Thursday, February 19, 2015

Atheism, Adultery, Polyamory, And Shifting Morals

Richard Carrier has a post up announcing that he's "polyamorous", which he calls his "sexual orientation". He's been adulterous in his relationship with his wife, and they decided to get a divorce after having tried polyamory for a while. In the thread, he refers to how he has "sympathy for people who cheat on their spouses", how he's come across "many" polyamorists, and how he's become more convinced that "monogamy is the actual problem". So far, most of the responses at his blog are positive.

47 comments:

  1. By the way, notice how similar Carrier's comments are to what's been said in recent years about homosexuality ("sexual orientation", "coming out", etc.). For years, I've been warning that Christians need to be giving polygamy and related issues more attention and that our arguments on the subject can and should be improved. I haven't gotten much of a response. Are we going to handle this issue as poorly as we've been handling issues related to homosexuality? Or are we going to do the work needed to improve?

    Here's my foundational article on polygamy. And here's one Matthew Schultz wrote. You can search the archives for others.

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  2. I am ever increasingly leaning towards theonomy with leftism sweeping western civilization.

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  3. I'm polyamorous. Ask me anything. (seriously)

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    1. Our secular age values individual choice above communal good. This ethical assumption seems to entail that sexual activity between consenting adults is always morally acceptable. Are there any secular arguments against polyamory that you find, if not perhaps compelling, at least plausible?

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    2. There's one argument against polyamorous *marriages* (as opposed to merely relationships) that is somewhat plausible. Basically, it says that our laws just aren't equipped to fairly deal with all the nuances that would go along with legalizing polyamorous marriages. I don't agree, but that view is understandable, especially given that marriage, divorce, and childrearing laws are already fairly complicated.

      But I agree with the "secular age" that sexual activity between consenting adults is always* morally acceptable.

      *well, someone might come along and propose a hypothetical where a consensual sex act would cause nuclear bombs to go off over every major city. But I don't find such thought experiments very useful.

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    3. What counts as "fair" in your mind? For example, do you disagree with NAMBLA about lowering the age of consent? I don't raise that group lightly, and I realize it can be used to tar people, but if you do indeed object to their policy goals, why is your sense of what counts as good and moral superior to theirs? Why prefer one kind of sexual expression to another?

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    4. (last comment for tonight, I'm going to bed)

      Matthew: I do, of course, disagree with NAMBLA. The difference between my polyamorous sexual expression and NAMBLA's pedophiliac (spelling?) sexual expression is this: theirs is, by nature, predatory, while mine is not. Given facts about human biology, the boys that NAMBLA is interested in just aren't mentally and emotionally mature enough to understand the difference between a mutually beneficial relationship and one in which they're being taken advantage of, or for that matter, how difficult sexual/romantic relationships can be. As such, any man entering into such a relationship with a boy is going to have to ignore that - if it's not ignored, then the relationship wouldn't happen in the first place.

      My partners and I, on the other hand, are plenty mature, and aware of the intricacies of relationships. No one is being taken advantage of.

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    5. How do you move from facts about biology to how we *should* act in light of these biological facts? NAMBLA doesn't seem to care about these facts (or disputes their interpretation). There are examples of predatory, non-consensual acts in nature, and many of them bring personal benefit to the predator at limited expense to the subject being acted upon. What is the moral reason predation should be rejected?

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  4. Remember all the times we were told that there is no slippery slope, that people who warn about one are being alarmist, etc.?

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  5. Jason: there's still no slippery slope. The arguments in favor of polyamory stand or fall on their own merits, independent of the arguments in favor of homosexuality.

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    1. Can you be more specific?

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    2. If you could share an argument or two in favor of it. Arguments that don't involve lust, but rather anything that's benefitial to society over monogamy.

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    3. First, it's important to keep in mind that I'm not advocating for polyamory for *everyone*, but rather advocating for it being a live option free from legal and social stigma. If you or others want to remain monogamous, that's 100% fine with me.

      So, the argument for it is basically that mandating monogamy for everyone causes harm to those that would prefer polyamory, including myself. I've tried monogamy (in the relationship sense, I've never been married), and I just didn't find it fulfilling. And I mean that in a robust sense - not analogous to a one-night stand or a delicious ice cream bar, but more akin to the deep satisfaction that a monogamous person might get from building a life with their one husband or wife. I get that sense of fulfillment from forming relationships with more than one person - there's value in allowing people like me to pursue such goals unhindered; not just for me, but for society as well, since when I feel fulfilled in life, that "leaks out" to how I interact with the rest of society, both socially and in the workplace.

      Furthermore, it could be argued that there's intrinsic value in allowing people the freedom to choose with whom they form intimate bonds (again, not just talking about sex here).

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    4. 'Fulfillment' = code word for 'lust'

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    5. Trent, false. Perhaps you need to read what I said again: "And I mean that in a robust sense - not analogous to a one-night stand or a delicious ice cream bar, but more akin to the deep satisfaction that a monogamous person might get from building a life with their one husband or wife."

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    6. It really sounds like lust to me going by your description. The fulfillment or deep satisfaction you speak of isn't achieved through Platonic love or monogamy, so having multiple partners (even like-minded ones) is essentially fulfulling lustful desires that monogamy in particular doesn't satisfy.

      The vibe (or leak out as you put it) that you give off from that fulfillment sounded like the stress release we see in some commercials or old sitcoms.

      I guess I'm looking for an arugment on how it objectively benefits society like a monogamous relationship. As a function in society if you will.

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    7. SG: if that's lust, then monogamy is lust too.

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    8. John Doe wrote:

      "Jason: there's still no slippery slope. The arguments in favor of polyamory stand or fall on their own merits, independent of the arguments in favor of homosexuality."

      That's an insufficient response, since people can question or object to homosexuality and polyamory on the same grounds, even if they shouldn't. And if a good reason for opposing homosexuality is dismissed, the same sort of good reason for opposing polyamory can be dismissed accordingly, and it should be dismissed if the person is to be consistent. In a society like the United States, many people make ethical decisions on the basis of emotions, whether people they like participate in the behavior, what Hollywood, the mainstream media, and other influential sources tell them to believe, or highly vague arguments (e.g., appeals to "marriage equality"). Many of the reasons people apparently have had for adopting anti-Christian views on homosexual issues are applicable to other issues as well, such as polyamory.

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    9. @ John. Not quite because marital monogamy has multiple dimensions that are beneficial to society and the two people in it. Sure, physical attraction is one of many factors that contributes to a long-lasting healthy relationship; it may ignite a fire, but it certainly doesn't make it last. To an extent, it can apply to a monogamous relationship out of wedlock too. Lust on the other than is about fulfilling sexual desires, which is the root of polyamory. Yes, you've drawn a distinction by saying that you care for the people you're having relations with. However, it doesn't sound much different than a non-binding (legally) polygamous relationship, with the distinction being that you can move on with little to no responsibility in the best case scenario.

      In the matter of the post on hand, Carrier's marriage of 20 years ended after him and his wife tried a polyamorous arrangement for 2 years. Hard to see any benefits aside from him being free now to pursue his relationships.

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  6. I'm so tired of the "slippery slope" accusation. Is it fallacious sometimes? Sure, but not always. It seems like the "slippery slope" accusation has become a sort of catch all/magic bullet for leftists.

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    1. For some reason, I see a guy just an instant away from impact at the bottom of the chasm, trying to convince gravity: "You don't understand. Slippery slopes are a FALLACY."

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  7. One of the temporary advantages of atheism: any rule you make you can break. Morality is whatever you say it is, at any given moment. Nothing like being answerable only to yourself. That's an easy critic to please! 

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    1. I'm an atheist, and I don't agree with that at all*. In fact, I can recall several times in my life when my desires conflicted with morality.

      *neither do most philosophers working in the field of ethics.

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    2. What is this word "morality" that you use? You can't just steal a term from Christianity and pretend it works in your atheistic viewpoint. You actually have to demonstrate A) what morality is and B) why it matters in a universe stripped of any kind of higher power.

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    3. Steal a term from Christianity? What? Maybe you're not aware of this, but Christianity didn't exist until around 33AD, and Aristotle was writing about morality 300 years before that.

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    4. You're confusing descriptive ethics with normative ethics.

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    5. Your clueless response to Peter illustrates that very confusion. Of course I expect you to be in denial.

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    6. Aristotle wrote about normative ethics.

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    7. It's quite arguable Aristotle was a theist of some stripe. At the very least he argued for a prime mover. In this respect, Aristotle's ethics were better founded than mainstream atheist ethics.

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    8. rockingwithhawking: theist or not, he obviously was not a Christian.

      Furthermore, (and this is something that really bugs me), mainstream atheist ethics does just fine, if you put down Dawkins and Harris, and read actual philosophers. People like Shelly Kagan or Erik Wielenberg, for example. I feel like many Christians just aren't familiar with the current state of ethics in philosophy. Imagine if I had the same dismissive attitude toward Christian ethics, because I'd only read Lee Strobel, and not Robert Adams. I'd be lambasted for my ignorance, and rightly so.

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    9. When I read someone like Tamler Sommers or Sharon Street, I don't get the impression atheist ethics is doing "just fine." What do you mean by that phrase? When I look at the state of atheist ethics, I see a discipline coasting on centuries of Christian ethics and loads of common grace at work.

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    10. John Doe,

      You suffer from a persistent confusion. The fact that Aristotle wrote about normative ethics doesn't mean he has the metaphysical resources to successful ground objective moral norms. For instance:

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism-moral/#NeoAriNat

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    11. @John Doe

      "theist or not, he obviously was not a Christian"

      This doesn't address my point.

      "Furthermore, (and this is something that really bugs me), mainstream atheist ethics does just fine, if you put down Dawkins and Harris, and read actual philosophers. People like Shelly Kagan or Erik Wielenberg, for example. I feel like many Christians just aren't familiar with the current state of ethics in philosophy. Imagine if I had the same dismissive attitude toward Christian ethics, because I'd only read Lee Strobel, and not Robert Adams. I'd be lambasted for my ignorance, and rightly so."

      You make a couple of unwarranted and illogical assumptions here (e.g. that I or others haven't "read actual [atheist] philosophers").

      It's ironic you use Robert Adams as your representative for conservative Christian ethics (which is obviously where Triablogue is coming from).

      At any rate, you can name drop all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that you haven't provided an argument for "atheist ethics" as Peter Pike originally requested.

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    12. John Doe said: "Steal a term from Christianity? What? Maybe you're not aware of this, but Christianity didn't exist until around 33AD, and Aristotle was writing about morality 300 years before that."

      So, clearly you can show me where in Aristotle's works that you ground your morality. Don't worry, I won't ask you to cite the original Greek. An English translation will suffice.

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    13. And yes, in case you're wondering Mr. Doe, at every point in which you have any harmony in your morality with Christian morality that you cannot back up from Aristotle (or, allow me to be generous, literally any other source), you're proving my point that you're stealing Christian concepts.

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    14. (final point)

      Of course, what you are really doing, Mr. Doe, is simply using the label "morality" as if the label alone can do the heavy lifting instead of you actually thinking rationally. You have no basis for morality, but you can speak the word "morality" and pretend that you do. But wishing doesn't make it so. Your bluff has been called, so lay down your cards.

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  8. John Doe:

    “Consenting? Why this arbitrary criteria? Further, what is consent? A written contract? Don’t men regularly pressure women into sex? Aren’t young women increasingly complaining that they’re not clear-headed enough to know when they themselves are giving consent?

    What is an “adult?” Why this arbitrary criteria? Who gives the government or anyone else the authority to tell people when they’re ready to have sex?

    “The difference between my polyamorous sexual expression and NAMBLA's pedophiliac (spelling?) sexual expression is this: theirs is, by nature, predatory”

    Nothing but bigoted anti trans-generational love garbage. Just because you think something is “icky” doesn’t make it bad. Who are you to tell these people they’re predators?

    “My partners and I, on the other hand, are plenty mature, and aware of the intricacies of relationships. No one is being taken advantage of.”

    Keep telling yourself that. My experience as a 29 year old man is that if there is one thing the vast majority of my peers and the generations above us are not its “aware of the intricacies of relationships.”

    “The arguments in favor of polyamory stand or fall on their own merits, independent of the arguments in favor of homosexuality.”

    Nonsense. They’re the exact same arguments. Unplug “homosexual” and plug in “polyamorous.” That’s it. If you think these same arguments won’t be regurgitated for pedophilia, bestiality, and incest you’re deluded.

    “but more akin to the deep satisfaction that a monogamous person might get from building a life with their one husband or wife.”

    Like the deep satisfaction a serial killer gets when he watches life flee someone’s eyes is akin to the deep satisfaction a man gets when he hold his first newborn for the first time. It’s all chemicals and electricity. Nothing else separates the two.

    “I'm an atheist, and I don't agree with that at all.”

    On atheism, you’re nothing. A nobody. Who cares what you agree with? If someone is stronger than you, strong enough to control you, you belong to them. Period.

    “Neither do most philosophers working in the field of ethics.”

    On atheism the collective intrinsic value of all the most brilliant atheist ethicists and philosophers is the same as the collective intrinsic value of the dog feces that covers my neighbor’s backyard.

    There's also the question of how honest these ethicists are. What would they do if they had the power to do whatever they wanted? Probably whatever they wanted. The only thing truly keeping them in line is their limitations.


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  9. I hope the Triabloggers will address more often the MRM (men's rights movement). Along with the MGTOW movement that's growing in popularity among some men. It's a smaller subgroup of the MRM that's almost the male counterpart to Feminism. Some of the concerns and complaints they have seem to have some validity even for Christian men. Unfortunately, they're mostly non-Christian movements which have anti-Christian assumptions/premises, perspectives and goals. Nevertheless, some of their insights into the psychology, economics, and emotions of relationships, marriage and parenthood could be useful (even) for Christian men if reformulated ("baptized" if you will). A main insight is that in our modern world marriage is more and more risky (economically, etc.) for men and is contributing to the "Sexodus" (part 2).

    Obviously, as Christians we believe families are the norm (per God's wise design and command). And so we hope and pray both Christian men and women in the 21st century can develop relationships that result in God honoring marriages.

    I was surprised to find a lot of videos on YouTube advocating MGTOW. Ignoring the bitterness, jadedness, cynicism, and hatred some MGTOW vloggers express, I think there are kernels of truth in the movement; and especially in the Men's Rights Movement in general.

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    1. Check out https://dalrock.wordpress.com/ (and related blogs) for a less cynical and secular side of the same movement, where the goal isn't isolation from women and family but opposition to feminism as an ideology.

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    2. I second Annoyed Pinoy's motion.

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  10. One of the more recent commenters encourages Carrier to "explore all those tastes that society, culture, your youth in your time may have repressed in you". He's glad that Carrier is "letting [his] freak flag fly". In a few years, maybe we'll get some posts from Carrier about how he's marrying his dog and having sex with his dead aunt's corpse.

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  11. I am just shocked...shocked I tell you.

    Who'd have thunk Carrier, a virulent atheist, would cheat on his wife and find an extremely convenient "moral" justification for it?

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  12. Indeed, "polyamorous" is the hip and trendy manner whereby to say "perverted sexual deviant."

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  13. http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-many-sexual-orientations-are-there.html

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  14. This is very sad. It seems that atheism is destroying Richard Carrier. He is turning into a worked example of how evil company corrupts good upbringing.

    Once he knew that it was absurd to question whether Jesus lived; now he promotes that view. Once he knew that no scholar would waste time on it; now he labours to manufacture "scholarship" of that kind, not to promote knowledge but purely to evade that observation. Once he knew that marriage was forever; now he repeats the stale lies that the Selfish Generation manufactured for its stupidest dupes. Once he could say that you didn't have to be a Christian to be moral; now he demonstrates that atheism and vice too often go together.

    And what about his poor wife? and are there children to consider?

    The connecting thread in all this, intellectually, is selfishness and convenience, nothing more. This is what being an atheist means for so many of those who adopt it; arrogance, wrong-headedness and vice. How short-sighted. He will quickly learn that nobody will want him for "polyamory" once he is fat and fifty.

    It is wrong to jeer. Let us give thanks to God on our knees that we have been protected by grace alone from such mental and moral decay.

    Poor soul. I just wish I could think of some way to help him.

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