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Tenacious: Brought To You Courtesy Of Frustration And Boredom :)

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Posted by S.H. Le on June 18, 2001 13:34:26 UTC

Hello again Brian,

“Tenacious, correct me if I’m wrong here, but according to your standards of morality, homosexuality is immoral because it is a detriment to survival of the species. Barring some major break-throughs in molecular biology homosexuals can’t reproduce.”

That’s an oversimplified view of evolution because direct sexual reproduction isn’t the only way one contributes to species survival – if it were, altruism wouldn’t exist. In nature, the tendency for an organism to risk itself for its young is proportionate to the degree of genetic similarity between the organisms (e.g. the example I used with the mother and her young). I won’t go into the complex social/genetic explanations for homosexuality, but it’s worth noting that homosexuality isn’t a new development that sprung to life with the advent of humans – it’s actually been known to occur in nature.
Most religious proponents advocating a “homosexuals are evil” view, allude to it as being an unnatural act – something I think is unfounded. Interracial relationships, which are becoming more common, were initially thought of as immoral for the same reason – it was believed to be unnatural. I think these acts were made evil entirely in the minds of the people who feared them.

Further, the mere fact one can’t directly sexually reproduce isn’t “detrimental” to species survival. A society doesn’t necessarily survive best when it produces the maximum amount of possible young. There have been two main ways nature solves the problem of sexual reproduction (I won’t go into asexual reproduction, because really, we're all busy people):

1) Produce as many offspring as possible, but with little parental investment in the course of the lives of the offspring (many offspring are produced, but only a few survive):

This scenario is usually employed by the “lower” animals such as frogs. The father distributes his seed as widely as possible, and often has several partners. In such cases, the mother is the only parent involved in child rearing, or there’s no parental involvement whatsoever because it’s hoped that the sheer numbers of offspring will produce enough young that survive to adulthood.

2) Produce a lower number of offspring, but with high parental investment (few offspring are produced, but most of these survive to adulthood):

This strategy is usually employed by the “higher” social animals such as Lions or birds. The father and mother raise their offspring together until maturity. Parental involvement means many of those offspring that are produced, survive to sexual maturity. Thus, we have monogamy.

I guess it’s a distinction between “quality over quantity”. Both strategies work in their respective species, but humans have adopted the latter, making it unnecessary to produce the maximum number of offspring.

Generativity occurs in many other ways than direct sexual reproduction.

“With due respect, you didn’t answer my question with regards to pedeophilia being socially acceptable [if it were socially acceptable it wouldn’t cause hysteria] at some point [by no means inconcievable you know] and on what basis could one say it is wrong, given the abandonment of a "fixed" point of reference with which to make a judgment.“

I thought I did provide a fixed point of reference – continuity of a social system. It’s unlikely pedophilia would ever become socially acceptable because people are both very threatened by it, and it has very real developmental effects for children who are victims of sexual abuse. They develop difficulty forming relationships in later life, low self esteem, depression, etc etc. Therefore I find it really difficult to see how it could ever become socially acceptable.
Issues society has deemed at one point evil, and later social acceptable, have been those acts with which there was no real threat associated with them (they were feared for irrational reasons), such as homosexuality and interracial relationships. Pedeophelia and murder both have very real consequences associated with them, so it’s unlikely these will ever change.

“Unless I am missing something, the only recourse naturalist philosophy has, is to deem evil a subjective perception. Parallel to this is the concept of moral judgement, but if evil is subjective perception, then how can morality be anything but?”

That’s not true either. Theism and ethics are independent issues. Try doing a search on Utilitarianism, or Kant’s universilizability criterion. These moral theories don’t say very much about God, and they’re both OBJECTIVE moral views. We don’t need God to explain morality.

“Invariably, the skeptic will attempt to "split the difference" on this and say that morality is subjective part of the time, but is objective in the big-picture, which is what you basically alluded to by saying that morality was survival dependent.”

I’m afraid I didn’t make my position clear enough. I think individual people create their own personalized subjective views based on individual experience, but the standard for morality in a SOCIETY is very objective (whether or not a society can thrived based on the rules – however, such rules need not be constantly fixed for all time). It’s helpful to think of morality as an evolutionary construct designed for a specific purpose – to keep people in relatively close proximity to one another, which in turn helps survival of the species as a whole.

I think if you read some of Kant’s moral theory along with Utilitarianism (also termed consequentialism), you’ll find my view is pretty similar. As long as societies persist, morality will be survival dependent.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a few questions for you ;)

1)Do you think homosexuality is evil? If so, what reasons do you offer for these, and how do you explain its existence in nature? Is nature evil?

2)You didn’t answer my question on how any experience can be anything other than perception of the senses. Memory isn’t really an independent source because it’s essentially derivative from the senses. So how can I experience something that I myself didn’t sense? What other sources of information are there? Presumably, even “religious experiences” must be communicated somehow.

3)God may declare certain acts moral or immoral, but the reason for this must be other than the fact that “God says so”. God cannot be the objective standard for morality, because if that were true, God COULD make murder/pedeophilia morally permissible – he could make them good acts if he so chose. But this would ignore consequences (or intentions) as an issue in morality. Morality must be a truth independent of God. If he exist, God merely correctly identifies what’s good and what’s evil – he cannot be the source.

If you find fault with my reasoning, then what makes something good or evil?

4)If God is the source of all good, then what is the source of evil?

(a)The common response is, “humans have both the potential for good and evil, and because God endowed us with free will, we actualize both potentialities.”
My reply (please add your reply, i'm just trying to cover all the bases): It’s not necessarily mutually exclusive to have a good world with free will. Does a sinner have any more free will than a saint? If all people have equal amounts of free will, then why didn’t God make us all saints with a tendency to do good? We would then be free, yet we’d be more inclined to do good acts. Clearly God opted for a much more convoluted plan that we “can’t fathom or explain”, but if this is true, how can you claim to understand it?

(b) God created all things. Evil exists. Therefore God created evil. Does this not make God simultaneously the source of all good and evil?

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