Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
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20-05-2013, 07:33 PM (This post was last modified: 23-05-2013 08:18 AM by cheapthrillseaker.)
Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
***For Others***: This thread is a continuation of another thread by the same name that I started in the Atheism vs. Theism forum.

Mark,

Yes, I am a Christian. By denomination I am a Missouri Synod Lutheran. However, I feel that a vast number of the problems that the modern Church faces are a result of unwillingness to evaluate Christian teachings in light of modern knowledge. Thus, while I hold to many of the same fundamental doctrines as the modern Church, I would articulate my reasons in a very different manner. Should our discussion lead us down such paths, I will elaborate as necessary.

As for an initial topic, let's make things spicy to see if we can't kick up some interest and avoid rehashing old arguments. You mentioned being opinionated about the damage caused by the Church and also suggested we might broach sex and homosexuality. Thus, I propose the following resolution...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual."

To facilitate productive discussion, I briefly define the "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" as below. Further clarification can occur later and, indeed, should, in my opinion, be an overall goal of this starting topic!

The "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" is:

1. Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made.

2. Partners in such a relationship should not withhold sex from each other unless medically or emotionally necessary and, outside of involving third parties (whether live or in pornography), should feel free to explore whatever sexual preferences they desire.

3. Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman.

Should this topic not interest you, I'm open to alternatives. Otherwise, I look forward to your initial arguments. I will not post again tonight but will respond ASAP tomorrow.

Thanks again for taking me up on my offer and I look forward to our discussion.

Sincerely,

Mojch
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20-05-2013, 08:40 PM (This post was last modified: 20-05-2013 09:57 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
(20-05-2013 07:33 PM)Mojch Wrote:  ***For Others***: This thread is a continuation of another thread by the same name that I started in the Atheism vs. Theism forum.

Mark,

Yes, I am a Christian. By denomination I am a Missouri Synod Lutheran. However, I feel that a vast number of the problems that the modern Church faces are a result of unwillingness to evaluate Christian teachings in light of modern knowledge. Thus, while I hold to many of the same fundamental doctrines as the modern Church, I would articulate my reasons in a very different manner. Should our discussion lead us down such paths, I will elaborate as necessary.

As for an initial topic, let's make things spicy to see if we can't kick up some interest and avoid rehashing old arguments. You mentioned being opinionated about the damage caused by the Church and also suggested we might broach sex and homosexuality. Thus, I propose the following resolution...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual."

To facilitate productive discussion, I briefly define the "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" as below. Further clarification can occur later and, indeed, should, in my opinion, be an overall goal of this starting topic!

The "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" is:

1. Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made.

2. Partners in such a relationship should not withhold sex from each other unless medically or emotionally necessary and, outside of involving third parties (whether live or in pornography), should feel free to explore whatever sexual preferences they desire.

3. Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman.

Should this topic not interest you, I'm open to alternatives. Otherwise, I look forward to your initial arguments. I will not post again tonight but will respond ASAP tomorrow.

Thanks again for taking me up on my offer and I look forward to our discussion.

Sincerely,

Mojch

Hi Mojch. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Sex................... Everyones favourite topic!

You claim "The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences "

Well knock me over with a feather! I think nothing could be further from the truth. Let's see what the bible says about sex....

The sixth commandment states,
“You shall not commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14, NJB). Yet throughout scripture God quite clearly suggested Jewish men could have sex with slaves or pagan women and girls—any woman or girl who wasn’t another Jewish man’s property. So this commandment is really forbidding men to have sex with married or engaged Jewish women.

This rule was interpreted differently for a Jewish woman, who was expected to remain a virgin until she was married, when she became the property of her husband. She wasn’t allowed to have sex with anyone but him (see Numbers 5:13–21). So the sixth commandment doesn’t appear to be sexist, yet in practice it was.

The tenth commandment states,
“You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's” (Exod. 20:17, NJB). This commandment labeled wives and servants as possessions, an immoral precept.

We can’t, and shouldn’t, deny natural desires. A hungry woman can’t decide to not covet chocolate. If the commandment stated that we shouldn’t become obsessed with our desires, or shouldn’t always give in to them, it might be teaching a lesson, but it doesn’t.

Kill homosexuals:
“The man who has intercourse with a man in the same way as with a woman: they have done a hateful thing together; they will be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Lev. 20:13, NJB). Jewish priests were very focused on increasing Jewish progeny. They thought homosexual men were wasting their seed.
There’s no record that any other cultures at the time had a problem with homosexuality. These writings are probably the original source of the discrimination against millions of innocent homosexual people in the Christian and Islamic world. ( http://www.askwhy.co.uk/questioningbelie...uality.php ).

Keep the virgin girls for sex:
“…but spare the lives of the young girls who have never slept with a man, and keep them for yourselves” (Num. 31:18, NJB).
God gave license to the rape of young virgin girls. It was the social norm in some cultures for little girls to be married off or just used for sex, and God encouraged it.

Don’t wash the wedding night sheets:
If a man marries a woman, has sexual intercourse with her and then, turning against her, taxes her with misconduct and publicly defames her by saying, I married this woman and when I had sexual intercourse with her I did not find evidence of her virginity, the girl's father and mother must take the evidence of her virginity and produce it before the elders of the town, at the gate. To the elders, the girl's father will say, I gave this man my daughter for a wife and he has turned against her, and now he taxes her with misconduct, saying, I have found no evidence of virginity in your daughter. Here is the evidence of my daughter's virginity! They must then display the cloth to the elders of the town. The elders of the town in question will have the man arrested and flogged, and fine him a hundred silver shekels for publicly defaming a virgin of Israel, and give this money to the girl's father. She will remain his wife; as long as he lives, he may not divorce her. But if the accusation that the girl cannot show evidence of virginity is substantiated, she must be taken out, and at the door of her father's house her fellow-citizens must stone her to death for having committed an infamy in Israel by bringing disgrace on her father's family. You must banish this evil from among you” (Deut. 22:13–21, NJB).

Any Jewish girl accused of not being a virgin was to have her wedding night blood waved in front of the town elders. If it couldn’t be produced, she was to be killed. I’m sure this passage appalls Christians, yet they often praise female virginity because of what’s written. There was no such test for a male’s virginity because men were expected to spread their seed with anyone except another Jewish man’s property (his wife). (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ieW__BbjHU).

If a Jewish father was running short of shekels, God suggested selling his daughter as a sex slave!
If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not leave as male slaves do. If she does not please her master who intended her for himself, he must let her be bought back: he has not the right to sell her to foreigners, for this would be a breach of faith with her. If he intends her for his son, he must treat her as custom requires daughters to be treated. If he takes another wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing or conjugal rights of the first one. Should he deprive her of these three things she will leave a free woman, without paying compensation” (Exod. 21:7–11, NJB).

That will do for the OT, but believe me, I could go on. What about the NT?

Jesus said,
There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matt. 19:12, NJB). He had no issue with castration to expedite entry into heaven. What a sick idea. The “good shepherd” wanted to castrate his sheep! Throughout the Middle Ages men mutilated other men because of this message.

Jesus said:
“If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28, NJB). He declared desire was depraved and implied we should be ashamed of our libidos. Yet surely sexual thoughts are as natural and as inoffensive as hunger or the need to breathe. They’re not something we can control. We can control giving in to our desires, and to do so may have merit, but that isn’t what Jesus said.

For nearly two thousand years Christians have felt guilt about sex. Some have suppressed their natural urges in the hope of impressing God and buying themselves a ticket to heaven. The consequence has been much misery and frustration, and many have ended up with neurotic issues. Some have sexually abused children. Jesus’ words must take some of the blame.

Paul had a bigoted attitude about homosexuality:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders… will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10, NIV).
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26–27, NIV).
Over the centuries many western societies have been poisoned by an intolerance of homosexuality, and Paul’s manifesto is partly to blame. Churches today presume they have the right to dictate to people about issues such as same sex marriage. They should mind their own business. ( http://www.askwhy.co.uk/questioningbelie...uality.php http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQf5jL3a4...N1sjdLQIj8 ).

Paul loathed his own sexuality.
The fact is, I know of nothing good living in me—living, that is, in my unspiritual self—for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing good the things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me…I can see my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death” (Rom. 7:18–24, NJB). Poor, pathetic Paul! Deluded with puritanical ideas, he was repulsed by his own libido and miserable. He was a suppressed, toxic little man, ill at ease with himself.

It’s no surprise he was celibate:
“I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Cor. 7:8–9, KJV). To be single was quite unusual for a Pharisee, as they were expected to marry. I suspect Paul would have had difficulty finding a woman willing to live with him. Or he may have been homosexual, yet ashamed to be, so he lived in the closet. Whatever the case, he quite clearly had a neurosis about sex:
"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:6–13, KJV).
"He wants you to keep away from fornication and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honorable, not giving away to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God, He wants nobody at all to ever sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral” (1 Thess. 4:3–7, NJB).
Yes, it is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman. But since sex is always a danger, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband must give his wife what she has the right to expect, and so too the wife to the husband. The wife has no rights over her own body; it is the husband who has them. In the same way, the husband has no rights over his body; the wife has them. Do not refuse each other except by mutual consent, and then only for an agreed time, to leave yourselves free for prayer; then come together again in case Satan should take advantage of your weakness to tempt you” (1 Cor. 7:1–6, NJB).

Commentary is almost superfluous. He thought sex was distasteful, an annoying but necessary nuisance, like going to the toilet. He implied people should get it over with quickly, so they could get on with praying. He thought people got married so sex was within easy reach. Having a spouse was like having a convenient toilet.

From where did he get this sour, jaundiced perspective? He may have been sexually abused as a child, or had erectile difficulties, or been disgusted by his own attraction towards men, or been brainwashed with Platonic ideas about base bodily functions. He thought the end of the world was imminent, which may be why he thought it was better to not reproduce.

I think he was put out by people’s sexuality, which was way more interesting than his spiritual profundities. So he tried to control this part of people’s lives too.
While most people today quite rightly dismiss this dogma, a sizable minority don’t. Consider the psychological damage inflicted on millions of innocent people through their upbringings. All youngsters explore their sexuality; yet the child is often told that such behaviors—even thoughts—are sins! The consequence is guilt and shame. The underlying agenda is to get people to dislike themselves. When an ego is wounded, a person feels shame, so is easier to control. The virgin Jesus, like his mother, is pure and sinless, so jumps to the rescue, and the church has conned another customer. The punter is saved from a problem he never had in the first place.

This negativity about sex is a filthy stain that’s hard to wash out of people’s minds once it has taken root. Shame on churches for promoting this as the word of God!

The human body isn’t regarded with respect in the Bible. Sexuality is denigrated, the “flesh” is evil, passion is sinful, and one’s libido is suspect. Health, beauty and physical pleasure are secondary to the eternal things of the Spirit. There are no prizes for guessing who promotes these ideas:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:16–17, KJV).
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21, KJV).

Church leaders have always known that suppressed sexuality can be channeled into piety and harnessed for the purposes of the Church. Once again, this is a subjugation of what’s healthy, instinctive and natural - to facilitate control.

Some people have an obsessive preoccupation with other's sexual preferences, thereby externalizing their own inner battle against sin. A classic example is the fundamentalist preacher, who may be a closet homosexual himself, babbling on about the evil of being gay.

Sex is a special, natural, wholesome, and beautiful part of life. It strengthens relationships and is how we reproduce. It’s a private affair, so preachers should butt out of people’s personal practices.

All of us are sexual beings, yet people often display circumspection, disdain and even outright condemnation of sexuality. There are some predictable results, such as self-loathing, denial over sexual orientation, frigid relationships, guilt, loneliness, anger, and regret. Secular society is usually left to pick up the pieces after the damage has been done. I have many patients, particularly older people, who still have sexual problems due to their Christian upbringings, and it’s sometimes very difficult to help them. How tragic and unnecessary!

I think it's very obvious that your "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" bears little relation to what is actually in the bible.
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20-05-2013, 10:51 PM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
Mark,

Sincerest apologies for getting your last name wrong in the post title. No disrespect was intended and I am embarrassed by the inaccuracy. I also found what appears to be your website while researching your links and references. Cool stuff.

For the sake of convenience, I will not be quoting your entire argument and instead responding to the assertions as I see them. Should I misconstrue anything you said, please know that it was not intentional or an attempt to deceive. Please correct me so we can stay on topic. Additionally, may I suggest we limit our discourse to a few examples at a time? Otherwise, I fear we may quickly become overwhelmed with multiple lines of reasoning. In this vein, I have responded to your first set of points below. Once these are resolved or, at least, discussed, we can then move to the next set at your pace. Of course, if you do not want to modify the system and don't mind the lengthy nature of these posts, the current format is acceptable as well. If you would prefer this option, just let me know and I will go ahead and respond to the remainder of your arguments.

First, let me address your last comment regarding the consequences of the traditional Church position on sexuality. You mention that such practices have resulted in "self-loathing, denial over sexual orientation, frigid relationships, guilt, loneliness, anger, and regret". Your analysis is absolutely correct and I not only concede this point but endorse it. Many mainstream Christian denominations needlessly condemn human sexuality and such condemnation results in the consequences outlined. However, I would also point out that my original proposition was not that sexuality as dictated by the Church is ideal but that sexuality as dictated by the Bible is the best possible ordering of sexual relationships available. Obviously, man's interpretation of a text can be flawed (or, as is true in this case, simply created out of whole cloth with no real reference to the text) but the fact that men fail to properly apply a doctrine is not an argument for the falsity of the doctrine properly applied. I would argue that, when the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is followed, the result is a freedom of sexual expression that is limited only by the social desirability of long-term monogamous relationships. This is the best possible sexual situation for mankind as a whole. Do you dispute this point or is your objection that the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is insufficient?

The remainder of your arguments are indeed strong textual arguments that perhaps Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering. Let me attempt to address your points one by one. As I stated in my original post, I do not seek to persuade you. Instead, I want you to help me weed out bad arguments.

Once again, I have attempted to summarize your points both for my own understanding and for the sake of (probably doomed) brevity.

1. Quote: "Yet throughout scripture God quite clearly suggested Jewish men could have sex with slaves or pagan women and girls—any woman or girl who wasn’t another Jewish man’s property." Could you supply a textual reference for this? I am unfamiliar with any such text. If this is true, then my Definition Point #1 regarding monogamous relationships would most likely be faulty.

2. Quote: "So the sixth commandment doesn’t appear to be sexist, yet in practice it was." My objection here is that you are arguing that the Bible as applied is incorrect. As you stated, the commandment is not sexist on its face. Therefore, it should not have been applied in a sexist manner. The fault lies with man, not with the text. This, of course, is the logical response to most arguments about evils committed by the Church. Reasoning by way of analogy, Darwinism was twisted into social Darwinism and used for great evil but this isn't a valid argument against the validity of the theory itself. In a similar vein, many of the evils committed by the Church are not validated by Scripture (and, indeed, are condemned by it) but were carried forth by the will of men twisting the text to suit their desire for power.

3. Quote: "This commandment [the 10th] labeled wives and servants as possessions, an immoral precept." I do not see the verse as requiring a reading that lumps wives and servants together as possessions. It simply states not to covet things that are "your neighbors". Within this extremely limited context, do you contend that it is immoral for me consider my wife "mine" in the sense that I have a greater claim to her than any other non-familial man? Does my avowed commitment to her not give rise to such an interest? Does she not have the exact same right in me? Note that I am not talking about ownership or control (especially not control). I am simply pointing out that I do not see how it is immoral to acknowledge that one human being can have a greater interest in another human being because of established personal relationships. Our legal system even recognizes this with standard adoption procedures, the laws of inheritance, etc.

4. Quote: "We can’t, and shouldn’t, deny natural desires. A hungry woman can’t decide to not covet chocolate." First, I would point out that this entire argument rests on the degree of desire you attribute to the word "covet". Second, and much more importantly, your medical training gives you an advantage here. Is it true that we can't deny our natural desires? I thought that one of the basic precepts of psychology was that human beings can, through rigorous training, modify their innate desires to a large, if not total, extent. For example, can't a hungry human being actually decide to overcome their hunger and "not covet chocolate"? Is it scientific fact that human beings cannot modify their behavior in the manner I have described? If so, could you point me to some research appropriate for the layman?(NOTE: This is not sarcasm. I am honestly asking since you have superior education in the area.)

5. Quote: "There’s no record that any other cultures at the time had a problem with homosexuality. These writings are probably the original source of the discrimination against millions of innocent homosexual people in the Christian and Islamic world." I have no knowledge about whether previous cultures condemned homosexuality. I will try to research this point briefly. Conceded as to the second point. To my knowledge, these verses (and others like them) have played a huge role in the assault on homosexual behavior. While I believe you can make arguments that homosexuality is less advantageous than heterosexuality from the standpoint of maximizing social good, I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death. Thus, I am exceptionally glad we are discussing this point. The weakest areas must be those most closely examined. At this juncture, this is the best argument I can put forth. (1) Sexuality is the greatest social force that individual human can wield. (2) Sexuality must therefore be controlled to maximize social good. (3) Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk without sufficient offsetting social positives. (4) In "Biblical" times, uncontrolled sexuality had much more pervasive consequences than it does today due to less advanced medical knowledge. (5) Thus, punishing sexual immorality by death was justified in Biblical times but is not justified today. (NOTE: I fully expect you to tear this argument apart and I am hopeful that as I learn from you doing so, I can rebuild it into something stronger. Of course, should I fail, I will have to concede this point.)

As I indicated above, I am stopping here to keep this discussion to a manageable size.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Mojch
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21-05-2013, 03:31 AM (This post was last modified: 21-05-2013 03:35 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
(20-05-2013 10:51 PM)Mojch Wrote:  Mark,

Sincerest apologies for getting your last name wrong in the post title. No disrespect was intended and I am embarrassed by the inaccuracy. I also found what appears to be your website while researching your links and references. Cool stuff.

For the sake of convenience, I will not be quoting your entire argument and instead responding to the assertions as I see them. Should I misconstrue anything you said, please know that it was not intentional or an attempt to deceive. Please correct me so we can stay on topic. Additionally, may I suggest we limit our discourse to a few examples at a time? Otherwise, I fear we may quickly become overwhelmed with multiple lines of reasoning. In this vein, I have responded to your first set of points below. Once these are resolved or, at least, discussed, we can then move to the next set at your pace. Of course, if you do not want to modify the system and don't mind the lengthy nature of these posts, the current format is acceptable as well. If you would prefer this option, just let me know and I will go ahead and respond to the remainder of your arguments.

First, let me address your last comment regarding the consequences of the traditional Church position on sexuality. You mention that such practices have resulted in "self-loathing, denial over sexual orientation, frigid relationships, guilt, loneliness, anger, and regret". Your analysis is absolutely correct and I not only concede this point but endorse it. Many mainstream Christian denominations needlessly condemn human sexuality and such condemnation results in the consequences outlined. However, I would also point out that my original proposition was not that sexuality as dictated by the Church is ideal but that sexuality as dictated by the Bible is the best possible ordering of sexual relationships available. Obviously, man's interpretation of a text can be flawed (or, as is true in this case, simply created out of whole cloth with no real reference to the text) but the fact that men fail to properly apply a doctrine is not an argument for the falsity of the doctrine properly applied. I would argue that, when the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is followed, the result is a freedom of sexual expression that is limited only by the social desirability of long-term monogamous relationships. This is the best possible sexual situation for mankind as a whole. Do you dispute this point or is your objection that the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is insufficient?

The remainder of your arguments are indeed strong textual arguments that perhaps Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering. Let me attempt to address your points one by one. As I stated in my original post, I do not seek to persuade you. Instead, I want you to help me weed out bad arguments.

Once again, I have attempted to summarize your points both for my own understanding and for the sake of (probably doomed) brevity.

1. Quote: "Yet throughout scripture God quite clearly suggested Jewish men could have sex with slaves or pagan women and girls—any woman or girl who wasn’t another Jewish man’s property." Could you supply a textual reference for this? I am unfamiliar with any such text. If this is true, then my Definition Point #1 regarding monogamous relationships would most likely be faulty.

2. Quote: "So the sixth commandment doesn’t appear to be sexist, yet in practice it was." My objection here is that you are arguing that the Bible as applied is incorrect. As you stated, the commandment is not sexist on its face. Therefore, it should not have been applied in a sexist manner. The fault lies with man, not with the text. This, of course, is the logical response to most arguments about evils committed by the Church. Reasoning by way of analogy, Darwinism was twisted into social Darwinism and used for great evil but this isn't a valid argument against the validity of the theory itself. In a similar vein, many of the evils committed by the Church are not validated by Scripture (and, indeed, are condemned by it) but were carried forth by the will of men twisting the text to suit their desire for power.

3. Quote: "This commandment [the 10th] labeled wives and servants as possessions, an immoral precept." I do not see the verse as requiring a reading that lumps wives and servants together as possessions. It simply states not to covet things that are "your neighbors". Within this extremely limited context, do you contend that it is immoral for me consider my wife "mine" in the sense that I have a greater claim to her than any other non-familial man? Does my avowed commitment to her not give rise to such an interest? Does she not have the exact same right in me? Note that I am not talking about ownership or control (especially not control). I am simply pointing out that I do not see how it is immoral to acknowledge that one human being can have a greater interest in another human being because of established personal relationships. Our legal system even recognizes this with standard adoption procedures, the laws of inheritance, etc.

4. Quote: "We can’t, and shouldn’t, deny natural desires. A hungry woman can’t decide to not covet chocolate." First, I would point out that this entire argument rests on the degree of desire you attribute to the word "covet". Second, and much more importantly, your medical training gives you an advantage here. Is it true that we can't deny our natural desires? I thought that one of the basic precepts of psychology was that human beings can, through rigorous training, modify their innate desires to a large, if not total, extent. For example, can't a hungry human being actually decide to overcome their hunger and "not covet chocolate"? Is it scientific fact that human beings cannot modify their behavior in the manner I have described? If so, could you point me to some research appropriate for the layman?(NOTE: This is not sarcasm. I am honestly asking since you have superior education in the area.)

5. Quote: "There’s no record that any other cultures at the time had a problem with homosexuality. These writings are probably the original source of the discrimination against millions of innocent homosexual people in the Christian and Islamic world." I have no knowledge about whether previous cultures condemned homosexuality. I will try to research this point briefly. Conceded as to the second point. To my knowledge, these verses (and others like them) have played a huge role in the assault on homosexual behavior. While I believe you can make arguments that homosexuality is less advantageous than heterosexuality from the standpoint of maximizing social good, I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death. Thus, I am exceptionally glad we are discussing this point. The weakest areas must be those most closely examined. At this juncture, this is the best argument I can put forth. (1) Sexuality is the greatest social force that individual human can wield. (2) Sexuality must therefore be controlled to maximize social good. (3) Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk without sufficient offsetting social positives. (4) In "Biblical" times, uncontrolled sexuality had much more pervasive consequences than it does today due to less advanced medical knowledge. (5) Thus, punishing sexual immorality by death was justified in Biblical times but is not justified today. (NOTE: I fully expect you to tear this argument apart and I am hopeful that as I learn from you doing so, I can rebuild it into something stronger. Of course, should I fail, I will have to concede this point.)

As I indicated above, I am stopping here to keep this discussion to a manageable size.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Mojch

Hi, no worries about my name.

By all means let's limit our replies.

I applaud your recognition of the fact that Christian denominations often needlessly condemn human sexuality.

I'm very surprised, however, that you state
"sexuality as dictated by the Bible is the best possible ordering of sexual relationships available." Um....have you not read the bible? The numerous quotes I have provided are only the tip of the iceberg. The bible says what the bible says. Your interpretation can't change the unhealthy immorality described.

Christians confidently claim it’s not a book of men’s opinions but the unerring word of God. They therefore can’t justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.) I say if you can cherry pick an infallible set of rules, the whole rulebook is redundant.

You write
"Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."
Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends.

Re your no 1 point to do with sex and pagan or Jewish girls or women; here are some quotes from the bible for your consideration...

“If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not leave as male slaves do. If she does not please her master who intended her for himself, he must let her be bought back: he has not the right to sell her to foreigners, for this would be a breach of faith with her. If he intends her for his son, he must treat her as custom requires daughters to be treated. If he takes another wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing or conjugal rights of the first one. Should he deprive her of these three things she will leave a free woman, without paying compensation” (Exod. 21:7–11, NJB).

“…but spare the lives of the young girls who have never slept with a man, and keep them for yourselves” (Num. 31:18, NJB).

“All those who are found will be stabbed, all those captured will fall by the sword, their babies dashed to pieces before their eyes, their houses plundered, their wives raped. Look, against them I am stirring up the Medes who care nothing for silver, who set no value by gold. Bows will annihilate the young men, they will have no pity for the fruit of the womb, or mercy in their eyes for children” (Isa. 13:15–18, NJB).

“The man who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife will be put to death, he and the woman” (Lev. 20:10, NJB).

There are numerous others. I'll elaborate on this in my next post.

Re point no 2..."The fault lies with man, not with the text."
The fault lies with the bible as a whole. God says one thing, then commands another. This is typical of the bible. The Bible is a theological, philosophical quagmire! It had too many contributors to be consistent. Anyone can quote some bit of it to back up almost any belief. The philosopher Daniel Dennet points out that when we try to comprehend Christianity we’re confronted with
“a thicket in a swamp in a fog.” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...Cxx-GkMg#! )

Strangely enough, if “God’s” rules were more reliable, the Bible probably wouldn’t be so popular. The confusion has deliberately not been cleared up because it conceals the fact that the creeds contain lame brained, antiquated ideas.
Some people blame themselves for not understanding the Bible, but the real reason for their confusion is its crazy contradictions.

Christians shouldn’t waste time trying to rationalize Biblical teachings. Half-baked arbitrary interpretations of inconsistent ancient texts have no credibility. We should trust our own reasoning instead.

Re point no 3. Unfortunate wording in commandment no 10, wouldn't you agree? I might own my car, but I don't own my wife, and she doesn't own me. God clearly thought a father owned his un-betrothed daughter, because if said daughter was raped, dad was compensated with 50 sheckles, and she was forced to marry her rapist! Nice law, huh? Do you have a daughter by any chance?

Re point no 4. "Is it true that we can't deny our natural desires?" They are what they are. Hunger is hunger. Lust is lust. A full bladder is a full bladder. We can control acting on our desires, but can't control the fact they are there. Even if we could, what's the point?

Re point no.5. "I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death." Good! Glad to hear it! So much for biblical infallibility then!

I have a hard time understanding why you think homosexuality is a sin!
I suspect it's because you've been bought up in a Christian environment.

To me, sin is something that causes harm, and sex between two people doesn't (of itself) cause harm. It's when people deny, or are forced to deny, their sexuality that harm happens.

You raise complex issues re sex. Are you aware that teenage pregnancy, STD's and rates of abortion are far higher in Christian communities than secular? Please see my blog on this here...
http://www.markfulton.org/christianity-a...al-society
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21-05-2013, 03:47 AM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
The following is adapted from the writings of an amateur OT scholar who you will probably get to know named Bucky Ball...

Marriage in the Bible is NOT between one man and one woman ..

- 2 Deuteronomy 25:5
"If two brothers are living together on the same property and one of them dies without a son, his widow may not be married to anyone from outside the family. Instead, her husband's brother should marry her and have intercourse with her to fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law."

- Solomon had 300 wives, and thousands of concubines, and Yahweh or the prophets never objected.

- Polygamous Marriage was probably the most common form of marriage in the bible. It is where a man has more than one wife.

- Levirate Marriage was when a woman was widowed without a son, so it became the responsibility of the brother-in-law or a close male relative to take her in and impregnate her. If the resulting child was a son, he would be considered the heir of her late husband. See Ruth, and the story of Onan (Gen. 38:6-10).

- A man, a woman and her property — a female slave
The famous “handmaiden” sketch, as preformed by Abraham (Gen. 16:1-6) and Jacob (Gen. 30:4-5).

- A man, one or more wives, and some concubines
The definition of a concubine varies from culture to culture, but they tended to be live-in mistresses. Concubines were tied to their “husband,” but had a lower status than a wife. Their children were not usually heirs, so they were safe outlets for sex without risking the line of succession. To see how badly a concubine could be treated, see the famous story of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19:1-30).

- A male soldier and a female prisoner of war
Women could be taken as booty from a successful campaign and forced to become wives or concubines. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 describes the process.

- A male rapist and his victim (as already mentioned)
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 describes how an unmarried woman who had been raped must marry her attacker.

- A male and female slave
A female slave could be married to a male slave without consent, presumably to produce more slaves.

And, of course …

- Monogamous, heterosexual marriage
What you might think of as the standard form of marriage, provided you think of arranged marriages as the standard. Also remember that inter-faith or cross-ethnic marriage were forbidden for large chunks of biblical history.

I suggest you have a closer read of your Bible.
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21-05-2013, 09:07 AM (This post was last modified: 21-05-2013 09:32 AM by Mojch.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
Dr. Mark,

Thank you for your response. To make this easy to read, I respond in four primary arguments and one request. Note also that, if you will forgive the lack of professionalism, I am not going to be editing these posts for grammar, spelling, etc due to their length.

***Argument #1***

I feel you have left unanswered a direct challenge I issued in my second post. In my first post, I postulated as follows...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences [because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual.]"

I note, with no disrespect intended, that both times you have quoted my position in prior posts, you omitted the bracketed phrase. This is not superfluous language. In fact, it is the heart of my argument. Humanity does not exist in an idealized reality. We live in a world were human actions must be governed by some set of standards. Sexuality is no different. In my last post, I challenged you directly...

"I would argue that, when the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is followed, the result is a freedom of sexual expression that is limited only by the social desirability of long-term monogamous relationships. This is the best possible sexual situation for mankind as a whole. Do you dispute this point or is your objection that the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is insufficient?"

I note that you never answered this question and I would never intentionally assume my opponents position on a debated issue. Instead you offer the following...

It is clear you think my Biblical definition of sexuality is incorrect and that debate continues below. However, if we were to assume, arguendo, that my Biblical definition was correct, would you still disagree with my overall claim? If so, what alternative rules would you propose to produce a more efficient sexual ordering of human society?

***Request #1***

In your last post, you quoted my position as follows...

"You write "Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

Then, you stated, immediately following that quote,...

"Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends."

I must, with respect, take serious objection to this. For purposes of comparison (which the reader may evaluate personally by reading our above posts) I copy and paste my actual language to contrast with the portion you quoted.
I actually said...

"The remainder of your arguments are indeed strong textual arguments that perhaps Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

You will note, irrefutably, that you omitted the word "perhaps". The position I actually took was the intellectually required one of admitting that I could "perhaps" be wrong. Admitting this was necessary at the outset of discourse because, if one is not willing to entertain the notion that they could "perhaps" be wrong, then the entire discussion is rendered meaningless.

My issue is that your comment "Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends." reads as if the quoted language was a concession of a point I was only admitting was debatable. If someone to read your second post without reading my first, they would come away with an exceptionally incorrect picture of the state of argument. While this may seem like a small issue, it is not. Much atheist / theist discourse is rendered incomprehensible and meaningless because the opposing sides misstate and misconstrue each other's opinions.

Thus, my request. Will you admit that your characterization of my position was potentially misleading? If not, will you please explain why my reasoning above is incorrect?

***Argument #2 (addressing several of your points and the post quoting Bucky Ball)***

I accept your arguments and admit the falsity of my original definition of Biblical sexuality. I therefore modify two tenants of my definition of Biblical sexuality as follows.

Original Tenant #2: "Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Reformed Tenant #2: ""Sex should be postponed until a life-long relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Original Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman."

Reformed Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared only between men and women."

As modified, I reassert my original position (as outlined in Argument #1 above). Note that this concession does NOT relate to the characterization of the Hebrew laws in either your or Bucky Balls arguments but instead only admits that Biblical sexuality could include a relationship between a man and multiple women. At this juncture, I reject the premise that it could include a relationship between a man and another man or a woman and multiple men.

Note that this is EXACTLY why I wanted to get involved here. As modified, my argument is now stronger than it was before. Thank you!

***Argument #3***

NOTE: You raised several complex issues in your post and, once again, I feel we must narrow our focus. I leave some arguments unaddressed without conceding them or passing on their validity.

You stated as follows "Re point no.5. "I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death." Good! Glad to hear it! So much for biblical infallibility then!"

Once again, you assume my willingness to discuss the possibility that my argument is flawed as a concession that it is actually flawed. I admit I have DIFFICULTY determining this answer but not that I CANNOT determine one that is intellectually satisfying. In fact, I proposed a specific argument in my last post. It was...

(1) Sexuality is the greatest social force that individual human can wield.

(2) Sexuality must therefore be controlled to maximize social good.

(3) Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk without sufficient offsetting social positives.

(4) In "Biblical" times, uncontrolled sexuality had much more pervasive consequences than it does today due to less advanced medical knowledge.

(5) Thus, punishing sexual immorality by death was justified in Biblical times but is not justified today.
Can you address the validity of this specific argument so that I may either discard or revise it?

***Argument #4*** (This argument is logically linked, but consequentially distinct from, the argument outlined in Argument #3 above.)

You define "sin" as "something that causes harm." I accept this definition but suspect that your application of this definition is too narrow. I would argue as follows...

1. The propagation of the human species is moral.

2. Disease negatively impacts the propagation of the human species.

3. That which negatively impacts a moral goal without offsetting positive impacts is harmful.

4. Homosexual intercourse increases the risk of sexual disease without a corresponding increase in the propagation of the human species.

5. Therefore, homosexuality is harmful.

6. Therefore, homosexuality is a sin.

Your response?

Sincerely,

Mojch
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21-05-2013, 09:19 PM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
(21-05-2013 09:07 AM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Thank you for your response. To make this easy to read, I respond in four primary arguments and one request. Note also that, if you will forgive the lack of professionalism, I am not going to be editing these posts for grammar, spelling, etc due to their length.

***Argument #1***

I feel you have left unanswered a direct challenge I issued in my second post. In my first post, I postulated as follows...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences [because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual.]"

I note, with no disrespect intended, that both times you have quoted my position in prior posts, you omitted the bracketed phrase. This is not superfluous language. In fact, it is the heart of my argument. Humanity does not exist in an idealized reality. We live in a world were human actions must be governed by some set of standards. Sexuality is no different. In my last post, I challenged you directly...

"I would argue that, when the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is followed, the result is a freedom of sexual expression that is limited only by the social desirability of long-term monogamous relationships. This is the best possible sexual situation for mankind as a whole. Do you dispute this point or is your objection that the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is insufficient?"

I note that you never answered this question and I would never intentionally assume my opponents position on a debated issue. Instead you offer the following...

It is clear you think my Biblical definition of sexuality is incorrect and that debate continues below. However, if we were to assume, arguendo, that my Biblical definition was correct, would you still disagree with my overall claim? If so, what alternative rules would you propose to produce a more efficient sexual ordering of human society?

***Request #1***

In your last post, you quoted my position as follows...

"You write "Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

Then, you stated, immediately following that quote,...

"Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends."

I must, with respect, take serious objection to this. For purposes of comparison (which the reader may evaluate personally by reading our above posts) I copy and paste my actual language to contrast with the portion you quoted.
I actually said...

"The remainder of your arguments are indeed strong textual arguments that perhaps Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

You will note, irrefutably, that you omitted the word "perhaps". The position I actually took was the intellectually required one of admitting that I could "perhaps" be wrong. Admitting this was necessary at the outset of discourse because, if one is not willing to entertain the notion that they could "perhaps" be wrong, then the entire discussion is rendered meaningless.

My issue is that your comment "Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends." reads as if the quoted language was a concession of a point I was only admitting was debatable. If someone to read your second post without reading my first, they would come away with an exceptionally incorrect picture of the state of argument. While this may seem like a small issue, it is not. Much atheist / theist discourse is rendered incomprehensible and meaningless because the opposing sides misstate and misconstrue each other's opinions.

Thus, my request. Will you admit that your characterization of my position was potentially misleading? If not, will you please explain why my reasoning above is incorrect?

***Argument #2 (addressing several of your points and the post quoting Bucky Ball)***

I accept your arguments and admit the falsity of my original definition of Biblical sexuality. I therefore modify two tenants of my definition of Biblical sexuality as follows.

Original Tenant #2: "Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Reformed Tenant #2: ""Sex should be postponed until a life-long relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Original Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman."

Reformed Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared only between men and women."

As modified, I reassert my original position (as outlined in Argument #1 above). Note that this concession does NOT relate to the characterization of the Hebrew laws in either your or Bucky Balls arguments but instead only admits that Biblical sexuality could include a relationship between a man and multiple women. At this juncture, I reject the premise that it could include a relationship between a man and another man or a woman and multiple men.

Note that this is EXACTLY why I wanted to get involved here. As modified, my argument is now stronger than it was before. Thank you!

***Argument #3***

NOTE: You raised several complex issues in your post and, once again, I feel we must narrow our focus. I leave some arguments unaddressed without conceding them or passing on their validity.

You stated as follows "Re point no.5. "I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death." Good! Glad to hear it! So much for biblical infallibility then!"

Once again, you assume my willingness to discuss the possibility that my argument is flawed as a concession that it is actually flawed. I admit I have DIFFICULTY determining this answer but not that I CANNOT determine one that is intellectually satisfying. In fact, I proposed a specific argument in my last post. It was...

(1) Sexuality is the greatest social force that individual human can wield.

(2) Sexuality must therefore be controlled to maximize social good.

(3) Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk without sufficient offsetting social positives.

(4) In "Biblical" times, uncontrolled sexuality had much more pervasive consequences than it does today due to less advanced medical knowledge.

(5) Thus, punishing sexual immorality by death was justified in Biblical times but is not justified today.
Can you address the validity of this specific argument so that I may either discard or revise it?

***Argument #4*** (This argument is logically linked, but consequentially distinct from, the argument outlined in Argument #3 above.)

You define "sin" as "something that causes harm." I accept this definition but suspect that your application of this definition is too narrow. I would argue as follows...

1. The propagation of the human species is moral.

2. Disease negatively impacts the propagation of the human species.

3. That which negatively impacts a moral goal without offsetting positive impacts is harmful.

4. Homosexual intercourse increases the risk of sexual disease without a corresponding increase in the propagation of the human species.

5. Therefore, homosexuality is harmful.

6. Therefore, homosexuality is a sin.

Your response?

Sincerely,

Mojch

Hi Mojch, our debate has stimulated a lot of interest. This is good.

Before I reply to your specific points I want to remind you of our topic as specified by your good self...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual."

To facilitate productive discussion, I briefly define the "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" as below. Further clarification can occur later and, indeed, should, in my opinion, be an overall goal of this starting topic!

The "sexual morality advocated by the Bible" is:

1. Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made.

2. Partners in such a relationship should not withhold sex from each other unless medically or emotionally necessary and, outside of involving third parties (whether live or in pornography), should feel free to explore whatever sexual preferences they desire.

3. Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman.


I think I have proven beyond any doubt that the bible doesn't state what you say it does in point 1. The whole Old Testament says nothing about a life long monogamous relationship for men. That's 50 % of the population.

Paul does, in one quote, back up the first part of your point 2. As far as group sex is concerned in the bible, we have rape of enemy's women and children, Lot offering his daughters to a gang of rapists, and the list goes on, so group sex is ok by god...unless you happen to be a Jewess. Even then, you can jump into the sack with your husband and a few slaves, provided the slaves are women.

Point 3...well...yes the bible does condemn homosexuality. It also gives the ok to sex with young girls, who aren't "women."

So...I think YOUR ideas abou sex have very little to do with what's actually in the bible. I am assuming, of course, you don't approve of raping your slaves, selling your daughter as a sex slave, raping your enemy's wife and children, killing a rape victim, and forced marriage? I'm pleased, and relieved, to hear you don't think homosexuals should be killed. I'm wondering what you think should be done when girls are discovered to not be virgins on their wedding nights?

So....we can discuss YOUR ideas on sex if you want, but that's not really the topic at hand, is it?
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21-05-2013, 09:42 PM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
(21-05-2013 09:07 AM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Thank you for your response. To make this easy to read, I respond in four primary arguments and one request. Note also that, if you will forgive the lack of professionalism, I am not going to be editing these posts for grammar, spelling, etc due to their length.

***Argument #1***

I feel you have left unanswered a direct challenge I issued in my second post. In my first post, I postulated as follows...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences [because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual.]"

I note, with no disrespect intended, that both times you have quoted my position in prior posts, you omitted the bracketed phrase. This is not superfluous language. In fact, it is the heart of my argument. Humanity does not exist in an idealized reality. We live in a world were human actions must be governed by some set of standards. Sexuality is no different. In my last post, I challenged you directly...

"I would argue that, when the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is followed, the result is a freedom of sexual expression that is limited only by the social desirability of long-term monogamous relationships. This is the best possible sexual situation for mankind as a whole. Do you dispute this point or is your objection that the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is insufficient?"

I note that you never answered this question and I would never intentionally assume my opponents position on a debated issue. Instead you offer the following...

It is clear you think my Biblical definition of sexuality is incorrect and that debate continues below. However, if we were to assume, arguendo, that my Biblical definition was correct, would you still disagree with my overall claim? If so, what alternative rules would you propose to produce a more efficient sexual ordering of human society?

***Request #1***

In your last post, you quoted my position as follows...

"You write "Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

Then, you stated, immediately following that quote,...

"Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends."

I must, with respect, take serious objection to this. For purposes of comparison (which the reader may evaluate personally by reading our above posts) I copy and paste my actual language to contrast with the portion you quoted.
I actually said...

"The remainder of your arguments are indeed strong textual arguments that perhaps Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

You will note, irrefutably, that you omitted the word "perhaps". The position I actually took was the intellectually required one of admitting that I could "perhaps" be wrong. Admitting this was necessary at the outset of discourse because, if one is not willing to entertain the notion that they could "perhaps" be wrong, then the entire discussion is rendered meaningless.

My issue is that your comment "Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends." reads as if the quoted language was a concession of a point I was only admitting was debatable. If someone to read your second post without reading my first, they would come away with an exceptionally incorrect picture of the state of argument. While this may seem like a small issue, it is not. Much atheist / theist discourse is rendered incomprehensible and meaningless because the opposing sides misstate and misconstrue each other's opinions.

Thus, my request. Will you admit that your characterization of my position was potentially misleading? If not, will you please explain why my reasoning above is incorrect?

***Argument #2 (addressing several of your points and the post quoting Bucky Ball)***

I accept your arguments and admit the falsity of my original definition of Biblical sexuality. I therefore modify two tenants of my definition of Biblical sexuality as follows.

Original Tenant #2: "Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Reformed Tenant #2: ""Sex should be postponed until a life-long relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Original Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman."

Reformed Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared only between men and women."

As modified, I reassert my original position (as outlined in Argument #1 above). Note that this concession does NOT relate to the characterization of the Hebrew laws in either your or Bucky Balls arguments but instead only admits that Biblical sexuality could include a relationship between a man and multiple women. At this juncture, I reject the premise that it could include a relationship between a man and another man or a woman and multiple men.

Note that this is EXACTLY why I wanted to get involved here. As modified, my argument is now stronger than it was before. Thank you!

***Argument #3***

NOTE: You raised several complex issues in your post and, once again, I feel we must narrow our focus. I leave some arguments unaddressed without conceding them or passing on their validity.

You stated as follows "Re point no.5. "I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death." Good! Glad to hear it! So much for biblical infallibility then!"

Once again, you assume my willingness to discuss the possibility that my argument is flawed as a concession that it is actually flawed. I admit I have DIFFICULTY determining this answer but not that I CANNOT determine one that is intellectually satisfying. In fact, I proposed a specific argument in my last post. It was...

(1) Sexuality is the greatest social force that individual human can wield.

(2) Sexuality must therefore be controlled to maximize social good.

(3) Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk without sufficient offsetting social positives.

(4) In "Biblical" times, uncontrolled sexuality had much more pervasive consequences than it does today due to less advanced medical knowledge.

(5) Thus, punishing sexual immorality by death was justified in Biblical times but is not justified today.
Can you address the validity of this specific argument so that I may either discard or revise it?

***Argument #4*** (This argument is logically linked, but consequentially distinct from, the argument outlined in Argument #3 above.)

You define "sin" as "something that causes harm." I accept this definition but suspect that your application of this definition is too narrow. I would argue as follows...

1. The propagation of the human species is moral.

2. Disease negatively impacts the propagation of the human species.

3. That which negatively impacts a moral goal without offsetting positive impacts is harmful.

4. Homosexual intercourse increases the risk of sexual disease without a corresponding increase in the propagation of the human species.

5. Therefore, homosexuality is harmful.

6. Therefore, homosexuality is a sin.

Your response?

Sincerely,

Mojch


Re "It is clear you think my Biblical definition of sexuality is incorrect and that debate continues below. However, if we were to assume, arguendo, that my Biblical definition was correct, would you still disagree with my overall claim? If so, what alternative rules would you propose to produce a more efficient sexual ordering of human society? "

Ok...if I assume your biblical definition is correct, I absolutely disagree with your claim.

It is not right for anyone to dictate to consenting adults how to live. It is not anyone else's business. End of story.

How dare religious authorities tell two gay people they mustn't love each other?

How dare they pretend their fictitious god could care less what people did in the privacy of their own bedrooms?

Sex is a personal thing. Trying to control it in other adults never works.

The first Christians worked out that if they control people's sexuality, they wound people in their egos. That facilitates control, and control is what churches want.
It is psychological bullying.

I assume you are heterosexual. Imagine if your gay preacher insisted you were only allowed to have gay sex. A gay person experiences something similar.
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21-05-2013, 10:11 PM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
Dr. Mark,

I have enjoyed our discussion so far. However, I think we should move on to keep things interesting. I have proposed a question for you at the end of this post. Of course, if you want to continue the debate on this topic, I am amenable.

Regarding Post #1:

As I stated before, I concede my initial definition was faulty and have altered my personal beliefs to align with this new understanding. I do NOT agree with your characterization that Biblical laws, understood in their historical context, can be equated with modern rape, child abuse, etc. I suggest we move on so as to avoid boring everyone (since the entire idea here is education and not to exhaust every line of reasoning). However, if you still find this point engaging, I ask you to choose a single verse (to make things manageable), quote it, and explain, in the historical context, why you think it advocates something inevitably immoral.

Regarding Post #2:

If you concede my Biblical definition, your argument is flawed because you reason from emotion. "Imagine if your gay preacher insisted you were only allowed to have gay sex. A gay person experiences something similar." My emotional response to such a situation is, no matter how harsh this truth may be, irrelevant. Just because something invokes a negative emotional consequence does not mean it is logically untrue. EXAMPLE: Classical physics has the potentially terrifying consequence of rendering the Universe entirely deterministic and eliminating free will. I have a negative reaction to this and, in fact, I would find such a truth to make much of my life meaningless. Is this evidence that classical physics is untrue? If not, where does my analogy break down?

Should you wish to move on, I ask you the following question. For a twist, I move beyond the realm of traditional Christianity to challenge your atheism.

Question: Can nothing exist or is it simply a concept without a physical manifestation?

Sincerely,

Mojch
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21-05-2013, 11:39 PM (This post was last modified: 22-05-2013 01:24 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fuller Challenge
(21-05-2013 09:07 AM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Thank you for your response. To make this easy to read, I respond in four primary arguments and one request. Note also that, if you will forgive the lack of professionalism, I am not going to be editing these posts for grammar, spelling, etc due to their length.

***Argument #1***

I feel you have left unanswered a direct challenge I issued in my second post. In my first post, I postulated as follows...

"The sexual morality advocated by the Bible is superior to any other method of ordering human sexual experiences [because it maximizes protection for the group while, when properly implemented, minimizing the unnecessary sexual dissatisfaction of the individual.]"

I note, with no disrespect intended, that both times you have quoted my position in prior posts, you omitted the bracketed phrase. This is not superfluous language. In fact, it is the heart of my argument. Humanity does not exist in an idealized reality. We live in a world were human actions must be governed by some set of standards. Sexuality is no different. In my last post, I challenged you directly...

"I would argue that, when the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is followed, the result is a freedom of sexual expression that is limited only by the social desirability of long-term monogamous relationships. This is the best possible sexual situation for mankind as a whole. Do you dispute this point or is your objection that the definition of Biblical sexuality I supplied is insufficient?"

I note that you never answered this question and I would never intentionally assume my opponents position on a debated issue. Instead you offer the following...

It is clear you think my Biblical definition of sexuality is incorrect and that debate continues below. However, if we were to assume, arguendo, that my Biblical definition was correct, would you still disagree with my overall claim? If so, what alternative rules would you propose to produce a more efficient sexual ordering of human society?

***Request #1***

In your last post, you quoted my position as follows...

"You write "Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

Then, you stated, immediately following that quote,...

"Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends."

I must, with respect, take serious objection to this. For purposes of comparison (which the reader may evaluate personally by reading our above posts) I copy and paste my actual language to contrast with the portion you quoted.
I actually said...

"The remainder of your arguments are indeed strong textual arguments that perhaps Biblical sexuality is something more than I have stated and therefore additional parameters need to be added to my definition which would render the definition either morally objectionable or unworkable as a desirable ordering."

You will note, irrefutably, that you omitted the word "perhaps". The position I actually took was the intellectually required one of admitting that I could "perhaps" be wrong. Admitting this was necessary at the outset of discourse because, if one is not willing to entertain the notion that they could "perhaps" be wrong, then the entire discussion is rendered meaningless.

My issue is that your comment "Yep! You understand reality! Please tell your Christian friends." reads as if the quoted language was a concession of a point I was only admitting was debatable. If someone to read your second post without reading my first, they would come away with an exceptionally incorrect picture of the state of argument. While this may seem like a small issue, it is not. Much atheist / theist discourse is rendered incomprehensible and meaningless because the opposing sides misstate and misconstrue each other's opinions.

Thus, my request. Will you admit that your characterization of my position was potentially misleading? If not, will you please explain why my reasoning above is incorrect?

***Argument #2 (addressing several of your points and the post quoting Bucky Ball)***

I accept your arguments and admit the falsity of my original definition of Biblical sexuality. I therefore modify two tenants of my definition of Biblical sexuality as follows.

Original Tenant #2: "Sex should be postponed until a life-long monogamous relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Reformed Tenant #2: ""Sex should be postponed until a life-long relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made."

Original Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared solely between a man and a woman."

Reformed Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared only between men and women."

As modified, I reassert my original position (as outlined in Argument #1 above). Note that this concession does NOT relate to the characterization of the Hebrew laws in either your or Bucky Balls arguments but instead only admits that Biblical sexuality could include a relationship between a man and multiple women. At this juncture, I reject the premise that it could include a relationship between a man and another man or a woman and multiple men.

Note that this is EXACTLY why I wanted to get involved here. As modified, my argument is now stronger than it was before. Thank you!

***Argument #3***

NOTE: You raised several complex issues in your post and, once again, I feel we must narrow our focus. I leave some arguments unaddressed without conceding them or passing on their validity.

You stated as follows "Re point no.5. "I have an exceptionally hard time determining why such a sin deserved to be punished by death." Good! Glad to hear it! So much for biblical infallibility then!"

Once again, you assume my willingness to discuss the possibility that my argument is flawed as a concession that it is actually flawed. I admit I have DIFFICULTY determining this answer but not that I CANNOT determine one that is intellectually satisfying. In fact, I proposed a specific argument in my last post. It was...

(1) Sexuality is the greatest social force that individual human can wield.

(2) Sexuality must therefore be controlled to maximize social good.

(3) Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk without sufficient offsetting social positives.

(4) In "Biblical" times, uncontrolled sexuality had much more pervasive consequences than it does today due to less advanced medical knowledge.

(5) Thus, punishing sexual immorality by death was justified in Biblical times but is not justified today.
Can you address the validity of this specific argument so that I may either discard or revise it?

***Argument #4*** (This argument is logically linked, but consequentially distinct from, the argument outlined in Argument #3 above.)

You define "sin" as "something that causes harm." I accept this definition but suspect that your application of this definition is too narrow. I would argue as follows...

1. The propagation of the human species is moral.

2. Disease negatively impacts the propagation of the human species.

3. That which negatively impacts a moral goal without offsetting positive impacts is harmful.

4. Homosexual intercourse increases the risk of sexual disease without a corresponding increase in the propagation of the human species.

5. Therefore, homosexuality is harmful.

6. Therefore, homosexuality is a sin.

Your response?

Sincerely,

Mojch

RE.."Will you admit that your characterization of my position was potentially misleading?"

Yes. Sorry.

RE. """Sex should be postponed until a life-long relationship is intended and a public commitment to such a relationship has been made," and "Reformed Tenant #3: "Sex should be an experience shared only between men and women."

Sorry, I totally disagree. I do not presume anyone has the right to tell other adults how to live out their sexuality. We are all individuals with different wants, desires and relationships.

Surely ...after nearly 2000 years worth of pointless guilt, fear and suppression, Christians can GROW UP and MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS. There are more important issues than which hole the guy down the road puts his penis in.

Kids. too, don't need to feel guilty about being human. Adolescents have enough to worry about without that.

What is far more important is that we love and respect each other, and part of that is accepting that we are all different.

Re "Sexual promiscuity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, increases sexual risk ..."

Maybe so, if you are referring to STD's and unwanted pregnancies. The answer here, is, of course, education about sexual hygiene. These matters need to be discussed openly, without embarrassment, in schools. It's interesting that the more 'Christian" a society is, the more unwanted pregnancies and abortions there are and the higher the rates of sexually transmitted disease. Kids are going to have sex no matter how hard you shove god down their throats. It's what we do...it's part of our biology.

"....without sufficient offsetting social positives. "
That's only your opinion. You have no right to impose your opinion on others.
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