Friday, March 31, 2006

The Asymmetry of Immaterialism

A recent study which shows that prayer does nothing to help recovery of heart bypass patients got me thinking about material vs. immaterial entities. Thanks to BlackSun for posting about the study, and for inspiring this post as well.

Immaterialists are usually quick to point out that immaterial entities cannot be interacted with or observed by material entities. Most Immaterialists will assert that science cannot detect, measure, or otherwise verify the existence of anything immaterial, because immaterial entities by their very nature are not composed of matter or material energy; they exist in a different dimension where material entities cannot go, or their qualities of existence make them unable to be interacted with by material entities. You cannot punch a soul. You cannot weigh it. You cannot observe the afterlife with a telescope, even if that telescope can clearly see every last inch of the entire universe. In short, Immaterialists claim that the nature of immaterial entities makes them a priori untestable and undetectable by any scientific or material means whatsoever.

I realize of course that some Immaterialists will not agree with the above paragraph. But the majority of Immaterialists (Christians, Muslims, Tarot-Card Reading Psychics, etc...) will agree with me that science cannot test or observe immaterial entities. For those Immaterialists who do believe that immaterial entities are subject to scientific testing and observation, I invite them to take the Million Dollar Challenge.

Now let's move on to the claim that most Immaterialists hold: That immaterial entities (souls, ghosts, etc...) cannot be tested or observed by material scientific means. I say to them, "That's fine, but the door swings both ways!" What I mean is that if material entities cannot test or observe immaterial entities, then immaterial entities cannot test or observe material entities either.

A typical Immaterialist will claim that a soul cannot be "touched" or "detected" by any material instrument, including your own material senses. Yet the Immaterialist will simultaneously claim (typically) that these immaterial entities can "touch" or "detect" your material self, as well as other material entities, including inanimate objects! The Immaterialist will usually claim that immaterial ghosts can speak to people, move objects, heal people, hurt people, and interact with the material world in all kinds of ways.

What is even more absurd is that Immaterialists will claim that all human beings (or even all living things) have an immaterial "soul" or "spirit" controlling their material body. How brilliant. A soul, that cannot be detected or interacted with by any material means, somehow is able to interact with a material body and make it breathe, think, masticate, defecate, copulate, and do all those messy material things that biological organisms do so well.

It is simply not logical to claim that there is a one-way street in regards to the interaction of immaterial and material entities. Consider the following symmetrical statements:

1) For you to be in my line of sight, I must also be in your line of sight.

2) To hold up this 10 pound object, I must exert 10 pounds of force.

3) If it is wrong for me to murder you, then it is wrong for you to murder me.

4) If I am your Son, then you are my Father.

Note that the above four statements are logically correct. Now consider the following asymmetrical statements:

1) For you to be in my line of sight, I need not be in your line of sight.

2) To hold up this 10 pound object, I need not exert any force.

3) It is wrong for me to murder you, but it is not wrong for you to murder me.

4) I am your Son, but you are not my Father.

Note that these four statements are not logically correct because they are asymmetrical.

Now consider these two statements, and consider which one is logical, and why:

1a) A material entity may not interact with an immaterial entity, and an immaterial entity may not interact with a material entity.

1b) A material entity may not interact with an immaterial entity, but an immaterial entity may interact with a material entity.

Statement 1a) is symmetrical, and logical. Statement 1b) is not.

Many Immaterialists will contend, and have contended, that immaterial entities do not operate along the same logical rules that material entities do. Fair enough, but it doesn't solve the problem. In fact, it makes the problem worse for them. Why? Because material entities do obey the law of symmetry; they are forced by their very material nature to obey it. The only way a material entity can interact is in accordance with the rule of symmetry. Consequently, for any other entity to interact with a material entity, it must also observe the rules that material entities observe. To be outside the laws of logic is to be excluded from operating within its realm, the material universe.

When dealing with two kinds of entities and the interactions between them, to place a restriction on one entity is to place a restriction on the interaction between the two, because the interaction between the two entities is dependent upon, and affected by, the properties of each entity. If immaterial entities cannot be detected, tested, or interacted with by material means, then material entities cannot be detected, tested, or interacted with by immaterial means.

When dealing with an Immaterialist who claims that immaterial entities cannot be detected or tested by material means, you can use this argument:

Premise 1: If immaterial entities cannot be detected, tested, or interacted with by material means, then material entities cannot be detected, tested, or interacted with by immaterial means.

Premise 2: Immaterial entities cannot be detected, tested, or interacted with by material means.

Conclusion 1: Material entities cannot be detected, tested, or interacted with by immaterial means.

Premise 3: Human beings are material entities.

Conclusion 2: Human beings cannot interact with any immaterial entities.

Conclusion 3: Human beings cannot contain or possess any immaterial entities, components, or properties.

But what about the Immaterialist who claims that immaterial entities can be detected and interacted with by material means? Simply ask him to support his implied assertion that immaterial entities even exist, and ask him to do it by material observation.

*UPDATE* Commenter Axel_621 helped flesh out my argument even further, and I wanted to post it in here because I think the observation that Axel_621 made is just so damn good.

Axel_621 says:

I'd like to point out that if an immaterial entity exerts force on a material object, then the material object is also applying force to the immaterial entity by default. If this were not so, then no force could be applied to the material object by the immaterial entity.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Magnificent Pro-Choice Argument

A Magnificent Pro-Choice Argument

Francesthemagnificent is a relatively new name in the blogosphere, as far as I can tell. He recently started posting in comments sections of various blogs, including mine. But only this morning did I discover that he has his own blog named My Case Against God. His blog only appears to have been around starting this month (March 2006), but he has already made a splash in the abortion debate with his Pro-Fetal Ownership argument. I hope to give him and his argument a bit more exposure.

Admittedly, when I first read the title of his argument, "Pro-Fetal Ownership," I was a bit apprehensive. But once I started reading, a big smile spread across my face. Interestingly, his argument is very similar to my Self-Ownership argument. Allow me to quote Francesthemagnificent's argument:

Premise One: Individuals own their bodies, and everything that is growing within them.

Premise Two: Fetuses grow within the bodies of their mothers.

Conclusion One: Females own their fetuses.

Premise Three: Individuals may destroy that which they own.

Premise Four: Females own their fetuses.

Conclusion Two: Females may destroy their fetuses.

Even when I first read his argument, I was still a bit skeptical. Everything in his argument was fine, except I wasn't too sure about his first premise. Do I really think that women "own" their own fetuses? My own abortion argument has revolved around self-ownership, specifically the woman's own womb. I wasn't too sure that the ownership extended to the fetus.

But then I continued to read his post. He quickly acknowledges that his first premise is most in need of defense, and he proceeds to defend it:

As far as I can tell, the only part of that argument that possibly could be contested would be the first premise. However, I’m confident in its correctness. Clearly, individuals own their hearts, lungs and kidneys, as well as any tumors growing within their bodies.

Emphasis mine. The portion that I bolded struck a chord in me. Why? Because a tumor can be defined as "human" just like a fetus can. What this does, is it creates big problems for the "developmentalism" charge that anti-reproductive-rights Christians like Paul Manata love to throw around.

Francesthemagnificent expands on his tumor comparison:

Going back to tumors, I think they represent the perfect analogy to fetuses. First of all, both tumors and fetuses are living, growing masses of cells. A little human will grow up to be a big human. A little tumor will grow up to be a big tumor. Second, many tumors can exist without posing real harm to the individual; tumors can be either benign or malignant. Therefore, one may not say tumors and fetuses are different because tumors will kill you but fetuses will not. That’s just misrepresenting reality, in a very blatant way [Not to mention the fact that many females still die in childbirth, particularly outside the Western world].

The main objection voiced to my tumor/fetus analogy is that fetuses are human, while tumors are not. While I understand this objection, I cannot take it seriously. Evolution teaches us that there is a singular Tree of Life. Every living thing is on that tree, representing a branch or a branch from a branch [from a branch]. Given the fact that all living things are on the same Tree of Life, I find it impossible to say that one living thing has more inherent value than another living thing.

By the anti-reproductive-rights Christians' own terms, a tumor would have to be classified as human, whether its benign or malignant, or else the developmentalism charge would fail. And what Christian would claim that removing a tumor from one's body is a no-no because it murders the tumor?

The tumor analogy is, in my opinion, a better tool to use against the "developmentalism" charge than my own "unfertilized egg/sperm" defense. I do think they are both usable, but the tumor one seems to be more relevant because it involves a growing clump of cells within one's body, while sperm and egg are a bit more abstract or detached from the argument in some way. What I mean is, the tumor argument seems easier to use, relate to, and compare with a fetus. The tumor argument is also more relevant because a tumor is typically extracted from one's body shortly after discovery, and a tumor is most definitely made up of the same "human" components that a fully developed homo sapien is, just to a different "developmental" degree.

Thanks to Francesthemagnificent, the pro-choice toolbox has a couple extra tools inside it. They are nice, strong, shiny tools, with lifetime guarantees. Kind of like Craftsmen tools (I turn wrenches on my car a lot so forgive the tool metaphor). What's even cooler is that Francesthemagnificent has given an argument for abortion from an individualist and self-ownership perspective. Francesthemagnificent seems to understand that self-ownership is paramount to the formulation of any good system of human rights, and that makes me very happy.

I can't wait to see what arguments the anti-reproductive-rights, pro-afterlife Christoids will come up with next in their womb-enslavement quest. Those bastards won't stop until all the vaginas in the world belong to their imaginary God. I cannot help but wonder where these Christoids get their obsession with vaginas, especially since, in the Bible, their God only seems to be obsessed with circumcised penises?

*UPDATE* I spelled Francesthemagnificent's name incorrectly in the original version. I have now corrected it. How embarrassing!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Civil Discussion

Hellbound Alleee recently posted something very enlightening and informing, for atheists and Christians alike, entitled "A Civil Discussion".

It explains quite eloquently the situation you are in if the Abrahamic God and His accompanying afterlife really do exist. Read it, and then thank God that God doesn't exist. Because if He did, this would be one evil motherfucking universe.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Paul Manata Takes a Stab at Abortion

I recently got into a little debate over abortion in the comments section of Pressing the Antithesis, and it apparently got Paul Manata all fired up. So fired up in fact, that he wrote an eight thousand and ten word essay about my pro-choice (Manata calls it pro-murder) position, and why he thinks its wrong.

Manata's blog entry is entitled The Illogic of "Pro-Choice".

If you have lots of time to kill, go ahead and give it a read. It’s very long. I printed it out in notepad with all formatting removed (plain text) and it was still thirteen pages. That's a lot of writing for replying to a small handful of comments I made, but I guess it just shows that this topic is very important to Manata. Nothing wrong with that of course, but quite honestly I must admit that I am not as passionate about abortion as Manata is. Therefore, I'm going to try to keep this blog entry short, and I imagine that Manata will not like that I won't respond to everything he wrote, but I don't want to give my readers an eight thousand word response.

Manata first talks about an abortion rally he went to where he out-debated some British college girls, and then he turns to me and my argument:

Some may be upset that I've picked on a British feminist (though she told me that she was on the speech and debate team at her college) and a drunk man. Well, enter Aaron Kinney. Though some may say that he's a worse example to use for the pro-murder cause because he's an Objectivist (even though he doesn't like to be called that), I don't buy it! And, at least Aaron fancies himself an intellectual, as well as do the kids at gods4suckers. So, let's look at some of these claims Aaron makes in the comments section (linked above).

I'm not an objectivist, no. I used to be, but now I like to consider myself and individualist. But as far as Manata and this argument are concerned, it’s irrelevant. My worldview is still very similar to that of objectivism.

Originally Aaron entered the combox and asked, "I am curious, why are you against abortion?" I mentioned that I thought my post made it self-explanatory. I also said that his defense would hinge on how he defined a "human." Simply put, if Aaron is against the murder of humans, and if the unborn is a human, then Aaron is against the murder of the unborn human.

The pigeonholing begins immediately. Manata insists that my pro-choice argument must hinge on the definition of "human"! This is because it’s the only way Manata can mount his attack, but he doesn't want his readers to know that. In Manata's world of Christian master-slave God worship, consent and self-ownership are foreign concepts. All Manata can understand is 1) coercion, and 2) how to apply it according to his definitions. My argument rests not on whether the fetus is a human, but who's in control of the womb, and Manata doesn't want to fight that battle. Instead, he tries to pigeonhole me into the "definition of what is human" argument.

Manata then gives his argument:

My argument is: If Aaron is against the murder of humans, and if the unborn is a human, then Aaron is against the murder of the unborn human. Aaron is against the murder of humans. Therefore Aaron is against the murder of the unborn human. Murder shall be defined as the unlawful taking of life. Let's now see if Aaron is against the murder of humans.

Paul correctly states that I am against the murder of humans, and that includes unborn humans. Paul then says "murder shall be defined as the unlawful taking of life." Already, Paul defeated himself. Why? Because aborting a fetus (or unborn human) is not "unlawful" in America, and therefore, it is not murder. Paul even quotes the penal code later in his post, and admits that it is not illegal to have an abortion by a licensed physician, but then he still claims that its "murder"! Paul wants to have his cake and eat it too. He says that murder is unlawful, but when abortion is found not to always be against the law (when the woman consents and its performed by a doctor), then Manata attacks the law itself with a quote from George Koukl. Which law system is abortion illegal to in Manata's world? Is Manata's definition of murder changing, or when he says "unlawful" does he only mean his own imaginary law, or is it something else?

Paul attempts to clarify further down the post:

In none of these reasons do we find that killing a fetus (homicide) is justified. Since it is not justified, then it is unjustified. If it is unjustified, then the taking of the life of the fetus is murder. Since it is a living human, then to take its life in an unjustified way is to commit murder. And so, Aaron, that's how abortion is murder.

The goalposts are shifting at his convenience. Now all of a sudden, according to Paul, murder can still be murder even if it isn't "unlawful". His argument about murder and unlawfulness fails to get off the ground.

Paul spouts off for a few more paragraphs, using his above argument (which I showed is not "unlawful" anyway) and my own words to show that I am against murder, which I am. Then Paul insists that the argument must revolve around the definition of what a human is. Again, he cannot understand any argument that hinges on self-ownership; he can only understand arguments that hinge on some unspecified laws that are handed down either from 1) the State, or 2) his imaginary God.

Paul then begins more hard-core pigeonholing:

As I have shown, this debate must, of logical necessity, center on the definition of a human. Again this is because of the logical implication of these propositions:

1. Aaron is against the murder of human persons.
2. If the unborn being is a human person, then Aaron is against murdering it.

Now, let's say that I add this premise:
3. The unborn being is a human person.

We would have to draw this conclusion.
4. Therefore, Aaron is against murdering it.

So far so good. But the paragraph that follows is rather half-baked:

Therefore, by Aaron's own hand, his position logically leads us to the conclusion that Aaron would be against abortion if the unborn being was a human. The only way out of this for Aaron is if the unborn being is not a human. The only way for Aaron to get out of the dilemma, in other words, is if he can define 'human' in such a way that excludes the unborn being from that class.

BZZZT! Wrong answer! Paul wants us to think that the only way out of this is to play with the definition of what a human is. But that is not the case. Paul said, "Aaron would be against abortion if the unborn being was a human," but this assumes that abortion is "murder," which I have shown that it is not, despite Paul’s attempts to shift definitions.

Paul continues:

I had originally noted this in the combox, but Aaron responded that "[his] reasons for supporting abortion do not hinge on [his] definition of human life.” But, and here's the crucial "if," if the unborn being is a human than, according to Aaron, he is against its murder. Aaron must grant this.

I love it when someone I am disagreeing with provides me with an argument, and then I concede their point, and then point out that the condition they challenged me on can be conceded while keeping my defense intact, therefore proving their argument to be fallacious.

Just watch: Yes I am against the murder of an unborn human. I grant this, as Manata says I must. For example, shooting a pregnant woman in the womb is a no-no. But I am not against abortion, because abortion is not the "unlawful" killing of an unborn human as defined in Manata's argument.

Paul continues:

Aaron fudges a bit. He comments after much prodding by some other commenters that he needs to "clear this up." He then tells us that his "argument is not CENTERED on the definition of a human." "However, the definition of what is a human does come in to play to some degree..." He fails to tell us to what extent this definition "come[s] in to play." What he must admit, given the above analysis, is that the definition is central.

Actually I did state to what degree the definition of a human comes in to play. I stated that it comes in to play when I keep getting asked what my definition of human is by all the Christians who cannot understand that my argument rests on self-ownership. I do not admit that the definition of what a human is, is central to the argument.

My main premise is: A woman has the right to control her own body at all times. Note that the definition of human does not come in to play in my main premise. The problem is that Christians don't acknowledge individualism or self-ownership, since everyone is supposed to submit to their grand sky-fairy authority that supposedly owns everyone in the first place.

Paul then gets a few jollies by nitpicking the shit out of my informal definition of human (from a comments section no less) as if it were supposed to be some scientific, uber-specific definition. Observe:

Aaron's Definition of Human:

One gets the idea that Aaron senses the force of all of this and so he throws out a definition of 'human.' Aaron tells us that the definition of a human is"

"[A] "human" is defined as an organism that can survive outside the womb."

Okay, let me slowly think through this, here is a small list of "organism[s] that can survive outside the womb:"

A plant is an organism that can survive outside the womb.
A tetra hydra is an organism that can survive outside the womb.
An amoeba is an organism that can survive outside the womb.
An ant is an organism that can survive outside the womb.
So this must be why Aaron does not have a problem with abortion. He doesn't have a problem killing bugs and eating vegetables! No, this can't be what he meant. He must have meant that:

"A human is an organism that can survive outside of its own mother's womb."

There, is that better? Hardly. Here's another small list:

A rat is an organism that can survive outside of its own mother's womb.
A three-toed sloth is an organism that can survive outside of its own mother's womb.
A platypus is an organism that can survive outside of its own mother's womb.
A dog is an organism that can survive outside of its own mother's womb.
On Aaron's definition a 'human' can be almost anything except, say, a table!

Paul is so childish with this that its almost sad. Is he writing this just to be funny, or is it a desperate attempt to strike out at any level of ambiguity I may have allowed in my definition of what a human is in the hopes of making me look worse in his own eyes? I'm not sure.

But let's take a close look at what I said was a human: " defined as an organism that can survive outside the womb." A few things are assumed in my definition, and it was in no way meant to be taken to the extreme literal degree that Manata took it. I'm not writing a biology book here. Any John Doe reader of the comments section would have understood that I was talking about homo sapien fetuses that are newly conceived and developing inside the wombs of homo sapien women. To call up plants, ants, and rats is frankly quite immature and only serves as a waste of reading time.

Paul then confuses what an abortion actually is:

Now, let's take abortion by saline solution. This method chemically burns the live baby. Upon analysis, then, Aaron has just admitted that it is okay to chemically burn a human being (the baby in the picture could survive outside the womb) because someone else wants to. This human, then, was put to death. What justification is there for this?

This chemical burn scenario isn't an abortion according to my definition of the word "abortion". My definition of "abortion" coincides with the definition, which is: "Termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus that is incapable of survival." Because Paul said that the baby in the picture could survive outside the womb, then it wasn't an abortion.

Now Paul's argument fails on all levels, and I have shown that my argument does not center on the definition of what a human is. Observe my argument:

A woman has the right to control her body at all times. She has the right to terminate her pregnancy whenever she wishes, because her womb is her own, and nobody else's. A human is a fetus that is developed enough to survive if it were to leave the womb. An abortion is the artificial termination of a pregnancy of a fetus or embryo that cannot survive outside the womb.

So, abortions only happen to non-humans. Otherwise it's just prematurely induced labor. An 8 month old baby can be prematurely removed from the womb and survive on it's own. The chemical scenario Paul provided wasn't even an abortion at all! It was induced labor coupled with a chemical death. Two separate actions. I imagine that Paul would equate government-enforced Chinese infanticide with "abortion" just to demonize abortion itself, despite the fact that they commonly wait until natural birth occurs and then murder the baby in a separate act.

I want to touch on something I find amusing. Paul says:

Furthermore, Aaron seems to be guilty of sizism. That is, because the fetus is small (a lump of cells) then it is less than a real person. But, it is exactly the right size it should be. It is the size we all were at this stage in our development, just like a toddler is the size he is and Aaron is the size he is (I'm speaking vertically, not mentally). Moreover, as Steve Wagner as appropriately labeled this, to discriminate based on level of development could be called, developmentalism. Should we also kill mentally retarded people because of their level of development?

Lets agree with Paul and take it to the extreme. I'm talking about Sperm and Eggs. Masturbating into a sink, or having one's girlfriend swallow, should equate with murder in Paul's "development" argument. What about periods? Every 28 days, does a woman kill her baby if she menstruates due to a failure to get pregnant? This development argument of Paul's is ridiculous. Unless, of course, Paul is against "ejaculation without insemination" or "menstruation before insemination." At least then he would be consistent.

Obviously, the definition of what is human is central to Paul's argument, while my argument uses it as an accessory or just another step in the chain of logic. When does Paul define a living organism/cell or whatever as "human"? I imagine that Paul defines "human" at the start of when an egg first gets fertilized. Isn't that also a case of "developmentalism"? Why should Paul exclude the sperm and egg that are not yet joined from the definition of "human"? Does Paul consider a single blood cell to be human, and to destroy it is murder? I should hope so, otherwise Paul is also guilty of "sizism."

Paul then compares me to Hitler:

Thus there is nothing that distinguishes Aaron from a human fetus other than physical appearance, location, and level of development. Since all Aaron is is a "clump of cells" then on Aaron's own terms, he's not a human. Aaron allows for his own death, again! Not only that, but his illogic is the illogic of Hitler, and every other genocidal maniac.

A slippery slope applies here that Paul will slip down on, because of the fact that his argument is based on what a human is. I contend that sperm and eggs (from the genitalia of homo sapiens) are also human, because the only thing that distinguishes them from Paul is physical appearance, location, and level of development, just like he said in regards to the difference between a fetus and me.

As a funny aside, if I'm Hitler, then what is Paul's God? Hitler times infinity? I contend that if God exists, then He is responsible for more terminated pregnancies and deaths over the ages than any one man ever was. But of course, the same rules that apply to us don't apply to Paul's sky-dictator. For Paul's sky-dictator is above the rules. Sorry, but nobody is above the rules in my worldview. I make no exceptions for any self-proclaimed authority figure. But Paul does. I wonder why Paul doesn't condemn his God on the same grounds that he is condemning me on? Never mind, I already know: Because Paul subscribes to an immoral master-slave, theist-dictator, might = right worldview.

Paul eventually lays out my basic argument, and concedes (possibly unknowingly) that indeed my argument does not rest on the definition of human, but on the principle of self ownership:

His argument can be stated thusly:

1. If a woman owns her body then she can do whatever she wants with her body.
2. A woman owns her body.
3. Therefore a woman can do whatever she wants with her body.
4. If a woman cannot have an abortion, then she cannot do whatever she wants with her body.
5. But a woman can do whatever she wants with her body.
6. Therefore a woman can have an abortion.

Close enough. Paul then attempts to refute it:

Aaron's Argument For Women's Right to Abortion Refuted:

i. We should not that not only are his premises questionable, but some are also false. For example, even if a woman "owns her body" it is not true that "she can do whatever she wants with it." There are restrictions on what a woman (or, anyone!) can do with her body. For example, what if a woman "saw fit" to use a body part (her hand) to drive a knife through the heart of her husband while he sleeps?

Paul is mistaking entities. A woman can do whatever she wants with her own body, but a she cannot do whatever she wants with her husband's body. Again, the concepts of self-ownership, coercion, and consent all escape Paul's logic. This is expected, considering the immorality, self-ownership violation, and sanctioning of coercion that is found all throughout the Bible.

ii. This argument begs the question. If the fetus is a human person, with its own body (which should be obvious) then a woman is not doing what she wants with her body only, but she is also doing something to another body.

Here is where the definition of human comes in to play in my argument. Note though how it is not central to my argument. A human is a homo sapien at a stage of development where, if expelled from the womb, it can survive. And an abortion is the termination of a pregnancy of a fetus that cannot survive outside the womb. Why do I get the feeling that Paul will object (yet again) to my use of the dictionary?

iii. If x is identical to y then any property, P, that x has, y must be said to have. This is the law of identicals. Now, since a fetus can have a penis then does the woman have a penis? If not, then they are not identical bodies.

This one is hilarious. Let me answer Paul: A human being can have a vagina, a penis, or both, or portions of both, or neither. So my reply, actually, is that a human being doesn't have to lie within the "man" or "woman" labels to be human. Indeed, if Paul is correct that a human is a human at fertilization, when the fetus is one cell without any genitalia, then Paul's use of the word "woman" is inapplicable here. Besides, anyone who has seen the ads in a porno magazine knows that chicks can have dicks.

Paul goes on with more roman numerals, but I want to focus on one more specifically:

vi. Who says the woman has "complete ownership over her body?" As a Christian I deny this premise, and so it is up to Aaron to prove it, not beg the question against the theistic defense of the unborn.

Disgusting. The immorality of Paul's worldview is plain to see. So who owns a woman's body? Her husband? God? It doesn't matter, because any answer other than the woman herself is immoral and implies a master-slave relationship. This is so sick. And Paul has the nerve to say that it’s my burden to prove self-ownership. Absurd. I'm not getting into a burden of proof argument here because I don't want my reply to be 8,000 words, and I think all my readers know already why this attempt to put the burden of proof on my shoulders regarding self-ownership is ridiculous.

Paul then exposes his own arbitrary definitions of what is and is not human, and proves that he is guilty of the same things he accuses me of, namely sizism and developmentalism:

Aaron asks, "Would you define taking the morning after pill as murder?" I would call taking the morning after pill, after conception has occurred, murder, yes.

He asks, "Or what about pulling out just before ejaculation?" No.

Aaron "imagine[s] that [I] probably don’t define condoms or pulling out methods as murder, but [I] probably define the morning after pill as murder. If my assumption is true, then why is that?" Well, the simple answer is that a sperm cell isn't human.

Paul then lays out very plainly his disgusting master-slave worldview:

Aaron wants to know "If [I] could answer [a question] straightforward for me I would appreciate it. [I] said that you are sickened by these abortions... does that also include when God causes a woman to naturally miscarry (when God does the abortion)? Or does it only make you sick when humans do it?" Well, there's just a bit of a difference between God and man, Aaron. So, this is disanalagous. What God is free to do and what we are free to do is not the same. Your question is like asking, "what does yellow taste like?" It's a category mistake. All life is God's. He owns all life, and therefore can do with it as He pleases. Also, since all life is God's, and since He's all-just, then he always takes life lawfully, and therefore cannot be guilty of murder.

I feel gross just reading that. Might = Right talk, and Master-Slave talk always makes my skin crawl. Who's the Hitler now?

My pro-choice stance is consistent. Paul's arguments against choice are not. Paul's anti-choice arguments revolve around a master-slave relationship, while my pro-choice arguments revolve around self-ownership. Paul's anti-choice argument is immoral and inconsistent.

Look, it only took me about 4,000 words to reply! Although many words in that word count are words I quoted that Paul wrote. But damn this post is still way too long. Sorry about that everyone.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Free Speech or Coercion?

I made another post about free speech. I get the feeling that I am having a hard time expressing the free speech principle correctly, so I took another stab at it. But this time the essay was much more political and not very atheistic (as if my last one was LOL) so I decided to post it on my political team blog, The Radical Libertarian instead of here. You can find the post by clicking on this link: Free Speech or Coercion?

I encourage all of my Kill The Afterlife readers to click on the link and read more about the free marketplace of ideas.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Speak Your Mind! Or, What Makes Fundamentalists Immoral?

Hello again all you faithful (ha ha) Kill The Afterlife readers! Its been a bit longer than usual since my last post because I was out of town for a friend's wedding. Anyway, let's get to some afterlife killing!

In comment #18 of my last blog post, a person by the name of Sean said:

This site is just as bad as religious fundamentalism, because you are trying to put your views into other peoples minds and judge everyone else on your own terms, when there are plenty good people who just keep their beliefs to themselves and judge their actions by it.

I have heard this argument many times, both in person and online. For example, I once argued with a girl who had a Bad Religion (the punk rock band) t-shirt on who said I was just as bad as the fundamentalists are because I'm out there evangelizing atheism and materialism in the same way that fundies are evangelizing hellfire and original sin. I thought it was rather ironic, since she was a fan of Bad Religion - a band that has dozens of songs that evangelize atheism and materialism (a bit more irreverently than my own writing does, I must say).

Commenter Sean is basically saying the same thing. Sean thinks it is immoral for me to enthusiastically promote atheistic ideas to whoever wants to read about them. And like the punk rock girl that I once argued with, Sean has a bit of irony in his position: Sean is taking advantage of the free speech that I afford my commenters so that he may promote his idea to me.
If it is immoral for me to promote my ideas through a communication medium, then isn't it also immoral for commenter Sean to promote his ideas through the same communication medium?

What happened is that Sean got confused. Honestly it's no big deal because it happens all the time, but it is important to note it and correct it when it happens. Sean, like the punk rock girl, confused the act of delivering a message with the message itself.

Both Sean and the punk rock girl were essentially arguing against free speech when they criticized my atheistic evangelizing. It makes me sick to my stomach when I hear anyone argue against free speech, even if it's to suppress ideas that I don't agree with, because idea suppression artificially and pre-emptively defeats the suppressed, while undermining and making illegitimate the suppressor.

Is it immoral to share your ideas with those who wish to listen? No. And if it was immoral, then it would also be immoral for Sean and the punk rock girl to tell me so.

Is it immoral to suppress another's attempt to share an idea? Yes. There's nothing wrong with declining to hear another's idea, but to stop them from expressing it is immoral. Why? Because suppressing anyone else's value expression is immoral, just like it is immoral for others to suppress your own value expression. I have always believed in a free marketplace of ideas, where all ideas are freely available to whoever wishes to learn about them, and those ideas are left to stand solely upon their own merits.

Here is the point: Ideas themselves may or may not be immoral, but making those ideas available to those who wish to learn about them is never immoral. Racism (an idea) is immoral, but explaining to another person what racism is (sharing the idea), is not immoral.

Similarly, fundamentalist Christianity is immoral, but explaining what fundamentalism is to someone is not immoral. Fundamentalist Christians are immoral for the ideas that they believe in and act upon, not for their willingness to share those ideas.

As an anarcho-capitalist, I want to see free competitive markets in place in all sectors of society. And a free marketplace is loaded with competing products (or ideas). Some of those products are good, and some are bad. The bad products (and the good ones as well) should never be suppressed or otherwise artificially made unavailable. And the consumers (or truth seekers) should be free to choose whatever product they want to. The morality question comes into play when a given product is chosen, not simply because that product is available to be chosen.

So what makes those fundies immoral anyway? The immorality of the worldview that they subscribe to, that's what! Is it immoral for a fundie to share his worldview with me if I ask him to? Absolutely not! In fact, it would be rude (and possibly immoral) for him NOT to! But what if I don't ask the fundie for his ideas, yet he walks down the street with them written on a posterboard (or maybe written on a blog)? Is it immoral then? Again, absolutely not! I don't have to read his posterboard and I don't have to read his blog.

Idea suppression is immoral. Idea sharing is not. Subscribing to an idea can be immoral if the idea itself is immoral. But merely encountering such an idea is not in itself immoral.

Commenter Sean and the punk rock girl are both subscribing to an immoral concept: idea suppression. I, on the other hand, am subscribing to a very moral concept: free speech. If atheism is to win the battle of the minds, it cannot do so (and must not do so) on the basis of the suppression of ideas. Instead, it must win the battle based on the merits of its ideas.

And now I will leave you all with a quote from Noam Chomsky: "If you're in favor of free speech, then you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favor of free speech."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lent, Abstinence, and You

Submission, self-denial, and artificial guilt are hallmarks of pro-afterlifers, especially those of the Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, and Islamic) variety. This time of the year is no exception, as Christians across the world are now celebrating Lent.

But what does Lent mean to us atheists? It means misery, that's what. Why? Because Lent is about abstinence, and I am not referring exclusively to sexual abstinence. I'm talking about abstinence from pleasure of almost every kind. Abstinence from value-fulfillment. Abstinence from life. If you are an atheist, then it is important this time of year to be aware of what Lent's virtues are, and how you can use those virtues to expose the immorality and downright ridiculousness of Christianity. If you are lucky, you may show the Christian their own worldview from a different angle, helping to plant the seed of doubt within them, and starting them on the path to mental freedom.

According to Wikipedia, Lent is a forty day period of abstinence from the things you like in life, including things necessary for survival. Lent involves fasting - not enough to kill you of course, but just enough to make that artificial guilt feel real. Other things that Christians commonly choose to abstain from during Lent are sex, alcohol, games, parties, television, independent thought, fun, and any other behaviors you would expect from a normal person:

The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbor).

Submission to God = justice towards God. Nice. According to Christian Lent, only by letting your creator's will trample all over yours is justice served. I wonder how that concept applies to the Crucifixion? Was justice served when Jesus was impaled on a stake? The Crucifixion was technically God's will, after all.

Fasting = justice towards self. What? I thought that eating balanced and properly proportioned meals was justice towards self! But there are ways to test this fasting claim, observe: If fasting is justice towards self, then shouldn't we be just to ourselves all year round and fast 24/7/365? If fasting is just during lent, surely it is just all year round! It is often heard that, for example, we should keep the spirit of Christmas with us all through the year, so let's keep the fasting of Lent all through the year! If fasting is justice, then isn't eating sinning? Why do we feast on Christmas and fast on Lent?

Almsgiving = justice toward neighbor. While charity in itself is not a bad thing, compulsory charity is a bad idea. And the phrase "justice toward neighbor" is misleading. It should instead say "justice toward the poor," for the word "alms" means "money or goods given as charity to the poor." So one of the virtues of Lent involves a compulsory one-way flow of money going from the rich to the poor. From a Christian perspective, we should ask a few questions: "How much alms must we give? Must we give until we are now poor and the poor are now rich? Is it a virtue to be poor?" For a much more thorough explanation of why compulsory almsgiving is a bad idea, I strongly suggest you read Stefan Molyneux's blog entry entitled "Welfare and the Argument from Morality."

Some Christians may counter by saying that this last directive is not compulsory, but a virtue nonetheless. True, this would remove the teeth from my argument from compulsion. However, it would still not remove other inherent problems with charity, especially when it almsgiving is applied as broadly and universally as it is in Lent. What if the recipient of your charity is an abusive husband and shiftless alcoholic who has no interest in holding a job or producing anything of value? Is charity still a virtue when the money is thrown into a proverbial black hole of misery, serving only to enable the misery further? Compulsory or not, charity is dangerous and can easily do more harm than good. While the Christian holiday of Lent pushes charity as a non-contextual and universal virtue, it clearly is not. If you want to know more about why charity should be dispensed with caution, and why the universal charity promoted by Christianity is a bad idea, you should read another blog entry from Stefan Molyneux (yes I love that guy), entitled "The Challenge of Charity." Unlike the other blog entry Stefan wrote that I linked to earlier, this one doesn't talk much about coercion, but instead focuses on the concept of charity itself. It destroys the notion of universal charity as a principle and explains why charity is so sensitive to context.

Of course, many Christians don't even give money to the poor or fast during Lent, but instead practice self-denial and artificial guilt in other ways as I mentioned earlier. They abstain from all kinds of things that give them pleasure. Why? To show a willingness to suffer for God's sake. It goes along with the Abrahamic concepts of sacrifice, guilt, denial, and destruction, all in the name of appeasing a supreme cosmic dictator. Why would God get pleasure from watching humans repress their own pleasure? Why must their afterlife values conflict with their present-life values? It exposes the immoral, illogical, and antisocial dysfunction of the beliefs of our ancestors.

In summary, Lent is another time of the year for Christians to practice their virtue of value-repression. I encourage everyone to ask their friendly neighborhood Christian what Lent means, how they practice it, what the core virtues are behind Lent. Then challenge them to apply those virtues more consistently in their lives. Try to help the Christian see the consequences of applying these absurd virtues consistently and on a daily basis. Apply the Lentian virtues they provided to various examples of charity and value-fulfillment, and show them how it leads to misery and ruin. Help them break the spell. Help them kill the afterlife.