How can feminism and transgenderism both be true?

If gender is not determined by physical characteristics, then what is it, exactly?

Someone recently told me that transgenderism is “in line with current scientific understanding“. Maybe so. But I’ve also been told that it’s “in line with current scientific understanding” to believe that masculine and feminine ways of acting and dressing, and “gender roles” such as mothering and bringing home the bacon, are mere cultural constructs.

Also that it’s sexist to believe that men are better than women at some things that don’t depend on physical size and strength, such as math and science. In short, the feminist dogma, which I’ve been taught since I was a kid, is that the only differences between men and women are physical differences. Otherwise, we’re equal in every respect.

If all the non-physical characteristics that we commonly associate with the respective sexes are mere constructs or the product of chauvinist attitudes, then what’s left? What is there, besides physical traits, with which a person may constitute a valid and objective “gender identity”?

But if we admit that subjective gender identities are real and legitimate, then don’t we have to admit that there are real differences between the sexes apart from physical differences?

Will gay marriage ruin marriage?

Further to my previous post, “The gay marriage debate in brief“, but better expressed:

When society decided–and we have decided, this fight is over–that society would no longer decide the legitimacy of sexual relations between particular men and women, weddings became basically symbolic rather than substantive, and have [be]come for most couples the shortcut way to make the legal compact regarding property rights, inheritance and certain other regulatory benefits. But what weddings do not do any longer is give to a man and a woman society’s permission to have sex and procreate.

Sex, childbearing and marriage now have no necessary connection to one another, because the biological connection between sex and childbearing is controllable. The fundamental basis for marriage has thus been technologically obviated. Pair that development with rampant, easy divorce without social stigma, and talk in 2004 of ‘saving marriage’ is pretty specious. There’s little there left to save. Men and women today who have successful, enduring marriages till death do them part do so in spite of society, not because of it.

If society has abandoned regulating heterosexual conduct of men and women, what right does it have to regulate homosexual conduct, including the regulation of their legal and property relationship with one another to mirror exactly that of hetero, married couples?

I believe that this state of affairs is contrary to the will of God. But traditionalists, especially Christian traditionalists (in whose ranks I include myself) need to get a clue about what has really been going on and face the fact that same-sex marriage, if it comes about, will not cause the degeneration of the institution of marriage; it is the result of it.

Donald Sensing, “Save Marriage? It’s Too Late“, The Wall Street Journal (wallstreetjournal.com), March 15, 2004 (emphasis added). (H/T to Catholic Culture.)

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May we be among those who lament

A loud voice rang in my ears: ‘Here they come, those appointed to punish the city, each carrying his weapon of destruction.’ I saw six men approaching from the road that leads to the upper gate which faces north, each carrying a battle-club, and among them one was dressed in linen, with a writer’s pen and ink at his waist; they advanced until they stood by the bronze altar. The glory of the God of Israel had risen from above the cherubim where it rested, and had come to the terrace of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen, with pen and ink at his waist. ‘Go through the city of Jerusalem,’ said the LORD, ‘and mark with a cross the foreheads of those who groan and lament over all the abominations practised there.’ To the others I heard him say, ‘Follow him through the city and deal out death; show no pity; spare no one. Kill and destroy men old and young, girls, little children, and women, but touch no one who bears the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.’ So they began with the elders in front of the temple. ‘Defile the temple,’ he said, ‘and fill the courts with dead bodies; then go out and spread death in the city.’

While the killing went on, I was left alone, and I threw myself on the ground, crying out, ‘Lord GOD, are you going to destroy all the Israelites who are left, in this outpouring of your anger on Jerusalem?’ He answered, ‘The iniquity of Israel and Judah is very great indeed; the land is full of bloodshed, the city is filled with injustice. They are saying, “The LORD has forsaken the land and does not see.” But I shall show no pity, nor spare them; I shall make their conduct recoil on their own heads.’ When the man dressed in linen, with pen and ink at his waist, returned he reported: ‘I have carried out your orders.’

Ezekiel 9.

I just thought it was a marvelous bit of writing.

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Why doesn’t God make his existence self-evident?

Someone recently argued that if God exists, he should make himself self-evident.

But very few things that people take for granted are self-evident. Even my existence as a human being is not self-evident to my readers, but only deduced based on premises that they take for granted, i.e. that only a human being could type the kinds of things that I am typing in this post. Nevertheless my existence as a human being is obvious to you; you don’t waste time doubting it.

Perhaps by “self-evident” my interlocutor meant that God should appear before us in physical form, as we appear to each other. When another living person is physically present, that person’s existence is self-evident to us — assuming we’re not skeptical of our own senses. The problem is that God is not a physical being. Therefore, if a physical being appeared before us claiming to be God, it still would not be self-evident that he was God. It still would require a chain of reasoning, and probably some kind of physical proof such as miracles, to arrive at the conclusion that the physical being standing before us is the non-physical, non-contingent being who is the cause of all that exists.

In short, there is no way that a non-physical being can make his existence self-evident to beings like us, who are dependent on their physical senses for knowledge. It’s impossible even in theory.

What this illustration also shows is the necessity of faith in the Christian religion (and some others as well). A lot of people imagine that God appearing in physical form, performing miracles and proclaiming himself to be God would be conclusive, that there would be no room for doubt. But there are a couple of problems with this.

First, that’s what Jesus did: He was God appearing in physical form, performing miracles, and proclaiming himself to be God. Yet many if not most people still didn’t believe in him.

Second, the fact that a being appearing in physical form performed physical miracles and wonders, still would not constitute proof that he is the non-physical, non-contingent, omniscient and omnipotent being who is the cause of all that exists. It might be obvious that he is some kind of a supernatural being, but it still would require faith on our parts to believe that he possessed all of the aforementioned attributes. After all, how could you possibly prove such things?

How could I know that this being claiming to be all-powerful, really is all-powerful? He may demonstrate beyond a doubt, by performing various feats, that he is powerful. But there is an infinite gulf between “powerful” and “all-powerful”. Similarly, how could I know whether this being claiming to be God is really omniscient? He may be able to answer any question I have, but that doesn’t prove he can answer any question whatever. And how would I know that his answers were correct? The only answers we could verify are those to which we already knew the answers.

Believing these things would require taking his word for it. Or in other words, faith. Faith would be required to believe in God, even were he to appear before us in the form of a burning bush, or a man with the power to make the lame walk and the blind see.

[This was modified from a comment I posted on another blog.]

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An argument for God’s existence

I guess this is basically the argument from efficient causes, but rephrased in a way that occurred to me in the context of a discussion. Feel free to offer corrections:

If everything is caused, then there is nothing left to be the cause. But if there were no cause, then there would be no effects and therefore nothing would exist. Therefore, there must be two classes of things: On the one hand, that which is caused, and on the other, that which is uncaused. But everything in the universe is caused and therefore goes in the first category. What’s left goes in the second. What exactly is in the second category? Whatever it is, it’s not anything physical or it would be part of the universe. So we’re left with an immaterial, uncaused being who caused the existence of everything in the universe.

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The scariest words in the English language*

Agellius:

The following is reblogged from Yard Sale of the Mind. I suspect the same thing goes for government (and insurance) involvement in healthcare: When the government starts chipping in money, it benefits people, but not always the people intended. Also, prices go up.

* “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” – Ronald Reagan

Originally posted on Yard Sale of the Mind:

One problem among us voters is that we have difficult time grasping the concept that we can’t vote for what we’d like to have happen, but instead vote merely for people and measures that may or may not achieve what we’d like to have happen. We don’t get to vote for peace, for example – we just get to vote for people who’s idea of peace might be the Arab Spring and helping Iran get nuclear weapons, alienating allies and emboldening enemies. We don’t get to vote for jobs – we just get to vote for people whose fundamental economic theories are mid-19th century adolescent revenge fantasies dressed up like philosophy for Halloween – trick and treat, where the treat is everything you’ve got and the trick is burning down your village.

This muddle is exacerbated by the often not-so-subtle Marxism that has replaced thought in all of academia and much…

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