Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Triablogue- My Final Word

I initially tried to post this reply here, but I guess it was too long, so here's my final word on the matter for now:

“This is a fallacy of question-framing. Jim acts as if a “yes” or “no” answer settles the question in favor of antinatalism. But that’s grossly simplistic.”

Actually, a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ pretty much covers what I was looking for, with perhaps the added codicil in place (which I also posted)-

“Question: Do you believe that for a child who ultimately ends up suffering an eternity of unceasing, hellish torments forever and ever, it would have been better for that child never to have been born?

Answer: Yes, but because of a, b and c (fill in the blanks) I am justified in overriding my concerns vis-a-vis my child's possible hellish fate.”

“ Notice the blatant equivocation. On the one hand he denies that his argument was predicated on “objective” or “universal” moral standards. On the other hand he appeals to “normative” moral sensibilities based on empathy.”

That’s because ‘normative’ in the context of the reply falls short of ‘objective’ or ‘universal’, a fact I expanded on by saying “ If your personal standard is that a child is better off being tortured for eternity originating in your decision to procreate, then any of my arguments simply don’t apply to you.” It was always a question of personal standards; thus, no equivocation. Normative simply describes a moral position that (I believe) most people subscribe too, a position that I feel stands against the desire to procreate.

“Even on its own terms, the appeal to empathy is a double-edged sword. What about empathy for those denied the opportunity to enjoy eternal bliss–a la antinatalism?”

Imaginary people don’t require empathy. Isn’t that rather obvious?

“Underlying this objection is Crawford’s systematic failure to distinguish between harming someone and wronging someone.”

This and all that follows seems irrelevant, since if a child is never born, she neither is harmed nor brings reason for punishment upon herself. Again, the whole exercise here isn’t meant to question the veracity of your God’s form of justice, but simply to point out that, from their own ideological standpoint, Christian procreationists are automatically exposing their offspring to the threat of eternal Hell, and to explore their justifications for doing so.

“Crawford is attempting to generate a dilemma for Christians. But he’s also generating a dilemma for his own argument. To generate a dilemma for Christians, he must grant Christian theological assumptions for the sake of argument.”

Granting a disagreed-with position for the sake of a hypothetical argument is pretty standard fare in argumentation, and certainly presents no dilemma for me. The ‘given’ is, after all, part of the argument.

“However, those theological assumptions include the assumption that God is trustworthy. Therefore, on Christian assumptions, it is not an unacceptable risk to procreate, even if (ex hypothesi) one of your kids will be damned. On Christian assumptions, it is never an unacceptable risk to trust God’s providential wisdom.”
This is a SUPERB example of how people can disassociate themselves from feelings of guilt for doing terrible things, simply by saying “Oh, well, God told me to do it, so it must be right.” It’s the crossroad where religion and pathology meet. Empathy short-circuited by edict.

“Crawford also assumes, without arguing the point, that children of Christians are at risk of hell. Since that’s a key assumption of his argument, he needs to argue for that assumption. As I noted in my previous reply to him, that’s not a given.”

Yeah, I did assume that, didn’t I? Naturally, I’m aware of the apologetical backflips contrived to somehow fashion a feeling that all the children of Christians are automatically saved, all without quite coming out and saying it (because, after all, that might be going TOO far). However, since this isn’t a critique of Christian doctrine, even farfetched doctrine according to most orthodox understanding of the matter, I’ll just say that if you think your children are automatically saved via the efficacy of your own salvation, my argument doesn’t apply to you. Just another example of cut-and-paste bible reading in my book, but so be it :)

“Even if Christians have a child who will go to hell, it doesn’t follow that they must be forever inconsolable. Even in this life, our feelings about our “nearest and dearest” are subject to dramatic change.”

Yes, it’s quite comforting to realize we can eventually be hardened to the knowledge of our children's suffering, isn’t it?

“It is a deprivation to miss out on the prospect of eternal bliss. That’s an incomparable lost opportunity.”

When you can demonstrate how an imaginary person can be deprived in any way that actually impacts that imaginary person, would you mind getting back to me? I’m more than curious.

UPDATE: Reading back through this, I can't help but be tickled by the utter lack of shame some of these apologists have. Or perhaps more kindly, their ability to pull pat answers out of their backsides to fit any occasion, even contradictory premises. I'm reminded of a post I wrote on my anti-apologetics blog exploring the 'why doesn't God heal amputees?' problem. Invariably, the answer from the apologists came in two parts:

1. Who says He has to?
2. Who says He doesn't?

Talk about covering your bases with a load of nothing! LOLOL! Steve of Triablogue does something similar here regarding the children of Christians who go to hell:

1. Who says they DO go to Hell?
2. Even IF they DO go to Hell, their parents will eventually come to not give a damn about it.

This is equivocation of the highest order, and is fashioned to blunt the harshness of my premise (some children of Christians will go to Hell) by hinting at THE POSSIBILITY of an escape clause, while at the same time offering (a rather lame) option for those who just can't buy the 'Christian Parent Exception' as being scriptural. Actually, the 'immunity' question is floated around quite a bit amongst Christians, for obvious reason. Everybody wants an edge, it seems, and if they have to procure it through rather imaginative exegesis, so be it :) Again, Christian parents, you'd better keep your fingers crossed.

DOUBLE UPDATE: Now that I think more about it, this 'all children of Christians are saved' means that, once one person is saved, all his progeny, and his progeny's progeny, and his progeny's progeny's progeny on down the line from 2000 years ago up to today, are one and all and without exception, Christians! I wonder how that premise holds up to analysis. Quite poorly, I'd wager.

TRIPLE UPDATE: It ALSO means that the parents of a child who dies a heathen were also always heathens themselves. Oops!

27 comments:

timcooijmans said...

Also, there is no "lost opportunity" for eternal bliss; it's given that the child never gets any of it.

(That said, yeah, I am not much interested in arguing on insane assumptions. Like running in the Special Olympics, you know? Even if you win...

timcooijmans said...

)

Anonymous said...

Jim Crawford said:

"Normative simply describes a moral position that (I believe) most people subscribe too [sic]."

1. If "normative" simply "describes" a moral position, rather than entails one, then there's no objective moral grounds on which Crawford can stand. For example, he can't argue it's objectively morally or ethically wrong to have a child.

As such, his moral indignation here is unjustified and unjustifiable: "This is a SUPERB example of how people can disassociate themselves from feelings of guilt for doing terrible things..." That is, there's no such thing as "doing terrible things" since this would entail objective moral standards. With all due respect, Crawford is just emoting.

2. In fact, Crawford can't even tell people it's wrong to want to have a child. Crawford's position entails morality by subjective personal sentiments or feelings. Perhaps he can argue that there are common or even universal personal sentiments or emotions from which most people can draw. But one problem is that this undercuts his own antinatalist position insomuch as it's arguable most men and women in history and in the present have felt they've wanted to have a spouse and children.

Anonymous said...

BTW, here is a debate between Betrand Russell (R) and Frederick Copleston (C):

R: You see, I feel that some things are good and that other things are bad. I love the things that are good, that I think are good, and I hate the things that I think are bad. I don't say that these things are good because they participate in the Divine goodness.

C: Yes, but what's your justification for distinguishing between good and bad or how do you view the distinction between them?

R: I don't have any justification any more than I have when I distinguish between blue and yellow. What is my justification for distinguishing between blue and yellow? I can see they are different.

C: Well, that is an excellent justification, I agree. You distinguish blue and yellow by seeing them, so you distinguish good and bad by what faculty?

R: By my feelings.

C: By your feelings. Well, that's what I was asking. You think that good and evil have reference simply to feeling?

R: Well, why does one type of object look yellow and another look blue? I can more or less give an answer to that thanks to the physicists, and as to why I think one sort of thing good and another evil, probably there is an answer of the same sort, but it hasn't been gone into in the same way and I couldn't give it [to] you.

C: Well, let's take the behavior of the Commandant of Belsen. That appears to you as undesirable and evil and to me too. To Adolf Hitler we suppose it appeared as something good and desirable, I suppose you'd have to admit that for Hitler it was good and for you it is evil.

R: No, I shouldn't quite go so far as that. I mean, I think people can make mistakes in that as they can in other things. if you have jaundice you see things yellow that are not yellow. You're making a mistake.

C: Yes, one can make mistakes, but can you make a mistake if it's simply a question of reference to a feeling or emotion? Surely Hitler would be the only possible judge of what appealed to his emotions.

R: It would be quite right to say that it appealed to his emotions, but you can say various things about that among others, that if that sort of thing makes that sort of appeal to Hitler's emotions, then Hitler makes quite a different appeal to my emotions.

Anonymous said...

C: Granted. But there's no objective criterion outside feeling then for condemning the conduct of the Commandant of Belsen, in your view?

R: No more than there is for the color-blind person who's in exactly the same state. Why do we intellectually condemn the color-blind man? Isn't it because he's in the minority?

C: I would say because he is lacking in a thing which normally belongs to human nature.

R: Yes, but if he were in the majority, we shouldn't say that.

C: Then you'd say that there's no criterion outside feeling that will enable one to distinguish between the behavior of the Commandant of Belsen and the behavior, say, of Sir Stafford Cripps or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

R: The feeling is a little too simplified. You've got to take account of the effects of actions and your feelings toward those effects. You see, you can have an argument about it if you can say that certain sorts of occurrences are the sort you like and certain others the sort you don't like. Then you have to take account of the effects of actions. You can very well say that the effects of the actions of the Commandant of Belsen were painful and unpleasant.

C: They certainly were, I agree, very painful and unpleasant to all the people in the camp.

R: Yes, but not only to the people in the camp, but to outsiders contemplating them also.

C: Yes, quite true in imagination. But that's my point. I don't approve of them, and I know you don't approve of them, but I don't see what ground you have for not approving of them, because after all, to the Commandant of Belsen himself, they're pleasant, those actions.

R: Yes, but you see I don't need any more ground in that case than I do in the case of color perception. There are some people who think everything is yellow, there are people suffering from jaundice, and I don't agree with these people. I can't prove that the things are not yellow, there isn't any proof, but most people agree with him that they're not yellow, and most people agree with me that the Commandant of Belsen was making mistakes.

timcooijmans said...

I don't know why the above was posted, but here's some context: http://www.publicchristianity.org/relativism3.html

filrabat said...

Jim, I have more patience than you do. I looked at Triablogue twisting my post around and stuff, and I just knew it'd be worthless to respond on their blog. They project cheap psychologizing and their assumptions about how people would act onto any poster. FYI, my initial response was due to their gross miscaricaturizing philanthropic antinatalists as us supporting murder and genocide - which of course I couldn't let pass. And guess what? They still mischaricaturized my (and our) position, saying that because we should prevent suffering we should permit serial killers to mow down kindergartners with a machine gun - on the grounds that we (supposedly) want to reduce suffering later in life. I don't have time for those b.s. games so I said "$@%! it".

On the other hand, I love this piece you wrote above because it's SO applicable to so many circumstances in human nature

This is a SUPERB example of how people can disassociate themselves from feelings of guilt for doing terrible things, simply by saying (put any kind popular justification here - God, peer pressure, human instinct, human nature, society's say so, ad nauseum) It’s the crossroad where _______ and pathology meet. Empathy short-circuited by edict(or popular opinion, human nature, etc).

Grasping that explains so much about history, social sciences, and allied fields that it ought be taught at the high school level, perhaps even the elementary one.

metamorphhh said...

It seems that Anonymous has chosen to circumvent my points concerning the wholly specious Triablogue response(smart move), and instead launch his attack from what he (and all Christians) feels is his strongest position- objective moral authority. I've written reams of material over the years detailing the actual weakness of this position, but since his argument is irrelevant to the case I've presented, and since he hasn't contradicted that case in the slightest, I'll let him have the last word and leave it at that. Thanks for the conversation, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Please see here for latest response.

metamorphhh said...

Filrabat:

I wholeheartedly endorse your extension of my point to include those outside the theistic camp. I was just doing my best to paint inside the lines of my original challenge. And considering all this volume of irrelevant material, Anonymous hasn't managed to contradict anything I've said in the slightest, though I doubt he sees things that way. He's simply talking past the material in an attempt to change the nature of the argument. Understandable.

One day maybe I'll go into the shortcomings of his position, but I'm really not in the mood at the present time. As is plain to see, dealing with apologists can be a tiresome affair. They tend to repeat the same fallacies over and over again, each time believing they're saying something new. It's basically argumentation by rote. At times, I'd swear they never even read what I wrote, but simply skimmed it for key words or phrases to which they could respond with their well exercised talking points. After awhile, I get bored.

metamorphhh said...

Just to pound the point home, I offer once again this simple condensation of my challenge and the relevant portions of the responses I received. All else is either embellishment (not saying that's a BAD thing), or extraneous material:

“Question: Do you believe that for a child who ultimately ends up suffering an eternity of unceasing, hellish torments forever and ever, it would have been better for that child never to have been born?

Answer: Yes, but because of a, b and c (fill in the blanks) I am justified in overriding my concerns vis-a-vis my child's possible hellish fate.”

metamorphhh said...

Ok, that's really it from me now regarding this subject :) I've been putting off part II of the 'g' word piece to roll around in the mud with these guys for a few days, but I need to get back on track. I get so fucking involved in these sidetracks, and the material I really want to write about keeps piling up! Sorry.

Josep said...

"Globalists and their eugenic minions have misrepresented population statistics for decades in order to justify their agenda to wipe out large portions of the population. If this genocidal agenda continues, humanity will go the way of the Brontosaurus..."


http://truth11.com/2010/05/07/overpopulation-is-a-myth/

metamorphhh said...

Josep:

There's that word again! :(

Humanity has always gone 'the way of the Brontosaurus'. One life at a time.

metamorphhh said...

It makes me sad, thinking about all those imaginary Brontosauri who might have lived. All those imaginary existences! All that imagined deprivation! Those imaginary Brontosauri faces will always haunt me.

metamorphhh said...

And to think, if only ONE breeding pair of Brontosauri had survived the meteor impact, the tragedy would have been so much less; for you see, then the Brontosauri could have flourished again...at least, until the next meteor impact. And that makes things so much better, doesn't it? As long as the strain manages to squeak by the apocalypse, it makes all the previous savagery and suffering and death worthwhile, because total annihilation of a species is, obviously, exponentially worse than the deaths of the individuals within the species. Because, after all, it's the idea of the SPECIES going on indefinitely that really counts, and even though the body count of the individuals piles up and piles up into the future, that's ok, because the all-important continuation of a specific genome trumps the welfare of individuals carrying that genome every time. Right? Because TRUE immortality is secured THROUGH THE GENOME, and as long as everybody identifies with that concept, nobody really ever dies, and all suffering is justified with the Grand Abstraction of vicarious immortality.

And just think! Perhaps one day true, individual immortality will be achieved, and then all that past suffering will be understandable, and justified, because someone in the farflung future who doesn't exist yet just MIGHT benefit from it!

At least, until the next meteor.

Josep said...

"And just think! Perhaps one day true, individual immortality will be achieved, and then all that past suffering will be understandable, and justified, because someone in the farflung future who doesn't exist yet just MIGHT benefit from it!"


The fossilized brontosauri will become the fuel from which our descendants will benefit...

metamorphhh said...

Josep:

I think you've really hit on something. After all, petrol is a finite resource. Where will we turn when it's all used up.

Maybe here?

Anonymous said...

You are a bozo. You are like someone who hates being left handed and thinks that all parents should be sterilized since they run the risk of giving birth to left handed people.

In other words, you impute your arbitrary values and your completely unsubstantiated system of evaluating risks (what if they go to hell? what if they have cancer? what if they grow up to be unhappy?) to other people.

Why should anyone pay a clown like you the time of day?

metamorphhh said...

Just a note on Anonymous's rather silly little temper tantrum. You'll note that in his mind, morality is either based strictly in deontic authoritarianism, or utter arbitrariness such that he can equate one's disdain for horrible suffering with a bias against left-handedness. He is simply incapable of wrapping his mind around other options, or even considering that other options might exist. One is tempted to accuse such a person of being grossly disingenuous; and yet, such are the narrow straits of contemplation that theistic apologetics lands you in.

Ah, well...we are what we are.

metamorphhh said...

Remember, Christian mothers, to keep your fingers crossed. Considering the fact that you might be baking up some hell fodder in your womb, and that the loving soul of one you love so very much might, one day, find itself pressed into the brimstone under Satan's thumb FOREVER, with no chance of escape EVER, a little luck couldn't hurt.

filrabat said...

You are a bozo.

Name calling is worthy only for those whose lack convincing arguments. It's also a sign you're uncouth and uncultured.

You are like someone who hates being left handed and thinks that all parents should be sterilized since they run the risk of giving birth to left handed people.

We don't call for force sterilization, Anon, as we know well that involuntary sterilization can never lead to a sustainable reduction of births - only voluntary, free acceptance of antinatalist ideas will (even if only a small % of humanity accepts it, it'll still do a little good).

As for the disgruntled left-hander? Who are you (and I) to impose upon him or her the idea that left-handedness is not such a bad thing? Just as I don't have a right to impose my own opinion of what a "good life" or "bad life" is onto you, so you and I don't have any right to impose our definitions upon someone else. Disagree with, and even debate with you civilly at your convenience, yes. Impose, no.

In other words, you impute your arbitrary values and your completely unsubstantiated system of evaluating risks (what if they go to hell? what if they have cancer? what if they grow up to be unhappy?) to other people.

DNA imputes the arbitrary value into our reptilian brain (or/and any other relevant part of our brains) "We have to live!" and "We have to have children!". BTW, "unsubstantiated" assumes there is an objective system of evaluating such risks. Perhaps in the statistical and mathematical senses there is, but in the case of birthing another human being, it's that other human being who must bear the consequences of that evaluation - not you. Risking your own money on an investment is one thing - risking others money without their consent on that same investment is quite another.

Why should anyone pay a clown like you the time of day?

See above remarks for my reasons. Also, because history shows that one generation's "stupid idea" is a later generation's "Gospel truth" (See Copernicus, "round Earth believers", Einstein, Goddard [father of modern rocketry], ML King, the gay rights movement, etc. for details)

Josep said...

Jim:

The Duggar Family! (Shudder) They should be called The True Addams Family! They reminded me of Franco's Spain (Roman Catholic times), when these extended families were given a trophy!

Sister Y said...

Resolving a common misconception

Anonymous said...

http://www.explosm.net/db/files/Comics/Rob/lotsakids.png

kirkneville said...

The Benatar assymetry makes a mockery of the idea of god creating humans so that they can get to paradise. A positive slant you can put on all this is that being dead and remaining so is no inferior than dying and then going to heaven. Who said anti-natalists are a gloomy bunch!!!

Derived Energy

Anonymous said...

It's little known but Christianity was originally a suicide cult and Christ was the paragon of the suicides.

*

The 2nd-century Church Father Tertullian wrote that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church," implying that the martyrs' willing sacrifice of their lives leads to the conversion of others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs

*

Martyrdom and Rome By G. W. Bowersock

This book examines the historical context of the earliest Christian martyrs, and anchors their grisly and often willful self-sacrifice to the everyday life and outlook of the cities (mostly Greek) of the Roman empire.

"It was not until Augustine that the Church had a clear, forceful and definitive injunction against suicide." (p. 73)

http://books.google.de/books?id=H7iTiK_kEkoC