Brief Dialog on Gays and Religious Liberty

A-I don’t quite understand how it’s an infringement of religious liberty. 

B- They think they’re being forced to do something they regard as sinful or criminal.

A- Are they being asked to participate in gay sex? No. That’s what puzzles me. They’re being asked to, say, take picutres of a gay wedding or bake a cake for one. There’s nothing criminal in taking pictures or in baking cakes.

B- I guess they would look at it like taking pictures of a murder or baking a cake that says “Congratulations” for the Brinks job guys. 

A- But being gay, or “homosexual behavior”, as they say, doesn’t really hurt anyone. Murder and theft do. I mean, suppose it’s true that those who engage in “homosexual behavior” go to Hell. Does anyone else have to go there with them? 

B- I guess that’s where the religion comes in. There’s no evidence that “homosexual behavior” causes physical harm. I know that might sound outrageous. 

A-What about AIDS?

B-The harm is caused by a virus. The behavior doesn’t create the virus. If the behavior caused the sickness – AIDS – there would be no immunity among the promiscuous. But there is. [E.g. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/may/27/aids.features%5D Anyway religionists should not rely on this type of argument. Their concern is afterall, for the soul, which is where Hell comes in.

A-I’m confused. 

B-Let’s take a break. 

C- Mr A, can we go back to where you said that they are being *asked* to take photos of a gay wedding or bake a gay wedding cake?

 A- Okay.

C-  The truth is, they’re not being *asked*. They’re being *forced* to do it. What happens if they refuse? 

A- I don’t know. I don’t think that’s been established yet, legally I mean. But I see your point. 

C- And Mr B, I think you lost the thread there.

B- Yeah. Mr A had asked me about Hell, if non-participants would have to go to Hell with people “guilty” of “homosexual behavior.” The issue he was focusing on was “Is anyone else harmed?” I don’t think anyone else is physically harmed by “homosexual behavior” in which they are not involved. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s the behavior that causes the sickness. There are plenty of people with AIDS who never engaged in gay sex, and plenty of people who engaged in all kinds of sex who are AIDS free. I can’t answer him about Hell. So I guess I’m agnostic on that part of it.

Evolution and Design

Look at an automobile and ask who designed it. Call him Mr Engineer. Now ask who designed Mr Engineer. Call *him* Mr Evolution, aka No-One. Why does the designer need a designer? He doesn’t. No infinite regress. No problem.

But why do we say that the automobile was designed? Isn’t Mr Engineer a symphony of necessity and chance – both blind? Isn’t “design” just an illusion? But then how do well tell the difference between the products of nature and the products of artifice? Is not the Artist – blind natural law – the same in both cases?

Trust

We do not perceive formal causality because we, or the vast majority of us, no longer have access to the necessary structure of consciousness. Have you ever stumbled out of bed at night, written down some insight from a dream, only to find in the morning mere gibberish? It was perfectly clear in the dream. But now you are “awake.” And it’s gone. You can suppose that it was only nonsense all along. But then your inner light will either grow dangerously bright, or fade out entirely. (This is after all how intelligent beings generally respond to being misunderstood.)

Libertarianism

The idea that one may get along without the help of others is so obviously false that its affirmation amounts to a confession of some form of ignorance – at best. One cannot grow to adulthood without help from others. That should settle the matter. Apparently however, some adults believe themselves capable of getting along without the help of others. To this I would simply say “Show me.” Can the entrepreneur get along without customers, or the industrialist without workers? The simple truth is, they cannot. Yet somehow I don’t expect the simple truth to be taken seriously, which is a sign of something. They tend to regard their customers or workers as interchangeable parts. They tend to think that they are therefore more needed than in need. But this is not the normal state of affairs. Yes, the addict needs the dealer more than the dealer needs him. But non-addicts do not need the dealer at all. Likewise, those not addicted to convenience can do without the vast majority of what the industrialist and the entrepreneur have to offer. Now all of this is rather obvious. What blinds us to it is our addiction to convenience. (I say “our” to include myself as such an addict. My only advantage is to have recognized the problem.)

Objectivity

Objectivity is not a kind of amputation of the knowing subject from the objects of knowledge. It is, in a word, unconditional self-awareness. Of course self-awareness, and with it objectivity, admits of degrees. Many will say that “unconditional” self-awareness is unattainable. Perhaps, but it is nevertheless a worthy “regulative principle.” Perfect mechanical efficiency, getting as much energy out as one puts in, is impossible. But this does not prevent us from working to make our machines more and more efficient.