Monday, December 26, 2011

Atheism and Rape - YouTube

Mariano Grinbank has posted a video trilogy about what various atheists and otherwise evolutionists have to say about rape, morality, etc. I think that the subject, while uncomfortable, is vitally important. Many atheists do and everyone should deplore rape and not do it. That's not the issue. The problem comes from the idea that there are some morons who still choose to rape others and society should catch these people, punish them, and protect the rest of society from them. I think most people [normal] agree that this must be done but how do you substantiate the right to do it? Why is rape wrong if there is no standard? The truth is that the way people try to answer questions like these without God not only surprises me but disgusts me. Watch the video playlist, but prepare to see a lot of fail.

Atheism and Rape - YouTube
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  1. A more interesting question is why do Christians believe that God disapproves of rape. After all, the Bible says gave Moses permission to keep all female virgin prisoners of war for his soldiers, and that unmarried women should be forced to marry their rapists.

  2. A far more interesting question is why would you think that God approves of rape given the circumstances of the time those laws were given. Have you ever considered what would happen to a female prisoner of war or raped unmarried women without the protection of marriage? I think you need to re-watch the videos.

  3. Once again, I ask how do you know that God disapproves of rape? The bible is conflicted on the issue. Thankfully most Christians do condemn rape, but that is because they have appropriated the moral and philosophical advances made by secular humanism and claim those views are Christian. Another example is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practiced by Christians and Muslims in Africa. If the bible doesn't condemn it, how do you know if God disapproves?

    I don't believe that a Christian has any logical basis for saying that rape or FGM are objectively immoral. If they claim the Bible is their source of morals, and the Bible is silent on the issue, then they are just imposing their subjective beliefs.

    However, secular humanism can and does offer an objective basis for saying that rape and FGM are objectively immoral. Objective morality does not require a divine lawgiver, but can be based on fixed laws of human nature and physiology. If you take the endpoint of human health and happiness and apply different moral systems, some will create higher end-points than others. A lot of human history has been trial and error of different moral systems, with the better ones kept. And this will be invariable across human populations, because human population psychology is fairly invariable.

    A useful analogy is the example of political systems. It is an objective fact that England has a better political system than North Korea. This could be scientifically tested, using any endpoint: lifespan, literacy, surveying citizen happiness. It is also an objective fact that a morality system that prohibits rape creates greater population happiness than one that doesn't. That's just how human beings are wired.

    Now you might say "why not use the rapists happiness as the endpoint, then rape would be moral". The problem with that is that moral systems apply to populations, not individuals. That moral system would mean that rapists themselves would have no protection against rape, and as such would be unhappy themselves.

    Often the Nazis are used as an example of subjective morality, but they shouldn't be. Their moral system actually did label murder and genocide as immoral, but they tried to get around this by labeling Jews as genetically inferior, therefore not entitled to protection of a moral system. But this is a scientifically testable hypothesis, and it would be easy to prove it wrong. Then Nazis would be exposed as hypocrites. So they did have a moral system that prohibited murder (you can bet they wouldn't approve of themselves being sent to the gas chambers), they just chose not to follow it for others. Hence they were irrational.

    P.S. It was the laws that were given that created the circumstances of the time, and there would be nothinG stopping god from bringing women's rights forward 2000 years. Instead he gave them the "protection" of marriage, which often translated to a lifetime of rape. I wouldn't wish that "protection" on anyone!!!

  4. No where in the Bible does God condone Rape or Female Genital Mutilation. There are no passages that tells us it's a good idea. Also with the Bible's teachings on how women should be treated by men it should be obvious that such treatment is wrong.

    It's interesting that you would read "rape" into the passages you brought up. It's not there. And do you know what the alternatives to marrying was for many woman than? Starvation and Economic instability are just starters. Also do you think that the woman would continue to be abused with everyone in the community knowing the circumstances of the marriage? I don't think so. People had some major ideas about honor and other moral things that are missing from our culture today.

    Many people claim to that "secular humanism can and does offer an objective basis for saying that rape and FGM are objectively immoral" yet never show how. Yes, people do argue the way you do with Objective morality does not require a divine lawgiver, but can be based on fixed laws of human nature and physiology." But the problem is that morality based on human nature and physiology is flawed. You don't have to teach a child to lie or steal. You have to teach them not to. And you have some people who even try to claim that rape is part of human physiology. Without God we have serious problems in explaining why anything is right or wrong.

    The Nazis weren't hypocrites they were wrong although they thought that they were right because they were using a different moral standard. IT was wrong to kill Aryans but okay to kill anyone else.

  5. I'm going to break my response into two parts; one to examin the notion that the Bible provides a workable moral system that prohibits rape and FGM, and a second to examine wether secular haumanism provides a system.

    I've challenged many apologists to provide a biblical basis for why rape/FGM should be considered wrong, and so far none have done so. The most common replies have been evasive responses like yours, i.e the "biblical-silence-equals-prohibition" response or the "against-the-vibe-of-the-bible" response.

    Firstly the "no passages saying it is a good idea" defence. I agree nowhere does the bible state a position on FGM (although, as seen below, in many verses the bible gives a thumbs-up to rape). However, neither does the bible say that it's a good idea to shave, drive a car, exercise, get an education or wash your hands after defecating. Because there are no passages saying it's a bad idea, would you say they are wrong.

    Ultimately, you are making a claim that Christianity provides a framework for superior objective values. To back that up, you need to show that show that the bible provides unambiguous guidance in cases of rape/FGM, otherwise you are just using your subjective moral opinion. Where do you get these subjective opinions from. From secular hyumanism, which is informed by principles of the Enlightenment.

    Secondly, it is not at all obvious from biblical teachings on the treatment of women that rape is wrong. To put it mildly, the bible is a cesspit of nauseating misogyny. Briefly, the bible describes women as unclean (Lev 15:19), haughty (Isiah 3:16) and untrustworthy (Numbers 30:1), and should aim to be submissive (1 Tim 2:12) and hate sex (Ezekiel 23). Most rapists share these views of women. Incidentally, I felt like I needed a showed after fact-checking those referecnes.

    So, once again I'm going to ask you to provide bible-based reasoning on why rape and FGM is wrong. In return, I'll provide secular-based reasoning on why rape/FGM is wrong. Keeping in mind that I've provided detailed multi-paragraph reasoning on why stance, perhaps you could provide more than the cursory two lines above.

    A suggestion: Perhaps you could provide the answer as a response to the following hypothetical:

    You have two new co-workers, called Bob and Cindy. Over lunchbreak, you find that you are all christians, and start to bond. then Bob offhandedly mentions that he raped his promiscious neighbour the night before.
    "Bob, that's terrible" you say. What a wrong, immoral thing to do!"
    Bob replies "Mr. McElhaney, you have no right to say such a thing. I am a godly man, and as such am following his laws. If god wanted women to have a say in sex, then he would not have let righteous men rape the women dancers of Shiloh (Judges 21:10), or given Midianite virgins to Moses soldiers, given Oholah to the Syriansor given David's wifes to his neighbours for sex (2 Samuel 12:11)"

    Challenge 1: Use bible-based reasoning to show Bob why his actions are immoral.

    Then Cindy says that she is taking her 12 year old daughter back to Africa next week for genital circumcision. You reply "Cindy, how immoral! You can't do that to a young girl!"
    "But Mr. McElhaney, such is our custom. And the bible does not say it is immoral, so who are you to say it is immoral?"

    Challenge 2 : Use Bible based reasoning to show Cindy why FGM is wrong.

  6. Now, the second part: I'll demonstrate that secular humanism provides a sound basis for calling rape/FGM wrong, with no flaws or problems. I wouldn't want you to think that I'm setting myself a lower standard than I'm setting for you, so I'll also answer the Bob/Cindy hypothetical.

    You haven't yet given any reason to believe that objective morality based on human nature and phgysiology is flawed. Remeber, that morality applies to groups, not individuals. A child growing alone on an island has no moral problem taking what he wants. A group where people could steal freely would fail, as there would be no teamwork to overcome nature's challenges.

    We all have a set of behaviours selected by evolution because they increased our chance of survival. Because evolution works on populations, not individuals, these behaviours are largely altruistic. Altruistic societies survive, and selfish ones perish, because teams are more effective than individuals. (Again, this is important: evolutionary morality acts on populations, not individuals - a lot of christians don't get this).

    Evolution has given us a means to determine when we are acting in a way that helps our species' survival, by making us feel happy and healthy. That is why eating, sex and sleep and pleasurable. More subtly, that is why respect and kindness are pleasurable. So when the largest number of people have the highest pleasure and health, then the human species has the highest chance of surviving. Therefore happiness and health are good moral goals. Evolution has given us sensibilities that are offended by rape, because societeies that are not offended did not survive to pass down genes.

    Rape directly creates a great deal of pain and misery for the victim. Indirectly, it creates distrust and fear even among those who weren't raped. All of this si detrimental to the small groups that our ancesters lived in. There is absolutely no greater good to groups to offset this. Because happiness and health are moral goals, and rape diminishes those goals, we can say that rape is immoral.

    So my answer to Bob would be:

    "Bob, what you have done is monstrous. Even if there was a God who allowed such things, following such a God would be immoral. That's because morality is not a set of do's and do-not's given by tyrants, but a cherished set of principles given to us by evolution and refined by reason. A moral system applies to us all equally, because our survival and happiness depends on teamwork. This morality is objective and not subjective, because there is no subgroup of humanity that would not be harmed by rape. By deliberately harming your neighbour, you transgressed the moral code and must be punished".

    To Cindy:
    "What you propose is wicked. Your daughter has a right to health and happiness, because a moral system that provides health and happiness to all is one of the means that humanity has survived and prospered. Loss of sexual pleasure will cause her later misery."

    To summarise:
    1) Groups with altruistic principles have been selected for by evolution.
    2) Behaviours that are nonadvantageous for group survival cause pain or suffering.
    3) Actions can be empirically predicted to either allieve or cause suffering, and hence have an effect on survival.
    4) Therefore actions can be judged moral or immoral based on wether they cause or relieve suffering.

  7. Hey, Mark, thanks for posting the second part but you posted it before I could post mine. I have to be honest that your answers aren't real convincing. Interesting enough my response actually does flow from yours and if you answer my questions at the end it will make your position clearer to me. you can read the response at this post:

    Biblical Condemnation of Rape and other Acts of Misogyny