Showing posts from September, 2014

Our laws are based on the Ten Commandments

A religious conservative acquaintance of mine actually used this line on me today. Here's the actual quote, from a Facebook post in which I mentioned the deconversion of Rev Rob Ripley, the pastor of the largest Protestant church in Canada:

This is standard religious conservative boilerplate, and it always warrants a facepalm. The following things are not actually illegal to do:

1. Worship gods other than Yahweh
2. Make/worship idols
3. Say "Jesus fucking Christ"
4. Totally forget about the Sabbath
5. Treat your parents like crap
6. Lie (unless you're in court)
7. Cheat on your spouse
8. Want things you don't have

Basically the only commandments that are actual modern laws are our provisions against stealing and killing, both of which are necessary for any human society to function. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, if the Israelites thought murder, theft and perjury were permissible, they wouldn't have lasted long enough to make it to Mt Sinai. 

Also, I have to laug…

My grandmother died today

I last saw my grandmother in 2012. She was quite frail, spending some 16 hours a day sleeping and generally unable to even sit upright for long periods of time. While I was there she remarked to my aunt, "I don't know why the Lord hasn't taken me yet". When I got home I wrote a post about dignity in dying, entitled I wish my grandmother could die. Soon after, she was admitted to a nursing home, where she died last night at the age of 93. While I'm saddened that she's gone, I'm really just relieved that she's no longer suffering. And while she will certainly be missed, she lived a very long and happy life, and that much at least is something worth celebrating.

I was thinking again about the issue of dignity in death, after having heard about what my grandmother was going through. She'd recently had surgery after a pair of nurses broke her femur while they were turning her, and that's on top of the staff having found broken vertebrae when she wa…

Introducing... yours truly

I haven't had much time to write lately, and probably won't be able to do so for a little while — I'm getting married in just over six weeks, work is busy, there's a new puppy in the house... yeah. And as I'm prone to become periodically, I'm just burned out a bit and lacking inspiration for the topics I generally explore on this blog, and have even thought about closing the curtain on it. I think that'd be hasty, though — I'm sure my head will be clearer when I get back from the honeymoon.

Anyway, I wanted to do something different. You all know me as 'Mike D' or 'that guy who blogs at The A-Unicornist'. But I'm a pretty regular guy with a pretty regular life, and I thought I'd give you a peek into who I really am.

First of all, in case you missed it in the contact info, my last name is Doolittle. I work as a personal trainer, which I've been doing for ten years. I love it. I'm my own boss, make my own hours (to an exten…

Thoughts on fidelity

Taking a much needed break from conversations about metaphysics, there's another topic on my brain of late as my wedding fast approaches: fidelity. And before you ask, no, I've never been even remotely unfaithful to my fiance; she's truly the love of my life.

But marriage is not something I want to do more than once. It's a commitment I hope will last us both a lifetime. And let's get real — monogamy takes a lot of work. I can speak with some experience on the matter because while I've personally never cheated on a girlfriend, I have been the 'other man' in a relationship before. I have first-hand understanding of what makes a marriage break, and how infidelity happens.

If there's any great lesson I learned from that relationship (which lasted roughly a year), it's that the worst mistake we can possibly make is to say to ourselves "I would never cheat. I love my spouse/partner too much. Cheating is something only dishonest people do, and I&…

What is reductionism, anyway?

From the response on the last couple of posts, I get the sense that some of the theists who dispute my position haven't spent much time thinking about the alternative to their metaphysically-loaded point of view: reductionism.

Case in point, here's commenter 'Jayman' sarcastically characterizing reductionism:
A water molecule can be reduced to hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen and oxygen are both flammable. Clearly water is also flammable as it is nothing but hydrogen and oxygen. I'll get to that in a moment, but first I'm going to summarize my objections to both the essentialist positions being put forth, and 'metaphysics' in general.
On parsimony, there is no reason to assume that 'essences', 'natures', etc., exist. The physical description of an object (whether person, animal, tool, or natural object) fully accounts for what that thing is. It is an amalgam of physical components, and there's nothing demonstrably absent or insufficient…

Bruce Gerencser disappeared again

So, there's that.

I've always thought Bruce was a really nice guy and an insightful writer, and I don't pretend to have the full scoop on his health problems or personal and familial issues, but I just know that as someone following his writing this is pretty disappointing. He'll blog for a while, get plenty of great content up, then disappear. It's happened enough times that it can safely be called a pattern, and I'm not sure why. Bruce, my friend, I wish you the best.

Metaphysical bigotry

In researching the previous post, I came across an old post by Ed Feser, the arguments in which I've heard parroted many times by amateur Thomists but one I'd never read directly from the mouth (or keyboard, as it were) of the sacred leader of modern Thomism himself. My gut reaction to Thomism has always been twofold: one, that it's really just an elaborate, semantically convoluted way of trying to defend the indefensible — of trying to 'prove' the existence of the Judeo-Christian god. And two, that it's really just an excuse to perpetuate bigoted and antiquated ideologies about human behavior. If you ask someone what Thomistic metaphysics have contributed to science and human progress, you'll likely get a blank stare.
In any case, Feser brings out the old antiquated canard about things having 'natures' — sophisticated-sounding shorthand for "that's how God intended it to be" — as a means to argue that things like contraception and h…

Essences, natures, and identies, oh my!

Ed Feser, uber-Catholic conservative philosopher extraordinaire, recommends a book by a chap named David Oderberg called Real Essentialism, in which the author argues that 'essences', 'natures', and 'identities' are literally real properties of things. The book's been recommended to me in several of my discussions with Christians who view themselves as 'Thomists', though I'm confident that given the $118 price tag, most if not all of those people are just recommending it because Ed Feser recommends it and not because they've actually been bothered to read it. But while I maintain a strict policy of "I'll read the book you're recommending if you buy it for me or loan it to me", its central thesis — that those supposedly 'metaphysical' properties are literally real, existing independently of the human mind — is a central point of contention in my many conversations with Thomists.

It can be difficult to debate Thomists…