Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Webinar to Promote In the Absence of God

As you may have heard I have a novel out titled In the Absence of God. One of the best-known booksellers in the region is doing a free webinar on Thursday the 27th at 1:00 on the ten books he recommends to pastors and laymen for summer reading, and I'm told that Absence has made the cut.

If you'd like to listen in on Thursday you can register here for the program, and you can get more details on it here.

If you're headed for the shore this summer Absence would make great beach reading. Click on the link at the top right of this page to learn how you can obtain a copy.

The Birds Do It

Meghan Laslocky is an author who writes on themes of love and sex, which puts her among about 95% of the people who write books. She has an article at CNN in which she argues that it's perfectly normal for people to cheat on their spouses and that there's really nothing wrong with it. Monogamy is not natural, she believes, and infidelity shouldn't be condemned.

Her main points can be summarized as follows: Since humans have a yearning for sexual variety which in earlier ages could be satisfied by the fact that spouses often died young leaving the survivor to seek out other partners, we should be sympathetic to those who are unable to remain faithful to one person for a lifetime. Moreover, most birds and mammals are not monogamous. Since we don't judge animals for being promiscuous and since humans are animals just like any other we shouldn't think harshly of marital infidelity:
Human monogamy is influenced by many factors. Instead of pointing fingers or acting morally superior toward those who stray from marriages, we should recognize that strict sexual fidelity is a lofty but perhaps fundamentally doomed aspiration. No two individuals, and no two couples are alike, and we should respect that.
You'll have to read the details at the link, but let's tease out the two arguments outlined above. The first is a good example of how naturalism extinguishes morality. Laslocky argues that there's nothing wrong with animals trysting with more than one partner, and, since humans are just animals, there's nothing with humans doing the same.

Of course this argument hinges on the claim that humans are just animals, a claim that's true if naturalism is true, but is clearly false if, in fact, we're created in the image of God and endowed by Him with a set of moral duties which we are obligated to fulfill. If naturalism is true then anything goes. If there is no God then there are no moral duties and we really are just animals, but Laslocky nowhere defends the claim that naturalism is true. She just assumes it.

Put differently, Laslocky assumes the most dehumanizing view of man, reduces him to a brute, and thereby justifies his capitulation to animal lusts and desires that have caused enormous pain and suffering wherever that capitulation is practiced and condoned (Perhaps one of the finest illustrations of this in modern literature is Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men).

Her second argument goes like this: Because humans tend to be promiscuous therefore promiscuity is not wrong. The implied premise is that whatever is, is not wrong. This, of course, is nonsense. Humans are also inclined toward greed, selfishness, violence, rapine, hatred, and bad manners. Does Laslocky want to maintain that "Instead of pointing fingers or acting morally superior" toward those who are selfish, greedy and violent, we should recognize that a more saintly life "is a lofty but perhaps fundamentally doomed aspiration"?

Because we cannot achieve perfection are we to therefore cease striving for it, cease expecting it, and just acquiesce to whatever desires come over us? A society that lives by Laslocky's rule that whatever desires we cannot tame may as well be indulged would be barbaric.

Somewhat ironically she feels it necessary to clarify for her readers that she herself doesn't live the way one might think:
Moreover, one's perspective on monogamy is not necessarily an indicator of one's personal practices. Many people have incorrectly assumed that because I've read, thought, and written about the problems with human monogamy that I am myself promiscuous.

For the record, nothing could be further from the truth. Nor am I, as many commenters on this Yahoo post suggested, a Satanist or a whore.
One wonders why she feels it necessary to point this out since if she were any of these things there'd be nothing wrong with it since by her reasoning, there's nothing wrong with anything our desires drive us to do.

She concludes by appending that, so far from being any of the things her critics accuse her of, she's "just a woman with a healthy respect for science," but this is disingenuous.

Science can tell us how and why people do what they do, but it has nothing whatsoever to tell us about what people ought to do. It can tell us neither that people ought to be monogamous or polygamous or that people ought not to judge those who deviate from either of these. The word ought simply has no place in science which cannot tell us that anything is morally acceptable or unacceptable.

Nevertheless, it is precisely these sorts of judgments that are implicit throughout her column. Ms. Laslockey uses scientific facts, but when she employs those facts in the service of making moral claims she's going beyond the limits of science and is traipsing about in a metaphysical meadow. For her to imply that she's just doing science is misleading.

She may have a healthy respect for science but one wishes she had the same respect for logic.