News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 22, 2009 in News

John Loftus is really good at tracking down former pastors and apologists who have recently left religion behind. Here’s another.

I’ve often thought that a major harm of conservative Christianity is its “true love waits” policy and its subservient role for women. A tear-jerking example is provided by former preacher’s wife Laura the Redheaded Skeptic (1, 2, 3, 4).

I added 14 new debates to the atheism vs. theism debates page.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian G December 22, 2009 at 9:33 am

“I’ve often thought that a major harm of conservative Christianity is its “true love waits” policy.”

Luke,
When I see statements like this from atheists it really makes me question whether their atheism is really the product of an objective look at the evidence or if there aren’t moral struggles that are part of it. This statement seems ad hominem, but I don’t really mean it that way. I’m trying to understand the thought process of atheists. They are vary insistent that one can live moral lives without God, but yet are very quick to change morality.

I guess the Christian teaching on sexual monogamy just makes so much sense to me.
1) There is the relationship aspect of sex. Sex brings two people physically and emotionally together. There is a chemical released in the brain called oxytocin which adds in this emotionally bonding process. There is emotional pain when the relationship is severed.

2) Marriage provides a stable relationship for the raising of children. Babies are the product of sex.

3) monogamy reduces STDs.

Encouraging safe sex can help solve 2 and 3, but it does nothing to 1. The problem with birth control, is that in a large population, even a small failure rate can turn into a lot of unwanted pregnancies.

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Scott Scheule December 22, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Yes, but add to birth control widely available abortion and the problem of unwanted pregnancies becomes quite small (I’d guess). And of course the waiting for marriage aspect adds in dangers of sexual incompatibility, which can doom a marriage and destabilize the resulting child’s environment.

Which is not to say I think the Christian view is wrong. I remain firmly agnostic and make what decisions I do based on personal taste.

NB: Attacking sexual restraint mores will do nothing to help Luke shake the view that his moral stance is warmed over hedonism.

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Laura December 22, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I think there is less oxytocin released if it turns out you and your partner are not compatible. . . just from personal experience. ;)

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A December 23, 2009 at 12:43 am

Brian G,

When I see statements like this from atheists it really makes me question whether their atheism is really the product of an objective look at the evidence or if there aren’t moral struggles that are part of it.

This is something that I think about quite a bit as well. I have three friends — all gifted thinkers — who left Christianity for agnosticism/atheism, and all three had decided prior to their deconversion that they simply did not want to maintain the Christian ideal for sexual morality. Of course, they never admitted as much, but I sometimes wonder whether their willingness to live in open disobedience did not affect their intellectual honesty. In other words, their ability to remain objective was seriously called into question.

I do not think that I am merely assuming, or that I am impugning their motives. I say this because I too struggle with Christian sexual morality — the combination of being a young man with a healthy libido and being attractive to women has wreaked havoc in my life — and I’ve noticed over and over again the correlation between sexual sin and doubt. In fact, it seems to me that it rises above a simple correlative relationship; sexual sin seems to have some sort of causal relationship to doubt. That has been my experience. Take it for what it’s worth.

I am currently considering the arguments against Christianity. This is something that I should do if I’m seeking to be intellectually honest. But I still question my motives all the time. Do I really find the arguments compelling, or am I seeking ‘liberation’ from perceived ‘oppressive’ moral constraints? To put it crassly, am I looking to bang as many women as I can without being burdened by a guilty conscience?

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Haukur December 23, 2009 at 5:57 am

A: But I still question my motives all the time. Do I really find the arguments compelling, or am I seeking ‘liberation’ from perceived ‘oppressive’ moral constraints? To put it crassly, am I looking to bang as many women as I can without being burdened by a guilty conscience?

I’m sure doubters come in many varieties. I converted away from Christianity in my early teens without, as far as I can remember, giving any thought to Christian sexual morality. Then, as things played out, I’ve only ever had one girlfriend and we’ve now been happily married for five years.

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drj December 23, 2009 at 6:14 am

A: I am currently considering the arguments against Christianity. This is something that I should do if I’m seeking to be intellectually honest. But I still question my motives all the time. Do I really find the arguments compelling, or am I seeking ‘liberation’ from perceived ‘oppressive’ moral constraints? To put it crassly, am I looking to bang as many women as I can without being burdened by a guilty conscience?  

My experience in the church was that most Christian sexual morals were just some of those unreasonable rules you could break. Everyone was having sex before marriage, most everyone (married or not) was using birth control, etc.

I’ve seen plenty of studies that show that the promiscuity level among the religious isnt all that different than the secular.

Point is, it seems quite effortless to live in total contradiction with Christian sexual morals, and still be Christian.

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Jeff H December 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

I think there’s a third variable here in a lot of cases. In many situations, it’s teenagers/young adults that are figuring out their belief systems. And that time of life is obviously one filled with heightened hormonal levels and an increased sex drive. I won’t deny that perhaps it has effects on one’s objectivity, but it’s important to remember when saying that desire to have sex may cause people to question restrictive moral beliefs. Likely it’s a certain time of life causing both.

With that said, I don’t know where I stand on monogamy, etc. The research tends to show that there are certain mechanisms present in healthy relationships that cause “positive illusions” – seeing one’s partner as better than he/she really is (or how he/she sees him/herself). So Laura, you may be correct or incorrect – oxytocin may be released and cause you to bond to your partner, and then that bonding process causes you to perceive him/her as more compatible, attractive, etc. We need to be clear at which comes first here, and I’m not sure that’s an easy thing to pick apart.

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Jake de Backer December 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm

drj,

A few studies I’ve read were actually congruous with what Bill Maher reported on one of his comedy shows which is susequently on DVD now, the pointade was (if memory serves):

Young women making abstinence vows and usually adorned with the ring to be properly identified as such were twice as likely to give blow jobs and 4 times as likely to give anal. Because that’s not penetrating the Jesus hole and is, as I’ve come to understand the moral acrobatics of these devout young women, totally absent of compunction. More power to them, I guess. I mean, if the priest’s get to “dick around”…

Abstinent since 12:40pm 12/23/09,
J.

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ayer December 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

lukeprog: “I’ve often thought that a major harm of conservative Christianity is its “true love waits” policy”

I’m sorry, but that’s absurd. It may be unrealistic to expect teens and young adults to be able to resist today’s pro-promiscuity culture, but a cost/benefit analysis of the evidence results in an overwhelming advantage for pre-marital abstinence (I thought atheists were pro-evidence?–if oxycontin levels is the best the other side can point to as the “advantage” of pre-marital sex, that is very, very weak). See:

http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS06B01&f=WA06C05

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lukeprog December 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the link, ayer. Some of that is true, but some of it is contradicted by much larger studies I know of. For example.

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ayer December 24, 2009 at 12:44 pm

lukeprog: Thanks for the link, ayer. Some of that is true, but some of it is contradicted by much larger studies I know of. For example.  

That study addresses a different issue–i.e., whether people are even capable of pre-marital abstinence. As I said, they may not not be in today’s culture. But the evidence clearly shows that they would be better off in many, many ways if they were capable of practicing it.

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lukeprog December 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Off-topic:

I wish I had the money to own a copy of World Christian Encyclopedia. Here it is on Human Need and Development in the USA, page 774:

United States is a developed country and the bellwether in almost all major international economic indicators. Although a wealthy country in natural resources and productivity, the wealth is unevenly distributed and there are numerous pockets of poverty in every state. Serious social problems, like crime, homelessness, and lack of universal healthcare have been allowed to fester for so long that they have become a complex malaise defying political solution. A significant segment of African-Americans and the poorer Hispanics are living below the poverty level. Welfare has become a condition of life for the deprived classes, both black and white, and among them there are shocking rates of illegitimacy and teen age pregnancies unparalleled in the Western world. Among African-Americans, nearly one-third of all young males have a criminal record, imposing a heavy burden on the criminal justice system. The ratio of prisoners to the general population is exceeded only in Russia. Despite efforts to control the sale of guns, there is more violence on American streets than in any comparable advanced nation.

And on separation of church and state, page 778:

An important impulse towards [religious freedom] came from the first federal constitution in 1789 which gave clear expression to the idea of the separation of church and state which had been growing since before the Revolutionary War. Since the formulation of the US constitution in 1787, therefore, the United States has been clearly defined as a secular state in which church and state are legally separated. The constitution makes no reference to God…

Future Trends and Prospects for the USA, page 781:

Church affiliation is projected to decline to 64.8% by 2025. The nonreligious and atheists will likely jointly top 12% by 2025 while most of the other world religions are expected to grow due to immigration.

Christianity is expected to decline steadily throughout the next fifty years, perhaps dropping below 75% by AD 2050. This decline will primarily be the result of the growth of non-Christian immigrant religions, such as Islam and Buddhism, as well as the steady rise of the nonreligious.

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Martin December 27, 2009 at 7:54 pm

The story of the unfortunate marriage of the ‘Redhead Skeptic’ is a story as old as the religious hypocrisy in the Gospels – the one that takes center stage and that ultimately takes Jesus’ life. It is a re-staging of that very drama. Anthropologically speaking why do you think the Word chose that drama to begin with?

Using Jesus’ name as a weapon in our worldly projects is horrific I understand, but pointing to the standard of the gospel in admonition is the best remedy; not (in a self serving manner) doing away with objective standards.
When every major institution in the US has been subverted from within by committed Marxists since Gramsci’s project began after WWII it is as conformist to join the herd as an evangelist for unbelief as it is conformist to treat with the superficial religion you experienced growing up as one would treat with an idol.

Jesus’ humanity – authenticity, fidelity, renunciation, discipline – is hard work, and painful. Christians avoid this searching hard work because they are human and sinners, not because Christianity is inherently anti-human.

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