Tuesday, June 30, 2015

We didn't lose the argument–our opponents lost their minds!

In the wake of the SCOTUS ruling on queer marriage, I surfed some Facebook discussions at James White and W.L. Craig. I rarely comment on White's Facebook page, and I think this is the first time I ever commented on Craig's. It's very revealing to see the intellectual level at which proponents of SSM operate. I'm going to repost some of the exchanges. I've rearranged the order of some comments for make the sequence more logical. 

William Lane Craig
June 26 at 5:20pm · 

Rich N Allison We heard the same nonsense from Christians regarding interracial marriage.

Steve Hays Rich, if you're going to say opposition to homosexual marriage is analogous to opposition to interracial marriage, then you need to provide a supporting argument. Merely asserting that the two are relevantly comparable begs the question.

Steve Hays Indeed, Scripture doesn't ban interracial marriage. It only bans interfaith marriage. The two sometimes overlap, but in that case the ethnic component is coincidental.

Jacob R. Hubbard ^Slippery slope argument.

Steve Hays Jacob, you've been corrected on your misuse of the "slippery slope" designation. Why do you continue to repeat your mistake? You need to learn how to argue in good faith.

Jacob R. Hubbard Nope, I have not been "corrected" on my "misuse" of the slippery slope. It *is* a slippery slope argument. Don't like me calling a spade a spade? Too bad, homie. Make better arguments then if you don't want me to continue to label a spade a spade.

Steve Hays Jacob, I like it just fine when you commit logical blunders. That's a problem for your position, not mine. Keep up the good work. Keep making logical blunders, homie.

Jacob R. Hubbard Name one logical blunder that I've committed? Just simply pointing out your logical blunders is not the same as actually committing them.

Steve Hays Jacob, another commenter (Austin McNair) committed the identical blunder you do. You and he read from the same script. He was duly correct by Brennon Hartshorn And David Baggett.

BTW, are you suggesting that lawmakers should not consider the foreseeable consequences of proposed legislation before they pass a law? Should they just pass laws without anticipating the likely results, then wait for the evidence to roll in? 

In the nature of the case, the effects of a law are subsequent to the enactment of the law. As such, responsible lawmakers take into account the predictable impact of proposed legislation.

Are you suggesting that's unreasonable? Should they pass laws willy-nilly and watch what happens?

Jacob R. Hubbard Steve, I would recommend you answer Andrew's question, if only for the sake of having an honest discussion with his point of view.

Steve Hays Jacob, sorry to disappoint you, but no one elected you to be the arbiter of what constitutes honest discussion.

Andrew Murchison How? The ruling specifically says that no church will be forced to conduct a ceremony against it's doctrine. Just like today, where most pastors interview the couple before agreeing to marry them, to ensure they'll abide by that church's doctrine. H...See More

Francis J. Beckwith No it doesn't. The portion of the opinion to which you are referring is not part of the holding. It is called "dicta." The thing you have to remember is that Supreme Court cases, like all court cases, are about the parties before the court and not about future contingencies. Our Supreme Court cannot give advisory opinions, it can only rule in cases in controversy, which requires parties that have standing. The question to be answered in this case did not involve the First Amendment religion clauses. Future litigants in other cases involving other questions--such as churches, schools, religious individuals, and so forth--were not a party to the SSM case decided on Friday. Justice Kennedy can say anything he wants--perhaps hoping a future court will consider his sage advice--but it is not legal precedent for those future cases, since the questions in such cases are not answered by the holding issued in this present case.

Steve Hays Eugene Volokh, a law prof at the University of California, Los Angeles, said:
“If I were a conservative Christian (which I most certainly am not),” he wrote on a law and religion email list, “I would be very reasonably fearful, not just as to tax exemptions but as to a wide range of other programs — fearful that within a generation or so, my religious beliefs would be treated the same way as racist religious beliefs are.”


Schools Fear Gay Marriage Ruling Could End Tax Exemptions
If the Supreme Court finds a constitutional...

Andrew Murchison Steve, from the actual ruling. Quote:
[I]t must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned....See More
Like · June 26 at 9:17pm · Edited

Steve Hays Andrew, are you just naive? Incrementalists always use these disclaimers. They gain a foothold, then push for more. We've seen this happen repeatedly in homosexual activism. Initial denials, followed by suppression once they gain more power.

Andrew Murchison Steve, please answer the question:
Would you deny other faiths whose doctrines would allow said marriages their religious freedom to perform said ceremonies?...See More

Steve Hays At the time the Bill of Rights was ratified, the "faiths" in America were basically Judaism and varieties of Christianity. So is your question concerned with 1st Amendment civil liberties (defined by original intent), or something else?

Andrew Murchison Irrelevant. The 1st amendment protects ANY faith, any church, any doctrine. Again, yes or no, would you deny those of faiths not your own their own right to perform those ceremonies? If yes, see above.

Steve Hays You're hardly entitled to stipulate that original intent is "irrelevant." If you think that's irrelevant, then you need to present an argument for your judicial philosophy.

You resort to the transparent tactic of tendentiously framing the issue. That way, you can try to generate a false dilemma for your opponent. Maybe your tactic works on some people, but it doesn't work on me. I'm under no obligation to answer rigged questions. If the question is rigged, I reserve the right to reformulate the question. That maybe a novel experience for you. Sorry to upset your applecart.

Andrew Murchison You're making the argument that it only protects religions that were extant at the time. It is therefore on you to support that position. Remember, use only the language in the constitution itself to do so -- which merely says, "religion" -- not just Christianity, not just Judaism, and not just the denominations thereof present at the time.

Now answer the question and stop shifting the goalposts, Steve.

Steve Hays You don't even grasp what your chosen metaphor means. I can't shift a goalpost that wasn't my goalpost in the first place. If you stick a goalpost in the ground, and someone else moves your goalpost, that's not what's meant by "shifting the goalpost."

"Shifting the goalpost" means moving your own goalpost. It means shifting grounds when somebody answers you on your own grounds. Got it?

It's not your prerogative to dictate to me where the goalpost should be. Since I never agreed to where you put the goalpost, it's hardly incumbent on me to play the game by your rules. 

Andrew Murchison The question is not rigged -- if you truly support freedom of religion, then you must, by definition, allow other religions to perform the ceremonies as they see fit according to their doctrines. If you would deny them this freedom, then you are not, by definition, for the free expression of religion.

And the State, by virtue of not respecting one single established religion --ie, that very first amendment you refer to -- must therefore grant licenses to and respect said ceremonies.

Steve Hays Andrew,

Maybe you're just hermeneutically unsophisticated. There's more to interpretation than words on the page. There's also the historical context. The intended referents which the framers had in mind. 

If you think that's "shifting the goalposts, then you're pretty uninformed about the field of hermeneutics and raging debates over judicial philosophy.

You act as if your approach is the default understanding. In so doing, you have your own burden of proof to discharge.

Andrew Murchison Let's cut the extraneous junk.

Use the government's own interpretation of religions, which would be any church that has qualified for tax-exempt status. There's a set list for you. If you want to argue a subset of those shouldn't be covered by the first amendment, then your quarrel is not with me -- go resolve that first and good luck with that.

Now are you going to answer the question, or continue to dance around the issue?

Steve Hays Andrew,

i) Since you haven't actually given me an official list, there's nothing for me to respond to. It's not my responsibility to dig that up. 

ii) Did James Madison define the religions protected by the 1st amendment by reference to any church that qualifies for tax-exempt status? Or is that your anachronistic definition?

iii) BTW, you have shifted the goalpost from religion in general to tax-exempt churches. That's your backdoor admission that James Madison didn't think the 1st amendment covered Aztecs who practice human sacrifice.

Steve Hays Andrew, in historical context, the Establishment clause has reference to a national church, a la the Church of England.

I'd add that Andrew's comments are confused in another respect. That's what happens when unbelievers presume to frame the issue for believers. 

But this isn't just a question of "religious liberty." It's not confined to the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. From a Constitutional perspective, American Christians are Americans who happen to be Christian. As Americans, we enjoy all the civil rights and civil liberties enumerated (or unenumerated) in the Bill of Rights.

Not just the free exercise of religion, but freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press. 

It's not just a question of how to define "religion." 

The First Amendment doesn't protect Aum Shinrikyo. 

However, the First Amendment undoubtedly protects Christianity. James Madison could hardly avoid having that in mind. 

Moreover, all 13 states that ratified the Constitution had anti-sodomy laws on the books. So official persecution of churches that oppose homosexuality clearly defies original intent. 

But as I say, there's more at issue than just one 1st Amendment right.

Andrew Murchison 
I set my goalposts -- religions. You're trying to move it by defining religion in a way that suits your cause, not mine. My definition is now set, by the rules of the government; you're trying to move it.

BTW, if you want clear an unambiguous language, as opposed to your so-called "original intent" argument, I refer you again to the quote from the actual ruling here, ie, "those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned." Anyone can go to that ruling and point to that specific clause, and say, "right here is specifically where they say you can't make me." Now, you claim original intent is only judeo-christian religions -- point out that clause in the amendment.

Now, answer the question -- yes or no:

Should religions, as defined by the US government as those churches of tax-exempt status, and as such protected by the first amendment, be forbidden from conducting same-sex marriages as is recognized and allowed by their doctrines?

Steve Hays Andrew Murchison 

"I set my goalposts -- religions. You're trying to move it by defining religion in a way that suits your cause, not mine."

i) Once again, you fail to understand your chosen idiom. Moving somebody else's goalpost isn't what is meant by "shifting the goalpost." Rather, moving one's own goalpost is what the idiom refers to. Or moving a goalpost whose original position was there by mutual agreement, but the losing team shifts it without mutual consent. 

Pity you have yet to figure out that distinction.

ii) Naturally I reserve the right to move your goalpost inasmuch as you lack the authority to unilaterally impose your standards on me. 

"BTW, if you want clear an unambiguous language, as opposed to your so-called 'original intent' argument, I refer you again to the quote from the actual ruling here, ie, 'those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.' Anyone can go to that ruling and point to that specific clause, and say, 'right here is specifically where they say you can't make me.' Now, you claim original intent is only judeo-christian religions -- point out that clause in the amendment."

i) You really are hilarious. Since Kennedy's opinion is the very issue in dispute, I naturally reject his anachronistic definition.

ii) The 1st amendment protects the "exercise" of religion, not merely the "advocacy" of religion. 

iii) Francis Beckwith already corrected your willfully naive appeal. But you're impervious to factual correction. 

"Now, answer the question -- yes or no: Should religions, as defined by the US government as those churches of tax-exempt status, and as such protected by the first amendment, be forbidden from conducting same-sex marriages as is recognized and allowed by their doctrines?"

i) I don't accept Kennedy's redefinition of the 1st amendment. Remember, that's the very question at issue!

ii) And as usual, you're unable to adapt to the actual state of the argument. As I already explained to you, this isn't just an issue of "religious liberty." It's not confined to the free exercise clause. American Christians are also covered by other 1st amendment protections like freedom of association and freedom of expression. Is there some reason you're unable to think outside the box? 

iii) I'd also add that there are legal scholars like David, Bernstein, David Post, and Ilya Somin who are sympathetic to Kennedy's position, but nervous about how the ad hoc reasoning he resorted to to arrive at his foregone conclusion will open Pandora's box. There's a raging debate going on over at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Andrew Murchison Steve:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Uh, not seeing the CoE there. The Virginia statue only disestablished the CoE in Virginia. It makes no reference to what else qualifies as such.

Steve Hays You keep repeating your schoolboy error of disregarding historical context. Your statement is hopelessly confused. The establishment clause did not prohibit individual states from having official churches.

Austin McNair Dr. Craig that is a logical fallacy of a slippery slope. That won't necessarily happen.

Brennon Hartshorn He didn't say it would happen necessarily. It's not a deductive argument. It's an inference from the empirical and historical evidence.

Steve Hays Austin McNair:

"All their lives they have seen a church more interested in stopping gay marriage across the nation than loving their own neighbors across the street."

Opposing abortion, euthanasia, the homosexual agenda, &c, is an example of neighbor-love. 

"Let’s add to these unbalanced priorities and notice our unmistakable hypocrisy when it comes to what parts of scripture we choose to defend."

That's a careless use of the word "hypocrisy." It's hardly hypocritical for Christians who disagree with your (mis-)interpretation of Scripture to act accordingly. If would only be hypocritical if they agreed with you, but then acted contrary to their beliefs. 

"For instance, Christians in American are just fine in compromising the teachings of Jesus when it comes to violence. Jesus clearly teaches his followers to 'love thy enemies,' yet when the United States spends over 500 billion dollars on its defense budget last year, no one makes a peep."

Are you a pacifist? How is refusing to protect the innocent from wrongful aggression consistent with neighbor-love?

"Or how about how we discuss immigrants? Forget God’s command to Israel’s to love the immigrant (Deut 10:18-19), just get those Mexicans out of here before they take our jobs!"

How about reading what a Bible scholar like James Hoffmeier has to say about your facile prooftexting?

"And let’s not get started on divorce. We have an extraordinary ability to ignore our sacred texts when it comes to issues that threaten our safety and comfort, yet, when it comes to homosexuality, we make an exception…"

The NT gives at least two grounds for permissible divorce.

"Now let’s talk biblical teaching on homosexuality."

You then rehash stale arguments that Robert Gagnon for one routinely refutes:

"Let’s add to these unbalanced priorities and notice our unmistakable hypocrisy when it comes to what parts of scripture we choose to defend."

You're not paying attention to cause and effect. Christians didn't make homosexuality a priority. It was the power elite who made that a priority.

Austin McNair Steve Hays - Similar to how the elite had to make slavery a priority in the 19th century? We do not live it a vacuum and must openly discuss the conversations of our time. Christians have a long reputation of rereading Scripture based off of the cultural climate. I don't think it's too far fetched to ask ourselves if there are more ways of reading the text than we have in the past.

Steve Hays So you're now saying unbalanced priorities are a good thing after all?

Emily Dietle All this talk about " contrary to human nature" and I bet not one of you are even vaguely familiar with biology. Being gay is natural. http://www.livescience.com/44464-bonobo-homosexuality...

Being Gay Is Natural: Just Ask Bonobos (Op-Ed)
Homosexuality is common in nature, including...

Steve Hays  As far as familiarity with biology goes, you could also say that cancer is natural. Sure you wish to press that analogy?

Emily Dietle So marriage is natural, too? You're self-defeating.

Steve Hays Emily, the question at issue isn't what's natural for other animals, but what's natural for humans. Rape is natural in the animal kingdom. So by your logic, we should make rape a Constitutional right.

Emily Dietle If you operate a business, you must serve all protected classes of citizens. The end. Form a private membership club if you want to exclude people.

Keith Wasser So you would serve Nazi's? KKK?

Emily Dietle Nazi's aren't a protected class. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_class

Steve Hays Appealing to "protected classes" is viciously circular. That begs the question of which classes, if any, ought to be protected, compared to other classes that don't enjoy special protections.

Emily Dietle Jose, that book can be interpreted many ways. Have you ever considered that you could be wrong? It's a very important question.

Steve Hays Emily, you can't attack Biblical morality, then turn around and say the Bible can be interpreted many different ways.

Emily Dietle Ethical humanity without religion is possible. Check out the Humanist Manifesto: http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III

Humanist Manifesto III
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our...

Steve Hays Emily, citing the Humanist Manifesto does nothing to explain how an atheist grounds morality.

Emily Dietle Kevin, et al. I want to follow up with something I ultimately feel more important than any of these disagreements (guns, abortion, marriage, etc.). Whether we like it or accept it, we are all intimately connected with one another and the greater world around us. Through relationships of emotion and nature, chemicals released in the brain, and basic cause & effect, we are all connected. If we want a better world, we must examine what those relationships are and work toward eliminating the suffering of all. I apologize to your humanity. I do feel you are wrong, that you are working against an ultimate future of serenity, and sometimes it gets frustrating - especially when it feels like you cannot hear our pleas.

Steve Hays You say you feel we are wrong, but you also say that's just chemicals released in the brain. What makes your brain chemistry morally right, but the brain chemistry of those you disagree with wrong?

James R. White
June 26 at 7:23am · 

Anuradha Cetta I say this with whole respect for your beliefs as Christians: there is a fundamental reason church and state are separate.

Steve Hays Rulings like this don't respect separation of church and state. Rather, they threaten the 1st Amendment rights of Jews and Christians.

Anuradha Cetta Zack Magnuson, you are saying it is fair then, to discriminate against people for marrying differently than you like? 

Steve Hays Is there any kind of marriage you don't oppose? What about an adult man who married a prepubescent girl? Would you discriminate against that?

Anuradha Cetta Steve, I 100% oppose an adult marrying a girl child. I'm sure you do as well. The game isn't "who opposes the most things." In this case, gay LEGAL (not religious) marriage is between two consenting adults, who ask that they be granted governmental recognition for health benefits, tax purposes, adoptions. Are you against them getting legal health benefits and the same tax laws married people get? That they not be allowed to purchase a home and co-sign the mortgage? Because that is what this legal precedent permits.

Steve Hays So you now admit it is okay "to discriminate against people for marrying differently than you like." You think it's right in some cases, but not others. So it comes down to specific examples. But in that case you've retracted your original argument.

Anuradha Cetta And secondly, I don't see how it threatens the first amendment rights of Jews and Christians, but I am open to your viewpoint of it.

Steve Hays When the state prosecutes Jews and Christians for exercising their 1st Amendment rights if they discriminate against homosexuals, then that violates their 1st Amendment rights. The connection is straightforward.

Anuradha Cetta My original argument merely states that the people should be treated equally, here in America, if they are in a homosexual relationship. No need to pull up other cases that are not in question. I support equality, and clearly you do not, and you are justifying discrimination. I hope God is graceful to you for all the choices you make towards your neighbors.

Steve Hays In other words, you don't want to be logically consistent.

Traci Spielman Why in the world would you take your marching orders on what to think about gays from a book that doesn't even know that slavery is wrong? Leviticus 25: 44-46
It's really clear in this passage, Jeremy, Jews could buy foreign slaves, treat them as property and pass them on to their own children as they do with property. That's the American blueprint for slavery. Exactly what we did here. So sorry that this passage makes you look stupid. Deal with it.

i) Lev 25 doesn't command anyone to buy slaves. 

ii) Ancient Israel was in no position to ban human trafficking outside the borders of Israel. 

Given the fact of human trafficking, would an individual be better off as a Jewish slave or pagan slave?

Under the Mosaic law, Jewish slaves enjoyed certain rights which they did not enjoy under ANE paganism. 

So that mitigates evil.

Traci Spielman It's called empathy, Jim. You've heard of it. Treat people as you wish to be treated. Pass them down to your kids as property? That's not very empathetic. How hard is this concept? What a wonderful day today is! Thanks Supreme Court!

Steve Hays You're dodging the question of whether there's a moral duty to be empathetic. 

Traci Spielman People used your absolute moral standard to fight against interracial marriage, for slavery and against womens right to vote. On the wrong side of every significant movement for centuries. Great moral standard you have. And today you are using it to sit on the wrong side of gay marriage. So pathetic.

Steve Hays Traci, that begs the question. What's your objective basis for attacking Biblical morality–as you (mis-)understand it?

Steve Hays Daniel, have you have looked at the CDC warnings about the health hazards of the homosexual lifestyle? You must hate homosexuals when you encourage them to persist in a self-destructive lifestyle.

Daniel McGrath Womp womp

Steve Hays So, Daniel, you have no factual rebuttal. You don't really love homosexuals after all. You don't care about the grave medical consequences of their behavior. Thanks for showing your true colors.

Daniel McGrath Woooomp woooomp woooooooooooooomp

Steve Hays Daniel, thanks for illustrating your inability to mount an intellectual defense of your position. I appreciate your admission of defeat.

Rebecca Hoy Don't like gay marriage? Don't get gay married, or as we are calling it now, marriage.

Steve Hays Do you apply that logic to other behavior? Don't like rape? Don't rape anyone!

That lets rapists off the hook. 

Don't like serial murder? Don't commit murder!

That lets Ted Bundy off the hook.

Rebecca Hoy All of this just makes me laugh. The fact that you think a religion based on some writings by men living in a tiny sandbox half way around the world 2000ish years ago has any bearing on anything we do here is absurd. I was raised in a Lutheran church, Sunday school and church every week. I'm not here seeking anything. I just think all is freaking out over simple and fair legal status is ridiculous. 

Be good for its own sake. 
Do the right thing simply because it's the right thing. 
Protect the weak. 
Uphold justice. 
No one is more deserving than anyone else of fairness. 

Those are my commandments.

Steve Hays How do you know what is good?


  1. Anuradha Cetta

    "I 100% oppose an adult marrying a girl child."

    "gay LEGAL (not religious) marriage is between two consenting adults."

    "My original argument merely states that the people should be treated equally, here in America, if they are in a homosexual relationship...I support equality."

    On the one hand, Cetta supports marriage "equality." The right for anyone to marry anyone they like by mutual consent.

    On the other hand, Cetta puts up restrictions. No marriage between adults and young girls. Marriage between two consenting adults.

    By doing all this, Cetta denies marriage "equality" to those who do not fit into Cetta's preconceived boundaries.

    Yet Cetta provides no basis for why he (or she) draws these specific boundaries. Hence the boundaries drawn might as well be arbitrary boundaries.

    If they're arbitrary boundaries, then why should marriage "equality" be restricted only to adults? Why not to adults and children? Why only two adults? Why not three or four or five adults or adults and children? Why not humans and animals too? Cetta has no response.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me to witness how much unbelievers hate the God of the Bible.

    Irrationality and incoherence are the intellectual calling cards of the unregenerate mind.

  3. I will sometimes jokingly observe that these people are victims of the public education system. But, then that only is humorous because of its close relation to the truth. They know how to "feel", though. Can't think worth a lick, but feeling, they got that in spades.

    By the way, a simple redefinition of the age of consent through judicial fiat is all that stands between illegal and legal pederasty and pedophilia. First comes polygamy though, and they won't even bat an eyelash.

  4. Ad-hominem and appeal to emotion...the toolbox of the non-believer.

    Too blind to see they have lost the debate. I've been dealing with this all week.