Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Purity Myth: Resources


The_Purity_Myth

I mentioned a while ago that I would be discussing the book The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti. I have now finished the book and will be discussing it over the next few posts. But first I wanted to provide you all with most of the online resources (unfortunately a number of the resources are unavailable:

http://www.provideaccess.org/
http://www.aauw.org/
http://www.bwhi.org/
http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/
http://www.reproductiverights.org/
http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/
http://urge.org/
http://www.girlsinc.org/
http://www.guttmacher.org/
http://www.iwpr.org/
http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/index-splash.html
http://napawf.org/
http://www.ncwge.org/
http://www.ncadv.org/
http://regender.org/
http://www.niwhrc.org/
http://www.nirhealth.org/
http://www.latinainstitute.org/en
http://nnedv.org/
http://www.nsvrc.org/
http://www.nwpc.org/
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
https://rainn.org/
http://www.safehorizon.org/
http://www.sistersong.net/
http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/
http://www.voterparticipation.org/
http://www.aauw.org/membership/ywtf/
http://www.womensmediacenter.com/
http://womensenews.org/
http://www.thenation.com/
http://shamelessmag.com/
http://www.salon.com/
http://www.newmoon.com/
http://www.msmagazine.com/
http://www.makeshiftmag.com/
http://inthesetimes.com/
http://www.colorlines.com/
http://bitchmagazine.org/
http://www.prospect.org/
http://amptoons.com/blog/
http://angryblackbitch.blogspot.ca/
http://angrybrownbutch.com/
http://www.safercampus.org/blog/
http://www.echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.ca/
http://economicwoman.com/
http://www.feministe.us/blog/
https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/
http://globalvoicesonline.org/
http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/
http://www.lynnedjohnson.com/diary/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mmw/
http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/blog/
http://www.racialicious.com/
http://radicaldoula.com/
http://rhrealitycheck.org/
http://www.shakesville.com/
http://kateharding.net/
http://thecurvature.com/
http://transgroupblog.blogspot.ca/
http://wimnonline.org/WIMNsVoicesBlog/
http://womenandhollywood.blogspot.ca/
http://womenshealthnews.wordpress.com/


Why Are People So Concerned About Gender NonConforming Children? Part 3


no

The next video I watched was about a kid who doesn’t identify as male or female. The first commenter said “A gold mine for me, pay-day, and Party! It is clear that this child has been influenced by the wrong things. How do these kids know what they want in life at age 6 and 10.They haven’t even gone through puberty yet. Its a sick world we live in when a child goes to this extreme to get attention. He gets to use the nurses bathroom. What a bunch of BS. This is sick and wrong but I’m sure he/she will be featured on Oprah or Ellen show. That’s what its really about. If they can’t naturally procreate than it’s wrong.” And what exactly are the right things to be influenced by? Bigotry? Are you saying you didn’t know what your gender was at 6? If that’s the case, then we should simply avoid labelling them either gender until they’re “old enough” to know what their gender is. They aren’t looking for attention, they’re looking for acceptance. But how exactly is attention seeking sick? Right, because what child doesn’t want to use the nurses bathroom? This kid is prepubescent. No prepubescent child can procreate. Are all children therefore wrong? Or only the ones who don’t identify how you want them to? This kid didn’t say they were transgender. They may always be able to procreate. So I guess your argument is invalid.
The next person said “Anyone check to see if the kid’s parents are gay and politically motivated, or exposure to a lot of bpa and milk hormone? Nice reporting, keeping it real shallow! Instead just explore the new challenges it promotes and not the possible cause, and like a new breed of poodle, everybody should want one to be unique-Some older kids would wear a dress for bathroom privileges just to look at girls, just don’t think that’s the case. n Gay people would meet these questions as demoralizing somehow.” Um…the kid’s parents are a man and a woman. Who are currently married to each other. I suppose one of them may be gay, but why would they so openly support their child but continue to live a lie? You know why they didn’t report on what caused the child to be gender nonconforming? Because we don’t know! Were they supposed to make up lies to make you happy? And why does the story have to be about what caused to kid to be nonconforming? Why can’t a story just be about raising awareness? Trans* people aren’t a new breed. We’ve been around for a while. If a pervert ants to go into a bathroom and watch people, they can do that now. Allowing trans people to use the correct bathrooms won’t suddenly cause men to sneak into the woman’s bathroom. It allows women to use the woman’s bathroom.
The next commenter said “I wonder How Many Vaccines, Pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter-drugs, GMO=genetically modified organism foods, processed foods & drinks, flu shots, allergy patches, etc., this boy and/or girl, and ‘its’ parents have eaten and been Injected with?” Stop trying to make up diagnoses! Leave that shit to the people who are trained. Gender dysphoria is not caused by drugs, GMO’s, BPA, vaccines, or anything else that people want to blame all the world’s problems on. People are trans* because people are trans*. Now quite trying to use pseudo-science to excuse your bigotry. And quite calling humans “it.” We’re people, not lamps.
The next person said “Kid-‘Mommy, I want to be a girl. Can I cut my penis off?’ Mom (Liberal Retard)-‘Sure’ LMAO This is why everyone thinks Americans are stupid.” Nope. Personally, it’s people like you that tend to make me think that Americans are stupid. Well, you and the next person: “The issue isn’t that there are kids who are transgendered, the issue is that lib-tard Parents spontaneously & instantly orgasm’d when they saw the boy playing with girl gender toy & that they IMMEDIATELY rushed the child over to a pseudo-science psychiatrist who jumped up & down screaming “we’ve got one” before the boy could even walk inside the room & sit down to say what he really thinks and feels…The issue is that he’s too young & that he’s being coerced & influenced.” Oh really? You know exactly what happened do you? It couldn’t possibly be, you know, that the kid has a brain of their own and is able to express their own preferences. Because some layman from the street clearly knows more about psychology than an actual psychologist.
The next comment says “Let Ryan wait until he gets his first erection & orgasm & make his own choice before you re-enforce his sexual identity issues…He’ll probably want to keep his new toy.” Nobody’s holding the kid’s penis to a chopping block. They can’t have surgery until he’s 18 anyway. Penises aren’t the greatest toy ever, you know. A lot of men seem to think they are, but how you feel about your own penis is not how everybody feels about penises.
I might have a permanent dent in my forehead from all this facepalming…Anyway, they next person said “This is beyond disgusting. Children don’t even have a solid gender-appearance idea when they’re that age-that’s all culture. He says he’s a Tom-Girl because he’s a completely typical testosterone-driven male boy who mom and dad have exploited for some neo-liberal freak-show. You treat your children the gender they are.” What does t mean to have a solid gender-appearance? Gender expression is what you wear. So…children don’t generally wear clothes that match their gender? All gender is cultural. Again, you know exactly how this kid’s gender non-conformity went down? They were just a normal little boy playing with trucks until mom and dad decided to dress them like a girl? Because no child could possibly have a say in how they dress, right? It’s funny, conservatives bitch about how trans* people are trying to make things political, then they turn around and make things political by saying that if you support trans* rights you’re a liberal.
This next comment is another meant-to-be-positive one: “You are right. didn’t mean any disrespect towards ‘the kid’. ‘It’ = non-gender?, boy?, girl?, asexual?, transgender?, homosexual?, alien?, half Human Being, half?………” No! “It” is not a term for people. It is a term for inanimate objects. Lamps are “its,” cars are “its,” humans are “theys” or “hes” or “shes,” etc.
The next person said “‘gender variant’…that’s fucking stupid. Lame loser sicko parents are to blame, these issues belong at home, not IN school. Can’t ID yourself in an AP interview?? Then GET OFF-CAMERA!!” I hate to break it to you, but gender nonconforming kids have to go to school too. They can’t just leave who they are behind because you want them to. Hiding their identity is not an option. And quite blaming the parents. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s some kind of conspiracy.
The last comment I took from this video said “Old Sperm and Dried up Ovaries, this is what happens when try to have children in your 40’s Mutations, I don’t blame the child, I blame the so-called parents.” For one, the parents ages were never given. For another, gender dysphoria is not caused by a mutation. If it was, we’d have figured it out by now. Y are you blaming anyone? This kid is just trying to live their life. They didn’t do anything wrong and neither did the parents. Gender dysphoria is not a crime, and trans* people shouldn’t be treated like criminals.

oppressed
In the next video, a gender nonconforming teenager sued the DMV for discrimination. The first comment I found on that video said “I think every one should be transgender. Why well if they want to stop boys from being boys in schools and feminize them so let the Libtards get their hedonistic demands. this as we see more Liberal teachers sleeping with their students, homosexuality taught at younger ages and so forth. Then they can ignorantly sit back and wonder why sh*t is falling apart and blame others for their sick and twisted depraved logic.” Some people see conspiracies everywhere, I swear. Nobody is feminizing boys in school. Do you even know what hedonism is? Trying to optimize pleasure is a bad thing? I highly doubt the political views of most teachers caught sleeping with students is even known. How, exactly, does one teach homosexuality?
The next comment said “Someone tell this fag he’s actually a boy.” Again, gender is not the same as sexuality. We have no idea what this kids sexuality is. We do, however, know that he identifies as a boy, but is gender nonconforming. He’s not transgender according to his own words.
The next person said “Here we go! Another tranny/gay/bi/who knows, on the news bitching about their ‘rights.’ The goddamn liberal agenda being pushed and screwing up our system. Why can’t a boy be a boy and a girl be a girl any more? Now anything is allowed, fuck it, you feel like a dinosaur? Well bitch loud enough about it and maybe they’ll put a “D” along side “M” and “F” on applications and exams. This shits ridiculous.” “Tranny” is another derogatory word. Don’t call people “tranny.” If you listened to what they had to say, you’d know how they identify. Should I assume that the scare quotes mean you don’t believe that the LGBT community has rights? Last I checked, all humans deserved equal rights. Boys can be boys and girls can be girls. However, now we don’t force people into those categories.
The next person said “Who cares. This fag needs to act and dress like a man.” Says who? Why should anybody conform to your preferences? Is this kid hurting you by not dressing like you?
The next comment said “There are rules in America. Even for a sissy boy like Chase” ‘Merica.
The next comment said “Woman who wear make up usually always wear make up to look like a woman. Women who wear make up are NOT trying to look like a man that is a BIG DIFFERENCE between women who wear make up and men who think they look like women who wearing make up.. Beside the guy says he nonconformist on his identity, he doesn’t know what he is and until he does, he needs to look like the person he is for his license… a guy.” So…do women who aren’t wearing make-up look like men? Why does it matter why people wear make-up? Have you ever thought that a person can wear make-up because they like to? Saying you’re nonconformist is not the same as saying you don’t know who you are. Some people just simply don’t conform.
The last commenter said “The kid should have just followed the DMV’s rules….gays are so loud and rude these days I really sympathize with the dmv…” How is it rude to say “I wasn’t treated fairly”? And, one last time, gender is not sexuality. Maybe they are gay, but that’s not really the issue here.
All of these videos were simply related to gender nonconforming children living their lives. Not a single one of them was harming anyone. None of them were forcing their views on anyone. They weren’t oppressing anyone. And yet a good half of the comments on those videos were people bitching about how trans* people shouldn’t be allowed to be themselves. And a number of those people, while they self-righteously declared that these children should be oppressed, acted as if their rights are somehow being taken away. Just because other people are given the right to do something that you can already do, doesn’t mean you’re losing any rights. And just because something is legal doesn’t mean you have to do it. You don’t have the right to force your opinions on others. Don’t like the fact that transgender people transition? Don’t transition. But don’t force your own beliefs about transitioning down their throat. If you think they’re going to go to hell for it, oh well, it’s still their choice. To quote a friend of mine, “fucking cis people.”

Click to access sexuality-definitions.pdf


http://www.simplypsychology.org/gender-biology.html
http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/Pages/Gender-Identity-and-Gender-Confusion-In-Children.aspx
http://psychology.about.com/od/gindex/g/gender.htm


Why Are People So Concerned About Gender NonConforming Children? Part 2


im-from-driftwood

The next video I watched was dateline type show about gender nonconforming children. The first comment I came across on that video said “‘if you say you’re a woman, you’re a woman’ – I completely disagree with that… saying so simply does not make you one neither does getting a transplant and taking steroids. women reproduce and men can’t so no matter how much you change up your body you will always be what you were born as. that being said, people have the right to do what they want with themselves once it doesn’t affect others negatively because its THEIR LIVES…we may not always accept something but we sometimes need to learn to mind our business, stop being judgemental and move forward in our own lives because we all have dirty hands and skeletons in our closets.” Wait…men can’t reproduce? You mean sperm is useless? Then where does genetic variance come from? And why are there men? Oh wait, you mean men can’t get pregnant. So, by your definition, anyone who can’t get pregnant is a man. That means that women who are infertile are men. And any woman who has gone through menopause was a woman but is now a man. Also, “man” and “woman” are gender terms, not sex terms. If reproduction was tied to our sex, which, as it turns out, it’s not, it would mean that females, not women, can give birth.
The next comment said “Someone should put an end to these freaks…Btw, I’m a candy bar, because I say so.” Lovely. So anyone that you deem abnormal should be killed. People really need to stop comparing gender nonconformity with random shit. Gender is complicated. It’s the result of our genetic make-up, our hormones, and our environment. It is not unreasonable to think that a person could be biologically female buy identify as a man. But we don’t have any chocolate bar DNA in us. We don’t have hormones in us that can cause us to identify as a chocolate bar. But if you want to be a chocolate bar, go for it. Just don’t stand in the chocolate bar isle and try to convince people to buy you: that would probably get you arrested.
The next commenter said “I don’t see a problem with this….. HE IS A DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be gay all day but you don’t pretend you are a different sex. As soon as everyone can support me in my feeling that I am your king and do what I say I will support you thinking you are something that you are not.” I really don’t get why this concept is so hard: sex isn’t gender. A.K.A your penis doesn’t make you a man. Your brain does. Your penis just makes you male (kind of, it’s more complicated than this, but this is already a really long post). And, yet again, sexuality also isn’t gender. Wearing make-up does not make one attracted to boys. Again, comparing apples to oranges isn’t helpful, it just makes you look stupid.
This next comment is not malicious at all, but it shows a lot of ignorance. The commenter said “I don’t understand transgenders…like, why do they exist? Can someone pls explain?” I know how you feel: I don’t really understand cis (gender conforming) people. Like, I get why you exist, but…I don’t understand how you can live like that. Your lives must be so…boring! Again, it’s not “transgenders,” people. They are humans first and foremost. Why do they exist? Because genetics and hormones aren’t perfect. But mostly because we live in a society that insists on trying to fit us all into neatly labelled boxes.
Another commenter said “I feel for these kids I really do, these kids don’t need to be trans they need Jesus.” This isn’t a case of what the kids need. This is a case of who they are. The didn’t decide to be trans. And religion won’t change who they are. In fact, religion just seems to be good at killing off trans people faster.
This comment is another one simply born out of ignorance: “I was a gender nonconforming child, but once puberty hit I changed. Not all transgendered children will go on to be transexual in adulthood.” Yes, some gender nonconforming children grow up to be cis adults. But being gender nonconforming does not make you transgender. And transexual is generally seen as derogatory. Some transgender people call themselves transexual, but it’s generally considered something that they call call themselves but that other people shouldn’t call them. And “transgendered” isn’t a word. Transgender is a noun, not a verb. You don’t do transgender, you are transgender.
The next commenter said “Idiot Parents!!!!! Children should not have that decision until their 18.” What decision? The decision to wear what they want? A lot of people are under the impression that parents of trans kids whisk them off to have surgery the second they find out their kid is trans. It doesn’t work like that. Even trans adults aren’t able to just up and have surgery. First the parent has to take the kid to a therapist to be diagnosed as having gender dysphoria. Once the kid is diagnosed, then it’s possible for them to start taking hormone blockers come puberty. However, hormone blockers don’t come until puberty. Kids under the age of 11-12 don’t do anything more than wear the close they like and get their preferred haircuts. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? Puberty blockers simply postpone puberty. They prevent the child from going through the wrong puberty. They are completely reversible and they prevent unnecessary future surgeries as well as emotional pain caused by going through something that the kids find distressing. Later on, around 16-18, they can start taking hormones that allow them to go through the correct puberty. These drugs aren’t given to younger children because they aren’t as easily reversible. These hormones can cause infertility and certain other permanent changes, but they are more easily reversed than surgeries are. The surgeries, if they are desired, come last. They can’t be done until the age of 18 (except in extreme circumstances). For people who took the hormone blockers, very little surgery is required. But without the hormone blockers, the required surgeries can be quite extensive and even dangerous (such as having the adam’s apple shaved). Can any of that really be said to be irresponsible?
The next commenter said “The amount of positive reinforcement the mother gives the child at 7:15 is disturbing. Trans children should be observed, not encouraged or dis-encouraged. Neutrality is what she should be showing.” So trans children should be treated as nothing more than lab rats? Giving them positive reinforcement doesn’t mean forcing them to do something. Being encouraged to be ones self doesn’t mean that one can never change. Gender is not something you can force on someone. They will be who they are regardless of how supportive or unsupportive you are, and encouraging them will not stop them from changing if they change.

right
I came across this gem next: “Ur stupid for say kids just wanna be homo. There kids they don’t know about sex. They know who they r n we need to support them.” This comment is supportive of the gender nonconforming children, but it is still problematic. Homo, like transexual, is a derogatory term. Kids may not know about sex, but their sexualities are in fact developed. This isn’t to say that sexuality can never change, but, for the most part, if a person is homosexual they have been since they were about 3.
The next person said “This is a sick abomination! This will only bring the judgement of God, these kids are obviously demon possessed and were probably sexually abused! Gods word is clear about this.” So anyone who doesn’t fit in to societal expectations must be possessed by a demon? And a sexually abused demon at that. Couldn’t a demon just burn anyone who tried to abuse them? Or make their insides explode or something? Why would your god even care about gender nonconformity in children? Doesn’t he have more important things to worry about? Like starvation and disease?
At this point I think I may have lost all faith in humanity. This next person said “Go get your heads looked at I wouldn’t let them have a surgery so that they could see who they really are.” So…it’s better that a person hide who they are than it is for them to have surgery to be happy with themselves? How…open-minded of you.
Then I came across this: “Don’t encourage this shit its not right.” What exactly would you propose we do? Should we send gender nonconforming children into the woods? Or maybe you’d prefer we set up a noose in their closet. After all, suicide rates are higher among gender nonconforming youth. You must think that death is best for them if you are against methods that help them.
This next comment is very rambley: “in a way transsexuals piss people off but what if a boy who naturally looked female aka Justin bieber. stays a male. just like Justin bieber whos trying to please people by being a male is not good enough for people. everyone wished Justin bieber dead even before his attitude change. they said he was a fag even though he dated girls. people wished death on him. so what if Justin bieber changed into a girl he would of been a pretty girl and people would hate him less. if a transsexual child didn’t tell anyone they were trans they would live happy the people around them would be happy but society says transsexuals need to tell people they are trans. why? so world war 3 can break out between haters and transsexuals? the males would beat the person up or perhaps kill them. it would bring anger out in many people. some things are best kept a secret and its no ones fucking business if a boy feels like a girl and lives that way. he or she isn’t hurting people or killing people. they aren’t stealing or raping. they are just being themselves and its become a crime for transsexuals to be themselves. people are more angry with transexualism than killers and rapists.” This is another comment that is meant to be supportive, but there is a lot of misunderstanding in it. Looking female is not the same as being trans. Justin Bieber doesn’t identify as male because he’s trying to please anyone. He’s male because he happened to be born with the right anatomy to be labelled as such. People don’t like Justin Bieber for many different reasons. Yes, some people are ignorant enough to hate him for looking feminine, but that isn’t the only reason people dislike him. People would not accept Bieber more if he had a sex change. In fact, he’d likely be treated worse. No, if a child who is trans didn’t tell anyone they would not be happier. In fact, they’d be far more likely to commit suicide. They’d become depressed because they were forced to hide who they are from the world. It isn’t healthy. It’s not society that tells trans people to come out as trans. Trans people are telling society that they cannot live their lives in a closet. They can’t hide who they are. You’re right, it is no ones business how another person identifies, but keeping who they are a secret isn’t healthy. They shouldn’t be forced to hide, they should be accepted for who they are.
Another person said “The girl boy with the glasses was already ugly either way why cut your hair.” The kid they’re referring to was 6 or 7. How is this at all appropriate to say of a child that young? And they are a boy, not a girl boy.





Why Are People So Concerned About Gender NonConforming Children? Part 1


children

Lately there has been a lot of focus on one of the Jolie-Pitt kids. I keep coming across articles about how “Shiloh wants to be a boy.” I have to say, I’m quite annoyed by all this focus. For one, this kid hasn’t signed up to be a celebrity, only their parents have. Celebrity kids should be allowed to be kids. For another, none of these articles quote Jolie-Pitt (I’ll stick with using their last name for convenience sake), they only quote Brad and Angelina. Maybe their child has said that they want to be a boy, but until Jolie-Pitt comes forth and publicly states their gender, that’s their business. And, if Jolie-Pitt has come out and said that they are a boy, then they don’t want to be a boy, they are a boy. But what annoyed me the most has nothing to do with the actual news coverage: it was the comments that really bothered me. I was going to do a post discussing societies obsession with gender nonconforming children, but I decided I’d go through some of the comments I’ve found on various YouTube videos. After all, there are a ton of articles and posts out there about society’s issu with gender nonconformity and why the perception of gender nonconformity as wrong needs to change. But, by focusing on people’s comments, I can actually show what’s wrong with saying certain things and how we can better discuss gender nonconformity. Most of these comments are mean spirited and meant to be insulting, but some are simply born out of ignorance.
The first video I watched was from the show What Would You Do. This episode was about children wanting to dress up in costumes meant for children of the opposite gender. This was the first insulting comment I came across: “(mom):what are you going to be for Halloween? (son): I want to be a nine year old dressed as a 20+ year old woman that nearly got raped by a beast mommy! (mom): >:O the fuck is wrong with you better not want me to let you get surgery so you can cut your dick off a get it replaced by a hole!…WHY CAN’T PEOPLE USE THERE COMMON SENSE STOP LETTING YOUR CHILDREN WATCH AND USE MATERIALS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX OF THE OPPOSITE SEX! If its a BOY get BOY content for him. If its a girl get girl content for her. Children’s minds are still developing don’t ruin it show them their category not another category! The world needs Jesus, you need Jesus, I need Jesus, this mom needs Jesus, and this boy needs jesus. Give it to him straight don’t curve the lines.” This commenter is suggesting that if a child wants to dress in what is generally considered a girls costume then he’s automatically going to go for something inappropriate. The kid wanted to be a princess. Yes, he chose Bell. Given that Beauty and the Beast is a Disney film, I think it’s safe to say that Bell wasn’t nearly raped. Yes, there are problems with the Disney princesses, but the rest of this comment suggests that the commenter would not be concerned if it were a nine year old girl who wanted to dress up like a “20+ year old woman (most of the Disney princesses are actually around 16) that nearly got raped by a beast.” What exactly is boy content? What is the definition of boy content? People assume that children can’t know who they are or what they like simply because they’re young. This is a silly notion. We were all kids once. We may not like the same things now that we did back then, but does that really make our love for our favourite toy/show/friend less genuine? What does Jesus have to do with any of this? We’re talking about Halloween, not church.
The next comment I came across says “Eww weird as shit. Girls like dresses, Not boys. All you weird asses in the comment section smh, I’m raising my kid right at least. Sexual orientation is solely based on how you raise your kid.” Who says that only girls like dresses? Because the fact that there are boys out there who claim to like dresses suggests otherwise. What does it mean to raise kids right? Does it mean suppressing who they are because who they are makes you uncomfortable? If not, then forcing these children be someone their not is not raising them right. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with how you raise your children. It also has nothing to do with gender. These children are gender nonconforming. Their sexuality is irrelevant to the discussion.
The next commenter said “I honestly don’t think this is good. I mean, yea it’s fine if he wants to be a princess a guess, but, this is (I’m sure) kinda saying it’s ok to be a woman when your a man….now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with gays, but, if more and more children think like this, the more likely they might grow up to be gay. If that happens, America might start depopulating rapidly.(even though we kinda need to.)” I suppose then that it’s a good thing that facts aren’t based on what you “honestly think” is good. What’s wrong with being a woman? Though, we’re talking about children. They weren’t men or women, they were kids. And they said nothing about wanting to be the other gender, they just wanted to get costumes. There’s a difference between gender identity and gender expression. Not everyone who’s gender nonconforming is transgender. And once again, gender identity is not the same as sexuality. It is possible to be gender non-conforming and straight. But, even if they were the same thing, you can’t just make someone gay by putting a dress on them.
Another commenter said “I’ll be honest, I’m not against transgenders or anything, but if my son was that age or a little older and wanted to get a princess costume, I can say I wouldn’t let him. Not because I have a problem with it, but I know he would get bullied and ridiculed for it, especially kids at school. Not only that if it is only a phase, for years after he would still be teased because of it. I would only be looking out for him, instead of giving bullies fire power to torment him.” Again, these kids were buying costumes. They said nothing about wanting to be (or being) the opposite gender. Wanting to wear a dress if you’re a boy or a Spider-Man costume if you’re a girl doesn’t make you transgender. And you shouldn’t refer to people as “transgenders.” Wording like that removes the person’s humanity. They are a person who is transgender, they are not “transgenders.” Forcing a kid to fit in to stereotypical gender roles is giving in to bullies. You’re victim-blaming: you’re saying that a child who doesn’t conform is responsible for being bullied, and they should be responsible for stopping the bullying that they are subjected to. If you want to stop bullying, teach kids not to bully.
This idea that gender nonconforming children are responsible for the bullying that they suffer is reinforced by another commenter: “Letting him wear a princess costume, is the same as letting him getting bullied. He is a just a kid, you are not suppose to give kids everything they want. If in the end they turn out gay, it doesn’t matter, at least he can’t not say it was your fault for choosing for him. Everyone has the right to decide his or her own destiny the older they get.” No, letting your child wear what they like is not letting them get bullied. Standing there and saying “well he shouldn’t have been wearing a dress” is letting him get bullied. Children need to learn that bullying is wrong. Unfortunately, children watch adults abuse those who don’t conform to gender stereotypes. It’s the behaviour of adults that teaches kids that bullying is okay. And excusing the bullying as “kids being kids” reinforces it. Letting a kid be happy is not giving them everything they ant. You can let your child wear what they want and still have a set bedtime. Again, and I’m going to keep saying it, because people don’t seem to get it, gender identity is not sexuality. They are different.

cis-ters
The second video I watched was another What Would You Do clip. In this video, a girl who was transgender was harassed by her unsupportive father while looking for a prom dress. The first commenter that I came across said “Are you fucking kidding me? FUCK EVERYONE WHO AGREES WITH CHANGING THE GENDER…what’s wrong with people these days???? You agree to be a faggot??? What the fuck? If you are born to be a male or female then why you want to change your gender??? For what fucking reason? You feel that inside???? You feel full of shit inside because everyone who thinks like that has a fucking weak personality and absolutely is mentally sick I couldn’t even continue watching this disgusting video.” You can’t agree to be homosexual. Seriously, everyone who thinks you can, change your sexuality right now. Can you do it? And once again, this person is transgender. Their sexuality was never revealed. You can be trans and straight. Male and female are not genders, they are sexes. You can be physically male and be a woman. The idea of changing ones gender is problematic. This girl is a girl. She was a girl before she began transitioning. She’s not changing her gender. She may, however, eventually change her sex. So…because you yourself feel like the gender you were assigned at birth is correct for you, everyone you doesn’t feel like the gender they were assigned is right for them must be full of shit. Okay then.
The next comment I came across said “You want to support homosexual? fine. You want to support trans people? fine. you want to support all identity? fine. But I can FUCKING promise you these same people would not support bestiality because….oh you know….its disgusting.” Because two (or more) consenting adults are totally the same as someone have sex with an animal.
The next person said “There is no such thing as transgender, just ‘an extreme drag queen.'” Says who? Who are you to dismiss someone’s identity? A person who identifies as transgender feels that they are actually the opposite gender from the one they were assigned at birth. Drag is a performance art. Most drag queens identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. They are simply performers.




Induction and Deduction, and the Induction problem.


Before I go into the post proper I’d also like to recommend a book Hessian came across and that I’ve been flipping through while writing these posts. “Logic A Graphical Guide” by Dan Cryan, Sharron Shatil and Bill Mayblin. It’s a comic book about Logic and is an excellent use of the media. Using pictures, font and careful placement to make many difficult logical concept easily apparent and readily readable. It introduces many key concepts and great thinkers in a quick and useful way. For those who want to get a general over view of Logic quickly I haven’t found a better source. Though I’m not getting paid for this plug so best be moving on. 😉

Deduction and Induction. These two concepts a pivotal to understanding much of what we talk about in logic. Particularly logic in relation to fields outside philosophy. While induction and deduction certainty don’t end the conversation you really can’t escape them. Especially not induction. Now what is Induction and what is deduction?

Deduction is in many ways an extension of the syllogism, but is no longer limited to three sentences and having full command of logical connectives and assumptions. The conclusion (also know in this cases as the deduction, or what is deduced) is drawn directly by the premises, and when done correctly is guaranteed by those those same premises. Like with syllogism.

Induction on the other hand is less certain the premises do not guarantee the conclusion, but rather They support the conclusion.

To explain the difference I’ll build on an example from Logic A graphical Guide.

To inductively prove that ravens are Black you would formulate your argument like this.

P1. This raven is black.

P2. This other raven is black.

P3. All of the other 318 ravens I have seen have been black.

P4. I have never encountered an instance, be it personal written, or otherwise, of a raven that was not black that was also substantiated.

C. Therefore all ravens are black.

 

A Deductive argument on the other hand would look like this.

P1. (Assumption) All Ravens are black.

P2. That is a raven

C. Then that raven must therefore be black.

 

In the inductive argument we have a certain probability that the conclusion is true. We haven’t guaranteed the truth of the conclusion. Because of that Inductive arguments don’t fit under the valid/soundness categories I talked about in my first post. They simply can’t, and deductive arguments can because they, when done properly guarantee the conclusion. This is the problem of induction, inductive arguments can not be valid in the same way deductive arguments can, but this doesn’t mean induction is worse then deduction.

In my first post on the subject of logic I said it is best to ensure that your argument follows from your premises. Ideally that means your conclusion is guaranteed, but as I’ll show you this can’t always be done. When induction and deduction where being discussed in detail by David Hume (1711-1776) but where also discussed by other philosophers of the time is that the use of induction posed a real problem for the still fledgling sciences since induction can not guarantee truth, so  by that metric could not be justified. So science according to hume and similar thinkers should be limited to deduction.

Though fortunately there several answers to this problem I will discuss two. Induction being unavoidable, and the induction bypass. First is the ultimate problem is that all knowledge is ultimately based on some level of induction and assumption. We can not for example guarantee that we exist, and that the reality we perceive exists. We can not, at least not currently, deduce reality and ourselves from anything that actually guarantees its truth. We can make assumptions, and we can make deductions from assumptions about reality. We cannot, however, deductively prove that those assumptions are correct. But we can inductively show those assumption to be highly likely. I talk about that in a bit more detail here, but I may devote a post to this in the future as there is a lot to talk about which does not directly relate to this post.

Which brings me to the induction bypass which I believe was coined by John Stewart Mill but don’t quote me on that It may have been Karl Popper. The Bypass is the notion that induction can be carefully set up so that you make what amount to generalization, which over time, experimentation, and repetition can become more and more precise. That is, over time time and repetition of experiments you become more certain of the truth of your argument and you close off other possibilities as improbable or impossible. What is amount to is that while you can’t 100%  guarantee truth with induction you can, with time and effort, effectively guarantee your conclusion to near by not quite 100%. This is actually a large and necessary competent of what we do in science, and basically all science is founded on the principles of induction, which is in turn pretty damn good evidence for the inductive argument ;).

What this means for induction is that it can compete with deduction, and quite effectively because it allow us to have some uncertainty in our claims and still be justified in making those claims. That doesn’t mean we ought forget about deduction. Deduction is still extremely useful if arguments and when you have sets of facts you think are related like in an investigation, or when looking for consistency is another persons worlds or claims. While science as a whole is probably the best example of induction, deduction is best exemplified by is use in structured arguments. When you formulate a good deductive argument then the conclusion must follow from the premises so you need not worry that your argument itself will come under attack. Rather now you and your opponent must tackle your arguments premises and assumption not it general struture (with out making a fool of themselves that it). And closing off one line of attack always makes arguments much easier to handle. Though more on refuting and defending arguments later.

 

Next time I’ll be doing a video review on a logical argument I quite like, pointing out why I like it what I agree with and how you could hypothetically attack it if you disagree with it. It will function as a practical exercise.

Withteeth

 


15 Questions for Theists


There are a lot of blog posts and articles out there with questions for atheists. However, there don’t seem to be very many posts with atheists asking questions of theists. So I decided I’d write up some questions for the theists out there.
1)How many gods are there? What are their names?
2)How do you know these gods (or this god) exists? Why do you believe they exist?
3)How do you think the universe began?
4)When do you think the universe began?
5)How do you think life began?
6)When do you think life began?
7)Is morality objective or subjective? How do you know, or why do you believe, this?
8)What do you think this god, or these gods, want from humans? Why?
9)What do humans mean to gods? What is our importance or significance?
10)Could they get whatever it is they want from humans without humans? Do they need whatever it is they created humans for? Why?
11)Could you conceive of a world where humans exist without need of a god? What would that world look like? Why would it look like that?
12)What do you believe to be the consequences of a world without god(s)?
13)Where does evil come from? What is the god(s) role in the existence of evil?
14)What makes one thing good and another thing bad? Do good and bad have the same source (ie. The same creator)? Or do they have different sources? What is the source of bad things (if it’s different from the source of good things)?
15)Why do you think your god(s) exists, but the other possible gods don’t? Why do you think I should believe in your god(s)?


More Questions for Atheists


1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?
Am I absolutely sure? Of course not. If I’m not absolutely sure, then of course there is the possibility that there is a god. I just highly doubt that there are any. I have looked at the evidence. If you can provide evidence that actually suggests that there is a god, I’d be happy to look at it. The evidence that I have seen so far suggests otherwise.
2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?
Define intelligently designed. If your definition of intelligently designed is something made by an intelligent designer, then you’ve just offered me a tautology. The idea of evidence for intelligent design is silly. This so called evidence always happens to be “I couldn’t create this, man can’t create this, therefore it must be intelligent design.” Just because something looks complex doesn’t mean it was made by someone. And the fact that humans can’t replicate something doesn’t mean god must’ve done it. Now, if you could provide actual evidence of a creator then I would be willing to accept that a creator existed.
3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?
This is a complicated issue. You see, I’m not a physicist, so I’m no expert in physics. However, there are physicists who would say that something can come from nothing, in fact, something comes from nothing on a fairly regular basis. But this is best discussed with a physicist. But, going with the assumption that something can’t come from nothing, evidence of a cause is not evidence of a causer (ie. God). If something can’t come from nothing, then there must be a cause of the Big Bang, but, being as the Big Bang started our universe as we know it, there is no way (as of yet) to know what that cause is. As such, all you could then say is that the universe must have a cause. You can say nothing of what that cause is.
4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?
Of course, but I’d also say that, if we cannot test for it, it is unlikely that it exists. We can test for gravity and magnetism. We can feel the wind. What do you mean by mind, though. I suspect that what you’d define as the mind doesn’t actually exist. My definition of the mind is simply the functioning of our brains. Again, we can test for that. With the help of a computer, we can actually see it. There was evidence to suggest that the Higgs Boson existed long before it was actually discovered. Where is the evidence that God exists? What tests can we run?
5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?
I’ve already said that there is a possibility that a god exists. Which god, however, is a trickier question. Again, where is your evidence? What tests can we run? Otherwise, why should I believe?
6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?
You’re assuming that there was nothing before the Big Bang. We don’t know if there was something or nothing. But, if there was nothing before the Big Bang, then there was nothing before the Big Bang. Ergo it’s more likely that nothing caused the Big Bang. But again, making assumptions about something we have no way of knowing about is pointless.
7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?
Yes, something presently exists. I’m not going to bother saying more than that because I’ve already given you the answer.
8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)
You do understand that that’s a metaphor, right? The type of information found inside of a cell isn’t the type of information found inside a book. There is no reason to think these two things are equivalent.
9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?
No…I…just, what? Do you think brains just suddenly appeared? Out of matter that wasn’t already there? Do you understand how long it took for life to form? And then for that life to become simple organisms without minds? Do you understand how long it took from the time life formed to the time when the first creature with a brain was formed? We’re talking billions of years just for life to get a brain.
10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?
Define wrong. You mean objectively wrong? As in something that’s always wrong to do? Is it always wrong to kill others? If so, then the military is built on doing wrong. So no, there is no objective wrong. We can have moral law, as in laws based on moral, without requiring objective morality. We do this at a societal level. Thus why laws and moral codes change over time and between cultures.
11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?
No. We create laws as a society. Laws aren’t created and enforced by one person. Even in the feudal era this wasn’t the case. It’s silly to say that law needs a lawgiver as if that assumes one person creates and passes, then enforces, a law. Moral law isn’t really a useful idea. It isn’t defined. But we don’t need a higher power to have morals.
12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?
For one, it took intelligence I the science lab because the scientists happen to have intelligence and they were trying to create a model universe. For another, did the scientists have 14 billion years? Seriously?
13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?
Sure. It could take lightning striking sand in such a way that the glass hardens somewhat ball-like. The universe is not a ball. It is a universe. Possibly one of many.
14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?
How do you know the universe is finite? I made pancakes yesterday. They were finite. Am I necessarily infinite because my pancakes were finite?
15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?
Prove that the universe was fine-tuned for life. And while your at it, figure out why, if the universe is so fine-tuned, we haven’t found more life in the universe. One planet with life on it in a universe as big as ours doesn’t sound very fine-tuned to me.
http://geekychristian.com/questions-for-atheists-agnostics/

aliens


Strong Atheism Vs Weak Atheism


new atheists

It isn’t uncommon to hear the terms strong atheism and weak atheism. Generally, they are used by the religious, namely conservative Christians, to refer to “militant” atheists and agnostics. In many cases, the “strong” atheists are considered the not-good atheists and the “weak” atheists are considered the good atheists. This is a problem. For one, it suggests that the only good atheists are weak ones. Basically, atheists are best when we allow ourselves to be shoved in a corner and ignored. Another problem is that it ignores all the atheists in the middle.
So where did the idea of strong and weak atheism come from? As far as I can tell, it came from the idea of New Atheism. New Atheists are those atheists that are most open to speak out against religion. It is called New Atheism based on the belief that no atheists, or skeptics, have ever been so brash and out spoken about religion before. This is a false belief. While it was more dangerous to speak out against religion in the past, it was done. And it was done as, or more, harshly as it is today. However, throughout much of history, atheism was used differently than we use it today. It was generally used to refer to anyone who didn’t believe in your god. And later on it was used to refer to anyone who was critical of certain accepted beliefs and those who accepted heresies. It wasn’t until the 19th Century when we begin to see atheism used as we use it today. As such, it can be difficult to determine whether or not many of those who were critical of religion in the past were truly atheists. But we do know that the arguments used by the New Atheists are anything but new.

lord byron

I wouldn’t say that Lord Byron was an atheist. However, this quote is very much critical of religion. It is the type of quote you’d hear from a New Atheist. Think “Religion poisons everything.”

benfrank

We know for a fact that Benjamin Franklin was a deist. He again is being critical of religion, in this case Christianity, to the same degree that you would hear a modern day New Atheist being critical.

hux2

Thomas Huxley was referred to as Darwin’s Bulldog in his day. He’s actually the man who coined the term “agnostic.” He considered himself an agnostic as opposed to an atheist. And yet, he was as critical of religion as any New Atheist today.

hux1

Huxley’s grandson, Aldous, was also quite critical of religion. In many ways, he was more critical than his grandfather.
New Atheists are often seen as dogmatic. They are seen as holding the position that there are no gods. They are the strong atheists. However, this is often an issue of tone. Many New Atheists believe that it is important for atheists to make ourselves known. They want atheists to label ourselves as such. David Silverman is one such New Atheist. Silverman has said that atheists need to call ourselves atheists because of the discrimination against atheists. His arguments come across very much as “atheism is the only way,” but that doesn’t mean that he believes there is no possibility for a god to exist. He is more interested in how society views atheists than he is with arguing that there are no gods.

SyntekExifImageTitle

Richard Dawkins is another New Atheist that comes across as very hard-lined where atheism is concerned. But Dawkins has openly said that he accepts that there is a possibility that there is a god, he just believes that it is unlikely.

richdawk

These types of atheists are often talked about by religious people as bad atheists. They are called dogmatic, angry, and harmful. But they are, to my mind, activists like any other. They have a cause to fight for and they will fight for it in the way that they think is best. I do not believe that everything they do is useful or good, but I do believe that they fill a necessary role. These atheists are not bad atheists, they are atheist activists.
The opposite of the New atheists, generally agnostics, are considered weak atheists. They are thought to be more the “free to be you and me” types. Chris Stedman is one such weak atheist. He has a different approach to religion from the New Atheists. He works with the religious. But he is also an atheist activist. He is also concerned with how atheists are viewed in society. But he is viewed more positively by the religious. Personally, I like Stedman. I like his approach. But I don’t like how he is viewed as a pushover by both sides. Stedman’s approach is different from the New Atheist’s approach, which means that he reaches a different audience. But it also means that he is viewed as a tool of the religious by atheists and he is viewed as usable by the religious.

faitheist_facebookcover01

Weak atheists are not weak in their atheism. They are as convicted to their atheism as the rest of us are. They also aren’t weak in the sense that they are pushovers. They can be as loud and boisterous as any New Atheist. They just see a different way of achieving the same goal.
But then there are the rest of us. We are neither weak atheists nor strong atheists. We are just as likely to be atheists activists. Honestly, I don’t see how we are all that different from the weak or the strong atheists, nor do I see how the weak and strong atheists are all that different from each other. Except, of course, for the fact that many so called weak atheists don’t actually call themselves atheists.


Logical Arguments. Syllogisms, and Logical Connectives.


As in the previous post, this will once again be an overview. There are many different methodologies and factors to keep in mind and I cannot be conclusive here. I suggest looking into all of these matters further should you be interested in strengthening your skills at argumentation.

There is my process in which a logical argument can be formed. Some are better then others, and some can only be used in specific circumstances. I will state it again: I won’t be covering all of them, instead I’ll be focusing on a few important logical processes: the Syllogism, and logical connectives.

A Syllogism formally is three lines where first you make a universal claim followed by a particular claim which is predicated (based on, directly related too) on the first universal claim. The third sentence is then composed from those first two sentence. As an example, I will use the most famous form of Syllogism posed by Aristotle:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

I hope everyone can see how the third sentence here follows logically from the first two. We know from the first line (for the sake of this argument) that all men are mortal, so when we are also told that Socrates is a man, we know that Socrates must then be mortal.

Going back to my previous post it would be easy to rewrite the format of this argument in premises and conclusions, which I will do below:

P1. All men are mortal.

P2. Socrates is a man.

C. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

This is one of the most basic forms of a logical argument and is based around the definitions of those terms it uses. It’s useful because, when we try to misuse Syllogism, it tends to be quite obvious. This is because the concluding line will not be predicated from the first two lines. For example:

P1. Some Greeks are mortal.

P2. Socrates is a Greek.

C. Therefore, Socrates is immortal.

Again I hope it’s clear why this doesn’t work. In the first premise we see there is room for some Greeks to to be not moral, so for the sake of this argument we could say that it is the case that any given Greek could be mortal or not moral (perhaps immortal perhaps something else, since it is not specified). So when we are told Socrates is a Greek we know there is some possibility he is not mortal, but that’s all we know. We cannot say he is moral or otherwise based on this argument. All we could say is C. Socrates is possibly moral. Nothing more.

These simple syllogisms can be extended into more complex forms, but the take away here is that you should be making sure that your conclusions are predicated on your premises. Otherwise you’ll at best end up making mistakes and at worst end up speaking nothing but gibberish as your conclusions end up lack any cohesion with your premises. It’s best to avoid that if you can.

Next are logical connectives which do not serve a propose in this post more than to lay the ground work for other posts.

I’ll briefly list them going into a bit more detail below. If you want to know a bit more about how they work I’d either Google logical connectives, or go play with red stone logic circus in Minecraft (make a locking door but make sure you look up the wiki: you need at least an and, and or gate, but I like to use xor gate for mine 😉 ).

As to what logical connectives are, they function basically the same way we use them in language: by connecting different statements together, and trying the truth of both statements in a particular way. Technically you can create a system which contains all of the following connectives with only “and” and “or” connectors, but it’s far easier to talk about these logical relationships without trying to tie them altogether:

… and… (&)

The whole statement is only true if both sides of the and connective are true.

… or…

The whole statement is true when at least  one side of the statement is true.

if… then…

“If…then” statements works such that if the “if” statement is true, then the “then” statement must be true for the whole connected statement. If the “if” is false, then the “then” can be true or false to no effect. If x happens, then y happens. The statement remains true even if y happens with out x. The statement is only falsified when x is true, but y doesn’t occur as well.

… if and only if…(iff)

This is like the “If…then” statement, but instead x can only occur if y occurs and vise versa. The statement is false only if one occurs without the other. Iff can also, in some cases, indicated equivalency, but this is not necessarily the case.

… Elusive or… (xor, either)

Opposite to iff, this statement is only true when only one side of the statement is true. You can either have pudding or cake, but not both.

negation… (-, not)

Negation is reversing the meaning of the statement. Where (n) is a cat (-n) is not a cat.

… Equivalency… (=)

When two or more things are the same. They are equivalent. 2+3 = 5 = 1+ 1 + 1 + 1 + 1

I’ve included formal logic terms, short hand, and math symbols above many of which double as grammar. Each of the above can and are regularly used in English. I’m certain if you’re unsure of how to figure any of this out, you can manage it with a Google search or two. The biggest reason to include this early on is to clarify some of the common terminology and expose those reading this to some common ways people talk about these connectives. Besides, all of these connective are used in language and argument, so it is important to understand how we ought to use them within our arguments so that others will understand what we mean.

Hopeful I haven’t bored you all out of your minds. Next time I’ll get to induction and deduction. Which I feel is far more interesting.

Withteeth


What is Morality?


morality2

What is morality? This is a question I have been pondering lately. Not in the sense that I am confused as to what morality is, but in the sense that it seems the word is used differently depending on ones circle. As a philosophy major, I use a philosophical definition of morality. This definition tends to be quite open. But non-philosophers use a far stricter definition. Or rather, far stricter definitions, since there are more than one. The definition used by Conservative Christians, a definition that I have come across many times here, is by far the strictest. It is also the most troubling to me, because it puts a belief in a deity above actions.
So what is morality? The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry defines morality as “Morality is the distinction between right and wrong. It is the determination of what should be done and what should not be done. Morals deal with behaviours as well as motives. There is a great deal of discussion on what is the source of morals and whether or not they are objective. Biblically, morals are derived from God’s character and revealed to us through the Scriptures” http://carm.org/dictionary-morality. This is to say that morality is defined by actions. Certain actions are right and certain actions are wrong. But this definition puts God before those actions. Many Christians will say that God must come before everything. But here is where my issue comes in: if you put belief ahead of actions, then you can create a system of morality where actions don’t matter so long as you believe. I think this has been done in many cases. I think this has been done when atheists are trusted as much as rapists. The atheist needs not do anything but be an atheist to be considered immoral. This means that a person can build orphanages, donate blood, volunteer at their local soup kitchen, and donate half their income to charity, but they will continue to be seen as immoral simply by virtue of being an atheist. This is also seen when Christians tell people that it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, all they need to do is come to Christ and they will be forgiven. Think about that: it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, all they need to do is come to Christ. All they need to do is come to Christ. That Serial Killer who raped and murdered 6 women? He doesn’t need to be punished by the legal system, he doesn’t need to ask forgiveness of the families he tore apart, he doesn’t need to do anything for humanity, he just needs to come to Jesus. But his crimes weren’t against Jesus. His crimes were against those 6 women. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that that Serial Killer deserves to be tortured for eternity for his crimes. I believe that the punishment should fit the crime. I believe he should spend the rest of his life in jail. I believe that it is up to him to reach out to the families of his victims if he wishes to be forgiven, and I believe that it is up to the families to forgive him. I don’t think Jesus gets to forgive him for something he did to someone else. My problem with this definition is that the born-again Serial Killer is viewed as more moral than the atheist who has worked so hard to help others simply based on the fact that the Serial Killer believes in God and the atheist doesn’t.

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But, like I said, this isn’t the only definition of morality. A philosophical definition would be “Morality speaks of a system of behaviour in regards to standards of right or wrong behaviour. The word carries the concepts of: (1) moral standards, with regard to behaviour; (2) moral responsibility, referring to our conscience; and (3) a moral identity, or one who is capable of right or wrong action” http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/morality.htm. This definition is not so strict, because it says nothing of needing a deity to be moral. In fact, it says nothing more than morality refers to behaviours that are considered right or wrong. But what are these behaviours? Neither the Christian nor the philosophical definition actually speak to what actions are right or wrong. The Christian can turn to the Bible and say “this is what the Bible says,” however, different Christians get different moral codes from the Bible. But the philosopher cannot simply turn to the Bible and say “this is right and this is wrong.” The philosopher must first discuss whether or not morality is objective. If the philosopher says yes, then they must determine where morals come from. If they say no, then they must determine how we can know what is right and what is wrong. The Objectivist must go on to determine how they know that their moral authority is in fact the moral authority. They must determine what the moral authority has determined to be moral and immoral, and they must justify how they know as much. And then they speak on how we should act. The Subjectivist must show how they know morality is subjective. Then they must justify how we can create laws and social based on morality. Finally, they must justify why it is not acceptable to just do as one pleases. It isn’t until all that is done that the Subjectivist can speak on how we should behave.
Many people don’t like the philosophical definition because it is not black and white. It does not tell people “this list of behaviours is okay, and this list of behaviours is not.” Many people like being told what is right and what is wrong. But I prefer the philosophical definition precisely because it doesn’t try to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong. It makes people think. Morality is not a black and white issue, so why should our moral codes be black and white? Morality is very much shades of grey. If it wasn’t then things like abortion, the death penalty, and the legalization of drugs wouldn’t be so controversial. And we’d never find ourselves confused as to whether or not we are doing the right thing. Morality is something that needs to be thought about critically. And it’s something that needs to be discussed. The philosophical definition makes that critical thought and those discussions necessary. It means that you don’t just get to believe that something is right or wrong based on authority. And it means that it is your actions that matter more than your beliefs (though that isn’t to say that your beliefs don’t matter at all).


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