Category Archives: Link

Pro-life: It’s Not About Contraception!

It seems that many individuals who are pro-choice have no idea why pro-lifers are pro-life. At least that’s the only explanation I can find for this article, where the author assumes that the “Religious Right” will be against a new form of male birth control. They even point out that Hobby Lobby’s health insurance still covers vasectomies and then assume that they’ve made some kind of point, as if they’ve caught Hobby Lobby in some kind of hypocrisy. That doesn’t make any sense at all: unless, of course, the person writing the article has no idea why Hobby Lobby refuses to offer certain contraceptives. Asking why Hobby Lobby opposes certain kinds of women’s birth control but doesn’t oppose vasectomies is like asking why someone who is opposed to drowning puppies isn’t opposed to neutering dogs.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe you, like the author of this article, doesn’t understand why Hobby Lobby made their lawsuit in the first place. Maybe you too work under the mistaken idea that everyone who is pro-life is pro-life because they oppose contraception. Maybe you think that pro-lifers just want there to be more kids in the world, and thus oppose anything that keeps people from having kids. If you’re under this assumption I simply want to let you know that you are mistaken. While some pro-lifers do oppose contraception (notably Catholics) opposition to contraception has nothing to do with being pro-life. Being pro-life is about being against abortion. I’m pro-life and I’m highly in favor of effective and cheap contraception. Fewer unexpected pregnancies means fewer abortions. I can assure whoever wrote that article that Hobby Lobby would likely be extremely enthusiastic about this new form of male birth control because it will prevent pregnancy without causing an abortion. That’s why they only refused to pay for four out of twenty different forms of contraception. Did you ever wonder why Hobby Lobby singled out those specific four kinds of contraception? It’s because they come with the possible risk of preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg: in other words, a kind of abortion. Now you can argue that preventing the implantation of an egg is not the same as aborting a fetus, or you could make the even stronger argument that those particular contraceptives do not actually prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, but the fact remains that Hobby Lobby chose to single out those contraceptives because they believe they can cause abortions. You can’t say is that they are opposed to contraception: they are perfectly fine with 16 other forms of contraceptive. What they are opposed to is abortion.

I think a lot of people don’t understand the pro-life position, and many pro-lifers assume that the pro-choicers do which leads to miscommunication like this. So that we can better understand each other, let me lay out the pro-life position at its most basic level. Those who are pro-life believe four things:

  1. All human beings have a right to life.
  2. This right (alternatively, identifying human beings) is not based on anything (intelligence, level of development, ability to feel pain, race, gender, etc) other than the fact that the individual in question is a human.
  3. Zygotes and fetuses are human.
  4. Thus, human induced abortion violates a human beings right to life and is thus not morally permissible.

There are qualifiers to those three beliefs: some, for instance would add that a human’s right to life can be taken away through due process of the law (that is, a legal execution is not morally wrong). Still, this is the basic logical underpinning of the pro-life position. Male birth control does not end the life of a human and would thus be completely acceptable, even encouraged, by pro-lifers just as a person opposed to euthanizing puppies would likely be enthusiastic in insuring that dogs are spayed and neutered.

Now most pro-choice individuals disagree with one of the four points above. The vast, vast majority do not disagree with point 1 (All human beings have a right to life), but rather disagree with point 2. They believe that a human does not have rights until it can be considered a person, and that zygotes and fetuses are not developed enough to be considered persons and thus have no rights. From this point of view a fetus is human, but not a human being. A few disagree with point 3, but in doing so they go against what science has to show us. Zygotes and fetuses are not some kind of half-human half something else: they are human. They have the human genome, they are examples of the human species, and no scientist in their right mind would say that zygotes and fetuses belong to some other, non-human, species until the moment of their birth. The zygote is the first stage of human development, and is just as human as an old man on his death-bed. This being understood, the weight of the disagreement between pro-life and pro-choice falls on point number 2.

To put all of it even more simply, pro-lifers think that abortion means killing a human being. If a controceptive doesn’t result in an abortion then there is no conflict there.

It is sad that there are many who don’t understand why individuals hold the position they hold on abortion. Pro-choice individuals writing about how pro-lifers will be opposed to male contraception because they want to control people’s bodies is like pro-life individuals writing that pro-choicers are opposed to marriage because they just want to have wild and consequence free sex. Both statements show a huge amount of ignorance about what the other side actually believes. I think that we can all agree that we would have a better world if everyone actually examined the arguments of those who are politically opposed to them instead of relying on hearsay and caricature.

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Embracing the Pedophile: What Secular Society Might Learn from Conservative Christianity

This article is worth a read. In fact, I’d read it first, though if you don’t have the time you can just go on reading this post. This post stands on its own.

Sexual attraction is something that I haven’t felt the need to talk about on this blog. It’s an awkward, contentious subject. One that’s seen a lot of upheaval in recent years. Particularly around homosexuality.

I was about 11 or 12 or so when I first heard the word “gay.” I didn’t really understand what it meant. My parents were talking about something with my older brother, and they sounded upset. Not at him, understand, but a kind of general “what is this world coming to” kind of upset. I still don’t know what prompted the discussion. I came in at the end of it. All I know is that it was at that point that I learned about the concept of homosexuality.

Well, that’s not quite accurate. It was more like I was collecting puzzle pieces, snippets of conversation here or there, odd references in books, bits of tv, and that being told what homosexuality was the final piece that put all the others into context. A lot of things are like that when you’re growing up. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. You just wander around absorbing everything and trying to sort it out on the fly as best you can.

I’m a Christian, and my family is Christian, so we definitely viewed homosexuality in a negative light. But the strange thing is how it seems that Christian reaction to homosexuality has changed over the years. In the beginning we were told that homosexuality is a choice, an idea I accepted without questioning because, hey, I didn’t know anything about it. Sure, sounds good to me. I just rolled with that idea until I ran into opposition in the form of a comic strip of all things. Doonesbury had a strip where people were calling into a radio station. One of the callers talked about the idea that homosexuality is a choice, and basically asked the obvious question: considering the prejudice, ostracization , and social ramifications of being openly homosexual, why would anyone choose that life? I had never thought about that before, and it gave me pause. Why would someone choose to be gay? What would inspire someone to choose their own gender over the opposite?

A year or so later I went to a local film festival with a friend of mine. One of the features was a documentary about…something. You know, I honestly can’t remember. What I do remember is that they interviewed several homosexual individuals and asked them about what it was like growing up. They all claimed that they developed same sex attraction around puberty and that they had no choice about it. That gave me even more pause. Why shouldn’t I believe them? It was their life, after all. I was picking up more pieces, and trying to make them fit together.

As time went on I tried to fit all the pieces I was gathering into a whole. I didn’t believe that homosexuality is genetic, a claim I still find suspicious to this day. But I eventually had to concede that the orientation was involuntary. The evidence kept mounting up, not in the form of any scientific study but in the testimony of those close to the subject. It seems to me that many conservative Christians have followed this same route. We still believe homosexual acts are sinful, but many of us acknowledge that the attraction itself is not a choice. We have to: we know too many homosexuals know, actually know and talk to them instead of hearing about them on TV.

All the pieces I collected came together again when I was reading something online. It was written by someone who very much did not come from my point of view. He was pro LGBT though not homosexual himself, and he wrote about how he didn’t understand what people meant when they said that homosexuality was a choice. He wrote on how he didn’t believe love was ever a choice, as far as attraction was concerned. We fall in love with the people we fall in love with. The only way it made sense to say that homosexuality was a choice, he wrote, was if you meant that choosing to pursue those you fall in love with is a choice. With that sentence things clicked for me once more. You could be homosexual without pursing the completion of those desires. You couldn’t choose the objects of your desire: but you can choose whether to pursue those objects, whether to feed that desire. So homosexuality isn’t a choice, and it is. Like everything in life, it’s complicated.

As a Christian I believe that following some desires is a sin, and will lead to harm towards yourself and others. We may feel the desire to cheat on our wife, commit suicide, sleep around, abandon our children, or pursue wealth and fame at the expense of others. But is homosexuality like that? As a Christian I believe that it is because I put a high value on orthodoxy. Christianity has held that homosexuality is a sin for almost 2,000 years; I won’t put that aside lightly. Still, just as my own thoughts on homosexuality have evolved over time I feel that the views of many American Christians have changed as well. We’re starting to get it now, get that we must separate the person from the act and must understand that some people, for reasons we do not understand and that are outside of their control, are burdened with a particular kind of temptation that they will likely carry for life. This dramatic change in how we understand homosexuality is perhaps best illustrated by Exodus International, an organization that was founded with the purpose of helping homosexuals become straight. They closed their doors a few years ago, stating in a long and detailed final address that they had been wrong about homosexuality, that it is not always and is possibly never possible to change your sexual orientation, and that they wished to apologize for the harm they had done over the years. That’s the kind of statement most would expect out of a liberal branch of Christianity, but Exodus was a conservative organization. We didn’t want to believe that there were people who were “born homosexual” but if we spent any time talking to homosexuals it quickly became impossible to keep that stance. These people didn’t want it. Many of them still don’t. Doesn’t change the fact that they’re stuck with those desires, probably for life.

So, overall, our culture has changed dramatically in our understanding of homosexuality. Young homosexuals are able to actually discuss what they’re going through and to “come out.” Churches are slowly learning how to show homosexuals grace and understanding, especially the ones in their own church bodies who have been terrified to reveal themselves. We’re learning together, growing our understanding and finding new ways to move forward in how we treat homosexuality. So it seems like America is at a very open and understanding point in time when it comes to sexual orientation.

That’s why it can be strange to realize that there is a not insignificant portion of the population who still cannot come out without facing intense societal pressure, often resulting in legal action. Stranger still is that this opposition is just as strong among secular and liberal Americans as it is among conservative and religious Americans. These individuals are almost universally reviled for their desires. The number of these individuals who are willing to come forward and be open about their sexuality can almost be counted on one hand. And if you clicked on the link at the beginning of this post (or read the title) you already know who I’m talking about: pedophiles.

Christians believe that when homosexuals follow their sexual desires and act on them they are committing sin. Many secular individuals think that there is nothing wrong with following such desires, and that the idea that there is anything wrong with it is a kind of bigotry. But almost everyone, everywhere, believes that when a pedophile acts on their sexual desires they are committing an abominable act. Their actions are condemned by both the left and the right. They have no community they can escape to when if their friends and family reject them after coming out. Most pedophiles are afraid to even talk to a therapist about their desires, and for good reason: most states have mandatory reporting laws that require therapists to report any suspected child abuse to the state. Most therapists are not equipped to help a pedophile who wants to control his or her desires, and most pedophiles are rightly afraid that coming out to a therapist may lead to them being put on a watch list or sent to jail. The media depicts pedophiles and monsters, creeps, abominations, and so most young pedophiles begin to think the same things of themselves. How then can they come out to someone? How can they reach out and seek help in controlling their desires? Who can they turn to? Who would understand that they are more than their sexual desires?

Strangely enough it seems that the secular world has to learn the hard and confusing lessons that conservative Christians have had to learn, and are still trying to learn, as homosexuality become more widely accepted. They will have to learn how to love and help the individual while forbidding them from following their sexual desires. Many people accepted homosexuality from the start because they didn’t believe there was anything wrong in homosexual sex. Christians believed that there was something wrong with it, so it took us decades to accept that homosexuality was not a choice, not something that someone could easily control. But everyone accepts that adults sleeping with children is wrong. The secular individual will have to learn the same lesson about pedophiles that the Christians have had to learn about homosexuals: that just because someone desires to do what is wrong doesn’t mean that they are a monster.

Perhaps the Christians will be able to accept pedophiles before the atheists and agnostics can. It doesn’t seem too likely to me now, but I want to hope. Someone needs to open their arms to the pedophile. They have nowhere to turn, and if they can’t get help, if they can’t learn to understand and master and accept the burden of their desires…well, can we be surprised when they eventually give in to them?

Project Gutenburg: A Pretty Neat Place

Have you ever heard about Project Gutenberg? If you haven’t, prepare yourselves! Project Gutenberg is an online database that provides almost 50,000 books for free to anyone who has the gumption to go there and download some. There are no ads, no malware, and absolutely no fees. The catch? What, everything has to have a catch? A person can’t do something out of the goodness of their hearts? How cynical! I’ll have you know that the creators of Project Gutenberg made it out of their love of books and their desire to make books available to all mankind. I can assure you that there is no catch.

There is a major downside though, and that’s the fact that they only have books that have fallen into the public domain. Which means that a good chunk of their 50,000 book library is stuff nobody really wants to read. Fascinating titles such as The Pacification of BurmaThe Voyage of the Deutschland, and digital stacks of science books that are at least 70 to 100 years out of date. When I first visited Project Gutenberg I was quite unimpressed.

But the place is growing on me.

If you take the project at face value then you’re going to be disappointed. However if you treat it as a kind of slag pile of literary history in which you may find diamonds or rubies hidden among the cruft then the project becomes a bit more enticing. The links on the main page seem to favor searching by category, but I recommend searching by author. Think of your favorite author who wrote around or before the turn of the century. Chances are they have his entire bibliography.

I would personally recommend checking out the works of G.K. Chesterton. They have just about every book he’s ever written, and he was an impressive writer. I plugged his book Orthodoxy a while back but he was also famous for his fiction works. Check him out! Or, if not him, then some other late, great author. After all, it’s free! What do you have to lose?

Cool Down Timer: Listen to People and Also Me (Alternative Title: I’m on a Podcast and It’s Neato)

Do you remember when I plugged the podcast Cool Down Timer? It’s put on my two of my best buds. They’re up to fifteen episodes now, and ever since episode twelve I’ve been co-hosting with them. So if you’ve ever been interesting in hearing the dulcet tones that my voice box produces (which have been likened to an obese terrier being slowly smothered) then you should run on over to cooldowntimer.com and check it out. Or not. Whatever floats your boat.

The podcast began by discussing video games, but now it discusses just about anything. I mean video games get brought up a lot still, but we try to be broad. And I guess “anything” isn’t really accurate, I mean we don’t talk about puppy murder or how to build a woodshed with an attached smoker. Honestly the only thing that thematically connects the episodes is nerd culture, entertainment, and personal anecdotes about cats and inside jokes.

Just so you know, for the first few episodes they refer to me as “Mr.H.” Why? Because my friends are weird and have rejected the names their mothers gave them in favor of leet internet handles that sound patently ridiculous. I didn’t want to rock the boat. Until episode 15, where I rocked it anyway and told them to just use my real name. So just remember that when “Mr.H” is talking you should be laughing and agreeing heartily with whatever he says.

Cool Down Timer: Listen to People who Aren’t Me

Two of my very close friends have just started a podcast! Beats me how long it will last, but I know they have at least one more episode in them. I listened in and thought it was entertaining if nothing else. Long time readers may recall that I used to  write posts about video games on occasion. Well the Cool Down Timer (I came up with the name for them, btw) is mostly about video games, so if you’re not too interested in them it might not be your cup of tea. On the other hand the podcast is also about two people talking about whatever (as is usually the case). So maybe you’ll like it anyway.

One interesting note is that both hosts are the two friends I used to make movies with all the time. They mention a bit of our creative process in the podcast, though never myself directly.

Blog Spotlight: Fide Dubitandum

I’d like to take today’s post and dedicate it to highlighting a fellow blogger. I may or may not do this in the future. Fide Dubitandum first caught my eye after its author commented on my first blog post on science and naturalism. I decided to check out his blog and I haven’t regretted it. I follow several WordPress blogs, but in all honesty his is the only one I actually read. When I get an email saying that he’s put up another post I click on the link to it with glee. He writes clearly, is very intelligent, and his comment threads are filled with civil and well managed debate. Most of his posts are critiques of the so called New Atheists’ philosophy. If you are a fan of reason then you should enjoy his ability to cut through the cobwebbs of muddled thinking and self-contradictory assertions that makes up much of popular atheism these days.

On top of all that he updates regularly, something I can’t even claim these days (to my constant shame). Check him out! You won’t regret it. Be warned though: better click on that link when you have plenty of free time. Once you start reading it can be hard to stop.

Some Videos I Could Use Some Help With

Hello everyone. As you might already know (from a few previous posts of mine) I am a college senior. Right now I’m working on my capstone project, which is a large project that is neccesary for graduation. Right now I need a little help with mine.

As part of my project, I would ask you to please watch the four videos that I have posted below. If you enjoy any of the videos then share it. That’s all I ask, and I can’t say anything more at this point. The videos vary in genre and quality, but they’re all short and shouldn’t take too long to watch.

I’d be extremely grateful if you would watch and share. Thank you, and I’ll let you know what this is about as soon as I can.

A Thought Provoking Link

If you’re anything like me then you probably spend some time goofing around on the internet. To be sure there are a lot of fun and interesting things to do. I’d like to share one with you

Philosophy Experiments is a website about…well, philosophy experiments. But really it’s more than that. The site has a series of quizzes that are meant to test your own worldview for internal consistency and rationality. Just about every test on the site has led me to really reflect on what I actually believe to be true. In some cases it’s very hard to decide what the right thing (or logical thing) to do is. It’s interesting, it’s thought provoking, and it’s a great way to goof off on the internet. Check it out.

Does Naturalism Hurt Science? Another Voice Speaks Out

Recently a friend of mine shared an article with me from the Huffington Post. Now I’m not a big fam of the Huff Post. Philosophically they have a staff of writers and a readership that tends to be very anti-religion, anti-bible, and committed to naturalistic humanism. But when I read the article I was presently surprised at what I found. Here a scientist (and as far as  I know a non-Christian) dares to point out the inconsistency with science as a learning tool and “science” as naturalism. Here’s a small sample:

Science has been successful because it has been open to new discoveries. By contrast, committed materialists have made science into a kind of religion. They believe that there is no reality but material or physical reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Nature is mechanical. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.
These materialist beliefs are often taken for granted by scientists, not because they have thought about them critically, but because they haven’t. To deviate from them is heresy, and heresy harms careers.

You can find the rest of the article here; it’s well worth a read. I truly hope that someday we will be able to separate science as a tool from naturalism as a philosophy. Both science and philosophy will be better for it.

Storytime Friday: Guest Creepypasta

Well it’s not really a guest so much as a link. And by that I mean it is a link.

As you can probably tell by the erratic updates lately, school has taken a harder toll on my free time than I thought it would. There will not be another installment of East of the Sun and West of the Moon tonight, but I hope to get one up Saturday or Sunday.

In lieu of that and in accordance with the onset of Halloween, I have provided you with a link to my favorite Creepypasta. What is a Creepypasta? Basically it’s a very short, scary story that moves around on the internet. Every year around this time hundreds of writers (amateur and non) put up their Creepypastas on forums around the net, hoping to scare the pants of their contemporaries. This particular Creepypasta was written three years ago by Kris Straub, who creates webcomics for a living and is an excellent writer and artist. I hope you enjoy it. If you enjoy it a lot then check out more Creepypastas, though be warned: if you scare easily in the dark then don’t overindulge. Last year I went on a Creepypasta binge and I had trouble falling asleep for weeks.

Without further ado, here it is: Candle Cove