All about sex 2

There are only two sexes.

Tony Perkins writes at the Daily Signal (a Heritage publication):

Reading the headlines this week is like taking a trip to an alternate universe. Ten years ago, if you’d have said that in 2018 teachers would get fired for calling a girl a girl, most people wouldn’t have believed you. Unfortunately, that’s the ridiculous world Americans are waking up to every morning. But to most people’s relief, not everyone is playing along with this charade. And that includes President Donald Trump. 

Almost two years in, this administration is still trying to mop up the mess made by Barack Obama. And considering the huge disaster it inherited, it’s amazing how much progress the White House has already made rolling back the absurdity of Obama’s LGBT legacy. 

After squashing the government’s gender-free bathroom mandate, Trump moved on to the military. Now, he’s directed his agencies to make one of the most important changes of all: protecting the 54-year-old CivilRights Act. Obama chose to read the law the way he wanted — not how it was written by Congress. For the last few years of his administration, he started using his own interpretation of the Civil Rights Act to give special protections to people who identify as transgender. There’s just one problem:that’s not what the 1964 Congress meant — and it’s not what the statute says. …

So, Trump issued his own memo. For the purposes of his administration, the Justice Department explained, “sex discrimination” would not include “gender identity”.  

That was music to the ears of a lot more than conservatives.In the medical community, experts were relieved to see that the president’s policy matched what was wise and prudent for patients. In a letter to the departments of Justice, education, and Health and Human Services,  a coalition of doctors, bioethicists, therapists, academics, and policy groups all praised the president for taking a scientifically-sound approach. 

Dr. Michelle Cretella, head of the American College of Pediatricians, explained why that’s so important in an interview on Thursday’s “Washington Watch”.  The letter, she points out, represents the views of more than 30,000 physicians who all understand that gender identity is a very real threat to modern health care. “Transgenders are saying, ‘I think and feel this way,therefore, I am.’  And it’s one thing for us, as physicians, to treat the person with respect and honor their name change, but it would be a complete  malpractice to treat them as the opposite sex.”

As she explains, there is nothing any of us can do to change our binary, biologically-determined-at-conception sex. “A man on estrogen is not a woman. He is a man with a male physiology on estrogen, and that’s how a physician must approach him.”

The very serious problem, she points out, is that people are so ideologically-driven that they want to ignore the medical research. 

More than ever, Cretella says, “Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have — at a minimum — 6,500 genetic differences between us. And this impacts every cell of our bodies — our organ systems, how diseases manifest, how we diagnose, and even treat in some cases.” 

Treating a person differently based on their feelings isn’t just harmful, she argues, but deadly. In cases like heart disease, certain drugs can endanger women and not men. Even diagnoses present differently in men and women. The symptoms for certain diseases, she explains, can manifest themselves in completely opposite ways. “And these are nuances that medicine is finally studying and bringing to light. And it’s actually ironic that the transgender movement [is] so anti-science. There is absolutely no rigorous science that has found a trait called ‘gender identity’ in the brain, body, or DNA. Now sex — I can show you that. It’s in our chromosomes. It’s in the body. It’s in the reproductive organs. Over 99.98 percent of the times, our sexual development is clearly and unambiguously either male or female.”

The sex differences, she explains, are real and consequential. If she had one message for America, Cretella said, it would be this: “Stick with science.”

Thank goodness for us, the president has.

It seems that the Left is opting for sterility. They are for “sex changes” which render the patient (or self-victimizer) infertile. They are for abortion as the normal way to deal with a pregnancy – on the grounds that it is good for a woman’s health!   

Could hatred of humankind be taken any further? 

Posted under Sex by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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Atheists and conservatives stir up a brouhaha 4

The organizers of an important Conservative conference have banned an atheist organization from attending it and setting out its stall.

The Conservative Political Action Committee, the largest and oldest gathering of conservatives, is run by the American Conservative Union and will be held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland’s National Harbor from March 6 to 8. Last year, the event brought together thousands of activists to listen to dozens of Republican leaders speak about everything from economics and foreign policy to social issues. The event has long been considered a required stop for Republican presidential hopefuls.

That and what follows we quote from CNN’s “belief blog”.

Organizers for the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference will not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth …

The decision comes just hours after American Atheists, the outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, announced that it would have a booth at the event. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, tells CNN that a groundswell of opposition from high-ranking members of CPAC compelled the group to pull the invite.

Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for CPAC, said in a statement to CNN that “American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.”

“I’m surprised and I’m saddened,” Silverman said in response to the announcement. “I think this is a very disappointing turn of events. I was really looking forward to going … It is very obvious to me they were looking for a reason to say no,” Silverman added. “Christianity is bad for conservatism and they did not want that message out there.” …

Silverman said his group [had] planned to use the booth to bring conservative atheists “out of the closet” and said he was not worried about making the Christian right angry because “the Christian right should be threatened by us.”

Snyder said CPAC spoke to Silverman about his divisive and inappropriate language.

He pledged that he will attack the very idea that Christianity is an important element of conservatism. People of any faith tradition should not be attacked for their beliefs, especially at our conference. …

But yes, Ms Snyder, it is precisely beliefs that ought to be attacked. Continually. Forever.

The critical examination of ideas is the essential task of civilized humankind. 

When [earlier] Snyder had confirmed to CNN that American Atheists would be at CPAC, she said in a statement that they were allowed to display at the confab because “conservatives have always stood for freedom of religion and freedom of expression.”

“The folks we have been working with stand for many of the same liberty-oriented policies and principles we stand for,” Snyder said. …

And so, she had thought, did American Atheists. But the decision to include them had outraged some conservatives.

Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative think-tank Family Research Council, expressed outrage at the decision, stating that the American Atheists did “not seek to add their voice to the chorus of freedom”. [He said] “CPAC’s mission is to be an umbrella for conservative organizations that advance liberty, traditional values and our national defense.” 

But –

Does the American Conservative Union really think the liberties and values they seek to preserve can be maintained when they partner with individuals and organizations that are undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God? Thomas Jefferson warned against such nonsense. If this is where the ACU is headed, they will have to pack up and put away the “C”‘ in CPAC!” …

The first “C” for “Conservative” we suppose is the one he meant. But why would it need to be packed away if atheists are allowed to have their say? Perhaps Perkins thinks it stands for “Christian”.

American Atheist is well known for its controversial billboards and media campaigns and is considered the in-your-face contingent in the world of atheist activists. The group’s members pride themselves as being the “Marines” of the atheist movement. …

In explaining why the group decided to join CPAC on Monday, Silverman cited a 2012 Pew Research study that found 20% of self-identified conservatives consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. While that does not mean they are atheists, Silverman believes learning more about atheism will make it more likely conservatives will choose to identify with those who believe there is no God.

Just as there are many closeted atheists in the church pews, I am extremely confident that there are many closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives. This is really a serious outreach effort, and I am very pleased to be embarking on it.

The group has long targeted Republican lawmakers, although Silverman considers the organization nonpartisan.

In 2013, American Atheists launched a billboard campaign against three Republican politicians: former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. All three Republicans have spoken at CPAC in the past.

On one billboard, Santorum is pictured to the left of a quote attributed to him. “Our civil laws have to comport with a higher law. God’s law,” the quote reads. Underneath the graphic is a tagline: “GO GODLESS INSTEAD.”

Comment on this affair comes from National Review, by Charles C. W. Cooke: :

Yesterday, in response to one of the many brouhahas that CPAC seems always to invite, Brent Bozell issued the following statement:

The invitation extended by the ACU, Al Cardenas and CPAC to American Atheists to have a booth is more than an attack on conservative principles. It is an attack on God Himself. American Atheists is an organization devoted to the hatred of God. How on earth could CPAC, or the ACU and its board of directors, and Al Cardenas condone such an atrocity?

So Brent Bozell thinks that issuing the invitation was an attack on conservative principles. More, it was “an attack on God Himself”.  As such, it was a veritable “atrocity“!

The particular merits of the American Atheists group to one side, this is a rather astounding thing for Bozell to have said. In just 63 words, he confuses disbelief in God for “hatred” for God — a mistake that not only begs the question but is inherently absurd (one cannot very well hate what one does not believe is there); he condemns an entire conference on the basis of one participant — not a good look for a struggling movement, I’m afraid; and, most alarmingly perhaps, he insinuates that one cannot simultaneously be a conservative and an atheist. I reject this idea — and with force.

If atheism and conservatism are incompatible, then I am not a conservative. And nor, I am given to understand, are George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Anthony Daniels, Walter Olson, Heather Mac Donald, James Taranto, Allahpundit, or S. E. Cupp. There is no getting around this — no splitting the difference: I don’t believe there is a God. It’s not that I’m “not sure” or that I haven’t ever bothered to think about it; it’s that I actively think there isn’t a God — much as I think there are no fairies or unicorns or elves. The degree to which I’m confident in this view works on a scale, certainly: I’m much surer, for example, that the claims of particular religions are untrue and that there is no power intervening in the affairs of man than I am that there was no prime mover of any sort.

Rrrreally, Mr Cooke?

But, when it comes down to it, I don’t believe in any of those propositions.

Tha-at’s better!

Am I to be excommunicated from the Right?

One of the problems we have when thinking about atheism in the modern era is that the word has been hijacked and turned into a political position when it is no such thing. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an “atheist” as someone who exhibits “disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.” That’s me right there — and that really is the extent of it.

Okay, you can have a booth at any conference we ever organize.

Or have we spoken too soon? Repeat what you were mumbling, please?

No, I don’t dislike anyone who does believe that there is a God; no, with a few obvious exceptions, I am not angry at the religious; and no, I do not believe the devout to be in any way worse or less intelligent than myself. Insofar as the question inspires irritation in me at all it is largely reserved for the sneering, smarmy, and incomprehensibly self-satisfied New Atheist movement, which has turned the worthwhile writings of some extremely smart people into an organized means by which a cabal of semi-educated twentysomethings might berate the vast majority of the human population and then congratulate one another as to how clever they are.

What New Atheist movement? If it exists, we want to join it. What is incomprehensible about it? What suggests that “it” is self-satisifed? What worthwhile writings would those be? Who are these beraters? And are they not – in that they are atheists – cleverer than “the vast majority of the human population”?

Which is to say that, philosophically speaking,  I couldn’t really care less … and practically speaking I am actually pretty warm toward religion — at least as it is practiced in America. True or false, American religion plays a vital and welcome role in civil society, has provided a number of indispensable insights into the human condition, acts as a remarkably effective and necessary check on the ambitions of government and central social-planners, is worthy of respect and measured inquiry on the Burkean grounds that it has endured for this long and been adopted by so many, and has been instrumental in making the United States what it is today.

We would dispute almost every one of those propositions, especially that religion is “worthy of respect” – though of “measured inquiry”, yes, it is worthy, and should be subjected to it mercilessly.

We like most of what he goes on to say next. And he provides some interesting information:

None of this, however, excuses the manner in which conservatives often treat atheists such as myself. George H. W. Bush, who was more usually reticent on such topics, is reported to have said that he didn’t “know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic[because] this is one nation under God”.

Whether Bush ever uttered these words or not, this sentiment has been expressed by others elsewhere. It is a significant mistake. What “this nation” is, in fact, is one nation under the Constitution — a document that precedes the “under God” reference in the Gettysburg Address by more than seven decades and the inclusion of the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance by 165 years. (“In God We Trust,” too, was a modern addition, replacing “E Pluribus Unum” as the national motto in 1956 after 174 years.)

Indeed, given the troubled waters into which American religious liberty has of late been pushed, it strikes me that conservatives ought to be courting atheists — not shunning them. I will happily take to the barricades for religious conscience rights, not least because my own security as a heretic is bound up with that of those who differ from me, and because a truly free country seeks to leave alone as many people as possible — however eccentric I might find their views or they might find mine. In my experience at least, it is Progressivism and not conservatism that is eternally hostile to variation and to individual belief, and, while we are constantly told that the opposite is the case, it is those [leftists] who pride themselves on being secular who seem more likely and more keen to abridge my liberties than those who pride themselves on being religious. That I do not share the convictions of the religious by no means implies that I wish for the state to reach into their lives. Nevertheless, religious conservatives will find themselves without many friends if they allow figures such as Mr. Bozell to shoo away the few atheists who are sympathetic to their broader cause.

As it happens, not only do I reject the claim that the two positions are antagonistic, but I’d venture that much of what informs my atheism informs my conservatism also. I am possessed of a latent skepticism of pretty much everything, a hostility toward the notion that one should believe things because they are a nice idea, a fear of holistic philosophies, a dislike of authority and of dogma, a strong belief in the Enlightenment as interpreted and experienced by the British and not the French, and a rather tenacious refusal to join groups.

Yes, a conservative should logically be skeptical of ideology as such. And impatient with the irrational. And religions are among the most irrational of ideologies.

Occasionally, I’m asked why I “believe there is no God,” which is a reasonable question in a vacuum but which nonetheless rather seems to invert the traditional order of things. After all, that’s not typically how we make our inquiries on the right, is it? Instead, we ask what evidence there is that something is true. …

A great deal of the friction between atheists and conservatives seems to derive from a reasonable question. “If you don’t consider that human beings are entitled to ‘God given’ liberties,” I am often asked, “don’t you believe that the unalienable rights that you spend your days defending are merely the product of ancient legal accidents or of the one-time whims of transient majorities?” Well, no, not really. As far as I can see, the American settlement can thrive perfectly well within my worldview. God or no God, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence are all built upon centuries of English law, human experience, and British and European philosophy, and the natural-law case for them stands nicely on its own.

And he then turns to Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration, and, far from “warning against undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God” as Tony Perkins claims …

… rejected revealed religion because revealed religion suggests a violation of the laws of nature. For revelation or any miracle to occur, the laws of nature would necessarily be broken. Jefferson did not accept this violation of natural laws. He attributed to God only such qualities as reason suggested.

Which, as the quoted passage goes on to explain, are none:

“Of the nature of this being,” Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1817, “we know nothing.”

Logically then, not even its existence, though Jefferson is not recorded as ever having said so.

Liberalism, religion and the Enlightenment 6

In which Peter Wehner argues with Todd Akin, and we argue with both.

We often read Peter Wehner with pleasure, and often agree with his opinions. Here our agreement with his argument in an article at Commentary is only partial.

His title is Liberalism, Religion and the Enlightenment.

Representative Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, was recently asked about NBC’s removal of the words “under God” from a clip of the Pledge of Allegiance during coverage of the U.S. Open. “Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal, and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God,” Akin told radio host Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. “This is a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country. And when you do that you tear the heart out of our country.”

There may be people who “hate God”, but they are not atheists. One doesn’t hate what doesn’t exist.

Liberals may believe that “government should replace God” in being, presumably, the Power over the people. But we believe in the need to limit the power of government; and that government should be as small as possible, no larger than is absolutely necessary to fulfill its only legitimate function: the protection of the people’s liberty, nationally and individually.

“Our faith and God which is a source in our belief in individual liberties”. Not the only source in Akin’s view then, but only “a source”. Even so, he’s mistaken. There is no way that a fictitious being can be the source of anything. Does “the heart of our country” depend on an illusion to keep beating?

Apparently what Akin said gave offense to some liberals – an emotional reaction. Akin felt constrained to apologize.

Akin, who is running in the GOP primary for Missouri’s Senate seat, initially told a radio station, “I don’t think there’s anything to apologize for. I’m not going to apologize for what I see liberalism doing.” But he then released a statement saying he and his family would never “question the sincerity of anyone’s personal relationship with God. My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, liberalism, not at any specific individual. If my statement gave a different impression, I offer my apologies.”

There are several things to sort through in all this, starting with this: NBC’s intentional deletion of the words “under God” revealed a ridiculous discomfort and animus toward even the most common and generic reference to God, one millions of schoolchildren use every day. What NBC did was stupid; it deserved to be roundly criticized.

We agree up to a point. Saying “under God” when reciting a well-known quotation need have no more significance than a chorus of “la la la”. But we wouldn’t criticize its omission too roundly.

But not in the way that Representative Akin did. After all, there are countless liberals – from Dorothy Day, to Martin Luther King Jr., to Mario Cuomo, to Tony Campolo – who did not/do not harbor a “hatred for God.” Nor is modern liberalism synonymous with militant atheism, even though there are some liberals who are militant atheists (just as there are a few conservatives who are as well).

Right. Only most of us aren’t “militant” about not believing in the supernatural. We just don’t, and question why anyone does.

That said, there is no question that liberalism has manifested an aversion toward, and concern about, religion – an aversion and concern rooted in part in the Enlightenment.

Liberalism as such? Is there something about liberalism that needs to involve an aversion to religion to be consistent? Classical liberalism – laissez-faire economics – does not require either belief or non-belief. But in America today “liberalism” is a misnomer for the politics of the Left. Far from being concerned with upholding Adam Smith’s “natural order of liberty” (the free market), it is a collectivist creed of the egalitarian kind. Marx, its chief prophet, preached against religion. There are other collectivist creeds that are not egalitarian and owe nothing to Marx, such as Islam. (Though there are now some weird cults that mix Islam and Marxism – more an emulsion than a solution, we guess.)

“Rooted … in the Enlightenment”. If he means that the Enlightenment made atheism intellectually respectable again after a thousand years and more of Christian thought-policing, fair enough.

Wehner goes on:

The Enlightenment, it’s important to recall, was [inter alia] a response to religious wars and religious persecution that dominated the European continent. In response, the Enlightenment emphasized man’s use of reason and the empirical sciences as the means by which he was able to achieve freedom and prosperity, happiness and knowledge. It did great good.

We heartily agree and roundly applaud.

At the same time, many of the Enlightenment’s leading figures — Descartes, Bacon, Voltaire, Hobbes, Newton, Paine, and Locke — tried, in varying degrees, to replace God with science, to make man the center of all things, to replace religion with reason, “man’s only star and compass,” in the words of Locke.

He should not leave out Spinoza, for whom God was nature, or nature’s laws.

Science should “replace” God. We find it inexplicable that some – albeit a small majority – of scientists are religious.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in his famous Harvard commencement address in which he attacked modern Western societies, declared that “anthropocentricity” — man as the center of all things — was the legacy of the Enlightenment. And that, in turn, led to what he called the “spiritual exhaustion” of the West.

A meaningless phrase, “spiritual exhaustion”. What spirit? How exhausted?

There is something –

What exactly?

to the warning issued by Solzhenitsyn. And in our time liberalism has shown if not an outright hatred for God, then a deep concern about religion as a source of intolerance, as fostering social conflict, and as threatening public peace.

You don’t have to be a liberal to notice that the religious are intolerant, and that intolerance fosters social conflict and threatens public peace. Wars are still being fought over religious differences.

Many liberals — not all, but many — want to keep the public square free of religious influences or language (see NBC’s decision). Religious beliefs are fine, so long as they are kept private.

We can agree with that view.

Wehner sees some of the danger in religion:

It is not as if liberalism’s concerns about religion are completely illegitimate or detached from historical events; religious faith has led to fanaticism and a prosecutorial zeal.

However, he continues –

But that is certainly not the whole story. And religion, rightly understood, is a friend of a liberal, decent society.

What religion is a friend to a decent society (leaving aside the word liberal for the moment, since it can mean opposite things)? Is Islam which prohibits critical examination, subjugates women, and is so intolerant that it kills dissenters when it can, a friend to decent society? Is any religion an aid to the discovery of truth when it depends on irrational belief?

And what does “rightly understood” mean? A “right understanding” of Christianity, for instance, has never been agreed upon by all Christians.

He tries to seal this point by alluding to the Founders.

That is something virtually all of America’s founders understood. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports,” is how George Washington put it in his Farewell Address. “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”

We agree of course on the need for morality. We know that there are a couple of religions which preach morality, and that some people try to obey the preaching. But we cannot see how religion as such maintains morality. We have observed that appallingly immoral acts have been, and are, carried out in the name of religions, including those that preach morality.

None of them [the Founders] would object to the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Probably not. But whether some of them would reserve a skepticism about their meaning, no one can be certain.

On this point, we quote one of our readers, Keith, commenting interestingly on our post Atheists: proud, scared, combative, victimized? (July 2, 2011):

Recently there was the big stink about NBC omitting “under god” from the pledge. At work the discussion raged that “they” were attacking religion again. I pointed out that I had seen a segment on FOX regarding the pledge, about how it was written by a socialist to sell flags, about how he also created a raised straight arm salute to go with his pledge and about how our founding fathers would have been against the idea of forcing anyone to pledge allegiance to anything. They also didn’t know that “under god” was added during the Eisenhower administration meaning that for 60 years prior people pledged without god.