the existence of everything else (even gods, if any existed) must necessarily be contingent.

      and earlier you stated that existence is primary
      now logic precedes existence

      I’m not sure if you mean me, but if so then you’ve misunderstood me. When we trace all things back to their origin, what we find as the necessary being is a particular material reality with its own unique set of necessary characteristics, including order and self-consistency, some aspects of which we experience as being laws of logic, and some aspects of which we experience as being existence (as distinct from non-existence) and so on.

      i’m getting a little dizzy

      Then stop spinning. :)

  13. murk says

    “As I’ve already pointed out, necessary being (i.e. self-consistent reality) must exist because it is the logical precondition upon which everything else must necessarily be contingent (including any God, were such a being to exist).”

    is it logical to make a claim valid about the entire universe by someone who is limited by the laws of logic?
    although we cannot escape the laws of logic, is it logical that the laws of logic are their own foundation?

    “Take your remark about how Christians can only reason from God. How could you know this, were it not for the necessary being of a self-consistent reality whose nature defines such fundamental laws as “A thing is the same as itself,” and “A thing, plus the contradiction of the thing, cannot both be true”? You cite the Old and New Testaments, yet without a self-consistent reality, the words in those books would have no meaning, and thus you could never know what they meant, in order to learn from them about any God (who also could not exist in the absence of a self-consistent reality).”

    if a distant star can only be seen with a telescope can one first see the star and then determine that there is a telescope through which it only can be seen?
    Again validity of law of contradiction does not mean it is its own foundation.

    “And if you could, somehow, assign some arbitrary meaning to words that might or might not be able to exist, what then? You could never know whether those words were true unless there was a self-consistent reality against which you could measure them. And even if you could compare them to a non-self-consistent reality, the exact contradiction of those words might be equally “true,” due to the absence of a fundamentally self-consistent reality within which the thing and its contradiction are constrained, by the nature of reality itself, from both being true.”

    our theories of truth are similar – truth corresponds to what is real
    but reality cannot exist in a vacuum – there must be purpose and direction for knowledge to be possible. if anything can happen (which is a required belief of an atheist) then knowledge is impossible.

    “Nor can you derive these qualities from any deity (except possibly a pantheistic deity that was equal to reality itself), because without a reality whose nature constrains real things to be the same as themselves, God would not be God. Never mind the fact that He could not be a person; the lack of a self-consistent reality would mean He could not even be Himself. The whole concept of God would be a concept that would have no meaning. And clearly if “God” were meaninglessness, it could not be the source of meaning.”

    Can anything happen?
    How do you know that uniformity of nature (part of reality) envelops God and not the other way around?

    “So the bottom line is that all genuine, valid, reality-based knowledge and reasoning must be based ultimately on the necessary being of material reality, which is the ultimate source of all order and reason and knowledge. God Himself cannot exist without material reality, but material reality can and must exist even without God”

    all bow to material reality
    which is not limited to material
    which is actually a being
    we are so close – I call the being what He has revealed Himself as
    You in an attempt to remain ultimate cannot tolerate this humility
    your position also entails that material reality:
    had a beginning yet is ultimate
    had to have changed many times and thus could change again (life from non-life etc)
    question for you:
    since you have no problem stating knowledge claims that pertain to the very nature of the entire universe,
    did the laws of logic exist before man showed up?
    Is it possible for a person to know how they know things before committing to what they know?
    Is it possible for a person to be neutral with their intellect?

    • murk says

      “Take your remark about how Christians can only reason from God. How could you know this, were it not for the necessary being of a self-consistent reality whose nature defines such fundamental laws as “A thing is the same as itself,” and “A thing, plus the contradiction of the thing, cannot both be true”?

      He made it plain to us. He initiated by revealing things to us so we can know them for sure.

      Can one navigate without an external reference? (north star, GPS satellite)

      Bible accounts for the three laws of logic – chance doesn’t

      Bible also teaches us not to lean on our own understanding (for then we could be wrong about everything we know) but we are given understanding to understand the limits of our understanding

      and thus the inherent dependency we have on the one who holds all things together

      because that’s how He made things

      the potter fashions the clay however he likes

      “God Himself cannot exist without material reality, but material reality can and must exist even without God”

      you do realize that you used metaphysical commitments to make this statement

      you know more about the nature of reality and the limits of possibility then Einstein

      Funny thing is God revealed He existed before He made the universe

      wonder who is right – timeless one or creature of time?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        He made it plain to us. He initiated by revealing things to us so we can know them for sure.

        But in a reality that was not consistent with itself, the things He revealed would not mean what He said. “Repent and be baptized” might mean “Dog food for breakfast” or “Refrigerator helpless migraine spackle.” God Himself would be a wooden parasol with longer sauce—He wouldn’t be God, because that presumes that a thing is the same as itself. And the next time you checked, He’d be something different again. That’s the nature of the reality you’re proposing: a reality in which things are not the same as themselves, and in which the contradiction of a thing is as true as the thing itself. Revelation, in the context of such a reality, is worthless, because any “knowledge” you have only represents a thing that is not the same as itself, whose contradiction is as true as the thing itself is.

        The only way God can exist, and can know anything worth revealing, and can reveal it to anyone who is different from Himself in any meaningful way, is if reality already possesses the qualities of order and intelligibility and meaning and self-consistency, apart from anything any god(s) might be inclined to do about the situation.

        Bible accounts for the three laws of logic – chance doesn’t

        In the few short decades that I was an earnest, Bible-believing Christian, I read the Scriptures from cover to cover several times, and I know that what you are saying here is flatly false. There is nowhere in the Bible that says anything at all about there being “three laws of logic,” much less accounting for them.

        I expect that what you really meant to say is that you heard some ordinary, fallible mortals saying some cool-sounding things that boiled down to ordinary superstition: “explaining” things by attributing them, somehow, to God. This does not “account” for the existence of logic, it merely attributes them to a magical power or being, just like any other superstition. And in this case the attribution is nonsense, because God Himself would not be a logical being if logic were contrary to the nature of reality.

        Bible also teaches us not to lean on our own understanding (for then we could be wrong about everything we know) but we are given understanding to understand the limits of our understanding

        So when you lean on your understanding of the Bible, you’re really disobeying it, then?

        and thus the inherent dependency we have on the one who holds all things together

        And yet, sadly, He has no one to hold Him together. And it shows. ;)

        you do realize that you used metaphysical commitments to make this statement

        You mean I referred to material reality without limiting myself to only things that are made of molecules? Yeah, I tend to do that. It’s the only way to really understand what material reality is all about.

        you know more about the nature of reality and the limits of possibility then Einstein

        Very kind of you to say so, but I’m only making some fairly trivial and obvious observations. Nothing that would merit any comparison to someone like Einstein.

        Funny thing is God revealed He existed before He made the universe

        Really? Who was there before the Creation for God to reveal things to?

        wonder who is right – timeless one or creature of time?

        The one, I suppose, who is saying the things most consistent with material reality. Of course, “timeless one” only appears in the stories told by men, so it’s probably moot to ask whether he’s right or not. He can only be “right” about the reality in which he himself appears, and since that’s limited to stories told by ordinary men, he’s not really relevant to the real world.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      is it logical to make a claim valid about the entire universe by someone who is limited by the laws of logic?
      although we cannot escape the laws of logic, is it logical that the laws of logic are their own foundation?

      Sure. That’s one of the great things about living in a material reality that is consistent with itself. The laws of logic do not limit us, rather they highlight for us the difference between what is true/real (i.e. what is consistent with reality) and what is false (i.e. what is not consistent with reality).

      if a distant star can only be seen with a telescope can one first see the star and then determine that there is a telescope through which it only can be seen?

      That depends: suppose you met someone who showed you a device he called a “pantoscope,” and said it could let you see back in time to when the Titans created the universe. How would you know there were real Titans on the other side, if you had no way to verify first of all that the things you see in a pantoscope are things that are actually real?

      In fact, you can see back in time, because seeing takes place when light from a distant event arrives at your eyes, and in the case of interstellar distances, it can take thousands or millions of years for light to make that journey. On a dark, clear night you can see well past the six-to-ten-thousand year window during which the Genesis creation is supposed to have happened. But what you see is consistent with material reality, and that’s why you’re justified in concluding that God did not create the universe within the past ten millennia.

      Again validity of law of contradiction does not mean it is its own foundation.

      Nor does it mean it is not. We have other ways of knowing, logically, that an ordered, self-consistent reality (of which logic is a part) must necessarily be its own foundation, independent of any god(s) that may or may not exist.

      our theories of truth are similar – truth corresponds to what is real
      but reality cannot exist in a vacuum – there must be purpose and direction for knowledge to be possible. if anything can happen (which is a required belief of an atheist) then knowledge is impossible.

      Well, first of all, “anything can happen” is just another way of saying “miracles are possible.” That’s the theist’s domain, not the atheists. The difference between materialism and supernaturalism is that materialism only allows for things that conform to the natural order and meaning that is necessarily inherent in material reality itself, whereas the supernatural, by definition, is a violation of the natural order and meaning of the material world. If you’re going to insist that purpose and direction remove the possibility that “anything can happen,” you’re going to have to deny the existence of the supernatural. That would be a good conclusion to arrive at, but you’re getting there the wrong way.

      As for reality existing “in a vacuum,” you’re right, but again for the wrong reasons. Material reality can and must be self-existent. If reality did not exist, God could not create it, because if reality did not exist, then He would not exist either, and a God who does not exist cannot create anything real. So reality must exist in and of itself, and it must be inherently well-ordered, intelligible, and self-consistent, apart from any 3rd party’s “purpose” or “direction,” because if reality were not sufficiently well-ordered to be knowable, then even a real God would not be able to know anything. And how can you have purpose and direction if it’s impossible to know anything?

      We do have similar theories of truth, you’re just putting things in the wrong order, and I think it’s Christian superstitions that are messing you up. You need to think about what preconditions are necessary in order to have such essential qualities as personhood, identity, knowledge, self-awareness, and the other complex factors that go into making up anything even remotely as complex as a full-blown deity. Picking an imaginary person and just giving Him credit for everything is merely superstitious, not philosophical.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      How do you know that uniformity of nature (part of reality) envelops God and not the other way around?

      The only way things could be the other way around would be if God were irrational, self-contradictory, and otherwise inconsistent with reality. Or at least, that’s true for a non-pantheistic God. A God like Alethea would be just fine, since Alethea and reality are the same thing. So a pantheistic God would work, if you don’t mind giving up Christian superstitions.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      all bow to material reality

      Frankly, material reality doesn’t care whether you bow or not, but if you decide the laws of material reality no longer apply to you, and you walk out in front of a speeding bus because you choose to believe it will not hit you—well, ignore reality at your own peril.

      which is not limited to material

      Careful, you’re spinning again. Material reality (like, for example, the physical distance between two molecules) is not limited to being made of molecules. It’s still material, i.e. a thing that exists in and of itself, and that does not depend on any 3rd party’s perceptions for its existence and character.

      which is actually a being

      Right, “being” in the sense of the essence of real existence, but not being in the sense of a person, because persons cannot exist unless material reality provides the necessary preconditions, including order, intelligibility, and self-consistency. Persons cannot be “necessary being,” because preconditions are required for their existence; necessary being is a more fundamental, impersonal truth, apart from any supposed purpose or direction that superstitious people may wish to impose upon it.

      we are so close – I call the being what He has revealed Himself as

      This is not strictly accurate. You call the being what men have told you the being is. You believe it because they told you it said so in God’s Word, and you believe it’s God’s word because they told you it was God’s Word. God Himself does not show up in real life for you any more than He does for me.

      You in an attempt to remain ultimate cannot tolerate this humility

      On the contrary, there can be no greater humility than to accept the world the way it actually is. It is quite arrogant to try and impose one’s own superstitious desires for “purpose” and “direction” on the world, as though the world were under some sort of obligation to arrange itself around oneself. Nor is it any less arrogant to do so on the strength of the stories one has been told by other people.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      question for you:
      since you have no problem stating knowledge claims that pertain to the very nature of the entire universe,
      did the laws of logic exist before man showed up?
      Is it possible for a person to know how they know things before committing to what they know?
      Is it possible for a person to be neutral with their intellect?

      That looks to me like three questions, not just one. :) But to answer them:

      1. What we call the laws of logic are merely patterns of self-consistency that are inherent in the nature of reality itself. As such, they do not change over time, but our understanding of them might, if we start off not knowing them and then gradually discover them through interacting with the real world and finding out which kinds of reasoning lead to reliable conclusions and which do not. Again, this comes from the inherent order and self-consistency of material reality itself, without which logic would be irrelevant and impossible. Reality must be intelligible and logical first, before any purpose and direction can be conceived of, because purpose would be meaningless in a reality that was not inherently ordered.

      2. I’m not sure what you mean by “committing to what they know.” We can learn from our experiences: when we “commit” to beliefs that aren’t actually consistent with real-world truth, we are likely to experience the negative consequences of our false beliefs. With a healthy, skeptical attitude, we can learn from these mistakes and alter our understanding so that it is more consistent with the truth. And from a logical perspective, we can know that this is the wisest and most reasonable approach, since it makes real-world truth the objective standard by which we measure the validity of our own beliefs, and correct them where they fall short.

      3. While we each begin with various handicaps in the form of biases, inexperience, personal agendas, and so on, it is possible to improve our understanding by avoiding dogmatism and superstition and pursuing instead the evidence-based, reality-based conclusions of the true skeptic. The essence of neutrality is to prefer the infallible standard of material reality over one’s own personal presuppositions, thus modifying or even abandoning those presuppositions whenever they prove inconsistent with objective reality.

  14. murk says

    “Question: What is the earliest you can be in a pregnancy to terminate?
    Answer: In most cases the abortion can be performed as early as the EPT pregnancy test shows positive results or at approximately 5 to 6 weeks. ”

    source: FAQ’s Family Planning Associates Medical Group – Abortion Clinic

    “So we’ve got a reliable, workable, real-world basis for knowing when the physical structures are or are not in place to support the emergence of those mental and emotional processes that go together to make up what we call a person.”

    source: Deacon Duncan

    Unborn baby brainwaves can be detected on day 40
    heart beat at day 21

    source: take your pick – google it

    So every abortion stops a heart beat
    and since earliest recommended abortion is around 6 weeks, the brain is working – which according to Duncan defines the unborn as a person

    arbitrary and revealing
    scary – when attempted justification must deny absolute moral law and yet must invoke it to deny it
    (eg. it is bad for someone to tell someone else what to do with their body)
    all very arbitrary

    and self refuting

    there is hope – you can move from futility of your thinking (and deadly actions) by admitting your thoughts and actions are futile and throw yourself on the mercy of the one who has everything put under His feet
    He will not drive away those who come to Him

    • Deacon Duncan says

      “So we’ve got a reliable, workable, real-world basis for knowing when the physical structures are or are not in place to support the emergence of those mental and emotional processes that go together to make up what we call a person.”

      source: Deacon Duncan

      Unborn baby brainwaves can be detected on day 40
      heart beat at day 21

      That’s nice. When can you detect brainwaves in a rabbit? Are rabbits people?

      It’s good to see you looking to science for answers, though.

      So every abortion stops a heart beat

      So does every cheeseburger. Cows have hearts too. But are they people?

      and since earliest recommended abortion is around 6 weeks, the brain is working – which according to Duncan defines the unborn as a person

      Really? And who is this “Duncan” that thinks every living organism with a working brain is a person? Do you agree with him? Or would you agree with me that a person is more than just rudimentary electrical impulses beginning to trace their way across a few developing synapses?

      How much of a materialist are you? When you think of a person, do you limit yourself to seeing only a certain arrangement of molecules on a DNA strand? Do you brush away claims that there’s more to being a person than just being a few ounces of meat and fluids?

      Like I said, it’s nice that you’re beginning to look to science for answers, but really, you need to look at the whole picture, and not just cherry-pick a few out-of-context factoids to use as barbs.

      scary – when attempted justification must deny absolute moral law and yet must invoke it to deny it
      (eg. it is bad for someone to tell someone else what to do with their body)

      Ah, so you think there’s an absolute moral law against using someone else’s body against their will, do you? And every child is a gift from God? That means when God gives this “gift” against the woman’s will, He’s violating absolute moral law. I can see why you find that scary.

      there is hope – you can move from futility of your thinking (and deadly actions) by admitting your thoughts and actions are futile and throw yourself on the mercy of the one who has everything put under His feet
      He will not drive away those who come to Him

      Thinking is only futile when it fails to submit to material reality. The reality is that you are claiming that morality must come from God’s revelation and not from people, and yet here you are, you, not God, trying to tell me what morality is. Can’t you see that you are contradicting yourself? If morality has to be based on what God reveals, then you and I cannot tell each other what morality is, even if we claim to be telling what God has revealed. That’s basing morality on what people say, even if they say God “originally” revealed it. When you quote the Bible, you are quoting what people claim God told them. That’s not morality based on God’s revelation, that’s morality based on what people say God’s revelation is. You telling me that abortion is wrong is people—you—dictating morality based on what they (you) believe, based on what people say is God’s Word. Every time you tell someone that morality has to be based on God’s revelation, you’re denying your own right to tell anyone else what’s right and what’s wrong.

      God only shows up in stories that people tell, in feelings they feel, in imaginary conversations they have, in superstitions they indulge in—in short, in their own minds. You know that, I know that. People have feelings, people give God credit for things they see, people tell stories and indulge in pious “worldviews” to impress their friends and bring consternation to their enemies, and it’s all people. God Himself does not show up outside the thoughts and words and feelings of men. He’s not going to forgive anyone or drive anyone away, because He doesn’t exist outside men’s minds.

      That’s why those who have tried to follow Him in the past have ended up holding Inquisitions and witch burnings and pogroms and whatever else. They’ve rejected a real-world basis for their morality, and tried to base morality on an imaginary friend who, go figure, seemed somehow to support everything they thought was right to do.

      I hope that you will repent of this pride and self-centeredness, and learn to embrace the undirected yet meaningful beauty of life in the real world. I’ve been a Christian for many years, and I know the pride and self-righteousness and false humility that come with believing you’ve got a special relationship with the One True God. It’s not worth it. True freedom is the freedom to embrace real-world truth. That, in the end, is all that really matters.

      • murk says

        “That’s basing morality on what people say”

        is this something you as a person are telling me?

        then why do you attempt to impose your morality on me? (ie killing babies is not immoral)

        if you cannot see that everyone must appeal to an absolute moral eventually to make their view of ethics coherent – it is not because of an intellectual difficulty but a posture of your will

        this Duncan who said this was you – the first quote in my post is your words that you claim define when
        living cells become a person – i’m not talking about cows but people – nice dodge

        Merry Christmas to all

      • Deacon Duncan says

        then why do you attempt to impose your morality on me? (ie killing babies is not immoral)

        As a matter of fact, I’m not. I am allowing you to believe what you wish to believe, even when you believe things that are not true, like the notion that abortion always means killing babies. I’m even allowing you to tell lies about me. All I’m doing in return is documenting the real-world evidence that exposes the errors in what you came here to try and tell me. You’ve been arguing that we should not obtain our morality from what people say, and that only God can dictate morality. I’m just pointing out that this means I should not listen to your moral opinions, because you’re people too, just like the people that wrote the Bible.

        if you cannot see that everyone must appeal to an absolute moral eventually to make their view of ethics coherent – it is not because of an intellectual difficulty but a posture of your will

        You’re not really going to retreat into that old rationalization are you? My morality is based on reality itself, and if your notion of “absolute” is different from that, then that’s your problem. Over and over again I’ve pointed out the contradictions and essential emptiness of your notion of “absolute moral law.” I’ve given you specific examples of actions up to and including killing men, women and children by God Himself for which you cannot provide any absolute moral law that can be applied absolutely and consistently to all cases of killing. I’ve documented how the real moral standards used by Christians are either drawn from material reality or else are no moral standards at all, but merely the imposition of barbaric, might-makes-right tyranny. This “absolute moral law” is a hollow facade, used to try and impose superstitious, sectarian restrictions on other people without any real-world justification.

        I’ve given you the truth, now it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to respond to it.

        this Duncan who said this was you – the first quote in my post is your words that you claim define when
        living cells become a person – i’m not talking about cows but people – nice dodge

        You think you’ve quoted me saying that all it takes to be a person is brainwaves? You should go back and re-read what you quoted, in context. You have badly misunderstood what I wrote if you think that is what I was saying. And that’s just reading the words of a person, in your own language, in your own culture, who is still alive and able to correct you when you allow your own personal biases to warp your understanding of his meaning. Imagine if you tried to understand a document written 2,000 years ago, by people whose language and culture are completely foreign to you.

      • murk says

        ” If morality has to be based on what God reveals, then you and I cannot tell each other what morality is, even if we claim to be telling what God has revealed.”

        unless the Bible is true of course

        by what standard do you “know” that God cannot reveal things to us fallen people so we can know them for sure?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        unless the Bible is true of course

        You forget, the Bible was written by men, so even if I decide to put my faith in the Bible, I’m still trusting in what men have said about God rather than in what God has said to me.

        by what standard do you “know” that God cannot reveal things to us fallen people so we can know them for sure?

        But that’s the problem, isn’t it. Why should any of us listen to what you say God’s will is when God either (a) did not tell you or (b) could tell us Himself, without your help? Your whole argument thus far has been that we ought to listen to God rather than to men. If you’re right, then we should not listen to you, because that would be listening to men rather than God.

    • murk says

      ” even when you believe things that are not true”

      “Over and over again I’ve pointed out the contradictions and essential emptiness of your notion of “absolute moral law.”

      pick one

      or break contradiction

      • Deacon Duncan says

        For example, is there an absolute moral law that says it is a sin to kill babies, as God commanded King Saul to do, and as God Himself did in the days of Noah?

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