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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

But I Was Born That Way

This is a response to Bill’s diatribe called “But I was born that way.” Through most of this response I have merely transposed two words, yet the logic of his argument is unchanged – which just goes to show what woolly logic it is to begin with. Can you guess which words those are?

Bill says:

The most common Christian myth of all – and there are many – is that Christians are born that way, and cannot help being the way they are. We don’t judge a person born left-handed, or red-haired, they argue, so we should not judge a Christian either.

There are plenty of problems with this argument. The main one is the fact that tens of millions of Christians have left the Christian lifestyle after they have grown up and leant that everybody’s different and we can all rub along just fine together without being so insecure as to try to enforce their chosen lifestyle upon anyone else – all religious addictions are hard to kick - but it can be done.

But let’s just suppose for a moment that the Christian activists are correct in arguing that this is all just a matter of childhood indoctrination, with no choice involved. What follows if we accept such a proposition? If we really are the result of brainwashing, and we have to simply accept the hand that nature has dealt us, then this must have implications for all of us.

“For as long as I can remember, Christians have been explaining why they have no choice about their religious notions. And it finally dawned on me that their arguments explain why being anti-Christian is also not a choice but an innate predisposition beyond our power to restrain. This led me to embrace my convictions and stop trying in vain to repress who I am. Since millions suffer from this same condition, I’m hopeful that my epiphany will help others accept themselves and their convictions, too.”

He then offers some insights based on this newfound understanding of determinism and secularism. Here is one helpful insight: “If we can’t control whom we love, that’s because we can’t control our strong passions. But passions can be both for and against. And, just as Christian love is a passion which is impossible to control, I now know that my passionate anti-Christian feelings must also be impossible to control. I might wish I could change, but it’s hopeless. My judgmental tendency draws me as irresistibly as their ludicrous beliefs.”

And yet another insight: Christians claim that they have no choice in their beliefs: after all, who would choose a lifestyle that attracts so much criticism and rejection? But with our new understanding of determinism, things become clear:

“Who would choose to suffer discrimination, fear, alienation and family discord? I used to worry that this argument would prevent disapproving of any behavior at all, since it seems to entail the unusual conclusion that the more despised something is the less anyone can be blamed for it. But then I realized that I have been ridiculed, called intolerant and fired from an academic post for my beliefs on this subject. In fact, I’ve often thought how much easier my life in this culture would be if only I could lay down the burden of believing in superstitious nonsense and embrace philosophy and meaningful ethical discourse. Since no rational person in the United States in 2008 would choose to be anti-Christian if he didn’t have to be, it must not be a choice.”

The liberating vision of determinism helps in other areas as well: “It’s not like I went to bed one night thinking supportive thoughts about Christianity and then woke up the next morning committed to opposing it. It’s more accurate to say that one day I just sort of realized, almost to my horror, that I thought the whole of Christianity was wrong. I felt like I had been suppressing my innate moral voice because of social pressure and the respect we’re all meant to show to stupid people’s beliefs, before finally coming to terms with it. On top of my parents both being pro-religion and having lots of religious friends, I had actually taken a seminar on religious theory from Richard Mohr, one of the county’s most prominent religious philosophers. I would gladly have been Christianity-endorsant if I could have been. But all to no avail. And I clearly can’t un-choose what I had never chosen in the first place.”

Now, I’m not saying that I agree with the sentiments expressed above. Of course I think the tenets of Christianity, and all religious, are self-evidently false, but I’m happy to live with people believing what they like, so long as it doesn’t affect my life. Bill’s approach is one of stunning arrogance. He concludes:

Gee, it is indeed liberating when one comes to understand just how natural (and therefore determined) our behaviours and lifestyles are. I no longer have to feel guilty about my homophobia! That is tremendous news. I no longer have to deny or repress my true nature – I can just express it fully, and not care about those who would judge me. I can finally be true to myself.

Now let me conclude by admitting that of course Tallman and I are using a bit of humour here to make our case. But the point being made is quite serious indeed. Either we buy the logic of the determinists or we don’t. If being a Christian is genetically determined, then presumably all sorts of other behaviours are biologically and/or genetically determined as well.

In which case, if those concerned about homosexuality should just shut up, then perhaps those concerned about homophobia should just shut up as well.

Yes, that’s right, you heard him correctly. He’s jumping for joy because he’s found another way in which he’s allowed to be homophobic! He also manages to be a complete hypocrite because he doesn't anywhere else allow that homosexuality is natural and determined, otherwise he wouldn't insisting that gays must convert. But then, bad logic, bigotry and hypocricy are Bill's staples.

The usual reason he states (though he’ll usually say something sanctimonious about “loving the sinner”, though you’ll see no love from Bill for anyone who disagrees with his militant Bronze Age lifestyle) is that it’s in the bible, so he just has no choice. To be a good Christian demands him to be homophobic. His hands are tied. If he wants to spend an eternity giving BJs to Jesus then he’s going to have to hate the gays. This sort of unethical argument is so stunningly cowardly and pathetic that it’s tempting to deal with it here, but there’s plenty of time for that. No, the point is that Bill has now found an alternative reason for his hateful, bigoted views – he was just born that way. What’s self-evident to anyone who knows any homosexuality is that sexual preference is not a matter of choice, nor does it require embracing a “dangerous lifestyle” – like it’s all listening to Judy Garland or something. However, sorry, Bill, but you can choose to be a fuckwitted bigoted cunt. You can also choose to live and let live. Keep your reprehensible beliefs, but don’t try to convert everyone else. No homosexual is trying to convert you, are they? (And don’t say this is the gay lobby’s agenda, or you are even more fuckwitted than I originally imagined). Yeah, that’s right, it’s a divine mandate from the creator of the universe that Bill must treat gays like they’ve no right to exist (whilst holding completely hypocritical views on social Darwinism – ah, the intellectual and moral paucity of theological mindset). That’s right, Bill knows the mind of the creator of the universe and is in a position of authority to impose his will! Somehow he thinks believing this sort of nonsense and having god on his side bolsters his argument.

Though I do suspect that the lady doth protest too much. The most vocal homophobes normally hate it in themselves. Is Bill the next Ted Haggard? Does he have more than one beard? ;)

So good luck to you, Bill, now that you think you’ve found another reason to be a bigoted fuckwit. Just don’t be surprised when the rest of us laugh at you and see you for the vile hypocritical idiot you are.

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