I fear that we aren’t going to be able to communicate fruitfully after all. It was important to try, but on this one point of contention it feels as if you are reading someone else’s posts, rather than mine.
At every point you have asserted that I was premising my arguments on the existence of God. At every point I stated I needed only to use natural reason in my arguments.
And, true to my word, when I began to debate on the merits, I did not use God or any other matter of revelation as a premise in my arguments, anywhere. Take a look. Scan what I said.
In fact you seem to think some argument or other of mine references the existence of an afterlife! It’s true, I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting…but I also believe in the existence of black-and-gold late-70’s Trans Ams. In none of my arguments do I rely anywhere on the existence of the afterlife, or of Trans Ams, as a premise. Whose posts are you reading?
Yet you continue to assert that I have littered my arguments with references to God or to things requiring revelation. (Note: I hold with St. Paul and St. Thomas Aquinas that the existence of God, in some of His attributes, can in fact be known without recourse to revelation, by natural logic alone. But we’re not debating theism here, so that isn’t relevant.)
Again, you say my arguments against the imposition of “gay marriage” contain things an atheist would never say, things which require a belief in God or in the sacraments or in the content of divine revelation. I can only state that I have not, because it was not at all required. My views on “gay marriage” are entirely supportable through mere argument from the senses and from logic, which was all I have given you.
Perhaps you could show me a sentence in what I have said, during the part of our exchange which was debating about “gay marriage” on the merits, which requires the existence of God as a premise?
I really don’t think there has been any such thing. And I think that were we to prolong the debate, every point I wished to make would require only the premises an atheist could agree with.
So: Why do you insist that there must be some point in my argument which requires God? Why is that such an article of faith for you? Does your worldview not permit the existence of Christians who’re able to state that 2 plus 2 equals 4 without recourse to a Bible verse? I am a Christian, and I can state that 2 plus 2 equals 4 without lurching for my Bible or Catechism or anything else like that. Does that make you feel as if I’m a mythical beast? I’m no Yeti or Nessie, I assure you!
I don’t know whether this discussion is going to continue or not. But if it helps any other readers, here was my plan going forward:
1. Lay a foundation, from a biologist’s or neurologist’s or naturalist’s perspective, for the role of pleasure in the life of an organism, whether human or animal, and the implications for sexual pleasure and its telos specifically (with analogies to the pleasure of eating and it’s telos, and comparisons to the Romans’ apocryphal binge-and-purge habits and the disorder of “pica”).
2. List some of the relevant biochemical processes associated with coitus.
3. Demonstrate from those processes that the telos of sex—the evolved directedness, if you like—is not merely to produce children, but to produce stable families for their upbringing and their integration into the broader family of society.
4. Discuss the psychology of erotic love as influenced by the interaction of sexual biochemistry with the personalities of people in all societies around the world, and how that also informs us about the definition, character, and telos of marriage and family: The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
5. List the moral limitations on the use of force to which atheists and Christians can agree equally, and show their relevance in the legal system America inherited from England, the Declaration, the Constitution, and American law to the present day.
6. Connect all of that to the “bundled contracts” which are currently applied to marriage in U.S. law.
7. Talk a bit about what (I am told by competent attorneys) constitutes a “compelling state interest” in U.S. law.
8. Talk a bit about the fertility rate in the U.S. and its implications for the welfare state and the economy, and about studies regarding childrearing outcomes, and what all of that implies for the U.S. government’s compelling state interest in subsidizing the traditional family structure.
9. Talk a bit about (what competent attorneys say is) the recent history of equal protection cases and what constitutes a specially protected class of citizens in U.S. law, and how that applies to the very low threshold for establishing the legitimacy of incentives where there is a compelling state interest.
10. Point out the biological facts which make homosexual partnerships, however prolonged, contrary to (or, at best, irrelevant to) the compelling state interest.
11. Describe some of the recent cases in the U.S. and Canada where free exercise of religion has been suppressed or threatened by the state forcibly backing up the whims of the secular left, and the implications should everything the secular left desires be granted to them by the courts on the matter of “gay marriage.” (Note: This is the first point in the argument where I would have to describe a religious belief. But I would not be using it as a premise. I would instead be describing it “from outside,” as it were; i.e., even an atheist can observe as an “outsider” that Christians think abortion to be a form of legalized murder targeting the most helpless, even if some atheists do not share that view.)
12. Describe some of the existing cases and academic papers wherein existing or anticipated court rulings in favor of “gay marriage” are being used (or are planned to be used) as precedent upon which to build rights to pedophelia, ephebophilia, bigamy and other group marriages, and the like.
13. Fill in any gaps where needed.
And, again, I did not anticipate arguing from any matter of revelation at any point throughout the process.
Having laid out that game plan, let me return to your last responses, Aaron:
You say, “Again, secular laws are in place to regulate humans in society so they can live in relative freedom without doing harm to others…”
...and I more or less agree with that, although I would try to be more precise. I would say that people intrinsically have just moral authority to use force against other people in only limited circumstances; namely, to defend innocent persons (themselves, or others) against wrongful uses of force (or fraud, which is intellectual forcing) which violate their rights (including privacy, by the way!) or their intrinsic human dignity. I would go on from that to state that human beings also intrinsically have a right to hire employees (delegating to them some of their, the employers’, just authority) and to form political associations.
When a nation forms a political union and hires employees to exercise force on their behalf (delegating to them their just authority to use force in the defense of the innocent), that’s called “constituting a government.” It follows that governments, which obtain their just authority to use force by delegation from the people (or, in the case of a federal union, from the states and the people), have fairly limited authority to use force (whether in the waging of wars or the criminalizing of behaviors). It also follows that citizens of a country have both unalienable natural rights and merely “civil” rights, the latter including behaviors which in themselves might be morally wrong (and thus not a natural right) but which force cannot be justly used to circumscribe (which means the government can’t justly outlaw it, which makes it a civil right).
When I bring up the question of what sexuality is—something I intended to discuss from a purely naturalistic perspective—you seem to think I’m about to foist Catholic doctrine on you. Why? Are the only Catholics you know a crowd of pushy catechists?
Likewise what marriage is. I don’t need to whip out a book of theology; I intended only to whip out a book of history, a bit of love poetry, some psychology, some biochemistry, and some sociology. Are atheists incapable of all these things, that you ascribe them to be exclusively the province of Theists? (Don’t be offended! That’s a joke, not a poke. The question is purely rhetorical: Obviously there are plenty of atheist psychologists, biochemists, sociologists, historians. And some globs of self-replicating cells have even evolved the ability to write love poetry to other globs of self-replicating cells, too! ...although I’m sure it was only in pursuit of self-replication.)
So when you say, “You’re trying to force the Catholic definition of marriage into secular law…” I answer, “No, I am hoping that secular law will not continue to drift further and further from what helps humans in our society to live in relative freedom without doing harm to others.” Isn’t there room for common ground, in that?
You say, “The Church does not seem to recognize those secular privacy rights.” But that’s entirely unsupported (and in fact entirely false). The intrinsic dignity of a person and the limitations on the just authority of the government to use force amount to a Catholic requirement not only of privacy rights as civil rights, but in certain instances privacy rights as unalienable human rights.
So I’m not sure where that assertion came from. Perhaps you think that not establishing “gay marriage” in the U.S. is a violation of the privacy rights of homosexuals? But that doesn’t logically follow, even from an atheist’s perspective: “Homosexuals have intrinsic dignity which implies a right not to have the government intrude on their sex lives forcibly…. Therefore, it follows that the government must first register all long-term homosexual couples with the state, and then use force to violate the religious freedoms of others!” I stipulate the first half…but can you see how the second half doesn’t quite follow?
“You’re trying to force the Catholic definition of marriage into secular law.” Nope. I’m not. If I were, you’d see me using force (which you don’t) and violating the teaching of the Church (which doesn’t allow sacraments to be forced on anyone). I’m not talking about the sacrament of marriage at all. I’m just talking about sex and family and marriage and procreation and legal contracts and the like from a purely secular perspective.