Countering Creationist Arguments

I have just found out about this page on the Rational Wiki (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/101_evidences_for_a_young_age_of_the_Earth_and_the_universe)

Its a point by point refutation of a post on creation.com giving, as the title suggests, 101 reasons for believing creationism.

I’ve not been through it all, there is a lot of stuff there if you read about all 101 points, but I am putting it here to add my little bit to the publicity machine.

More on Contraception

I wasn’t anticipating doing another post on contraception, especially since over here in blighty it really isn’t the hot political topic that it is over the pond in the USA.

However, following one of my earlier posts I had the following comment (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/god-takes-the-good-people-early/#comment-530) which, given the effort put into it, deserves a considered response. Other comments are more than welcome as I will never call myself an expert on the subject. I recommend that all readers read the comment linked to above because I shall not be repeating it in its entirety below and I shall not be responding to every point raised, if I did, this post would become a whole lot larger than is ideal or sensible.

With that said, on with my response….

With regard to the claims made in the opening paragraph, I don’t know enough about the American political system and how much influence religious doctrine has over it to adequately comment. I am dubious about the claims made and suspect they are more conspiracy than fact.

Contraception doesn’t just block biological functions and the potential of life, it actually distorts human relationship. It is not that the Church is against something, but rather it is FOR something. The Church is for Love and healthy relationship.

Right off the block we’re onto something which I fundamentally disagree with. Claims that the use of contraception distorts human relationship need to be backed up with evidence. I’d like to see a study done on this. I suspect none currently exists, which means that those making the claim really should get one done.

Furthermore, I would actively argue the opposite; contraceptive enables greater human relationship. Granted I don’t have access to studies proving my argument, and like my statement above, a study to prove it would be helpful. What I do have is the personal experience of a loving and stable relationship and freedom that contraceptive brings to that. As someone who is also ‘for love and healthy relationship’ I can honestly say that the use of contraceptive has not only been ‘not negative’ it had a positive impact by removing more than one unnecessary stress.

But human sex was also designed for a relationship where it is safe and open to fully and freely give of oneself, unconditionally and irretrievably; to fully and freely receive love from another, unconditionally and irretrievably; and whatever becomes of that love it is to be cherished and protected, even if children are not the result. At all times, however, life is still welcome. That’s what we call marriage.

I’ve intentionally skipped the bit about sex being the invention and creation of God and a gift to mankind. I understand the idea and the concept since I subscribed to that view for many years myself. The evolution of sex is interesting and complex, while it is relevant to the discussion it is also a huge subject in itself and to delve too much into it here would distract from the subject in hand. One does need to acknowledge that viewing sex as a gift from God or as an evolved pleasure does change the way in which it is perceived and that starting position is relevant and important.

The sentence that I object to above is the one that states that life is still welcome. This is an unhelpful generalisation which may not be appropriate for all couples, even Christian ones. When a child is welcome, then wonderful, but to proclaim it is just as welcome should it happen when undesired or inappropriate is quite frankly uncaring. Having been the subject of Christian mirth because I dared to be a married Christian and yet choose to remain childless for many years, I can testify that to compel and criticise Christians for choosing to actively avoid parenthood is to put them in a place where they feel unloved and unappreciated. The hypocrisy in that is especially hurtful; make them feel unloved for daring to engage in a loving act.

Remove the sentence about life being welcome and I wholeheartedly agree with the paragraph. Contraceptive use does not change the facts of that. The couple in question make love because they want to share in that experience. If anything removing the risk of pregnancy gives a greater freedom to enjoy each other’s love more intimately.

Surely even the most hardened contraceptive nay-sayer will agree that a family which successfully plans its children will be a happier and more loving unit than one which had effectively played Russian Roulette and had the children arrive randomly and with no control over when they would stop. Contraception is a very useful and practical method of managing that.

The idea of contraception is to escape the biological consequences of sex.

Yes, there could be any number of good reasons for needing to do that. It is a myth that that degrades the love that the two parties involved feel for and demonstrate towards each other.

Basically contraception is at least a lie to biology. It is also a “no” to God’s design, God’s purpose and flourishing love. “I want to make love to you, but let’s trick our bodies to not do what they were designed to do” Obviously contraception is meant to correct God’s flaw of fertility, so it is a spiritual attack as well.

This is a strawman argument. There is absolutely no suggestion of fertility being a flaw to be corrected, it’s about controlling the circumstances in which a child is born for the benefit of that child and the family unit it’ll be born into, something that God would no doubt approve of. If you want to get onto the subject of correcting God’s flaws and the evil therein why is contraception singled out when there is a whole medical profession launching these ‘spiritual attacks’ on all sorts of other body parts. Yes, I am being flippant in that last sentence, but the point is valid, there is no good reason why contraception is wheeled out as an evil when all sorts of other medical and scientific marvels are making a very real impact on the biological workings of, and therefore the lives of, others and their ability to engage in and share loving relations.

In another sense it is a lie about the nature of love. “We don’t need to fully give or fully accept ourselves to make love. Put this shield on, ok?” Despite the claims of making one feel more free, the exact opposite is really true.

I am struggling with the logic expressed here. The leap from preventing an undesired pregnancy to a betrayal of the nature of love bothers me. It’s obvious that there are those that have made the connection, however I would strongly argue that it is a connection that is based on a false premise. The act of love between a couple and their mutual appreciation of it is not at all dependent on whether or not there is contraception being used. It is absolutely dependent on the state of mind of each individual and how honest and emotionally open they are towards each other. To turn it around, an obvious conclusion to draw from the quote above is that those who are incapable of becoming a parent are therefore also incapable of appreciating a loving relationship in the way that a fertile couple abstaining from contraception would be.

Contraception says “I don’t want all of you. It is a “no” to fully giving to or accepting the complete other person. “I love you for the pleasure of sex, but not everything about you, at least not right now.”

No it doesn’t. It says that producing a child now is not appropriate. It is absolutely acceptable for a loving couple to say that at this moment in time a child is not appropriate but that they want to have a fully loving relationship. The act of using contraception is an extension of that love.

Contraception makes sex dead on arrival.  …[snip]…  contraception is the death of some part of another’s personal being. It cannot say, “I love you just for who you are,” because it clearly denies the total person’s by denying their fertility. But it goes deeper. No longer do partners have to be as sensitive or even as caring with each other. …[snip]…  treating each other as objects of pleasure and not as human persons.

What bothers me the most about the above is that it credits contraception with inciting actions or thoughts which it is clearly not capable of. Contraception is a benign object, incapable of thought. If there is any objectification in a relationship it’s due to factors and attitudes directly to do with the offending party. Putting the blame for that on contraception removes the need for the guilty party to face up to that wrong attitude; instead they are given a wonderful scapegoat. It is people that misuse other people, not objects. What’s more, I actually find it slightly offensive that my attitude towards my wife and the value of the love we share is judged by whether or not we use contraception by people who have never spent any time observing our relationship or even know anything about us.

Since the dawn of contraception, which of the following are true:

[list of stuff]

Repeat after me; “correlation is not the same as causation”.

Now repeat it again ten times!

There are many reasons why any of the items listed could be on the increase. I am sure there are very good scientific studies for many, if not all, of them. If anyone wishes to make a claim linking contraceptive use to any of them they had better have a jolly good study backing them up otherwise their claim is worthless.

To look up each of the items listed and the associated claim would take considerable time and at least a single blog post for each one. This I don’t have the time to do right now, but it is certainly an idea for future ponderance.

But you see, Christ promised us that regardless of her many faulted people, the Church He founded would not falsify Truth. And so, whether you believe or not, you might better understand and admire why the Church holds to this teaching.

Thank you for taking the time to put up your post, we come to the subject from pretty much opposite sides and I think common ground will be small. I must confess that I still do not understand why the Catholic Church chooses to continue with this teaching. I accept I may never understand because my basic starting point is contraception is a good thing. There is also the not so small issue that I no longer accept the existence of God. These two combined probably hinder me greatly in that comprehension. Worse than that, I consider the Catholic Church to be wrong on this issue and I struggle to see how that could ever change.

Motivating Children into the Kingdom

Its with a little bit of trepidation that I write this post, because I am stilling working through what I think on the subject. However the subject has been nagging away at me for some time.

It all started a few months back when my daughter brought a friend home from school and said friend then joined her at our church for early evening club. The church runs a very popular even club for pre-teens and teens. The church is located in a very good location close to the town centre and so an evening youth club makes sense. Its popularity as a hangout is not at all surprising.

What started bothering me was when my daughter got excited about getting an extra point for bringing a visitor. Apparently there is a points system in place and kids get points for attendance, bringing a guest and various other things. Those with the most points at the end of the term get a prize. At least I think that’s how it works. What bothered me was the motivation in bringing along a friend, was it to have fun or to get a precious point? Given the age, its more likely to be the former; however, the excitement displayed over a single score point did get me thinking.

Part of the reason for my concern was also the fact that the invite came from the children and the parents were faced with the request to join a club where saying no would mean denying their child a fun and games evening for reasons that she would not understand. So I think the potential for putting the parents in an uncomfortable position did bother me. As it happens the parents were more than happy to let the friend start attending the club regularly and we now share lifts to save on car journeys. It turns out that friend’s older sister also attended the club when she was the same age; so in this particular case no harm is done. That doesn’t mean it’ll always be that easy though.

What is a fair way to Motivate Children into Faith?

I don’t have an answer to this question.

I am pretty certain that in my Christian years I would have been okay with this as a motivation for children to evangelise and bring friends into a church environment. Nowadays I am more cautious and wary of such overt indoctrination, as a child I too was indoctrinated.

I think its pretty safe to say that there are atheists whose view of religion is so negative that this form of child motivation will be viewed as wicked and manipulative. Yet they’d probably be okay about using the same tactic to bring children into a youth equivalent of Sceptics in the Pub, assuming such a thing exists; objecting because its religion does seem the height of hypocrisy. My earlier concern about the parents’ response works both ways anyway.

I don’t really see any way in which I can legitimately object to this situation but yet the fact that it exists niggles at the back of mind. I think I’ll just have to put it down to my current state of faith abandonment and accept that things like this will occasionally bug me and I’ll have to get over it.

God takes the Good People Early

This week I found myself in conversation (over the internet) with a Christian and we got onto the subject of death. I was then told that some people believe that God takes his people early and leaves the evil to live longer to give them more of a chance to repent.

I was stunned. It was a proper jaw hit the floor WTF! moment.

I didn’t ask if the person concerned believed that or if they knew anyone who did or even where the information came from. Quite frankly it wasn’t a subject I wanted to discuss, so I let the conversation move on.

The comment did get me thinking though. Why would anyone think that? And more importantly, is there actually a theological precedent or biblical passage that supports this idea? I certainly can’t think of any reason why this could be deemed a reasonable theological position to hold. I concede that I’m not exactly the world’s leading bible commentator, however with my years as a Christian and the number of sermons and Christian talks I’ve heard, you’d think that I’d have heard it if this was a reasonable position to hold.

Given this is the first time I can consciously say I’ve met this particular line of thinking, I think I can safely say that it’s something that is in the minority. However, what makes it concerning is that either there are some people who do believe and teach this, or there are some people who choose to believe this, despite not being taught it.

Of course there is the simple fact that looking at the evidence of deaths of history proves this particular line of thought to be utterly wrong.

It is not a comforting theology

The conclusion I have come to is that people who believe this only do so because it must be comforting to them. It taps into the ‘in a better place’ mentality, that being that those Christians who have died are enjoying fellowship in heaven and ultimately that’s where all good Christians want to be and death in this life is a relief, a good thing even, something to be rejoiced in even. This is denialist theology, it’s what happens when people invent things to try and ease the pain of a deeply unfair happening.

On a personal level, the only good thing about my mother’s death in her early 60s is that she is no longer suffering with cancer. If God was a merciful god and took the good people early then he should have taken this servant of His in that first year and not left her to suffer an appalling cancer for three years before finally going unconscious and dying a week later.

There is nothing good about her sons missing her terribly and there is nothing good about her never getting to see her granddaughter grow up. The suggestion that the loving God she worshiped all her life took her that way and at that time because he loved her and she was good is utterly wrong. The more I think about this, the more I get upset and angry about it. Time to go to my happy place….

The Evils of Contraception?

With some of the recent discussion on the Catholic attitude towards contraception I have found myself reading more than I care to on the subject. I’ve never been against contraception and I don’t think I’ve ever been taught that it was wrong either, something I am pleased about.

In my reading of articles defending the Catholic position on contraception there is one word that has cropped up again and again. Evil. Contraception, it seems, has been called evil by everyone from ordained priests to enthusiastic bloggers. Evil is a very strong and emotive word and not at all appropriate to the use of contraception.

Evil is the wilful act of doing harm to someone or something with no empathy for the victim. Evil is flying planes into buildings and killing many hundreds of people. Evil is repeatedly subjecting young children to physical violence and worse. Evil is kidnapping and torturing people. Evil is many things and many people has done evil to others over the course of human history and if one was so inclined the list of evils done by man could be very long indeed.

However, one action that most certainly does not belong on that list is the use of contraception by consenting adults for the purposes of sexual pleasure. Disagree with what they do if you wish, call some of the acts sin if that seems appropriate, but evil it is not.

I can forgive misguided but well intentioned individuals calling it evil, but when a man of the cloth speaks out against contraception and calls it evil, then my heart sinks. This attitude displays a staggering inability to see context.

I am thankful that this peculiarity is not widespread throughout Christendom, however, the Catholic church is large enough and influential enough that it still has a major impact in less educated parts of the world.

Stepping further into the bizarre, I have seen contraception take the blame for the increase in STDs, single parent families and a general increase in casual bonking. Certainly easy access to contraception makes the latter very easy, and an increase in the latter will lead to an increase in the former two. The main reasons for these increases are the changes in social expectation. Single parents are not frowned upon in the way they once were, divorce is much easier to attain and is not stigmatised anymore. Single women who find themselves pregnant are not rushed into a quick marriage. Lets not forget that casual sex and openly sexual relationships between non married couples is now the norm.

There is so much social change over the past 50 years that anyone who tries to nail the sexually related ills of the world on contraception can only be blinkered by their own prejudices. Contraception is a product that has become popular due to increased demand for such a product. High contraception use is a symptom and result of greater demand for a reduction in the bonk / baby ratio. It is absolutely not the case that people suddenly found themselves with a glut of contraceptives and had to come up with ways to use them.