Maybe It’s Not a Choice?

OK, Idaho Progressives. This is how you disagree with someone without calling them names or becoming hysterical. Clayton wonders why more homosexuals can’t free themselves from the bondage of their sin. I think because for some of them it’s not a conscious choice, and they can’t simply reject it and hope to lead a normal life. Ask my friend Andrew, or any of the other gay people I know, and they’ll tell you that he is just plain not attracted to the opposite sex at all.

How many of us have known people growing up, who we meet later in life and have them tell us they are gay, and end up saying to ourselves “Well, that’s not a shocker.” because even from the time we were kids, it was just kind of obvious that something was not quite “normal” with them?

Does this mean there’s a genetic cause of homosexuality? I don’t know. If there is a “gay gene”, evolution is going to demand that it be rare. Mutations that prevent organisms from successfully reproducing don’t get passed on to subsequent generations, and eventually work their way out of the gene pool. This is the reason childhood cancers are relatively rare. It is possible that social pressures have contributed to the passing on of a “gay gene”, which, ironically, would mean greater societal acceptance of homosexuality will cause the there to be fewer gays in subsequent generations.

To what extent sexual orientation is or isn’t a lifestyle choice is important to consider, because that hinges on whether or not it’s appropriate for the government to prevent discrimination on the basis of it. I think for many people, it’s not a choice. They can’t simply get therapy, and become straight. They could refrain from having intimate relationships, sure, but that seems hardly fair if it’s something they have no real control over. I have no beef with someone who wants to give up homosexuality for a life of religious fulfillment, but I don’t think most homosexuals I know could make that choice and be happy. I’ve seen too many people who struggle with sexual identity, who take years to accept that they don’t feel right with heterosexual relationships, to believe that it was entirely a lifestyle choice.

24 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Not a Choice?”

  1. Wondering why homosexuals cannot free themselves from the bondage of their sin is like wondering why Christians cannot free themselves from the bondage of their religion.

    In both cases, someone has a predisposition, whether due to nurture or nature, towards a specific lifestyle. The book “The God Gene” by Dean Hamer makes a very strong case for religious belief having a genetic basis, just as many people have done with homosexuality. While the end activity set is very different, the base cause really isn’t, and under the proper circumstances, be they genetic or environmental, any good Christian could have found themselves as a flamboyant homosexual.

    The tricky part is when both of those predispositions are active in the same person…

  2. As the evidence piles up that homosexuality (like almost everything else) is genetically predetermined, the Christian party line is evolving from, “you have to become straight,” to, “well, just be celibate.” They are starting to recognize that people can’t change their desires, but will continue to insist that they change their behavior. As long as there is religion the justifications for religion will continue to evolve in the face of science and reason.

  3. Sigh…

    It sometimes seems like Clayton posts as much about gays and the evils of climate scientists as he does about the RKBA.

    I’m not sure what the RKBA could possibly stand to gain from making judgments about the private lives of private individuals.

  4. Well, to be fair to Clayton, I’ve never considered him a pure gun blogger. I’ll make allies with people on the fights I care about, even if we disagree on other things. If my blog ever shifts focus away from guns, Clayton and I would have a lot more to disagree on.

  5. Is it “fair” that people who are exclusively sexually attracted to pre-pubescents are excluded from intimate relationships? Or those who are attracted to members of another species? Before the calls for my head begin…I am not attempting to assign equivalence to acts that occur between consenting adults and those which do not. Homosexuality between consenting adults is not and should not be illegal in any form or fashion…child molestation and bestiality are and should be crimes because they do not involve informed consent.

    But my Bible teaches that a sin is a sin, whether it involves illegal activity or not.

    Life isn’t fair. Never has been, never will be.

    My reading of Clayton’s piece didn’t expose any calls for making homosexual behavior illegal or condemning them to some earthly fate. It simply recognized their behavior as sinful as define by our religion.

    Then he expressed his wonderment that some seem to be able to “break the bonds” while others cannot.

    He could have just as easily expressed his bewilderment that some people can overcome addictions to nicotine, alcohol, gambling, pain killers etc and others seemingly cannot. Or that some people can successfully perform the wonderful weight loss exercise known as “table push-aways” and others (like myself) struggle with that particular fitness discipline.

    Mr. Clayton’s religion (which, happens to also be mine) teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful…just as are gluttony, greed and alcoholism among other things.

    We don’t pass judgment on sinners, we believe that God does. But we believe that we are not living up to our covenant with God if we remain silent or excuse sinful behavior.

    I don’t condemn sinners. I am one. But I’m not going to pretend like sins are not sins just to save someone’s feelings. Sometimes the truth hurts. You may not adhere to Christianity or Christian principles. There is no requirement to and that’s your right. But don’t expect Christians to change the principles of their religion to fit neatly into the PC worldview…especially when the matter at hand is spelled out so clearly in the religious teachings that we follow.

    As far as people being genetically predisposed to religion…I agree with that assessment…only I call it “human nature”. I believe it is a fact of basic human nature that we are all possessed of a desire to be a part of something greater and more significant than ourselves. Even those who swear off organized religions, even agnostics, even avowed atheists have an innate human need to be a part of something greater than themselves which lends meaning and purpose to their lives.

    Personally, I think that instinct is the call of God. Some choose to answer that call, some choose to seek artificial fulfillment through other avenues. I have no scientific basis for that belief, it’s just what I believe. That’s why it’s called “faith”.

  6. Is it “fair” that people who are exclusively sexually attracted to pre-pubescents are excluded from intimate relationships? Or those who are attracted to members of another species?

    Well, the difference there is that children don’t understand enough about sexuality to be able to offer consent in any meaningful way. Same with animals.

    Mr. Clayton’s religion (which, happens to also be mine) teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful…just as are gluttony, greed and alcoholism among other things.

    I wouldn’t deny you and Clayton your point of view, based on your faith. But at some point the argument does come into the political realm, so it’s worth discussing. The primary reason I posted this was actually to show the two folks I linked to up top that it’s possible to disagree without being boneheads about it.

  7. Well, the difference there is that children don’t understand enough about sexuality to be able to offer consent in any meaningful way. Same with animals.

    I addressed that point preemptively:

    “Homosexuality between consenting adults is not and should not be illegal in any form or fashion…child molestation and bestiality are and should be crimes because they do not involve informed consent.

    But my Bible teaches that a sin is a sin, whether it involves illegal activity or not.”

    But at some point the argument does come into the political realm, so it’s worth discussing.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not what most people would consider a “conservative Christian”. I don’t believe in using the force of law to coerce free people into a particular moral framework. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize the sinfulness of certain activities, I just don’t think that it is the business of government to regulate them.

    Some Christians don’t agree with me. That’s OK. I’ll argue with them just as sincerely as I’ll argue with someone who posits that homosexuality (or greed, or gluttony etc…) is not a sin.

    The primary reason I posted this was actually to show the two folks I linked to up top that it’s possible to disagree without being boneheads about it.

    I’ve been following along with some of the festivities between Clayton and other Idaho bloggers. It’s actually quite entertaining in a “I can’t seem to look away from the car wreck” sort of way.

    I hope that my response to your post added to your point. I would consider this discussion thread to this point to be a case-study in rational and respectful discussion of a very contentious subject.

    That is no surprise on this blog. As obviously opinionated as you are, I’ve always found your posts to be rational, respectful and insightful as well as well-written and sometimes even profound. That’s why I check back in every day. I don’t have to agree with you on every issue (or ANY issue for that matter) to respect you and to be respectful of you.

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not what most people would consider a “conservative Christian”. I don’t believe in using the force of law to coerce free people into a particular moral framework. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize the sinfulness of certain activities, I just don’t think that it is the business of government to regulate them.

    We probably don’t have any real beef then. I don’t bemoan anyone following their own personal moral compass.

  9. Sailorcurt, I think you’re defending Clayton against arguments that no one here is actually making. :)

    I honestly don’t think he said anything particularly awful in the linked post, or at least not any more awful than I’m sure some gay guy somewhere has said about Christians. I just find it rather mind boggling that anyone would take the condescending attitude of marveling at why someone cannot overcome their lifestyle, when that individual is so dedicated to their own. Your average gay guy doesn’t see anything more wrong with being gay than you do with being a Christian, until a bunch of Christians and a largely Christian society start convincing him him he’s an awful person because of it.

    As much as Christians may claim that judgment is reserved for God, just the simple act of telling them that they are basically hellbound for their sins because of their nature is extremely judgmental. As benign as your average Christian may think he sounds, to those on the outside if usually comes across as, “Hey, I’m not judging you or anything, but you’re going to suffer for all eternity because you don’t agree with me!”

    That said, I don’t think that judgments are a big deal. Everyone judges everyone else on a regular basis, but let’s try to admit it and not pretend we’re all above making judgments above others, by either claiming to be open minded to the point of never judging or by saying such a right is reserved for a deity. I also don’t think that someone else’s judgment of you should really hurt your feelings, especially when it’s based in what one perceives as fantasy, as in the whole getting judged by God and going to hell thing. So basically, yes homosexuals are being judged by Christians when they say they’re unrepentant sinners (and thus hellbound), but no, they really shouldn’t be bothered by that.

    As for the predisposition towards religion point, that’s not what is being said at all. You are erroneously saying that everyone has this urge, it’s human nature, God calling, etc.. This is not what is being said. In “The God Gene”, it is discussed how the researchers in question found an actual, specific, observable gene which correlated highly with whether an individual turned out to be religious or not. This is not the same at all as a generic drive for greater purpose, but is an actual gene that when present and active creates an individual far more likely to be religious in the traditional sense of the word.

    Not everyone has a desire to be something bigger than themselves, unless you stretch the meaning of that phrase so far as to effectively become meaningless. I don’t feel the need to have anything that lends any sort of meaning to my life. I only care about satisfying my desires, which are a combination of my biological drives and certain instilled values from my environment. Albeit, not all of my desires are entirely selfish or hedonistic on a surface level, but at the base, they are about gratifying me and not about being part of any sort of greater whole.

  10. one going theory being tossed about among biologists (at least here in my department) is that sexuality is a rheostatic trait. It is determined by many inputs and you will have a “bell spread” of people you have one end which are people who are strictly heterosexual and the other pole comprised of individuals considering themselves strictly homosexual. You then have a group of people who have determinates for both poles in a mix. It is similar to how height is determined there are many genes that provide small amounts of input into an individuals height potential.

  11. So you’re saying it’s a combination of traits then that can lead to one way or another? Not necessarily a single mutation which would then tend to works its way out of the gene pool because of a failure to be passed on.

  12. I don’t think I missed any points so much as just decided to take them in another direction.

    To the “God Gene” point. I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Some denominations believe in “predestination” wherein God already has planned out ahead of time who He is going to call to His service and who He is not. I don’t necessarily buy into that particular theology, but there is some biblical support for it so I can’t dismiss it unequivocally. The “God Gene” to which you refer may be nothing more than the physical manifestation of God’s predetermined call to serve Him.

    Or it may be nothing more than scientific fantasy. Correlation does not establish causation and scientists often come to preliminary conclusions that later turn out to be false.

    I do not propose to have all the answers. I believe what I believe but my mind can be changed in the face of evidence and persuasive argument. I don’t for an instant think that my understanding of God’s word and God’s will are the be-all and end all of religious theology.

    “In all my years of study and contemplation, I have come to two undeniable, inescapable conclusions: There is a God, and I’m not Him.” –Approximate quote from the movie “Rudy”

    At no time does Christianity teach that we are to be without judgment. The only caveats to that are that we ourselves will ultimately be judged by the same standards to which we hold others. (Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37-38) and that not even Christ Himself is the final arbiter of judgment and likewise, none of us can legitimately claim that mantle (John 12:47 – 48).

    That is not to say that we are to be without Judgment. There is good and evil in the world. There is sin and there is righteousness. We can judge someone’s behavior as sinful without passing judgment over them or condemning them to any specific fate. I don’t get to decide who goes to hell. I’m not God. But I can point out actions and activities that the Bible says are sinful and recommend that participating in those acts be avoided. Some of those acts are harmful to others. Some are harmful only to ourselves. Denying the harm doesn’t make the acts less harmful…it only makes us human, defensive and flawed.

    But that doesn’t mean that I love the actor any less. Only that I abhor the acts and the result that my faith and religion tells me will ultimately result from them: God’s judgment.

    Are there professed Christians who overstep their bounds and pass judgment on others? Are there professed Christians who try to “Play God” and condemn others to Hell? Are there professed Christians who are hypocrites? Are there professed Christians who would try to force their beliefs on others?

    Of course there are. Christians are after all, humans too. Flawed. Sinners. Condemned ourselves but for the Grace of God through his Son Jesus Christ. We all just try to muddle along as best we can in accordance with our own inherently flawed understanding of God’s will and purpose.

    not all of my desires are entirely selfish or hedonistic on a surface level, but at the base, they are about gratifying me and not about being part of any sort of greater whole.

    I can’t speak to your personal motivations and desires. Only you and God (perhaps only God) know your heart. You will have to forgive a bit of skepticism on my part, however; denial is a prime self-defense mechanism of the human psyche and I cannot dismiss the possibility that you are simply denying those feelings in yourself.

    Do you ever give to charitable causes? Does doing so make you feel a sense of satisfaction? Have you ever been a member of a club, organization or movement? Have you ever felt a sense of accomplishment for a group achievement or for helping someone else accomplish something for which you received no personal gain? Those feelings and urges are, to my mind, manifestations of the need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

    The argument can be made, of course, that those things are only manifestations of the urge to feel good about ourselves and stroke our own egos…but why do those types of things have that effect? Why SHOULD we feel any sense of satisfaction or get an ego boost from doing something for, or with someone else? That flies in the face of “survival of the fittest”, darwinian selection, taking care of number one, etc.

    Perhaps you are a singular anomaly. Perhaps you are right and I am wrong. Perhaps there is something to the whole “predestination” belief and God simply has chosen not to call you.

    I don’t have all the answers. I only know that my faith and experiences tell me two things: there is a God, and I’m not Him.

  13. I apologize, I forgot to address your main point:

    If homosexuals see nothing wrong with their proclivities, why do they seem to require not only the acceptance, but the approval, of greater society?

    Homosexual acts are not illegal and are accepted as a legitimate alternative lifestyle by a relatively large cross section of society. Why should it bother any given homosexual that some Christians view their activities as sinful?

    The defensiveness of the Homosexual community as a whole suggests to me the possibility that they DO have doubts about the legitimacy of their desires and seek societal reinforcement in order to bolster their own self-esteem.

    …sexuality is a rheostatic trait…you will have a “bell spread” of people you have one end which are people who are strictly heterosexual and the other pole comprised of individuals considering themselves strictly homosexual. You then have a group of people who have determinates for both poles in a mix. It is similar to how height is determined

    I’m no biologist and perhaps I’m being overly simplistic or obtuse, but wouldn’t that suggest that there should be a relative few humans with strictly male physical characteristics, a few with strictly female characteristics and the rest with mixes of both? Woudn’t that suggest that the majority of human beings would fall somewhere in the middle between exclusively male and exclusively female both in sexual orientation and in physical sexual characteristics?

    I realize that there are legitimate hermaphrodites in the world but they are much less common (downright rare as a matter of fact) than this model of distribution would suggest.

  14. Homosexual acts are not illegal and are accepted as a legitimate alternative lifestyle by a relatively large cross section of society. Why should it bother any given homosexual that some Christians view their activities as sinful?

    Actually, homosexual acts are illegal in many states. Of course, given that that these laws are never enforced and are considered archaic, that’s not really the point. I don’t think homosexuals are looking for societal approval necessarily. The main issues have to do with legal rights, most notably the right to marry (or form civil unions) and all the legal benefits that go along with that. The gay rights movement today is very similar to the civil rights movement of half a century ago. To the extent that gays seek societal approval, well, it’s simply rather more pleasant to go through life not being mocked and discriminated against.

    I realize that there are legitimate hermaphrodites in the world but they are much less common (downright rare as a matter of fact) than this model of distribution would suggest.

    Actually, “hermaphroditism,” is a lot more common than you probably think. Until very recently, the majority of intersex persons were surgically assigned a gender at birth and received hormone treatments throughout childhood to ensure that they exhibit their assigned gender. Now that it’s known how truly common it is and how damaging it can be to a person who is assigned a gender that he or she does not identify with, intersex children more often remain that way until they are of an age to decide for themselves which gender they are.

    This link gives some statistics on the various intersex conditions:

  15. Slow down there, Sailorcurt, it wasn’t Sunday the last time I checked so you can put away that sermon. :)

    I think you really need to learn a lot about evolutionary biology before you can just dismiss every action that isn’t bonking the other guy over the head and stealing his resources as being some divinely inspired kindness. The simple fact of the matter is that not being an asshole all the time just makes sense from a survival standpoint. Groups survive better than individuals, and you can’t form much of a group when you all attack each other at the drop of a hat. Being charitable to others has a very high chance of coming back to help you by means of keeping the social unit strong and thus being able to better survive.

    The most interesting thing about the vast majority of attempts to put forth to me as an atheist the existence of God is that they almost always assume that the reason I believe what I do is simply because I don’t know enough about the subject. If I just had some critical piece of information, whether it be knowledge of a magical desire to help your fellow man for no very obvious reason or a few choice quotes from a holy book or whatever, that I would see the light, and that my atheism comes from ignorance. This is not true. I have read countless material on this subject examining it from all angles, and the simple fact is that I have not seen any argument or proof of any religion that I feel even remotely is a strong case compared to scientific explanations. I have seen countless claims by the religious that science cannot explain things that I have read evolutionary biology and physics books explain easily. The big problem is just that the religious people are usually dismissing the arguments without even knowing them.

    As for taking it on faith, I’m sure that the vikings had utter and complete faith in the validity of their religion, and I’m pretty sure you don’t think that they’re hanging out in Valhalla right now. If that’s the case, then why exactly is faith in Christianity to be taken any more seriously? To me, faith is just a code word for, “I was brainwashed to have this belief system, and I don’t have a logical reason for believing it, but since it’s been buried so deeply into my brain that it’s there to stay I’m just going to accept it.”

    As for homosexuals seeking acceptance, are they acting in any different a manner than Christians have at points in history? Despite your claim, homosexuality has been and still is illegal in many areas, to say nothing of the street justice that they have suffered at the hands of some who would take it upon themselves to give God a helping hand with the judgment. Christians have been on both ends of this throughout history, and there have been many times where Christianity has been declared illegal. What generally happens then? They want acceptance and approval, just like the gays do now! Does this mean that Christians think there is something wrong with themselves?

    To quote you with a slight change,

    “The defensiveness of the Christian community as a whole suggests to me the possibility that they DO have doubts about the legitimacy of their desires and seek societal reinforcement in order to bolster their own self-esteem.”

    From an outsider’s perspective, I pretty much view you guys as acting at times the exact same as homosexuals are currently.

    Also, I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but there is always the very real threat of the Christian Dominionist movement, which is a significant force within the Republican party itself. Despite your claims, there are indeed a large number of Christians out there who are looking forward to the day when they can in fact outlaw things like sodomy. These are not scary followers of some Westboro Baptist Church putting up “GOD HATES FAGS” websites. These are apparently perfectly normal people, some of whom I am related to by marriage, who are perfectly normal members of the perfectly normal mega-church in their perfectly normal fairly large Midwestern city, who do not say such things in mixed company but are perfectly happy to say in the privacy of their homes that they think homosexuality should but outlawed and punishable by death.

    As for the bell spread of sexuality, I think you are confusing sexuality as in sexual preference with gender. I don’t think Bullbore was saying that gender is in a bell spread (though there are far more hermaphrodites than you’d think out there), but that sexual orientation is, and that those more in the middle would be more easily swayed by their environment one way or the other, while those on either end of the spectrum are more hard coded to their orientation despite environmental influence either way.

  16. Darn, I had a comment almost finished but accidentally deleted it.

    Let’s see how badly I can misstate all the things that I said so eloquently the last time:

    Ms. Moneymakers: Thanks for the link. Although the document seemed to discuss any type of abnormality relating to sexual genes, sexual organs etc and did not deal exclusively with intersexual abnormalities, it still seems that such things are much more common than I had believed. I’ll have to do some more reading on it and attempt to de-gobbledegook the medical terminology they used so I can understand it better but that seems to be a good resource.

    Jym: At what point did I “dismiss” anything? I simply presented possibilities. At no time did I say anything to indicate that the possibilities I presented were the only ones or that I was “proving” other possibilities to be false.

    I’m going to have to come back to this later…possibly tomorrow. I’ve got somewhere to be in about 25 minutes so I don’t have time to really do this justice.

    This conversation has veered wildly from the original subject, but I’m finding it very interesting and enjoyable. Being that I seem to be the lone ranger here, thanks to everyone for keeping it civil and interesting and not piling on too badly.

    I’ll be back.

  17. OK, I’m back.

    I don’t normally proselytize because that is often counter-productive…but when the subject comes up, I am not uncomfortable at all discussing my beliefs. I apologize if I came off as trying to convert anyone. I was doing nothing more than attempting to explain my belief system to some small degree. I don’t speak for all of Christianity. One’s walk with God is a very personal thing and my experiences with and beliefs about God may be very different from someone else’s.

    I try very hard not to make assumptions about people. Sometimes I meet with more success than others but I’m human so I’ll forgive myself for that. I don’t feel that I forwarded any assumptions about your beliefs and I don’t feel that I’ve been trying to “prove” the existence of God. I’ve simply been expressing my beliefs to the best of my ability. In several instances, I’ve left open the possibility that I could be wrong in my beliefs or interpretations and I’ve consistently admitted that my knowledge is somewhat less than perfect in many areas…including theological.

    I know that I’ll never convince anyone who is determined not to believe. I can’t point to an object in the sky and say “look, there He his, right there” to prove God’s existence.

    God is sort of like the wind in that respect. We can’t see the wind, but we can feel and see the effects of it. I feel and see the effects of God in my life every day. Perhaps you do too but simply don’t recognize it for what it is. Perhaps I’m deluding myself and the things that I interpret as the work of God in my life are nothing more than me grasping for things that I “need” to believe. I can’t empirically demonstrate which possibility is the case. That’s why it’s called faith. I believe that many of the “convenient coincidences” in my life to be the work of God and that’s enough for me. If you dismiss my beliefs as figments of my imagination who is it being dismissive of possibilities? Is your contention that you are all-knowing and have perfect understanding of life and death, nature and the world, the heavens and the earth? Is your contention that ANY human being does? I didn’t think so. If the absolute fact is that we simply do not know many, many things about how this whole thing called the universe works, can you legitimately dismiss my beliefs out of hand, or is it you that is actually being closed minded?

    I’ve seen countless scientific “explanations” for things that were nothing more than plausible supposition. Because the explanations are plausible, they are accepted as fact. Plausible is not the same thing as proven. With that said…science is not the enemy of religion. I believe that God created the heavens and Earth. Did He do it in an instant through a “big bang” or over unfathomable periods of time through a gradual accumulation of masses? I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter to me.

    John built a bookcase. Did he do it with a handsaw and plane in a month or with a table saw and router in a week? Does it matter? If you prove he did it with power tools when, all along, the conventional wisdom was that he did it with hand tools, does that demonstrate that he did not, in fact, build the bookcase at all? No, it only demonstrates that our knowledge of how he built the bookcase was…and possibly still is…incomplete.

    You speak disparagingly about faith but you accept things on faith every day. You have faith that the scientists that you place so much…well…faith…in are interpreting the things that they evaluate correctly. That they do not have preconceived prejudices that may color the results of their tests or the conclusions they draw. That the assumptions required to be accepted…on faith…to make their theories work are, in fact, infallible. I recently read that a scientist has purportedly broken Einstein’s law of special relativity. Science continues to advance and, in the process of that advance, theories and conclusions are consistently demonstrated to have been inaccurate, incorrect or flawed. With that knowledge in hand can you seriously look me in the eye (figuratively speaking of course) and tell me that there is no element of faith in your acceptance of science as your religion of choice?

    You make assumptions about my beliefs regarding the validity of other religions. Your assumptions are incorrect. The bottom line is that I don’t know what the disposition of the immortal souls of the Vikings might be. I’m not privy to the inner workings of God’s kingdom. I know what my religious teachings tell me I must do to attain my heavenly reward. I have faith that if I follow those teachings to the best of my ability and meet the standards set out for me, I will be rewarded as promised. Do I know for a fact that Vikings who devoutly followed the teachings of their religion won’t be there when I arrive? Of course not. How about Buddists? Muslims? Hindus? Jews? The fact is that no human being can truly know. Perhaps all religions are actually worshiping the same God to the best of our imperfect understanding. Perhaps all that God requires for us to earn our reward is that we follow the tenets of our religion faithfully and the actual religion is not that important. Perhaps all God really requires is that we do our best to live a good life and all the various religious hoo-ha is just a human construct designed to describe and explain the indescribable and inexplicable.

    The bottom line is that I don’t know…and neither does anyone else. All we can do is live within the tenets of our faith as we understand it and hope that we’re doing it right.

    Kind of like what you are doing with your life.

    You are correct that there are still laws on the books against homosexual acts. You are also correct that they are not enforced because they have been, in recent times, (correctly in my humble opinion) found to be unconstitutional. An unconstitutional law is null and void, is unenforceable and, for all practical purposes, doesn’t exist.

    Are there people who would like those laws to be enforced? Sure there are. Are they right? Not as far as I’m concerned. Will they be successful? I seriously doubt it and I will fight against them in any way I can.

    I think your references to the “Christian Dominionist” movement are a bit blown out of proportion. To the best of my knowledge, there is no “Dominionist” movement per se. That term is basically nothing more than a conspiracy theory cooked up by an author with an agenda. It has gained traction in circles that oppose the concept of a Christian Dominionist movement but, as far as I know, such a movement does not exist in any tangible way.

    Do Christians desire to elect public officials who’s belief systems mirror their own? Of course…just like every other identifiable group in the United States. Are there Christians who would like a strictly Christian agenda pushed by the government? Probably…but I don’t know any. And I’ve attended churches from many different denominations throughout the country (and the world for that matter). Is there some shadowy organization made up of a large number of fanatical Christians who want to institute a Christian theocracy in the US? I suppose it’s possible but I must admit that I have my doubts.

    Finally, I stated up front that I’m no biologist. I know that genes control physical characteristics like hair color and height so it would follow in my mind that a gene that has something to do with sexuality would affect not only proclivities but physical characteristics as well. I freely admit my ignorance on the subject…which is why I phrased my comment on that subject in the form of questions rather than assertions. I was not making statements, I was asking for clarification. To be frank, unless you are a biologist or geneticist, I would submit that you are probably unqualified to answer those questions.

    Thanks again for an interesting and civil discussion.

  18. Sailorcurt, the “science requires faith” argument is not true. Science is based on verifiable evidence, not faith. You yourself actually gave a perfect example of why science is not faith. When science discovers something wrong in its world view, it changes it. This is, indeed, the entire point of science. If someone finds an error in a scientific principle, then science changes to accommodate the new information. Faith, however, is never questioned, and thus never changes. These two things are exact opposites. The only time religion ever corrects itself is when some of its followers stop having faith in one particular part of their doctrine, modify it, and a new religion splinters off. It is only through a lapse of faith in a facet of a religion and the subsequent questioning that occurs that religions really evolve at all. Science, which accepts nothing on faith and everything on evidence, does this every day.

    As for plausible vs. proven, the entire point of the scientific method is that they start with a hypothesis (a plausible explanation), it is rigorously tested, and if it holds up to said tests it is considered proven. If it does not hold up to said tests, the hypothesis is modified and they try again. How does this compare to religion, where there is no even plausible explanation to test? Religion declares “God did it,” end of story, and we are to believe that the burden of proof is somehow on science, which at least has a plausible explanation to start with? Religion typically does not even have plausability, let alone proof.

    As for the “No one can truly know the truth of God” line of thinking, I completely agree that is true, and I think you would find more religious people that disagree with the statement than atheists because of their reliance on faith. Atheism/theism is a sliding scale, not a binary switch. The vast majority of atheists past a high school level with any real understanding of the subject take the position “I do not believe in God” rather than “I believe in no God.” The difference is subtle but extremely important. It is impossible to prove a negative, so I cannot believe there is no God any more than I can believe there is no tooth fairy, since in this absolutely massive universe there could theoretically be one out there somewhere. However, to live life in a rational manner we must take what evidence we have and attempt to act according to it. That isn’t faith (which is belief without evidence), it is best guesses with evidence.

    As for Dominionists, I don’t believe that they are a megalithic evil shadow organization. I actually don’t believe that any shadow organization like that of any sort can exist, other than perhaps international bankers, because I think humans are for the most part too incompetent to be able to pull off such a far reaching yet hidden agenda without discovery. I use the term more as a catch all for organization such as the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and other groups funding the Religious Right, which would happily enact laws to bring about a Christian nation. In my mind, these groups are to non-Christians what the Brady Group is to gun owners; while they may say that they just want reasonable restrictions on our behavior, their track record shows a fundamental disregard for those that they disagree with.

    As for the issue of genes controlling sexual characteristics, if you’re not willing to accept my views since I’m not a biologist, though, I guess there’s nothing more to say about that.

  19. If you care to post after this one, I’ll leave you the last word and let it go after this post.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people seemingly cannot (or will not, or simply don’t care to) see the contradictions in their own words.

    Science is “proven” to be correct…but it freely admits when it is wrong?

    Um. If it is proven to be correct, how COULD it be wrong?

    Yes, there are some scientific principles (relatively speaking, VERY few) that we can say with some (not total) certainty that we understand.

    The issue comes to the fore when an uncertain “scientific discovery” is touted as “proven”. That’s where the “faith” on your part comes in and you seem to possess of that faith in unbounding measure.

    When I was in college, one of my major problem with the “Scientific Method” was the whole “hypothesis – experiment – conclusion” loop. When a scientist (especially a noted, reknowned one) forwards a hypothesis, they have a vested interest (even if a subconscious one) in proving themselves correct. If the scientific method were flawless, we wouldn’t have scientific theories and laws debunked and overturned on a regular basis. The fact that it happens at all unequivocally demonstrates two things: Our knowledge is incomplete on virtually EVERY subject. AND Our scientific method is somewhat less than perfect.

    With that said, I don’t know that the scientific method can be improved. Perhaps, perhaps not…we are, after all, imperfect humans. I don’t think there is any such thing as a “foolproof” method. But in any case, the very fact that scientists are forced, on a regular basis, to revise, correct, or completely abandon established “proven” scientific principles demonstrates to me unequivocally that acceptance of “proven” scientific principles has no less an element of faith than acceptance of religious principles.

    The fact that you refuse to recognize or acknowledge the basic truth of that makes it no less truth.

    Human understanding of God is also imperfect. The fact that some Christians (and Muslims, and Buddists, and…) refuse to acknowledge it doesn’t make it any less truth. We are imperfect by nature. The vastness that is God and nature are (as far as I can tell) unfathomable to us.

    Science is continually discovering smaller and smaller “building blocks of the universe” At one time, the molecule was the smallest unit, then the atom, then the electrons, protons and neutrons, currently we are down to Quarks. Well…what are quarks made of?

    According to one theory, all of the planets and moons and stars etc were created by the big bang. OK. where did the matter that formed those planets and stars and moons etc come from? What is space itself made of? Where did it come from?

    These questions are, to my current understanding, unknowable. The more we break things down, the more we figure out that there’s more just under the surface that we were previously unaware of. It’s like folding a piece of paper in half over and over and over again. You can (theoretically) make it so small in a single plane that it is impossible to see, but you can never make it completely go away by this method.

    I’m not saying that we should give up and stop trying to unlock the secrets of the universe. That is how human technological advancement is accomplished. I don’t see this as a threat to religion like many do. The Bible tells us what God did and is doing. Science is telling us how.

    To be honest, I sincerely hope that you are right. If you are right and there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, when I die, I just end. I go away. I feel no more pain nor sorrow nor pleasure, nor happiness. And so it will be with you as well.

    If I am right, however, I despair for your soul. I do not wish anyone to be eternally separated from God. So I hope that you’re right…while preparing for the eventuality that you are wrong.

    The bottom line is that I cannot prove the existence of God to you any more than you can prove the non-existence of God to me.

    All I know is what God has done in my life. That is why we have unquestioning faith. We have proven the hypothesis for ourselves and are convinced that the presence of God is proven…to us. I had a period of non-belief in my life. I’ve heard all of your reasoning for why religious faith is false before…many of the same arguments came from my own mouth.

    I sincerely believed that I didn’t need God. That I was perfectly happy, healthy and wise without Him. That I was a good person and I didn’t need the threat of Hell, or purgatory or “eternal separation from the face of God” hanging over my head to coerce me into doing right. I sincerely believed that God and religion were the weak person’s crutches to alleviate their fears and motivate them to do what they should be doing “just because”.

    I didn’t realize what I was missing until I found it. After I re-discovered God I realized how barren I really was. I was narcissitic, self-centered, angry, depressed and self-pitying and I didn’t even realize it. After finding my way back to God, I have realized just how enjoyable life can really be and I wonder at myself that I wandered in the desert…all the while THINKING that I was perfectly happy…for so long.

    It’s like discovering some sort of new gourmet food that you have never tasted before. You thought you enjoyed food before. This wonderful new treat is simply beyond anything that you even thought was possible for the taste buds to experience. Had you never tasted the new dish, you would have been perfectly satisfied with your menu as it was…but now that you’ve discovered that there is so much more out there…

    It is not my place to try to convince you of the presence of God. It is not my place to try to “convert” you. It is only my role to tell you about God as I know Him. Tell you (and possibly show you) what God has done in my life, and let you decide whether you choose to seek Him or not.

    Jesus, at one time, had a rich man approach Him and ask what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus knew that the man’s riches were a stumbling block to his salvation, that his love for his wealth would prevent him from truly giving himself to the Lord. Jesus told the man to give away all his riches and “follow me”. The man decided the cost was too high and went away. Here’s the most important thing about this story: Jesus let him go without further comment or protest.

    The decision to seek God is yours alone to make. If you are happy eating hamburgers and fries all your life, that’s your call. As for me: I’ll take the Filet Mignon, thank you very much.

  20. Sailorcurt, I think the problem here is you have a misconception about the scientific method. Your problems with it as you put them forth are more a lack of understanding.

    You’re focusing on entirely the wrong thing. This is the most important thing I can tell you about the scientific method: The real strength of it is exactly the fact that it can rule itself wrong and correct itself. There is no faith involved here. As soon as something is definitely wrong, no one just accepts it on faith and keeps going, they revise it.

    If you have a problem with being able to look at an error and correct it, then I don’t know what to tell you, because that’s basically what science is all about.

    As for the rest of your post, it relies on nothing but a feeling. You are moving the scope of this discussion outside of the realms of reason. I have no problem debating solid points with you, but expecting me to take your feeling alone as a serious point just isn’t going to mean anything at all to me. I’m sure there are some very sincere mental patients that truly feel they are Napoleon, but I’m not going to take their feeling very seriously either.

  21. Sailorcurt,

    You should have paid more attention during your scientific method class. As an individual who utilizes the scientific method in his lab and trains others in my field, I will inform you that a majority of principles in science that are modified are modified because new techniques provide better data, not due to forcing data to fit theories. Any scientist worth his lab will tell you that all theories and hypothesis are falsifiable. We can come up with situations that our theories don’t fit and we recognize that no hypothesis or theory can cover the full gamut of situations. In science we look at the data and comment on the extent of the data nothing further.

    The problem in approaching science as a religion is that science accepts nothing as faith we require evidence and then subject it to extensive scrutiny before allowing any analysis to be published. In opposite, religion any criticism is quickly swept out of public view. Do you discuss the lack of original version of the bible, the inconsistencies of the early versions in different languages, or the removal of the Apocrypha from the bible. You aren’t even working with the full set of data. Think about it before you call out science.

  22. Theories must be disproved on a case-by-case basis. You can’t say “Some theories are wrong, therefore this one is”.

    The Scientific Method is just that, a method. The limitations that exist can be do to other factors such as lack of time, money, and equipment. The biggest factors in determining if a hypothesis is true are explain-ability, repeatability, and predictability.

  23. Sebastian: Here you go.

    An entire thread of argument wherein the participants failed to agree on a single point but not one insult was hurled, not one threat, not one accusation, not one demeaning moniker was assigned.

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done. Civil discourse and respectful disagreement at its finest.

    Jym, Ms. Moneymakers, Bullbore, Alcibiades, et al…

    Thank you for a civil, educational and enjoyable debate. Everyone made excellent points and provided some succulent food for thought. I look forward to our next “meeting”.

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