Introductory Logic (Appealing to Traditions)

I had a previous post on the subject of gay marriage, and I mentioned appealing to traditions as one of the usual fallacies used to back up discriminative claims against gay marriage. The incentive behind writing that post was the Christian blogger, Rod Benson (who is apparently a Baptist minister according to his about page). He had a post about the subject at the time, and since he erased my comment (a harsh one nonetheless!) I wrote my post on self humiliation.

The good thing about extremist religious people is that they never learn. In a more recent post, he has continued with the same nonsense. Two paragraphs of this recent post has  actually turned out to be the perfect textbook case of appealing to traditions:

“No religious tradition can claim ownership of the institution of marriage. It’s neither Christian nor pagan. What we have in Australian federal law today is a definition of marriage that accurately represents the foundational beliefs and values inherent in the biblical teaching on Christian marriage, as well as thousands of years of cultural wisdom from a wide range of communities.

Marriage thus defined serves the common good, and provides a proper foundation for security and stability in national social and economic life.  This is why an overwhelming majority of churches supports the current definition of marriage in Australian law, and opposes the reform proposed by The Australian Greens. ”

According to that, the current definition of marriage “provides a proper foundation for security and stability in national social and economic life” because many of the cultures in the world have had it for thousands of years! Well, since unjustified discrimination against a minority is wrong, all these cultures are wrong, and that includes Christian culture as well. By no means this kind of fallacious argument can stand for the discrimination against gay couples in taking away their rights to want to be recognized as a couple: A married couple.

Besides, there have been many things that these cultures have had, and many of them still do, including: slavery, honour killings, child marriage, genital mutilation of both men and women, and many other horrible things.

Are these things wise? No. Acceptable? No. By any means justified? NO!

There you have it: The perfect textbook example of appealing to traditions.

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Introductory Logic (Poisoning the well)

I was debating some Pro-Life people on twitter about abortion. One of them, seeing my profile picture (which is two guys having a moment) thought that it’s a good idea to give me a link to his friends blog, because as he put it “she is WAY better” than him at this. “This” happened to be a post against Homosexuality, and she turned out to be one of the most irrational people on planet earth, of course, like many other fundamentalist religious people.

My point in this post is not to show what lies she has put there, and why she has failed in the most obvious facts known about homosexuality today (for instance “born this way” theory is not just about the gay gene). My point here is to point out one obvious fallacy in that post as an introductory example to logical fallacies, since it is a perfect text book example of such fallacy. The following paragraph is directly from the post linked above:

“But the proof offered, my dear friends, needs to be towards the unbiased side of the spectrum. This means that those pro-homosexuality and/or LGBT supporting websites shouldn’t be part of your argument, since – in most cases – the information is biased and misleading. A friend of mine told me she was reading a book on this type of research, for example, and the authors were a homosexual couple. One would assume that information might have been mishandled or the research conducted might have been leading (i.e. forced), for example.”

This is a text book case of “Poisoning the well” fallacy, in which instead of refuting one’s argument (in this case research or data), an attack is made based on “who” has said this and “why”, and claims are made like : “They are wrong (Their research, argument, statement etc. was wrong), because they are a Homosexual couple”. Logically speaking, it does not matter if a mad drunk Nazi has said it, or the Pope himself, a personal attack will never refute one’s argument, because it’s irrelevant.

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One more thing for a good ending: In that post we read “I believe it’s wrong to want to have or defend the unnatural behaviour.”

Well, surgery is absolutely unnatural, therefore… it’s wrong to have it?!

Good Read on the subject: Crimes against logic by Jamie Whyte.

The Project Self Humiliation, Operation Extreme Redundancy

Two arguments, two arguments that are going to make me puke if I hear them one more time! Well, I suppose not, but I will write this post. Maybe, maybe, those guys who humiliate themselves each time they through these kinds of nonsense out, will see it and stop being intellectually incompetent:

1: Fundamentalist religious people vs. gay marriage: Neither I, nor any other rational person in the world (which oddly includes sane religious people as well), cares what your God says about gay marriage. Logically speaking, one shall not give a tiny little piece of a rats “bottom” about what your Jesus, Allah or whatever the hell your God; is, does or orders. It is utterly irrelevant to this debate and this topic.

Stop appealing to your moronic “traditions”. This is about the law, which automatically makes it about rights, and yes: Human rights. There is absolutely no shred of reason in the arguments of fundamentalists based on their traditions against gay marriage, it’s all fallacious and it’s useless for you.

No studies in the world have found any shred of evidence that gay parents are worse than straight parents, and those who want to define marriage based on “reproduction” please note that aside from excluding straight parents that cannot have children or do not want to, it’s horrifyingly inhuman to define the “rights” of people based on a choice that they have to make on bringing another life into this world. Imagine a child asking his or her parents: “Why was I born?” and the parents answer would be: “Because we had to reproduce, honey!” What a shame!

And yes, gays can be families too. What else would you call a couple that have lived together for 20 years and have 2 children?!

That’s more or less all that I have seen from these guys, I wonder what kind of other reasons could they have for this irrational, immoral and imposturous stance on their discriminative Buffoonery?!

2: Kalam cosmological argument: A drastic change of subject, eh? But recently I have become aware that this really disgusts me. The reason is I had to shut up and sit through the same stupidity of the same type of arguments for “God” knows how long, and I had to read the same horrendous thing for my tests, that was compulsory for us during 8 years from the time that I was 14 to the time I was 22.

And the same I keep hearing. The following is how that argument goes, and its most important logical problem: (this one I found on wikipedia, the others have the same fallacies)

(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
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(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.

Aside from all the things that had been said about it before, it suffers from a fallacy of composition. It may be true that all the things that we see have a cause, but all the things that we see happen in the universe. Universe is the sum of all those things, therefore it might be true that everything has a reason, but it is not true that “everything” itself has a reason. besides, it is usually not mentioned that “Everything that has a beginning of its existence” is of materialistic nature, and everything in there has a materialistic cause.

Also, Hume’s argument works applies to this situation: How did you found out the first premise of your argument? You observed the things around you for a period of time. Ok, how dare you suggest that it applies to the beginning of everything, including time?

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Now that I think about it, I see that self humiliation is irrelevant here. After all Christians, especially fundamentalis ones, are very fund of it, aren’t they?

Everything is permitted, only if you believe!

If religion indeed suffers from some sever cases of internal inconsistency, this means that one shall have to find significant changes in religious arguments and beliefs as time passes by.

History shows us that this is true. Religious claims have always shifted (or tried to shift) to ideas that were more likely to be accepted by the masses, or were impossible to avoid. One good example is an economical one, and that is the rate of interest. Before the tenth century, Scholastic thinkers strongly prohibited any interest based on religious beliefs. But the progress of market economy is actually based on interest, and when throughout time to 14th and 15th century markets started to become more and more completed, interest became essential for economic growth. With advanced banking system in Florence, prohibition of interest effectively ended.

Nowadays you can see the same process through Islamic countries. Also, you can see this process for many other things as well; of course one good example is again the progress of tolerance for Homosexuality. One more interesting religious idea-shift is its attitude towards racism. Before, religion was the advocate of slavery and discrimination against black men and women, but in the 60s Martin Luther King (who himself was a Baptist minister) turned it into a weapon against discrimination.

We can find many examples of this sort, and I do not think that religious people will disagree that we do have these shifts of ideas in religious beliefs. But what can be said in defense of religion? One thing comes into my mind, and I have heard this quite a lot from Islamic apologists in the case of these ‘shifts’: “It was not Islam that was wrong, it was us.” Or “It was our lack of understanding of Koran; otherwise we know that it cannot be wrong.”

This answer only ‘seems’ right, because now we can see that it faces a strong and yet simple dilemma and I think we could call it the ‘dilemma of the book of Thoth’.

Thoth was (or is?!) the mythological Egyptian god of wisdom and he had written a book that contained all his knowledge about the world and the gods themselves. If somebody could read ‘the book’, he or she would have been capable of knowing every secret of the known world and even could literally see the gods themselves. Neferkaptah, an Egyptian prince, read the book and became almost a god. That was why the gods punished him by killing his son and wife: They didn’t want a human to possess such power. Neferkaptah later committed suicide and was buried with the book to guard it forever.

Now, what has this little mythological story got to do with our argument? It’s simple: These so called ‘holy books’ of ours (The Koran, The Bible, and The Torah) are either utterly wrong, or they are not understandable. They are not like the book of Thoth, that was (or is) written by a god and when you read it you can see the effect immediately. When you read any of those books, you will see that your ‘knowledge’ has not increased; they only abuse what you already know. They are exactly like mediums: vagueness is what they are made of. This is what makes religious books and mediums equally fake.

And that is the key to those shifts in religious ideas. Scientific theories change because they are based on scientific facts and other theories, and they were never supposed to be absolutely true to begin with. We already know this from David Hume. Religious ideas change because they become internally inconsistent (and because they were made up to begin with).

Religious people cannot believe that their holy book is false; if they do, they are not religious any more. At first look it seems plausible for them to doubt their own understanding. But In that case, how on earth they dare saying “We know the truth.”?! How dare Catholics condemn Homosexuality and say “because God says so”. You don’t even understand your God! And Muslims are the worst; at least Christianity has had a renaissance, Islam still holds a great power over people’s minds.

The worst result of the vagueness of these books is that they can justify almost ‘anything’. They justify sexism in the Middle East, and yet in the same place you can find devoted Muslims that say “this is NOT what the Koran says.” They justify killing gay men and women, and recently I have seen articles, written by believers about how the Bible and the Koran “do NOT condemn homosexuality.”

Right now Islamist extremists are after nuclear weapons in Iran, but in the meantime mullahs say the world that Islam prohibits making weapons of mass destruction. Now, we can trust them, right?!

Religion and Change: Degeneration (A Case for Lack of Internal Consistency Within Religious Beliefs)

On the previous post, I pointed out that ‘Sin’ is a fake concept within religions. And to back my claim I argued about how it cannot be a ground for rejecting another belief (wrong or not).

But, aside from that, I believe there is one more thing that can prove the fakeness of ‘Sin’ or other religious ideas, and that is the lack of internal consistency that appears in history of religions, specially the ones based on a holy book (such as the Koran or the Bible).

Let’s make an example first: For years, people thought that diseases were the result of God’s wrath, or his test. No one knew about those smallest of beings, ‘the reason’ for disease. Then came Louis Pastor, with his theory  and his swan neck duct, and showed that Bacteria and Germs are real.

Well, however God has to go one step behind and be the reason for Germs this time, this is not the end game for religion; because though the reason for disease was known, that reason and therefore diseases could still perfectly be God’s wrath or test. But then, came the ‘cure’ for diseases. This is a game changer, because of another idea within religion: Omnipotence God. God is Almighty, and this means that we, as his creations, by definition cannot overcome him, or his wrath, or to cheat in his tests.

Excuse me, but I think we did: Vaccinations, Antibiotics, Condoms…

The notion that “AIDS is God’s punishment for “their” sins” has to die, because if God was to send a perfect punishment, it should not be prevented by condoms, a tiny, cheap thin piece of plastic that reduces the chance of HIV infection significantly.

And as we see, religious ideas change throughout the history, they die away and fall apart, because of the inconsistency within religious ideas, that science shed light on. And this concludes my point here: religious arguments are fake arguments. They are made up in the past to support ideas that belong to the past, even the meaning of something like sin is bound to be so.

On The Fakeness of the Concept of Sin

Before (In this post) I have argued about how we can derive values and ‘should’ from a combination of what there ‘is’ and another ideological ‘should’; I also have argued that religion (Abrahamic ones specifically) cannot be the source of our morality (here). But how about religious moral arguments; How can we possibly say that they are wrong? Is it science that tells us this, or is it something else like ‘religious evolution’?

I will take two paths here, first, in this post I will prove that the concept of ‘Sin’ is fake, and by that I mean to prove it is absolutely ‘Subjective’ to different religions, but pretends to bear an ‘Objective’ value. Later on the next post, I will speak about the lack of internal consistency within religions and their changes through time and history.

Let’s first talk of objective and subjective: What is objective? Simply put, something that exists whether we know about it or not, and our opinion has no effect on it. When we talk about objective morality, it means that ‘Some’ things are wrong, and some are right, and ‘our perception’ has no effect on their wrongness or rightness.

To present my argument, Let me stick to our previous examples, say, about Homosexuality:

  1. If you are a Homosexual, you are a sinner.
  2. No one should be a sinner.
  3. (Conclusion)
    you should not be a Homosexual.

Of course now we know that Homosexuality is not a choice as a sexual attraction toward the same sex, and this argument is not common any more, not in this simple form anyway, but my point is the argument itself. The concept of ‘sin’ is the key here: This is actually a legitimate ‘logical’ argument. But is it meaningful too?

I’m afraid not. The fact is we have to believe in a specific religion and the concept of ‘sin’ within that religion in order to find that argument meaningful and true. This is why you can find a branch of Christianity (Like the United Church) that has no problem with being gay, or even gay marriage.

To have a better example, let’s talk about something more taboo, such as incest. We all understand that incest is wrong, but is that because it is a sin? Where does this ‘wrongness’ come from?

The meaning of incest tends to be different in different parts of the world, geographically and historically. In western culture, a sexual relationship between cousins is usually considered to be incest. But in  the Middle East and Islam it is not so, in fact in some parts marriage between cousins is considered ‘Heavenly’. Now, can a Christian argue with a Muslim stating: “Marriage between cousins is wrong because it’s a sin”?

No. He or She cannot do so. The meaning of that Sin in Islam is different, and is not referred to cousins marrying. therefore that argument is meaningless for a Muslim: His God (Allah) allows it. And as it gets even worse: That argument is meaningless for an Ancient Egyptian, who tended to marry their sisters, because their gods didn’t have a problem with it!

Religious people can try to escape this trap by redefining Sin, such as ‘Being like Christ’ or ‘being close to Christ’. But that would again be a mere matter of insertion, and again their argument will fail.

It is interesting that the only way they ‘can’ argue on common ground is based on science, and that common ground is ‘reality’ that they can use to address the issue properly (objectively). But that is not religion anymore, is it? That’s science.

Now, talking of objective moral values, ‘Sin’ was supposed to be an objective matter, but it seems to me it turned out to be absolutely subjective! If the concept and meaning of ‘Sin’ is not objective, doesn’t that mean that in reality it does not exist?

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P.S: Revision may happen on this post.

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