Category Archives: Ethics

Best abortion debate I ever heard

Click here to listen to a great debate on the question “Is Abortion Murder?” between Justin Schieber of the Reasonable Doubts podcast and John Barron of


Why no promo homo?

I have a question for those who invoke the Bible or other scripture to support their opposition to homosexuality: Are you a reluctant opponent of homosexuality, or an eager one?

Reluctant: You don’t personally agree with or understand God’s condemnation of homosexuality, but you feel compelled to have a ‘united front’ with God (as you understand him), so you reluctantly speak and act in opposition to homosexuality as a matter of loyalty to God. This inner conflict may strain or limit your personal relationships, or cause you guilt.

Eager: You personally agree with God’s condemnation of homosexuality (as you understand it). That is, you think homosexuality is not only an affront to God but also inherently immoral, or at least harmful to society or to individuals somehow. You feel that speaking and acting in opposition to homosexuality is an act of service to society, not just to God.

If you are an eager opponent, I would challenge you to examine your core assumptions. Using something other than your interpretation of scripture, can you show that homosexuality actually harms society or individuals? (That exercise may at least make you a more reluctant opponent!)

If you are a reluctant opponent, I would challenge you to work out why your personal morality is at odds with what you see as scriptural morality.

Dawkins on birth control

Since we humans do not want to return to the old selfish ways where we let the children of too-large families starve to death, we have abolished the family as a unit of economic self-sufficiency, and substituted the state. But the privilege of guaranteed support for children should not be abused.

Contraception is sometimes attacked as ‘unnatural.’ So it is, very unnatural. The trouble is, so is the welfare state. I think that most of us believe the welfare state is highly desirable. But you cannot have an unnatural welfare state, unless you also have unnatural birth-control, otherwise the end result will be misery even greater than that which obtains in nature. The welfare state is perhaps the greatest altruistic system the animal kingdom has ever known. But any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it. Individual humans who have more children than they are capable of rearing are probably too ignorant in most cases to be accused of conscious malevolent exploitation. Powerful institutions and leaders who deliberately encourage them to do so seem to me less free from suspicion.

— Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, chapter 7 (“Family Planning”)

What’s the harm?

Here is a heartbreaking list of people who have been killed, physically injured or psychologically damaged because someone acted on faith instead of facts. The majority of cases are of young children dying of preventable or treatable illnesses because their parents chose prayer over medicine.

A theist might react to this list by distancing his or her ‘moderate’ beliefs and practices from these ‘extreme’ ones. But even ‘moderate’ instances of taking faith over facts can be harmful.

The Anoka-Hennepin “no homo promo” policy and the town culture that bred it have encouraged, or at least permitted, bullying, derision and marginalization of gay teen-agers, some of whom have committed suicide.

Do you believe homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle choice,’ or a treatable mental illness, or a spiritual condition with a spiritual cure? If so, you are accepting faith over facts. That’s your right, but acting on those (or other) irrational beliefs in a way that harms others, especially minors, is inexcusable.