Monday, September 16, 2013

Jerry Coyne on Divine Command Theory

Jerry Coyne: God shouldn't tell people what to do. That's my job.


Jerry Coyne takes a break from searching college catalogues for illegal courses that mention God and tackles Catholic ethics.


Jerry "this will now go to the lawyers" Coyne doesn't like the Divine Command theory of ethics (he prefers commands from lawyers at the Freedom From Religion Foundation). He is particularly annoyed with the Catholic Church (with my commentary):


Take, for example, the Catholic Church. Many of its adherents take their morality directly from Scripture (i.e., from God) because they think that whatever Scripture says, or however it’s interpreted by Church authorities, is moral simply because the Church says so. Things like the following, for example, would probably never be arrived at by secular reason alone. It takes religion. Catholic dogma sees these things as moral acts or opinions:

•Opposition to birth control (even to prevent AIDS)

Birth control doesn't prevent AIDS. The explosion of AIDS over the past 50 years correlates positively and strongly with the use of birth control.

Some people claim condoms help reduce the spread of AIDS. The problem is that condoms encourage the behavior that gives rise to AIDS, so the practical question is: does the protection offered by condoms outweigh the risks of the behavior engendered by condoms.

Answer: condom use has skyrocketed since the advent of the Sexual Revolution, and so has AIDS.

Oops.

Coyne omits mention of the most effective "condom": chastity. Always available and no need to worry about micro-tears.

An old Catholic idea.

•Opposition to abortion (based on the view that life begins at conception... 

Coyne is a biology professor, so it's surprising that he doesn't know that in organisms that reproduce sexually life begins at conception. If life begins after conception, then the embryo/fetus is a part of the mother up to a point, then it transforms into a human. The transformation of formed offspring from a part of the mother is budding, which is a form of asexual reproduction, and is characteristic of flatworms.

Coyne should correct this error in his classroom lecture notes.

... when the soul is instilled)

The soul is the form of the body. It exists from the moment life begins.  The spiritual soul of a human being is created by God at the moment life begins.

•Opposition to stem cell research (same reason as above)

The Church opposes "human" embryonic stem cell research that kills humans. It teaches that all human beings at all stages of life deserve to be protected and cherished. The Church is quirky about that.

The Church supports adult stem cell research, which doesn't kill anyone, and is the only kind of stem cell research that actually works.

•Opposition to divorce

The Church teaches the truth that marriage is a sacrament-- a manifestation of the Holy Trinity in human life and an eternal commitment between a man and a woman.  Coyne believes that this view couldn't be arrived at by secular reason alone. He's right.

•Opposition to homosexuality (viewed as a “grave disorder” or, if acted on, a “grave sin”)

Homosexual conduct is a sin. Homosexual desire is concupiscence, and is not sinful in itself.  The Church has millions of people with homosexual desires. Some of the most beloved and heroic of the Church's sons and daughters are gay.

•Control of people’s sex lives

The Church doesn't "control" anyone's sex life. It has no enforcement power whatsoever. I've never had a priest arrest me or sue me or threaten me in any way about anything.

Jerry Coyne threatens people with legal force all of the time.

•Oppression of women

The Catholic Church liberates women. Women are cherished in Catholicism, and the Church was a pioneer in the in historical struggle to respect the full humanity of women. The social disintegration wrought by militant secularism has been catastrophic for women, who now raise families alone, are much more likely to be sexually abused and assaulted, who are pressured to have abortions, etc.

I should point out that the abortive/infanticidal morality of Coyne's secularism has been responsible for the worst femicide in history-- 100 million missing women in Asia.

Perhaps we should ask the vanishingly few women in the New Atheist movement how they feel about New Atheism and respect for women.

•Instillation of fear and guilt in children

Coyne is confident that children are reassured by The Sexual Revolution. "Honey, Mommy and Daddy don't like each other any more and we've found people who are much sexier, so our family is breaking up. But look at the upside: we decided not to kill you when you were in Mommy's tummy".

The Sexual Revolution is such liberation from childhood fear and guilt.

And the ready availability of contraception has made young girls so much happier and safer from sexual assault, much less likely to get pregnant, and so much less likely to be used by older men.

And young boys are particularly reassured by normalization of male homosexuality.

Whew.

Our emancipation from Divine Command Theory marches from triumph to triumph. Jerry's dreams are being realized, in our broken families and our abortion clinics and our infectious disease wards. Liberation is even bearing fruit at New Atheist conventions.

How surprising that the abandonment of objective morality and transcendent accountability would have consequences. 

34 comments:

  1. Wow. So many lies in a single post. Where to begin?

    Some people claim condoms help reduce the spread of AIDS. The problem is that condoms encourage the behavior that gives rise to AIDS, so the practical question is: does the protection offered by condoms outweigh the risks of the behavior engendered by condoms.

    Answer: condom use has skyrocketed since the advent of the Sexual Revolution, and so has AIDS.


    That doesn't answer the question at all, obviously.

    How do you feel about the falsehoods told by the Church regarding condoms. Specifically:

    The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which HIV can pass

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    1. I'll bet they're also telling these same people to keep their pants on until marriage.

      So in the imaginary world that you inhabit, poor ignorant Africans always obey the church's teaching about condoms but never about premarital sex.

      The church has zero authority to enforce its moral teaching on either birth control or premarital sex. Africans--and the rest of us--are free to take it or leave it. The idea that there are people out there who "take" the church's teaching on condoms but "leave" the church's teaching on premarital sex is laughable. What you're doing is nothing more than scapegoating.

      Joey

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    2. You're missing the point, Joey. The pedophile mafia and their useful idiot Egnor are lying about the effectiveness of condoms. Even if people ignore the bankrupt "moral teaching" of the Vatican, they might just buy the factual lies and place themselves and their sexual partners at risk.

      Delete
  2. Conclusions, Adolescents who use condoms at their sexual debut do not report more sexual partners, are more likely to engage in subsequent protective behaviors, and experience fewer sexually transmitted infections than do adolescents who do not use condoms at their sexual debut.

    From here.

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  3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    Coyne: "Things like [opposition to birth control, etc], for example, would probably never be arrived at by secular reason alone."

    Coyne is exactly right. And that is precisely the point.

    Consider another of Coyne's intellectual pseudopodia: the discussion of Darrow's defense of Leopold and Loeb. A little parenthetical background... Leopold and Loeb were arrogant, wealthy murderers of a small child. The child was murdered with a chisel, and the small body was bathed in hydrochloric acid and left to rot in rural Indiana. The murder was committed merely to stroke the egos of those two monsters. Both were materialists who considered themselves Nietzschean Übermensch and wanted to assert their superiority by committing a perfect crime.

    But to the point, Coyne uses Darrow's defense as an example of Darrow's "prescient" appreciation for modern materialist views on free will. That's a very stupid, cramped, and self-indulgent opinion, however. Darrow's defense was nothing more than an example table pounding: viz., the legal adage "when the law is against you, argue the facts; when the facts are against you, argue the law; and when the law and the facts are against you, pound the table". Given that the two Übermensch confessed to the murder after one ratted the other out, Darrow didn't have a lot to work with, eh? :-)

    So you see, it's possible for the secular mind to construct an argument for anything. The Shoah is but the most visible example in recent history, but there are many, many others. Given a weak enough case one can even argue the ontology... i.e., what the meaning of "is" is.

    Egnor, you are correct in your assertion that our devolution from DCT to rule by Übermensch driven by a Darwinian Wille zur Macht (see also Gen. 3:5) is well along. But I think you'll find that those most committed to the Age of Übermensch either see themselves as one of the anointed, the Eloi (check the root "el" in Hebrew), or among the Morlocks who look forward to bread, circuses and the anonymity and Darwinian "safety" of the herd.

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  4. As the adage goes: "There is none so blind as he who will not see."

    And the God-haters *will not* see.

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  5. Egnor: "The Church teaches the truth that marriage is a sacrament-- a manifestation of the Holy Trinity in human life and an eternal commitment between a man and a woman."

    Unless it is annulled by an ecclesiastical tribunal. With the Holy Spirit as an expert witness, no doubt.

    Hoo

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    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      Hoots, you should avoid comment on issues about which you are largely ignorant.

      If consent is lacking there is no marriage... The consent must be an act of will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear.
      --- Catechism of the Catholic Church

      An annulment is simply a finding that the requirements of the sacrament were not met and a marriage never occurred (null: absent or nonexistent; anull: to declare as null) The existence of a document in a drawer in a courthouse isn't relevant to the sacrament.

      Now what were you saying about John Calvin? I'm thinking we had not yet fully plumbed the depths of your ignorance on that matter, either.

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    2. So, marriage is a sacrament unless it is not? That's very coherent, admiral, even for you!

      Hoo

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    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      Marriage is a sacrament requiring consent of both parties.

      Delete
    4. So who decides whether it has been violated? The Holy Spirit? Or mortal men?

      Hoo

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    5. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      You can look it up, Hoots. You're famous for your Google Eyes, myopic as they may be. I'm not your gofer, you silly child.

      Delete
  6. Egnor: "Homosexual conduct is a sin."

    Punishable by death: Leviticus 20:13.

    Hoo

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    1. If you knew anything about Christianity, you'd know that Mosaic Law drawn from Leviticus is not applicable in the age of the New Covenant.

      Yes, it is a sin, but we don't conclude this from Leviticus. We conclude this from several New Testament passages, none of which prescribe death as the punishment.

      Catholicism teaches against the death penalty in all cases.

      You could at least learn what we believe before criticizing it.

      Joey

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    2. Joey, can you cite the chapter and verse in the New Testament that annuls Leviticus 20:13?

      Thanks,

      Hoo

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    3. Catholicism teaches against the death penalty in all cases.

      It sure took them a long time to figure that out from the New Testament. As recently as 1969 capital punishment was legal in the Vatican.

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    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Leviticus 20:13 is merely one statute in Mosaic Law. It was determined by the Council of Jerusalem, presided over by Peter (Acts 15, particularly vv. 10-11) that most of the Mosaic Law did not apply to Christians.

      Glad to be of assistance.

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    5. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      Precisely put, Hoots. The mantra of a social darwinist.

      Delete
    6. That's an interesting theological conclusion, admiral. Does Acts 15:10 and on invalidate all of the Old Testament or do you, guys, get to pick and choose which parts of it to follow? Enquiring minds want to know.

      Hoo

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    7. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      As usual, you are wrong on both counts. Those are not the only two choices. Christians are bound by the New Covenant. You can look that up and study it, along with the Noahide Commandments referred to in Acts. If you have any specific questions I'll be delighted to answer them.

      Delete
  7. Egnor: "Coyne is a biology professor, so it's surprising that he doesn't know that in organisms that reproduce sexually life begins at conception."

    This is silly. An ethical question should not be reduced to a biological one. The pitfalls are obvious: biologically, humans are merely apes, mammals, animals, so they should be treated as animals.

    Hoo

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  8. Great post, Egnor. This Coyne is just an irrational bigot.

    Joey

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  9. “The Church doesn't "control" anyone's sex life.”

    That doesn’t keep them from trying. Vows of celibacy, dictating acceptable birth control practices for the flock, controlling the birth control insurance coverage of their employees, labeling certain sexual practices between consenting adults “sin”, etc.; the church is positively obsessed with sex.

    “Homosexual conduct is a sin.”

    And what happens to unrepentant sinners? They get tortured forever. But no, you’re not trying to control anybody’s behavior; you’re just giving them the “facts” and letting them decide.

    -KW

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    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Popeye: "[Y]ou’re not trying to control anybody’s behavior; you’re just giving them the 'facts' and letting them decide."

      You have a better way? Isn't that how you want to be treated, Popeye? Or would a cattle prod turn you on? ;-)

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    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      By the way, welcome back, Popster. I've missed you. Don't be a stranger.

      Delete
  10. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Hoots makes the point that "An ethical question should not be reduced to a biological one"

    Interestingly, Coyne suggests that there are two roots: "evolution [biological] and secular reasoning" (USA Today).

    We've discussed the secular reasoning argument above (e.g., no free will, the meaning of "is") Now Hoots himself lays open the fallacy of the materialist biological argument.

    Well done, Sir!

    However, the part of this ridiculous debate that I find most interesting is how materialists like Coyne, who deny free will, can conclude that a secular reasoning process can produce ethics with moral weight. In their reasoning from Nietzschean principles, did Leopold and Loeb not do precisely what Coyne is suggesting and did Coyne himself not admire Darrow's argument to that effect?

    If Coyne has no free will, on what basis would he condemn (if he would) Leopold and Loeb? That he is an Über-Übermensch?

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    1. Admiral

      I am not the one who suggests that biology determines ethics. Egnor does. Stick it to him. LOL

      Hoo

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    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Egnor suggests that? Says hoo?

      Delete
    3. Reading comprehension fails you, admiral? Do crosswords in the morning.

      In Egnor's own words: "Coyne is a biology professor, so it's surprising that he doesn't know that in organisms that reproduce sexually life begins at conception."

      Call the nurse if you need help.

      Hoo

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    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      How does "life begins at conception" imply that "biology determines ethics".

      In fact, I'll bet that something very much like this is what informs Egnor's ethical choices:

      You formed my inmost being;
      you knit me in my mother’s womb.
      I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
      wonderful are your works!
      My very self you know.
      My bones are not hidden from you...

      --- Psalm 139

      Of course, we could always ask him what he thinks. And I'm happy to do that as well as put a $1000 bet that my interpretation of his words more accurately reflects his actual beliefs. Care to take the bet?

      Or are you one of those "hilarious nutters" that "Somehow... know what other people actually think"? (Hoots, 8/30/13)

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    5. I couldn't know for sure what Egnor thinks. I can, however, comprehend what he writes. You can't do even that.

      Hoo

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    6. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      So your dodge is now that Egnor does not think what he writes? Because if he does think what he writes, then, by your lights, he thinks "biology determines ethics".

      Why not just ask the man, Hoots? Oh, and about that kilobuck... You in for that?

      Delete
  11. This is why the Church would do well to teach Thomistic philosophy. All of those moral teachings are deducible from the facts of nature (Ed Feser has done a marvelous job expounding in his Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide).

    Scripture raises the standards. Murder is wrong, we can arrive at this conclusion through reason alone.

    "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire" (Matthew 5:21)

    Repeat with the other "you have heard it said" sections

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    1. Ed Feser in "Aquinas: A Beginners Guide" does a decent enough job of deducing them from some initial assumptions. Calling those initial assumptions "facts of nature" is to distort what is normally meant by the terms "facts" and "nature" beyond the breaking point.

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