Homosexuality: Morals and Ethics Catch-All Thread

NormanTheIntern wrote:

Well, people are born predisposed to all kinds of behavior (sexual and otherwise) that is universally accepted as wrong. They were essentially "created" (via genetics or environmental factors) that way, does that automatically make the behavior okay? I'm not sure that line of reasoning bears out in the end.

Ultimately it is the religious that are stuck with the idea that being born a particular way (that is, made to be that way by God) dictates whether something is good or evil. I don't know of anyone who is pro-gay rights that ultimately decides that being gay is ok JUST BECAUSE it isn't a choice and is rather a genetic predisposition. Rather the argument is generally that homosexuality is no more harmful than heterosexuality.

Valmorian wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

I'd like to see proof that sociopaths are born sociopaths as well. Not just examples of people with pre-disposition, I want to see proof they were born that way.

I do recall seeing some news article about how a brain tumor made an otherwise well-adjusted man become a raging pedophile. The reason this was discovered was that his disturbing behaviours disappeared when the tumor was removed, only to reappear quite some time later. At that point it was found that the tumor had grown back and was removed a second time, causing the urges to disappear again.

Over time I've been persuaded that there is no such thing as "free will" in the sense that we are the masters of our own destiny. Any belief, any decision, any thought you have must either be the product of some previous cause or be ultimately uncaused.
Sam Harris has a really interesting video about why our idea of free will is mistaken, and it's really compelling.

Ultimately it was this revelation that led me to the conclusion that our legal system needs to deal not in punishment but rehabilitation and protection.

Interesting.

I wasn't really referring to free will in my skepticism so much as how your upbringing and events in your life can turn you into someone that society considers unacceptable. Nature vs nurture kind of thing.

Valmorian wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

I'd like to see proof that sociopaths are born sociopaths as well. Not just examples of people with pre-disposition, I want to see proof they were born that way.

I do recall seeing some news article about how a brain tumor made an otherwise well-adjusted man become a raging pedophile. The reason this was discovered was that his disturbing behaviours disappeared when the tumor was removed, only to reappear quite some time later. At that point it was found that the tumor had grown back and was removed a second time, causing the urges to disappear again.

Over time I've been persuaded that there is no such thing as "free will" in the sense that we are the masters of our own destiny. Any belief, any decision, any thought you have must either be the product of some previous cause or be ultimately uncaused.
Sam Harris has a really interesting video about why our idea of free will is mistaken, and it's really compelling.

Ultimately it was this revelation that led me to the conclusion that our legal system needs to deal not in punishment but rehabilitation and protection.

Your newsletter, I would like to subscribe to it.

Also another conclusion I've come to is that in the end no one, not myself, not anyone here can judge another human being for how they live there life, that is God's right, and only through his eyes should they be judged. Me being human however makes this very difficult, since by nature we judge things on the smallest level, especially when people disagree with our lifestyles. Something I need to always try and remember.

It's not just you, it's everyone, religious or not.

How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy. - Marcus Aurelius, Famous Non-Christian Roman Who Knew Something About Life

SixteenBlue wrote:
Jonman wrote:
NormanTheIntern wrote:

Well, people are born predisposed to all kinds of behavior (sexual and otherwise) that is universally accepted as wrong. They were essentially "created" (via genetics or environmental factors) that way, does that automatically make the behavior okay? I'm not sure that line of reasoning bears out in the end.

Care to make some examples?

Because I wonder if the reason that they're universally accepted as wrong is that those behaviors cause harm to others. Sociopaths, for instance.

Homosexuality on the other hand, is a harmless behavior, or viewed in a different way, just as harmful/harmless as heterosexuality.

I'd like to see proof that sociopaths are born sociopaths as well. Not just examples of people with pre-disposition, I want to see proof they were born that way.

The New York times actually had an excellent article on kids who are being diagnosed and treated as psychopaths. It's pretty harrowing and not surprising. Biological forces behind behavior are real.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html?pagewanted=all

Jonman wrote:

Because I wonder if the reason that they're universally accepted as wrong is that those behaviors cause harm to others. Sociopathy, for instance.

Homosexuality on the other hand, is a harmless behavior, or viewed in a different way, just as harmful/harmless as heterosexuality.

No, I totally get that part. But The Conformist is pursuing the line of reasoning that an action cannot be immoral if we have the innate desire to perform that action through no conscious decision of our own. Within this framework, if you accept that universally unacceptable sexual or social deviancy is "hard wired" in some cases (and I'd argue that recidivism rates and feedback from the violators bears that out) - then God also "made" those people that way. Now, you could pivot and make the argument that what God considers immoral is tied to what's universally accepted - in other words, God's law is defined and changed by fluid social mores. I think that's a much weaker argument, though.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Because I wonder if the reason that they're universally accepted as wrong is that those behaviors cause harm to others. Sociopathy, for instance.

Homosexuality on the other hand, is a harmless behavior, or viewed in a different way, just as harmful/harmless as heterosexuality.

No, I totally get that part. But The Conformist is pursuing the line of reasoning that an action cannot be immoral if we have the innate desire to perform that action through no conscious decision of our own. Within this framework, if you accept that universally unacceptable sexual or social deviancy is "hard wired" in some cases (and I'd argue that recidivism rates and feedback from the violators bears that out) - then God also "made" those people that way. Now, you could pivot and make the argument that what God considers immoral is tied to what's universally accepted - in other words, God's law is defined and changed by fluid social mores. I think that's a much weaker argument, though.

Norman, if you're trying to get at something like pedophilia, with the 'universally unacceptable' line of thought, could you just say it? Right now it feels like you're muddying the waters of the conversation, since no behaviors we're talking about are universally unacceptable.

NormanTheIntern wrote:

But The Conformist is pursuing the line of reasoning that an action cannot be immoral if we have the innate desire to perform that action through no conscious decision of our own.

Yes, I think this is a flawed argument as well. It's the same kind of reasoning you get from some naturopaths that argue that medicine is bad because it's not natural, the assumption being that if something is natural it must be good for you.

The reason I think you see pro-gay individuals arguing that homosexuality is natural (genetic) is simply because this is the only argument that will persuade some religious individuals. Usually this argument is only put forward when the previous, more rational ones, hit a brick wall. As in, "It isn't harmful so how can it be immoral?". It's likely TRUE that sexuality is largely a matter of genetics, but I don't think that something being natural necessarily makes it moral or good. The first argument "What is the harm?" is the better one.

Alas, that argument of morality from harm never seems to make much traction with religiously motivated homophobia.

Tanglebones wrote:
NormanTheIntern wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Because I wonder if the reason that they're universally accepted as wrong is that those behaviors cause harm to others. Sociopathy, for instance.

Homosexuality on the other hand, is a harmless behavior, or viewed in a different way, just as harmful/harmless as heterosexuality.

No, I totally get that part. But The Conformist is pursuing the line of reasoning that an action cannot be immoral if we have the innate desire to perform that action through no conscious decision of our own. Within this framework, if you accept that universally unacceptable sexual or social deviancy is "hard wired" in some cases (and I'd argue that recidivism rates and feedback from the violators bears that out) - then God also "made" those people that way. Now, you could pivot and make the argument that what God considers immoral is tied to what's universally accepted - in other words, God's law is defined and changed by fluid social mores. I think that's a much weaker argument, though.

Norman, if you're trying to get at something like pedophilia, with the 'universally unacceptable' line of thought, could you just say it? Right now it feels like you're muddying the waters of the conversation, since no behaviors we're talking about are universally unacceptable.

He's just pointing out the flaw in the logic.

The easiest response I think is to say an action cannot be immoral if we have the innate desire to perform that action through no conscious decision of our own and all parties to the action are consenting adults. We don't have to defend an idea to the death just because someone that disagrees with us challenges it--in fact, we can use their challenge to come to a better understanding of what we actually believe, as I think most people who were convinced by that first argument about "innate desire" would be happy to add the second one about "consenting adults."

The Conformist wrote:

I guess more on the point of discussion, is that I believe God knows, truly what is in your heart as you sin, no matter how horrendous it is, he knows what you're intent is, and if you are in any way in control of how you look and view things.

Here's the video I was talking about with regards to Free Will: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofm...

It is long, and the speaker is a rather famous atheist, but I encourage you to listen to it because he is a fantastic speaker and what he is talking about doesn't specifically depend upon the idea that God doesn't exist, it's a purely logical consideration of what the concept of Free Will means.

It's absolutely fascinating!

A little off topic but It's an interesting subject, and I've always been fascinated on how human behavior (more specifically the human brain) can be changed with the introduction of some sort of foreign matter or chemical. I've had the unfortunate displeasure of having to deal with depression, and consequently am medicated for it and ave been for the past 15+ years of my life. The first portion of that time being introduced to a slew of different meds, but the thing I always found interesting (and at the time completely frustrating) is that the introduction to number of different anti-depressants would often clash with my mental stability. It would completely alter my way of thinking, right and wrong were often completely blurred and things that most people would look at as horrendous acts, seems nothing of the sort to me at the time. Things did not matter, people did not matter, and I was just angry. Numerous times I had access to weapons as a teenager and actually got a hold of a few of them with the absolute intent on using them.

It scared the hell out of me, and there was always that one thing, that small little feeling in the back of my mind that perhaps this is not normal, that this was wrong that kept me from acting upon these awful feelings. I guess more on the point of discussion, is that I believe God knows, truly what is in your heart as you sin, no matter how horrendous it is, he knows what you're intent is, and if you are in any way in control of how you look and view things. But I can definitely relate to chemical imbalances in a persons mind, and how it may effect their perception on things.

Jonman wrote:
NormanTheIntern wrote:

Well, people are born predisposed to all kinds of behavior (sexual and otherwise) that is universally accepted as wrong. They were essentially "created" (via genetics or environmental factors) that way, does that automatically make the behavior okay? I'm not sure that line of reasoning bears out in the end.

Care to make some examples?

Because I wonder if the reason that they're universally accepted as wrong is that those behaviors cause harm to others. Sociopathy, for instance.

Homosexuality on the other hand, is a harmless behavior, or viewed in a different way, just as harmful/harmless as heterosexuality.

I am shocked no examples were cited.

SixteenBlue wrote:
Jonman wrote:
NormanTheIntern wrote:

Well, people are born predisposed to all kinds of behavior (sexual and otherwise) that is universally accepted as wrong. They were essentially "created" (via genetics or environmental factors) that way, does that automatically make the behavior okay? I'm not sure that line of reasoning bears out in the end.

Care to make some examples?

Because I wonder if the reason that they're universally accepted as wrong is that those behaviors cause harm to others. Sociopathy, for instance.

Homosexuality on the other hand, is a harmless behavior, or viewed in a different way, just as harmful/harmless as heterosexuality.

I am shocked no examples were cited.

Shocked that there is gambling going on in this establishment!

SixteenBlue wrote:

I am shocked no examples were cited.

I don't see how that's salient, I was making a general critique of a specific argument - if you have a problem with my reasoning, please raise it. Also, I've been on the internet for more than one week and I know exactly how that plays out

NormanTheIntern wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

I am shocked no examples were cited.

I don't see how that's salient, I was making a general critique of a specific argument - if you have a problem with my reasoning, please raise it. Also, I've been on the internet for more than one week and I know exactly how that plays out :)

The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

I am shocked no examples were cited.

I don't see how that's salient, I was making a general critique of a specific argument - if you have a problem with my reasoning, please raise it. Also, I've been on the internet for more than one week and I know exactly how that plays out :)

I don't see how you can expect to be taken seriously by making claims that you can't back up. My problem with your reasoning is that you claimed things exist that don't. I thought that was clear when I asked for examples.

Also what Mike said.

This seems really petty and completely beside the point - are you really questioning whether the field of behavioral genetics exists? I mean, you must agree with it's basic principles, since you believe that genetics can influence sexual orientation.

NormanTheIntern wrote:

This seems really petty and completely beside the point - are you really questioning whether the field of behavioral genetics exists? I mean, you must agree with it's basic principles, since you believe that genetics can influence sexual orientation.

It's petty to ask someone to back up a claim with an example? You have got to be trolling at this point.

Regardless, saying genetics influence behavior is not the same thing as people are born predisposed to behavior that is universally deplored. There's a spectrum and you've made a specific claim about cases on that spectrum.

SixteenBlue wrote:

It's petty to ask someone to back up a claim with an example? You have got to be trolling at this point.

Off topic, taken to PM.

Regardless, saying genetics influence behavior is not the same thing as people are born predisposed to behavior that is universally deplored. There's a spectrum and you've made a specific claim about cases on that spectrum.

Again, I'm not sure how it's salient, but take an action we all agree is wrong, like alcohol abuse. There's a wealth of work that supports the idea that people can be predisposed to this behavior, from the very general ethnic markers that enable alcohol to be quickly metabolized, to specific cases of twin and adoption studies that prove higher results in certain cases. In reality, like sexual orientation, the expression of this behavior is most likely a complex interplay between genetics and early environment, but for the purposes of the argument being made ("God made me this way"), saying "genetics" is good enough.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

It's petty to ask someone to back up a claim with an example? You have got to be trolling at this point.

Off topic, taken to PM.

Regardless, saying genetics influence behavior is not the same thing as people are born predisposed to behavior that is universally deplored. There's a spectrum and you've made a specific claim about cases on that spectrum.

Again, I'm not sure how it's salient, but take an action we all agree is wrong, like alcohol abuse. There's a wealth of work that supports the idea that people can be predisposed to this behavior, from the very general ethnic markers that enable alcohol to be quickly metabolized, to specific cases of twin and adoption studies that prove higher results in certain cases. In reality, like sexual orientation, the expression of this behavior is most likely a complex interplay between genetics and early environment, but for the purposes of the argument being made ("God made me this way"), saying "genetics" is good enough.

Thank you for providing an actual example. Would have saved a lot of trouble if you had just done that from the beginning or when first asked.

Someone already cut to the chase with this one a while ago, but the difference between alcohol abuse and homosexuality is that alcohol abuse actually causes harm to both the person and those around them. I don't think they are comparable situations at all. I see what you are saying with the "I was born this way" not being an excuse for ANY behavior but no one is claiming that.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

It's petty to ask someone to back up a claim with an example? You have got to be trolling at this point.

Off topic, taken to PM.

Regardless, saying genetics influence behavior is not the same thing as people are born predisposed to behavior that is universally deplored. There's a spectrum and you've made a specific claim about cases on that spectrum.

Again, I'm not sure how it's salient, but take an action we all agree is wrong, like alcohol abuse. There's a wealth of work that supports the idea that people can be predisposed to this behavior, from the very general ethnic markers that enable alcohol to be quickly metabolized, to specific cases of twin and adoption studies that prove higher results in certain cases. In reality, like sexual orientation, the expression of this behavior is most likely a complex interplay between genetics and early environment, but for the purposes of the argument being made ("God made me this way"), saying "genetics" is good enough.

There are just so many cheeky rebuttals to be made to this, but as a hetero I don't feel comfortable going there.

SixteenBlue wrote:

Someone already cut to the chase with this one a while ago, but the difference between alcohol abuse and homosexuality is that alcohol abuse actually causes harm to both the person and those around them. I don't think they are comparable situations at all.

That's good, since I'm not making an apples-to-apples comparison in any kind of qualitative way.

I see what you are saying with the "I was born this way" not being an excuse for ANY behavior but no one is claiming that.

Respectfully, that's the logical conclusion of what The Conformist was saying.

Alcohol abuse is not considered morally wrong universally. It's tragic and harmful to the person engaged in it, can be to those people in the abuser's life, and there are many laws that prohibit the side effects of abusing alcohol or even just being drunk. But I'm not harming anyone by engaging in homosexuality, nor is there an illegal side effect of being homosexual, unless you talk about the violence enacted upon homosexuals by bigots. Violence encouraged by attitudes that maintain there is something wrong with homosexuality.

The only thing that Christians, or whoever, can point to is some amorphous moral corruption of which there is no proof. Or, perhaps it is the moral corruption of bigotry that enables people to feel they're in the right when they're violent against homosexuals, or the moral superiority trumpeted by large religious groups that says homosexuals are broken and subhuman which encourages teenage suicides. Or the kind of moral corruption that causes families to reject their own children just because they want to share their love with someone of the same gender.

NormanTheIntern wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

Someone already cut to the chase with this one a while ago, but the difference between alcohol abuse and homosexuality is that alcohol abuse actually causes harm to both the person and those around them. I don't think they are comparable situations at all.

That's good, since I'm not making an apples-to-apples comparison in any kind of qualitative way.

I see what you are saying with the "I was born this way" not being an excuse for ANY behavior but no one is claiming that.

Respectfully, that's the logical conclusion of what The Conformist was saying.

edit: actually, I went back and read what The Conformist was saying, and I think you misunderstood him. He said "if people are indeed born with a genetic difference that causes them chemically to find the same sex attractive then I don't personally believe that God would find that sinful" not that the behavior is necessarily okay. Valmorian brings this issue up in this comment. Regarding god and free will, I'm reminded of this:

Following the sixth plague, however, Pharaoh seems to lose his nerve and God steps in, hardening his heart for him. "And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh," Exodus 9:12 reads. "And he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses." Ultimately, Pharaoh appears to be little more than a puppet, his refusals not his own, his obstinacy nothing but a foil for God's awesome power. The story ends after 10 plagues with Moses leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt and Pharaoh drowning in the Red Sea along with his army.
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/f...

Quote:

I see what you are saying with the "I was born this way" not being an excuse for ANY behavior but no one is claiming that.

Respectfully, that's the logical conclusion of what The Conformist was saying.

I'd like to point out that the idea of genetics being an "excuse" for homosexual behavior presupposes that it needs to be excused. If it's considered natural and normal, as by major medical organizations, then the question of how it arises is largely one of curiousity. It only matters if it makes a difference to moral reasoning whether God might have had a hand in making the person that way.

That's why the argument is "If you believe that it's sinful behavior because homosexuals are choosing to flaunt God's laws, then here's evidence that many of them don't have a choice". It's fitting the argument to the objection that people like you are making, Conformist, in an effort to further the argument and ask "Okay, if science has good evidence that sexuality is a spectrum, and much of it is genetically influenced, how does that affect Christian moral reasoning, understanding that God may have made people that way?" It also brings in the corollary remind that we have no problem *not* doing things that God allows, or that he commands us not to do, like keeping slaves, or going to war (ie, countering violence with violence; Jesus even tells Pilate that his disciples would not fight, because his Kingdom is "not of this world"). Christians have rationalized not doing what God says while still fervently believing they are saved; in that sense, if we're not literalists, it's hard to see the prohibition against homosexuality as "just" in the Christian sense.

I was going to post this. Wonderful read.

Double clicked.

Wow. That's a good piece.

Excellent piece, though I have to wonder why people are treating someone who got knocked up as a teenager as a sage voice they should listen to about "God's plan for marriage."