Take Pride in Your Beliefs (and Why I Love the Gays)

 

I love a good Gay Pride parade.

The showmanship and the pageantry and the colors and the attitude and everything about it is just so open and fun and feel-good.

And the people! It’s rare to meet someone at a Gay Pride parade that’s just a big downer. Be they gay, straight, somewhere in between or completely undecided (or uncaring), the vast majority of folks lining the street and taking part in the festivities are smiling and inclusive, inviting everyone to have a good time, bar none.

But then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum. The side that says being gay is wrong and therefore these kinds of parades are wrong and therefore I’m wrong for talking about it.

Wrong wrong wrong. It’s all wrong. Just bad. And you can’t change their mind about it because they know better.

Usually the justification is religion, because there really isn’t a logical explanation for disliking this group of people. This allows people to disapprove and avoid the discussion, because, hey, they can’t help it, their God told them they’re better than this group. They can’t help it. Not their problem. Take it up with the big guy.

This is an easy way out, but a huge morale lapse.

I was going to write out a big argument here about all of the things that people have done in the name of their gods, and how that doesn’t justify their actions, and why it’s silly to choose this one thing to decide to go with religion on when there are so many others things that nobody toes the line with, but that would be giving validation to an idea that I don’t think deserves validation: the idea of shifting responsibility for your own beliefs and actions to someone (or something else).

If you do something, it’s on you to face the consequences, good or bad.

If you hold true to a philosophy, you are responsible for knowing why you hold these ideas dear.

If you are prejudiced against a group (actively or passively), this is YOUR prejudice, no matter what excuse you give for it. If you don’t have a good reason for this (and no, ‘the Bible/Torah/Q’ran tells me so’ is not a good reason, unless you adhere strictly to absolutely everything in the book, in which case you’re far beyond rationalization and I’m not quite sure how you found yourself at my site), you’re devaluing every other belief you hold to because you’re living the life of a follower, not someone who determines their own destiny.

This may sound harsh, but think about it. We don’t live in a fantasy-land where rain is magical and mysterious, the world is flat and gods impregnate humans.

We live in a world where robots are exploring space (and vacuuming our floors). We’ve all got pocketable mobile devices that allow us to talk to anyone else in the world on a whim any time of day. We can explain our biology in 1′s and 0′s (or as chemical compositions) and we’re casually building quantum computers on the side.

This is the world we live in, yet most people don’t realize that were all humans first and everything else second?

Looking back, how is it not glaringly obvious that the people who are prejudiced against gays are fighting the same battle as the racists and anti-Semites of the past? We look back at these people (and toward the non-developed areas where they still exist) with a collective grimace and shameful sigh, yet it’s okay to keep doing the same thing so long as it’s to a different group?

That’s absurd.

Whatever your beliefs, make sure you’re not just following along a path because it was blazed by your parents or grandparents or some long ago author of a vaunted old book.

If you aren’t able to give an answer for why you believe something (other than ‘because so-and-so told me to’), it’s time to take a serious look at your life and decide if anything you’re doing is truly your choice, or if you’re just being guided along by those who see you as sheep for their cause.

70 comments

  1. Hey Colin!

    Thank you so much for making this post. These are my thoughts exactly — though I would have a hard time stating it as eloquently as you have done here.

    Your open-mindedness & raw honesty are beautiful & rare! I am going to share this in as many places as I can think to.

    Cheers,
    Dena

  2. This is fucking great man. (Can I cuss on your site?) I love how you don’t go off on all the reasons that it’s wrong which would of course give some sort of credence to the idea that being gay is an abomination or whatever. Man fuck that. People should be free to live the lives they want.

    My local area has a gay pride parade this weekend. I know about it because the AFA (American Family Association) is making a big deal about how the mayor should cancel it based on religious reasons or something, how the gay people are “living in sin”, etc. It figuratively made me sick.

    Anyway, I didn’t think much of it, but I think I’m gonna go check out that parade this weekend.

  3. Colin-
    I love you & all but I’m gonna have to call you out on some of the apparent irony here –

    The title of the post is – TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR BELIEFS and you go ahead and make the argument that gays should take pride in their beliefs but people who hold have different ones, should change theirs.

    Now, before I get flamed, let me say:

    Anytime somebody hates someone else for any reason, I think that’s crap. It’s not okay and it doesn’t help anyone.

    That said, my problem is more with your reasoning. I don’t think you can discount one’s group belief and refuse to discuss their position by just saying you don’t want to validate their argument and then simultaneously holding up the other side simply because you agree with it.

    People are responsible for their own actions & they do need to give better reasoning than “just cause” but I also think you need to give them a chance to to give their argument (yes, i realize, “just cause” is often the argument, but I think there’s also a bigger reason, that a lot of people never hear about, because everybody’s too busy shouting at one another reasons why they’re wrong).

    Hope that makes sense.

    -Joel

  4. @Joel: I can’t speak for Colin, but I’m going to take my own spin on interpreting his post. I like a good debate, and think that your points are excellent, so I’ll take part.

    On a more basic, fundamental reason, I agree with you – we need to hear out peoples’ reasons for holding their beliefs first, then give our counterargument. If it’s “just ’cause”, then we’re still at square one, and can then take the initiative to prove why our beliefs, to us, are the ‘correct’ perception of reality (because, really, that’s all our beliefs are).

    However, when Colin says that we should “take pride in our beliefs”, he means that we should have enough pride to arrive at our beliefs through a rational process, and then have pride in our own reasoning, because WE controlled our thought process, and arrived at such a conclusion. That’s what Colin means (I think) when he said we should take pride in our beliefs. Since we own our thought processes, we should own our beliefs as well – and stand up for them.

    Now, here’s the problem I think we’ll both acknowledge: what happens when the excuse “just ’cause” is the result of conditioning that happens when we’re kids?

    In fact, I’d wager a fair bit of money that most people who are homophobic have been conditioned in such a way, and haven’t really “reasoned” to hate gays; they just do. Why? They have reached a point called the state of moral confounding, where, no matter what reasons you give for homosexuality (in this instance) being perfectly alright, they still have this “gut feeling” that it’s morally wrong. They don’t know why, but they do.

    And that opens a whole new can of worms, doesn’t it?

    Skip to section 5 of this video on Fora to check out more on the state of moral confounding: Jonah Lehrer: How We Decide

  5. Thanks for the comments, folks!

    @Joel: Good point, but as Brett mentioned, I’m taking issue with the arrival at the belief, not the belief itself. That being said, I’ve yet to hear any argument other than the ones mentioned in the article as to why someone would not like an ethnic group, gender, sexual preference or anything else, so in this case they end up being one in the same.

    Hope that makes sense, and thanks for the intelligent dissent!

  6. “Take pride in your beliefs” unless they are Christian. It’s ok to be anything you want to be and be proud of it unless you are Christian. I’m deleting this site from my RSS Reader. True Garbage. You are so open minded to people who agree with you. Hypocrite.

  7. Colin, as one of the gays, I’d like to thank you for this post. Though I personally think homophobia (or any type of discrimination, for that matter) is utterly naive, ridiculous, and often hateful, I don’t have a problem with those who believe those things as long as they came to such conclusions on their own terms. It’s one thing to hold personal beliefs based on personal experiences, but it’s another thing entirely when you hold beliefs for the sake of holding those beliefs.

  8. @Dave: Sorry you feel that way, and sorry to lose you as a reader, but if you have a belief that negates all your other beliefs (for example, that someone else should tell you what your beliefs are), what validity do any of them really have?

    That’s all I’m saying. I really don’t mean to target any religion here – there are plenty out there that don’t do this to any large degree – but it’s the most familiar example I can use to get the idea across to as many people as possible.

  9. @Colin
    It just seems ridiculous to portray yourself as being so open minded and that it doesn’t matter what you believe if it is right for you. I have come to my own conclusions based on my experiences and research. You mocked my faith. You just spewed hate. I don’t hate gay people. I have many friends who are gay. Do you really have to bash my faith to say how much you like gays? I would suggest that you examine the hate that is in your own heart. Followers of Christ make easy targets. Jesus loves you eventhough you hate him. I forgive you.

  10. @Brett-
    En Garde! haha. I love a good debate as long as there’s mutual respect. That’s paramount.

    Now on to your points (got something to drink? this is gonna be a long one)-

    I think we can agree that for people who hold certain beliefs “just cause”, there really is no discussion with them. No matter what view they represent. It’s either right or wrong. No in between.

    I’m always thrown a little bit off by people who believe that, because I haven’t actually run into many situations in life that are so clear cut.

    As for the video, that threw me for a loop too! (interesting example to start out with). I actually agree with him, that it’s a reaction, an emotion that maybe we’re don’t have a logical explanation for, BUT I don’t think the lack of a LOGICAL explanation completely dismantles an argument. That sounds like heresy this day & age, but as much as we want ourselves to be completely logical robots, we’re not. The large majority of our decisions are not made for logical reason, rather emotional ones. I assume, Colin, that as a fellow marketer, you should be well aware of that. Jonathan Fields just wrote an excellent piece on how selling directly to emotions rather than features (the logical reasoning) is much more effective. || http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/features-and-benefits-are-so-2009-sell-to-driving-emotion/

    As much as I love science & reason and do recognize the advances it’s allowed us to make in society. I do think we’ve sort of made a shrine to all things “logical” & “reasonable” when there are so many thing in life that aren’t. (I wrote an article for Brave New Traveler trying to articulate this point that might help explain what I’m trying to say – http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2009/12/08/proving-faith-searching-for-answers-about-god/).

    People do have some emotional reasons for decisions and I think that’s okay. I don’t have any logical reason for donating to KIVA. BUT something about it makes me feel awesome about doing a small part to help the world.

    @colin
    As for why people would “not like” another group. The answer is pretty simple. They’re scared of the unfamiliar. I’m sure you’ve seen this in your travels Colin that there are definitely those that resist anything foreign or strange because it’s outside of their comfort zone and they don’t know how to react.

    Now if we’re talking specifically about the gay community (since this is what the blog is about); there are definitely some people out there that “don’t like” the homosexual community & I’m not necessarily arguing for them, but there are some that don’t necessarily “dislike” people who would consider themselves homosexuals as much as they just disagree with them.

    I think there are a couple of problems -
    1. It comes down to identity. Homosexuals have been ostracized by mainstream culture so long that they’ve been forced to cling together as a group. Doing so has given them an identity where they identify as a homosexual first & foremost. That’s not true. First and foremost they’re a person. I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    2. We, and I think this is a distinctly American issue, are wusses. We have so so so much to be thankful for and don’t have to worry about the everyday issues that are an issue in other countries & societies (shelter, clean water, free speech, oppressive governments) that we focus on things to complain about rather than be thankful for. This is why I think the arguments about prayer in schools (nobody can stop you from praying anywhere in the US, you just can’t force it on others) and stuff like gay marriage get so talked up about. We’ve gotten through so many major issues that we agree on, the people that just like being mad have run out of things to get mad about so they start getting upset about tertiary issues. Instead of discussing items, people get defensive and think you’re infringing on their personal liberties and personally launching a full-blown hate attack on them, when all you’re really doing is expressing a difference of opinion.

    If christians want to know what it’s really like to be persecuted, check out a country like China, Iran or North Korea. Persecution looks a lot different than just saying “I don’t want you to make me pray with you.” Same thing goes for the gay community. I realize there some prejudice here (and prejudice is never acceptable, ever) but look at what people go through in other parts of the world (ex. I was in Jamaica for a month last summer. There’s a 10year hard labor sentence for gays in Jamaica, but nobody actually ever serves it because they’ll get murdered before they go to trial). When we see stuff like this happening in the world happening, it makes me laugh a little when I disagree with someone and they call it “hate speech.” Can’t we be just a little more thankful?

    The point isn’t that everything’s relative and that makes prejudice here okay because it “isn’t that bad”, but I do think we have a tendency to overreact when people simply disagree.

    Does any of that makes sense? I’ve tried to be as clear & concise as possible as well as use unoffensive terminology (I can never keep track of what’s okay to say and what’s not anymore) so sorry if I unintentionally offended anyone.

    -Joel

    p.s. sorry for the book =)

  11. @Dave: When did I say I hated Christians? When did I mock your faith? That’s excellent that you have gay friends, but did you read the post? It seems to me that you’re looking to be offended, so you’re picking out the parts that support that and ignoring the actual words.

    And as much as I appreciate what I imagine you intend with the forgiveness you offer, don’t you realize that forgiving someone you don’t know implies that you see yourself as being better than them and are therefore worthy of forgiving them not being as morally sound as you? Just sayin’.

  12. I believe you were mocking my faith when you said “We don’t live in a fantasy-land where rain is magical and mysterious, the world is flat and gods impregnate humans.”
    You implied that my religion is based on fantasy. That was your witty way of saying that Jesus was not who he said he was. Me saying that I forgive you is not me saying that I am better than you, for I do not believe that I am. I was just saying that you offended me, but that I don’t hold it against you. I was saying that I am not mad at you. Is something wrong with not holding a grudge against someone? It’s not the cool thing to do…just sayin..

  13. @Joel: Since we’re really dueling now, I must say a few choice words…

    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

    With that out of the way, let’s begin.

    In reviewing your entire argument over again, we agree in so many ways – more than it appears at first glance.

    I’ll start with your statement that the lack of a logical explanation completely dismantles an argument.

    I agree – on one level. I’ll acknowledge that an argument is not totally dismantled if it is POSSIBLE that there is a logical explanation behind it. Ergo, you’re giving up the opportunity to provide your own logical explanation because you feel like you’re missing some crucial data that would enable you to make a BETTER logical explanation.

    Case in point: the centuries-old debate about the place of the earth in the cosmos. First, people believed the sun and the other planets revolved around the Earth. This was totally based on logic; they saw that the sun moved while the earth, to them, stood totally still. Thus, the sun revolved around the earth. For a time, this was totally reasonable and logical, and, this, became accepted. Then Copernicus came along and proved that their ‘logic’ was missing a few important pieces of data and a lot of observations.

    Even though one school of thought was wrong and the other was right – they were both being logical with the information they had at the time. If we’re in a situation where we don’t have a logical reason given to us, but there IS some sort of logical reason behind it (it just remains a mystery), then THAT’S when an argument is not completely and utterly dismantled.

    But when emotion – illogical emotion – is introduced as the opposite form of “reason” for something, then of course the argument falls flat on its face.

    The problem is that ethics are ultimately intertwined with emotion. We’ve been instilled with a sense of ethics from a VERY young age – and I’m extremely thankful for that. We’re taught that if we do something “good”, we can feel good about ourselves too – a reward of positive emotion for a positive action. My guess is that you like giving charity and supporting good causes, so that’s why you donate to KIVA. You want to make a difference in this world. And, as a result, you feel really good for doing so. Simple cause and effect, though I am no psychologist and your reasons could be totally different. But, often, they lurk in the subconscious.

    (Sidenote: I agree that emotions drive at least 90% of our decisions. Why? Without emotion, logic would be useless. We need the perceived emotional benefit in order to choose the more “logical” option. Watch part 2 of that video I linked. You’ll find it kind of ironic :) )

    Upon reading the Jonathan Fields article – I’ve already read it once, as I love that man – I think you may be misinterpreting what he says. Or missing something he’s saying. Either way, this is how I see it: he wants to make the product you’re selling a provider of emotion for the customer. That is, you’re going to market the product so your customer thinks they’ll have that emotional response when they buy your product.

    This, again, makes the positive emotion of buying said product, an EFFECT. And, by definition, all effects have a CAUSE.

    Thus, using logic, emotion doesn’t go deep enough as an acceptable explanation. Without justifying emotion with its cause, it cannot stand on its own in an argument.

    This is exactly why we can’t even argue with the “just ’cause” people. By definition, it can’t hold up.

    So now that I’ve arrived at the same exact conclusions we made earlier, what else do I have to say?

    Yes, people can make emotional decisions – people aren’t robots, you’re right! And I’m so glad you are! The problem, as I said, is when these “just ’cause my gut says so” decisions are mixed with ethics and morality. Then we have a serious problem.

    Ethics’ marriage to emotion has a slew of problems. Namely, as long as someone doesn’t feel “bad” by doing something, they’ll assume it’s ethical, since our code of ethics has been long impressed into our heads. We have made the unconscious connection that good action = good feeling, and bad action = bad feeling.

    However, what if your code of ethics isn’t perfect? What if you were brought up with some gaping deficiency in your moral code? How would you know what is truly moral and immoral – based solely on your emotional reaction to things, and not invoking logic? You couldn’t.

    Example: You grew up in a household where everyone was brown-eyed. You assumed that everyone was just born that way, until you saw a blue-eyed classmate in school. You then asked your parents about the blue-eyed child, and your father responded that blue eyed people aren’t even truly human – they are subhuman, they are stupid, they are incompetent, and they should be killed on sight because they are a plague on humanity. In fact, from that point on, your father tells you to kill every blue-eyed person you see, because it’s the right thing to do. He notes how killing his first “light-eyed beast” made him feel – he says how free and powerful and GOOD it made him feel. It made him feel like a saint, and he wants you to be good like him as well. In fact, the rest of your society also condemns blue-eyed people. People in your town who are blue-eyed just leave, or wear colored contacts if they can take it. Everyone tells you how blue-eyed people are inferior to humans, and how they should be killed on sight, as one should kill a household pest.

    From that point on, you begin to view blue-eyed people as subhuman and, quite honestly, in need of killing. Eventually, your desire to do good overwhelms you, and you brutally murder a blue-eyed person – and you feel GREAT. Why? You believed you were doing an act of charity for the rest of humanity. Murder, to you, WASN’T an immoral act; in fact, it was a supremely moral act in your eyes.

    To us, though, that act was incredibly immoral, even though you (in your quasi-tribal hypothetical situation) thought it was moral. Does your emotional response – feeling disgusted by blue-eyed people, and feeling great when killing them – justify the killing? Hell no. But this also proves that, when morality and emotion are intertwined… Morality quickly becomes VERY subjective. However, morality could not survive without emotion, as there would be no incentive for acting moral and no incentive against acting immoral.

    The problem that Colin and I are getting at is that people don’t go deeper than their emotional response to the hatred of, in this case, gays. They don’t know how they got their emotional response – or, if they do, they don’t want to investigate any further, because, if they did, their world would come crashing down. In this case, religion does wonders for condemning gays (whether they actually do in scripture is another argument entirely). If people started looking past their religion and using their own powers of logic to see whether the prejudiced group actually DESERVES prejudice, then that could lead to a disastrous situation for them, psychologically.

    Namely, if they found out their dogma (religion) had one hole in it (prejudice against gays), then… Who knows what else in their religion could be wrong? Hell, logic says that if it’s wrong about one thing, then credibility goes out the window, and that could ALL be wrong.

    And that’s scary. Throwing out your entire belief system is incredibly scary. Not to mention the social consequences of doing so. You’d lose friends, and family members may disown you. You’d be an outcast, forever ostracized among your immediate family because you might totally accept gays and turned your back on your faith because of it.

    Religions survive on a claim to having a monopoly on truth. If one part is wrong, then the whole house of cards comes crashing down. And that is unacceptable to lots of people, so they decide to stick to their emotions and never dig deeper.

    You’re kind of right about the “we’re so affluent that we’re just making up issues”. When it comes to gay marriage, you’re dead, dead wrong (sorry if you didn’t mean to imply that).

    With gay marriage, it isn’t the “marriage” part that’s important. It’s the “gay” part. The rights of marriage, on their own, aren’t spectacular – and nor are they “necessary” in our society, at least to my mind.

    But they do exist – for heterosexual couples. And not for gay people (except in my state of Massachusetts! WOO!). Since gay people are being denied that right based on something totally arbitrary like sexual orientation – that’s an issue, because that’s what we like to call… Discrimination.

    The overreactions you’ve described do exist, and I regret that they do. There was this particularly obnoxious gay kid at my school, and I make it known that I dislike him. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten labeled a “homophobe” by his friends because they think I don’t like him because he’s gay. That’s so far from the truth – I don’t like the kid because he’s blatantly obnoxious and annoying.

    When people’s beliefs are attacked so often, they begin to perceive any and all disagreement as an attack on their person. It’s conditioning at its finest.

    I’ve run out of words to say, but I’ll end on this note: you’re right that people fear the unknown more than anything – and people who are “different”, like gays, are certainly “unknown factors”. Moreover, you’re right that we’re not grateful enough. And yes, we do overreact when people disagree with us.

    Going back to morality and my blue-eyed murder example: could we really hold ‘you’ responsible for the murder, if you didn’t know differently and your emotions misled you? As a side note: note the implications of your answer to how we deal with people who are prejudiced.

    (Note: this is terribly unorganized and might not have made all the points I wanted. Sorry, as well, for my ridiculously long response.)

  14. @Dave: Actually, I was referring to Greek mythology (something I figured not too many people would be offended by, since Zeus-worshipers are few and far-between these days).

    In that case, I truly appreciate the forgiveness, because offense was definitely not intended.

    I also appreciate you continuing the conversation despite being offended; that proves your statement about being open-minded even more than anything you could say.

  15. @Joel & Brett: Guys, I’m pretty sure I’ll need to write a book report after digging through what you both wrote! Impressive!

    I’ll have more to say once I’ve gone through your responses, but I’m glad you’re both so involved!

  16. We keep getting longer & longer. I’ll try my best to keep this concise :)

    -Princess Bride Reference +1 for Brett =)
    -Your point on illogical emotion…dead on.
    -Your argument about justifying emotions without a cause falls flat when you talk about self-sacrifice. There’s no logical reason for someone to sacrifice their own goals for someone else. That’s a purely emotional decision.
    -Code of ethics argument is an interesting point. We as humans are terrible at figuring out what situations are actually good & what are bad. Ex. You get cancer. Bad, right? But how many cancer survivors have you heard talk about how cancer was the best thing that happened to them, made them stronger than ever & made them realize how precious life is, so now cancer = good? We’re very shortsighted beings.
    -You keep coming back to the religion (i.e. christianity) having a hole in the fact that it’s prejudicing against gays. Not true. Simply a lot of fallible humans have misunderstood what’s said and it’s much easier to come to brash judgments (let’s hate something different, instead of understanding their position).
    -You say – “Religions survive on a claim to having a monopoly on truth.” I would say you didn’t read my article did you? Read it http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2009/12/08/proving-faith-searching-for-answers-about-god/ . I promise it’s not THAT bad :) But in it I talk about how much we DON’T know and how that’s OK and that it’s actually a part of faith. Donald Miller is a killer author that writes on this topic a lot. He’s really good. I think you’d like him (even if you don’t necessarily agree with him) – http://donmilleris.com/
    -We disagree on gay marriage not because of the tenets but because I don’t believe marriage is a right given by the state. I could talk more on this, but basically I think gays should be able to do everything straight people do but I think the main issue (and the one you see everyone protesting) is the use of the word “marriage.” This is a huge issue, and for a lot deeper reasons that you’d think. I can explain this one-on-one if you want.
    -Totally agree. Some people are just annoying. It’s even worse when they play the “discrimination” card whether that’s black, white, man, woman, gay straight. You’re annoying cause you’re annoying. Not because of an anecdotal characteristic of your body.
    -To be honest, I’m a little confused on your blue-eyed murder example. if you’re saying morality can be subjective, I’d have to agree to some extent or we wouldn’t be having a discussion! We’d all agree. However, I do think there are certain things everyone can agree on (murder=bad) but there are some others that are gray areas and takes a little more thought. I think moral subjectivity is different than complete brainwashing which is what you’re proposing (and has happened several times all over africa). Brainwashing, I don’t think you can hold that person responsible. However, having a different moral spin on things that conveniently allows you to kill everyone because it seemed “ok” to you is something different.

    Overall, I think we agree a lot. Not quite 100% but that’s what makes life interesting, right? I don’t want to turn Colin’s blog into a theological debate blog, because that’s not the purpose of it, but if you want to skype or something and talk more, I’d love to do a “round 3″ and see which one of us KOs the other first =).

    Thanks for the thought out responses Brett & thanks Colin for letting us hijack your comments section =)
    -Joel

  17. I’ve just asked Joel and Brett if they’d be willing to continue and expound upon this debate in a point-counterpoint dual-guest-post in the near-future.

    Both have accepted the challenge, and a link to the new post will be set up here when it’s published.

  18. “Usually the justification is religion, because there really isn’t a logical explanation for disliking this group of people. This allows people to disapprove and avoid the discussion, because, hey, they can’t help it, their God told them they’re better than this group. They can’t help it. Not their problem. Take it up with the big guy.”

    I don’t dislike gays at all and I’m not super religious but here are a few comments I thought I’d like to add regarding this paragraph…

    1. For some people religion is a logical explanation for disliking gays, even if you say it isn’t. It is only in your opinion that it is illogical, it is not a fact.

    2. The whole vibe I get from this paragraph makes me feel like the title of the post is ironic.

    3. Most religions I know of never teach you to think you are better than anyone else. That’s a sin.

    WHEN ARE YOU GON BE IN CHI-TOWN?!

  19. @Zachary: Religion is faith-based, not logic-based, therefore things derived from it are illogical. This doesn’t make them wrong, but it also doesn’t make them defensible in a scientifically-acceptable way.

    My issue is not with religion, but with the idea of saying ‘don’t blame me for having illogical ideas, I was told to have them.’ Governments, organizations, schools, etc etc etc all do the same thing. Hell, blogs do as well, though we don’t hold the same sway!

    Most religions (and governments and schools and on and on) won’t tell you they’re telling you to think you’re better, but they do. To build a strong group dynamic, you usually need an ‘other,’ and to build that other you need either an enemy or a focus of pity. Some focus on one more than the other, but if you look close, they’ve all got at least one.

    It’s hard to pass judgment on this, since pretty much every cause has this kind of ‘other,’ but it’s one of those sociological premises that is fairly airtight across the board. There are always outliers, but I can’t think of any for this instance off the top of my head.

    I’ll be in Chicago July 24th! Will you be around? Would be fun to meet up in person!

  20. Hi Colin,

    I initially read your “gods impregnating women” passage as stemming from Greek/Roman mythology, but immediately also saw the parallels in Christianity, etc. You’ve got to be careful with these sorts of broad story references, as many religions share similar archetypal stories.

    Interesting watching the debate, but I think I’ll excuse myself from this one. Looking forward to the next article.

    Best,
    Haidn

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  22. It’s a half hour before the Netherlands/Brazil game, so I’m forced to keep my final response short. Here, I’ll just tackle your objections to my arguments and not bring up anything new.

    On self-sacrifice: OF COURSE there are logical reasons for self-sacrifice. Again, look beneath the surface – because that’s where the true reasons lie.

    First off, altruism is encoded in our genes to protect people who share our genes first – namely, family. In Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, he states that we have an inborn drive for saving family members that will carry as many of our genes as possible. As a quick example, saving two of our siblings would be an acceptable form of self-sacrifice, as they both hold roughly 50% of our genetic code, combining for, essentially, one of us. Dawkins states that our genes are merely survival machines and want to be passed on above all else – which is why this trade-off is attractive. Take that with a grain of salt, but that behavior has been seen in many species.

    Also: our society has placed such a strong emphasis on self-sacrifice and altruism that you feel GOOD when you do so. Remember: logic underlies emotions, particularly when there is a cause-and-effect. You may THINK it’s an emotional decision, but, in reality, it’s perfectly logical, though not in the “rational” economic sense where everyone maximizes their profits and benefit (delving into game theory there).

    On cancer: cancer isn’t necessarily moral or immoral – it just is. As someone who does not believe in subjective morality (it exists, but I don’t adopt it myself in my code of beliefs), murder, for example, is morally bad. So is prejudice, theft, assault, perjury… You get the idea.

    I’ll be the first to agree with you that situations we perceive as “good” and “bad” can actually be otherwise – in fact, I’d say it’s a detriment to label situations at all because we don’t know how they’ll play out.

    This is why this is one of my favorite stories:

    “There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

    Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

    Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

    Who knows?”

    On religion being prejudiced: I don’t have my Bible in front of me, so I can’t quote it. Nevertheless, isn’t it alarming that prejudice against gays and religion seem to go hand-in-hand? My quarrel with religion goes far, far beyond simple prejudices as well, but I’m not going to go there.

    On your article: I now have read it, and I like the Osho quotes. The problem is that, simply, since your arguments are non-falsifiable, you assume them to be true. That’s a logical fallacy. And I know you know it is, but if you’re just going to abandon logic wholesale… At least do it with some creativity! ;)

    (I’m pullin’ your leg)

    On gay “marriage”: We’re in agreement here. “Marriage” creates massive confusion, because there is marriage done by a religious institution, then there is legal marriage. People get so attached to the word “marriage” in a religious context that they can’t see how it could function in a legal way. They are totally and utterly separated – so I think the legal world should just come up with a separate name for ALL “marriages” under the legal system. The problem with that is that the word “marriage” is such a part of our vernacular and culture that it’ll be nearly impossible to get rid of it.

    The blue-eyed murder example is intended to posit a few questions, namely:

    -If you were doing something that you believed was moral, is it ultimately justifiable just because your intentions were good and didn’t know better?

    -How can we ever be sure that our moral code is the right one?

    -If we come from a frame where our moral code is absolute and objective, how could we expect to change it in order to accommodate other people?

    -If we get conditioned to the point where good emotion = good act and bad emotion = bad act, what do we do to morality when our emotions mislead us?

    Alright, the game’s on in 4 minutes. Cheers, and we’ll talk soon!

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  24. Controversy spurs such good conversation. I can’t think of anything better than respectful belief-jousting.

    I really feel a bit enlightened and enlivened with all of the points brought up. Thanks everybody.

  25. I think this will be a fun one to comment on, because it’s seems like most people are so concerned with proving that they are right.

    I think of religious books as guidance that will either improve your life or make it worse. Experiment and see the results.

    I guess the main argument is don’t use books to justify hate and prejudice because they are just someone’s idea.

    @Colin I have to speak from a Christian perspective because I grew up Christian, and yes, that does involve a lot of brainwashing and religious rituals. But, what I have concluded that the books are useless unless they are tools to improve your world.

    A few comments on what the Bible says:
    God is love. Jesus says love God, and love everyone like yourself

    …and it’s funny that the KKK has the Bible at their rallies.

    Enjoyed reading the arguments. Controversial topic:)

  26. Hey Colin!

    Thank you so much for making this post. These are my thoughts exactly — though I would have a hard time stating it as eloquently as you have done here.

    Your open-mindedness & raw honesty are beautiful & rare! I am going to share this in as many places as I can think to.

    Cheers,
    Dena

  27. This is fucking great man. (Can I cuss on your site?) I love how you don’t go off on all the reasons that it’s wrong which would of course give some sort of credence to the idea that being gay is an abomination or whatever. Man fuck that. People should be free to live the lives they want.

    My local area has a gay pride parade this weekend. I know about it because the AFA (American Family Association) is making a big deal about how the mayor should cancel it based on religious reasons or something, how the gay people are “living in sin”, etc. It figuratively made me sick.

    Anyway, I didn’t think much of it, but I think I’m gonna go check out that parade this weekend.

  28. Colin-
    I love you & all but I’m gonna have to call you out on some of the apparent irony here –

    The title of the post is – TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR BELIEFS and you go ahead and make the argument that gays should take pride in their beliefs but people who hold have different ones, should change theirs.

    Now, before I get flamed, let me say:

    Anytime somebody hates someone else for any reason, I think that’s crap. It’s not okay and it doesn’t help anyone.

    That said, my problem is more with your reasoning. I don’t think you can discount one’s group belief and refuse to discuss their position by just saying you don’t want to validate their argument and then simultaneously holding up the other side simply because you agree with it.

    People are responsible for their own actions & they do need to give better reasoning than “just cause” but I also think you need to give them a chance to to give their argument (yes, i realize, “just cause” is often the argument, but I think there’s also a bigger reason, that a lot of people never hear about, because everybody’s too busy shouting at one another reasons why they’re wrong).

    Hope that makes sense.

    -Joel

  29. @Joel: I can’t speak for Colin, but I’m going to take my own spin on interpreting his post. I like a good debate, and think that your points are excellent, so I’ll take part.

    On a more basic, fundamental reason, I agree with you – we need to hear out peoples’ reasons for holding their beliefs first, then give our counterargument. If it’s “just ’cause”, then we’re still at square one, and can then take the initiative to prove why our beliefs, to us, are the ‘correct’ perception of reality (because, really, that’s all our beliefs are).

    However, when Colin says that we should “take pride in our beliefs”, he means that we should have enough pride to arrive at our beliefs through a rational process, and then have pride in our own reasoning, because WE controlled our thought process, and arrived at such a conclusion. That’s what Colin means (I think) when he said we should take pride in our beliefs. Since we own our thought processes, we should own our beliefs as well – and stand up for them.

    Now, here’s the problem I think we’ll both acknowledge: what happens when the excuse “just ’cause” is the result of conditioning that happens when we’re kids?

    In fact, I’d wager a fair bit of money that most people who are homophobic have been conditioned in such a way, and haven’t really “reasoned” to hate gays; they just do. Why? They have reached a point called the state of moral confounding, where, no matter what reasons you give for homosexuality (in this instance) being perfectly alright, they still have this “gut feeling” that it’s morally wrong. They don’t know why, but they do.

    And that opens a whole new can of worms, doesn’t it?

    Skip to section 5 of this video on Fora to check out more on the state of moral confounding: Jonah Lehrer: How We Decide

  30. Thanks for the comments, folks!

    @Joel: Good point, but as Brett mentioned, I’m taking issue with the arrival at the belief, not the belief itself. That being said, I’ve yet to hear any argument other than the ones mentioned in the article as to why someone would not like an ethnic group, gender, sexual preference or anything else, so in this case they end up being one in the same.

    Hope that makes sense, and thanks for the intelligent dissent!

  31. “Take pride in your beliefs” unless they are Christian. It’s ok to be anything you want to be and be proud of it unless you are Christian. I’m deleting this site from my RSS Reader. True Garbage. You are so open minded to people who agree with you. Hypocrite.

  32. Colin, as one of the gays, I’d like to thank you for this post. Though I personally think homophobia (or any type of discrimination, for that matter) is utterly naive, ridiculous, and often hateful, I don’t have a problem with those who believe those things as long as they came to such conclusions on their own terms. It’s one thing to hold personal beliefs based on personal experiences, but it’s another thing entirely when you hold beliefs for the sake of holding those beliefs.

  33. @Dave: Sorry you feel that way, and sorry to lose you as a reader, but if you have a belief that negates all your other beliefs (for example, that someone else should tell you what your beliefs are), what validity do any of them really have?

    That’s all I’m saying. I really don’t mean to target any religion here – there are plenty out there that don’t do this to any large degree – but it’s the most familiar example I can use to get the idea across to as many people as possible.

  34. @Colin
    It just seems ridiculous to portray yourself as being so open minded and that it doesn’t matter what you believe if it is right for you. I have come to my own conclusions based on my experiences and research. You mocked my faith. You just spewed hate. I don’t hate gay people. I have many friends who are gay. Do you really have to bash my faith to say how much you like gays? I would suggest that you examine the hate that is in your own heart. Followers of Christ make easy targets. Jesus loves you eventhough you hate him. I forgive you.

  35. @Brett-
    En Garde! haha. I love a good debate as long as there’s mutual respect. That’s paramount.

    Now on to your points (got something to drink? this is gonna be a long one)-

    I think we can agree that for people who hold certain beliefs “just cause”, there really is no discussion with them. No matter what view they represent. It’s either right or wrong. No in between.

    I’m always thrown a little bit off by people who believe that, because I haven’t actually run into many situations in life that are so clear cut.

    As for the video, that threw me for a loop too! (interesting example to start out with). I actually agree with him, that it’s a reaction, an emotion that maybe we’re don’t have a logical explanation for, BUT I don’t think the lack of a LOGICAL explanation completely dismantles an argument. That sounds like heresy this day & age, but as much as we want ourselves to be completely logical robots, we’re not. The large majority of our decisions are not made for logical reason, rather emotional ones. I assume, Colin, that as a fellow marketer, you should be well aware of that. Jonathan Fields just wrote an excellent piece on how selling directly to emotions rather than features (the logical reasoning) is much more effective. || http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/features-and

    As much as I love science & reason and do recognize the advances it’s allowed us to make in society. I do think we’ve sort of made a shrine to all things “logical” & “reasonable” when there are so many thing in life that aren’t. (I wrote an article for Brave New Traveler trying to articulate this point that might help explain what I’m trying to say – http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2009/12/08/prov…).

    People do have some emotional reasons for decisions and I think that’s okay. I don’t have any logical reason for donating to KIVA. BUT something about it makes me feel awesome about doing a small part to help the world.

    @colin
    As for why people would “not like” another group. The answer is pretty simple. They’re scared of the unfamiliar. I’m sure you’ve seen this in your travels Colin that there are definitely those that resist anything foreign or strange because it’s outside of their comfort zone and they don’t know how to react.

    Now if we’re talking specifically about the gay community (since this is what the blog is about); there are definitely some people out there that “don’t like” the homosexual community & I’m not necessarily arguing for them, but there are some that don’t necessarily “dislike” people who would consider themselves homosexuals as much as they just disagree with them.

    I think there are a couple of problems -
    1. It comes down to identity. Homosexuals have been ostracized by mainstream culture so long that they’ve been forced to cling together as a group. Doing so has given them an identity where they identify as a homosexual first & foremost. That’s not true. First and foremost they’re a person. I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    2. We, and I think this is a distinctly American issue, are wusses. We have so so so much to be thankful for and don’t have to worry about the everyday issues that are an issue in other countries & societies (shelter, clean water, free speech, oppressive governments) that we focus on things to complain about rather than be thankful for. This is why I think the arguments about prayer in schools (nobody can stop you from praying anywhere in the US, you just can’t force it on others) and stuff like gay marriage get so talked up about. We’ve gotten through so many major issues that we agree on, the people that just like being mad have run out of things to get mad about so they start getting upset about tertiary issues. Instead of discussing items, people get defensive and think you’re infringing on their personal liberties and personally launching a full-blown hate attack on them, when all you’re really doing is expressing a difference of opinion.

    If christians want to know what it’s really like to be persecuted, check out a country like China, Iran or North Korea. Persecution looks a lot different than just saying “I don’t want you to make me pray with you.” Same thing goes for the gay community. I realize there some prejudice here (and prejudice is never acceptable, ever) but look at what people go through in other parts of the world (ex. I was in Jamaica for a month last summer. There’s a 10year hard labor sentence for gays in Jamaica, but nobody actually ever serves it because they’ll get murdered before they go to trial). When we see stuff like this happening in the world happening, it makes me laugh a little when I disagree with someone and they call it “hate speech.” Can’t we be just a little more thankful?

    The point isn’t that everything’s relative and that makes prejudice here okay because it “isn’t that bad”, but I do think we have a tendency to overreact when people simply disagree.

    Does any of that makes sense? I’ve tried to be as clear & concise as possible as well as use unoffensive terminology (I can never keep track of what’s okay to say and what’s not anymore) so sorry if I unintentionally offended anyone.

    -Joel

    p.s. sorry for the book =)

  36. @Dave: When did I say I hated Christians? When did I mock your faith? That’s excellent that you have gay friends, but did you read the post? It seems to me that you’re looking to be offended, so you’re picking out the parts that support that and ignoring the actual words.

    And as much as I appreciate what I imagine you intend with the forgiveness you offer, don’t you realize that forgiving someone you don’t know implies that you see yourself as being better than them and are therefore worthy of forgiving them not being as morally sound as you? Just sayin’.

  37. I believe you were mocking my faith when you said “We don’t live in a fantasy-land where rain is magical and mysterious, the world is flat and gods impregnate humans.”
    You implied that my religion is based on fantasy. That was your witty way of saying that Jesus was not who he said he was. Me saying that I forgive you is not me saying that I am better than you, for I do not believe that I am. I was just saying that you offended me, but that I don’t hold it against you. I was saying that I am not mad at you. Is something wrong with not holding a grudge against someone? It’s not the cool thing to do…just sayin..

  38. @Joel: Since we’re really dueling now, I must say a few choice words…

    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

    With that out of the way, let’s begin.

    In reviewing your entire argument over again, we agree in so many ways – more than it appears at first glance.

    I’ll start with your statement that the lack of a logical explanation completely dismantles an argument.

    I agree – on one level. I’ll acknowledge that an argument is not totally dismantled if it is POSSIBLE that there is a logical explanation behind it. Ergo, you’re giving up the opportunity to provide your own logical explanation because you feel like you’re missing some crucial data that would enable you to make a BETTER logical explanation.

    Case in point: the centuries-old debate about the place of the earth in the cosmos. First, people believed the sun and the other planets revolved around the Earth. This was totally based on logic; they saw that the sun moved while the earth, to them, stood totally still. Thus, the sun revolved around the earth. For a time, this was totally reasonable and logical, and, this, became accepted. Then Copernicus came along and proved that their ‘logic’ was missing a few important pieces of data and a lot of observations.

    Even though one school of thought was wrong and the other was right – they were both being logical with the information they had at the time. If we’re in a situation where we don’t have a logical reason given to us, but there IS some sort of logical reason behind it (it just remains a mystery), then THAT’S when an argument is not completely and utterly dismantled.

    But when emotion – illogical emotion – is introduced as the opposite form of “reason” for something, then of course the argument falls flat on its face.

    The problem is that ethics are ultimately intertwined with emotion. We’ve been instilled with a sense of ethics from a VERY young age – and I’m extremely thankful for that. We’re taught that if we do something “good”, we can feel good about ourselves too – a reward of positive emotion for a positive action. My guess is that you like giving charity and supporting good causes, so that’s why you donate to KIVA. You want to make a difference in this world. And, as a result, you feel really good for doing so. Simple cause and effect, though I am no psychologist and your reasons could be totally different. But, often, they lurk in the subconscious.

    (Sidenote: I agree that emotions drive at least 90% of our decisions. Why? Without emotion, logic would be useless. We need the perceived emotional benefit in order to choose the more “logical” option. Watch part 2 of that video I linked. You’ll find it kind of ironic :) )

    Upon reading the Jonathan Fields article – I’ve already read it once, as I love that man – I think you may be misinterpreting what he says. Or missing something he’s saying. Either way, this is how I see it: he wants to make the product you’re selling a provider of emotion for the customer. That is, you’re going to market the product so your customer thinks they’ll have that emotional response when they buy your product.

    This, again, makes the positive emotion of buying said product, an EFFECT. And, by definition, all effects have a CAUSE.

    Thus, using logic, emotion doesn’t go deep enough as an acceptable explanation. Without justifying emotion with its cause, it cannot stand on its own in an argument.

    This is exactly why we can’t even argue with the “just ’cause” people. By definition, it can’t hold up.

    So now that I’ve arrived at the same exact conclusions we made earlier, what else do I have to say?

    Yes, people can make emotional decisions – people aren’t robots, you’re right! And I’m so glad you are! The problem, as I said, is when these “just ’cause my gut says so” decisions are mixed with ethics and morality. Then we have a serious problem.

    Ethics’ marriage to emotion has a slew of problems. Namely, as long as someone doesn’t feel “bad” by doing something, they’ll assume it’s ethical, since our code of ethics has been long impressed into our heads. We have made the unconscious connection that good action = good feeling, and bad action = bad feeling.

    However, what if your code of ethics isn’t perfect? What if you were brought up with some gaping deficiency in your moral code? How would you know what is truly moral and immoral – based solely on your emotional reaction to things, and not invoking logic? You couldn’t.

    Example: You grew up in a household where everyone was brown-eyed. You assumed that everyone was just born that way, until you saw a blue-eyed classmate in school. You then asked your parents about the blue-eyed child, and your father responded that blue eyed people aren’t even truly human – they are subhuman, they are stupid, they are incompetent, and they should be killed on sight because they are a plague on humanity. In fact, from that point on, your father tells you to kill every blue-eyed person you see, because it’s the right thing to do. He notes how killing his first “light-eyed beast” made him feel – he says how free and powerful and GOOD it made him feel. It made him feel like a saint, and he wants you to be good like him as well. In fact, the rest of your society also condemns blue-eyed people. People in your town who are blue-eyed just leave, or wear colored contacts if they can take it. Everyone tells you how blue-eyed people are inferior to humans, and how they should be killed on sight, as one should kill a household pest.

    From that point on, you begin to view blue-eyed people as subhuman and, quite honestly, in need of killing. Eventually, your desire to do good overwhelms you, and you brutally murder a blue-eyed person – and you feel GREAT. Why? You believed you were doing an act of charity for the rest of humanity. Murder, to you, WASN’T an immoral act; in fact, it was a supremely moral act in your eyes.

    To us, though, that act was incredibly immoral, even though you (in your quasi-tribal hypothetical situation) thought it was moral. Does your emotional response – feeling disgusted by blue-eyed people, and feeling great when killing them – justify the killing? Hell no. But this also proves that, when morality and emotion are intertwined… Morality quickly becomes VERY subjective. However, morality could not survive without emotion, as there would be no incentive for acting moral and no incentive against acting immoral.

    The problem that Colin and I are getting at is that people don’t go deeper than their emotional response to the hatred of, in this case, gays. They don’t know how they got their emotional response – or, if they do, they don’t want to investigate any further, because, if they did, their world would come crashing down. In this case, religion does wonders for condemning gays (whether they actually do in scripture is another argument entirely). If people started looking past their religion and using their own powers of logic to see whether the prejudiced group actually DESERVES prejudice, then that could lead to a disastrous situation for them, psychologically.

    Namely, if they found out their dogma (religion) had one hole in it (prejudice against gays), then… Who knows what else in their religion could be wrong? Hell, logic says that if it’s wrong about one thing, then credibility goes out the window, and that could ALL be wrong.

    And that’s scary. Throwing out your entire belief system is incredibly scary. Not to mention the social consequences of doing so. You’d lose friends, and family members may disown you. You’d be an outcast, forever ostracized among your immediate family because you might totally accept gays and turned your back on your faith because of it.

    Religions survive on a claim to having a monopoly on truth. If one part is wrong, then the whole house of cards comes crashing down. And that is unacceptable to lots of people, so they decide to stick to their emotions and never dig deeper.

    You’re kind of right about the “we’re so affluent that we’re just making up issues”. When it comes to gay marriage, you’re dead, dead wrong (sorry if you didn’t mean to imply that).

    With gay marriage, it isn’t the “marriage” part that’s important. It’s the “gay” part. The rights of marriage, on their own, aren’t spectacular – and nor are they “necessary” in our society, at least to my mind.

    But they do exist – for heterosexual couples. And not for gay people (except in my state of Massachusetts! WOO!). Since gay people are being denied that right based on something totally arbitrary like sexual orientation – that’s an issue, because that’s what we like to call… Discrimination.

    The overreactions you’ve described do exist, and I regret that they do. There was this particularly obnoxious gay kid at my school, and I make it known that I dislike him. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten labeled a “homophobe” by his friends because they think I don’t like him because he’s gay. That’s so far from the truth – I don’t like the kid because he’s blatantly obnoxious and annoying.

    When people’s beliefs are attacked so often, they begin to perceive any and all disagreement as an attack on their person. It’s conditioning at its finest.

    I’ve run out of words to say, but I’ll end on this note: you’re right that people fear the unknown more than anything – and people who are “different”, like gays, are certainly “unknown factors”. Moreover, you’re right that we’re not grateful enough. And yes, we do overreact when people disagree with us.

    Going back to morality and my blue-eyed murder example: could we really hold ‘you’ responsible for the murder, if you didn’t know differently and your emotions misled you? As a side note: note the implications of your answer to how we deal with people who are prejudiced.

    (Note: this is terribly unorganized and might not have made all the points I wanted. Sorry, as well, for my ridiculously long response.)

  39. @Dave: Actually, I was referring to Greek mythology (something I figured not too many people would be offended by, since Zeus-worshipers are few and far-between these days).

    In that case, I truly appreciate the forgiveness, because offense was definitely not intended.

    I also appreciate you continuing the conversation despite being offended; that proves your statement about being open-minded even more than anything you could say.

  40. @Joel & Brett: Guys, I’m pretty sure I’ll need to write a book report after digging through what you both wrote! Impressive!

    I’ll have more to say once I’ve gone through your responses, but I’m glad you’re both so involved!

  41. We keep getting longer & longer. I’ll try my best to keep this concise :)

    -Princess Bride Reference +1 for Brett =)
    -Your point on illogical emotion…dead on.
    -Your argument about justifying emotions without a cause falls flat when you talk about self-sacrifice. There’s no logical reason for someone to sacrifice their own goals for someone else. That’s a purely emotional decision.
    -Code of ethics argument is an interesting point. We as humans are terrible at figuring out what situations are actually good & what are bad. Ex. You get cancer. Bad, right? But how many cancer survivors have you heard talk about how cancer was the best thing that happened to them, made them stronger than ever & made them realize how precious life is, so now cancer = good? We’re very shortsighted beings.
    -You keep coming back to the religion (i.e. christianity) having a hole in the fact that it’s prejudicing against gays. Not true. Simply a lot of fallible humans have misunderstood what’s said and it’s much easier to come to brash judgments (let’s hate something different, instead of understanding their position).
    -You say – “Religions survive on a claim to having a monopoly on truth.” I would say you didn’t read my article did you? Read it http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2009/12/08/prov… . I promise it’s not THAT bad :) But in it I talk about how much we DON’T know and how that’s OK and that it’s actually a part of faith. Donald Miller is a killer author that writes on this topic a lot. He’s really good. I think you’d like him (even if you don’t necessarily agree with him) – http://donmilleris.com/
    -We disagree on gay marriage not because of the tenets but because I don’t believe marriage is a right given by the state. I could talk more on this, but basically I think gays should be able to do everything straight people do but I think the main issue (and the one you see everyone protesting) is the use of the word “marriage.” This is a huge issue, and for a lot deeper reasons that you’d think. I can explain this one-on-one if you want.
    -Totally agree. Some people are just annoying. It’s even worse when they play the “discrimination” card whether that’s black, white, man, woman, gay straight. You’re annoying cause you’re annoying. Not because of an anecdotal characteristic of your body.
    -To be honest, I’m a little confused on your blue-eyed murder example. if you’re saying morality can be subjective, I’d have to agree to some extent or we wouldn’t be having a discussion! We’d all agree. However, I do think there are certain things everyone can agree on (murder=bad) but there are some others that are gray areas and takes a little more thought. I think moral subjectivity is different than complete brainwashing which is what you’re proposing (and has happened several times all over africa). Brainwashing, I don’t think you can hold that person responsible. However, having a different moral spin on things that conveniently allows you to kill everyone because it seemed “ok” to you is something different.

    Overall, I think we agree a lot. Not quite 100% but that’s what makes life interesting, right? I don’t want to turn Colin’s blog into a theological debate blog, because that’s not the purpose of it, but if you want to skype or something and talk more, I’d love to do a “round 3″ and see which one of us KOs the other first =).

    Thanks for the thought out responses Brett & thanks Colin for letting us hijack your comments section =)
    -Joel

  42. I’ve just asked Joel and Brett if they’d be willing to continue and expound upon this debate in a point-counterpoint dual-guest-post in the near-future.

    Both have accepted the challenge, and a link to the new post will be set up here when it’s published.

  43. “Usually the justification is religion, because there really isn’t a logical explanation for disliking this group of people. This allows people to disapprove and avoid the discussion, because, hey, they can’t help it, their God told them they’re better than this group. They can’t help it. Not their problem. Take it up with the big guy.”

    I don’t dislike gays at all and I’m not super religious but here are a few comments I thought I’d like to add regarding this paragraph…

    1. For some people religion is a logical explanation for disliking gays, even if you say it isn’t. It is only in your opinion that it is illogical, it is not a fact.

    2. The whole vibe I get from this paragraph makes me feel like the title of the post is ironic.

    3. Most religions I know of never teach you to think you are better than anyone else. That’s a sin.

    WHEN ARE YOU GON BE IN CHI-TOWN?!

  44. @Zachary: Religion is faith-based, not logic-based, therefore things derived from it are illogical. This doesn’t make them wrong, but it also doesn’t make them defensible in a scientifically-acceptable way.

    My issue is not with religion, but with the idea of saying ‘don’t blame me for having illogical ideas, I was told to have them.’ Governments, organizations, schools, etc etc etc all do the same thing. Hell, blogs do as well, though we don’t hold the same sway!

    Most religions (and governments and schools and on and on) won’t tell you they’re telling you to think you’re better, but they do. To build a strong group dynamic, you usually need an ‘other,’ and to build that other you need either an enemy or a focus of pity. Some focus on one more than the other, but if you look close, they’ve all got at least one.

    It’s hard to pass judgment on this, since pretty much every cause has this kind of ‘other,’ but it’s one of those sociological premises that is fairly airtight across the board. There are always outliers, but I can’t think of any for this instance off the top of my head.

    I’ll be in Chicago July 24th! Will you be around? Would be fun to meet up in person!

  45. Hi Colin,

    I initially read your “gods impregnating women” passage as stemming from Greek/Roman mythology, but immediately also saw the parallels in Christianity, etc. You’ve got to be careful with these sorts of broad story references, as many religions share similar archetypal stories.

    Interesting watching the debate, but I think I’ll excuse myself from this one. Looking forward to the next article.

    Best,
    Haidn

  46. It’s a half hour before the Netherlands/Brazil game, so I’m forced to keep my final response short. Here, I’ll just tackle your objections to my arguments and not bring up anything new.

    On self-sacrifice: OF COURSE there are logical reasons for self-sacrifice. Again, look beneath the surface – because that’s where the true reasons lie.

    First off, altruism is encoded in our genes to protect people who share our genes first – namely, family. In Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, he states that we have an inborn drive for saving family members that will carry as many of our genes as possible. As a quick example, saving two of our siblings would be an acceptable form of self-sacrifice, as they both hold roughly 50% of our genetic code, combining for, essentially, one of us. Dawkins states that our genes are merely survival machines and want to be passed on above all else – which is why this trade-off is attractive. Take that with a grain of salt, but that behavior has been seen in many species.

    Also: our society has placed such a strong emphasis on self-sacrifice and altruism that you feel GOOD when you do so. Remember: logic underlies emotions, particularly when there is a cause-and-effect. You may THINK it’s an emotional decision, but, in reality, it’s perfectly logical, though not in the “rational” economic sense where everyone maximizes their profits and benefit (delving into game theory there).

    On cancer: cancer isn’t necessarily moral or immoral – it just is. As someone who does not believe in subjective morality (it exists, but I don’t adopt it myself in my code of beliefs), murder, for example, is morally bad. So is prejudice, theft, assault, perjury… You get the idea.

    I’ll be the first to agree with you that situations we perceive as “good” and “bad” can actually be otherwise – in fact, I’d say it’s a detriment to label situations at all because we don’t know how they’ll play out.

    This is why this is one of my favorite stories:

    “There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

    Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

    Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

    Who knows?”

    On religion being prejudiced: I don’t have my Bible in front of me, so I can’t quote it. Nevertheless, isn’t it alarming that prejudice against gays and religion seem to go hand-in-hand? My quarrel with religion goes far, far beyond simple prejudices as well, but I’m not going to go there.

    On your article: I now have read it, and I like the Osho quotes. The problem is that, simply, since your arguments are non-falsifiable, you assume them to be true. That’s a logical fallacy. And I know you know it is, but if you’re just going to abandon logic wholesale… At least do it with some creativity! ;)

    (I’m pullin’ your leg)

    On gay “marriage”: We’re in agreement here. “Marriage” creates massive confusion, because there is marriage done by a religious institution, then there is legal marriage. People get so attached to the word “marriage” in a religious context that they can’t see how it could function in a legal way. They are totally and utterly separated – so I think the legal world should just come up with a separate name for ALL “marriages” under the legal system. The problem with that is that the word “marriage” is such a part of our vernacular and culture that it’ll be nearly impossible to get rid of it.

    The blue-eyed murder example is intended to posit a few questions, namely:

    -If you were doing something that you believed was moral, is it ultimately justifiable just because your intentions were good and didn’t know better?

    -How can we ever be sure that our moral code is the right one?

    -If we come from a frame where our moral code is absolute and objective, how could we expect to change it in order to accommodate other people?

    -If we get conditioned to the point where good emotion = good act and bad emotion = bad act, what do we do to morality when our emotions mislead us?

    Alright, the game’s on in 4 minutes. Cheers, and we’ll talk soon!

  47. Controversy spurs such good conversation. I can’t think of anything better than respectful belief-jousting.

    I really feel a bit enlightened and enlivened with all of the points brought up. Thanks everybody.

  48. I think this will be a fun one to comment on, because it’s seems like most people are so concerned with proving that they are right.

    I think of religious books as guidance that will either improve your life or make it worse. Experiment and see the results.

    I guess the main argument is don’t use books to justify hate and prejudice because they are just someone’s idea.

    @Colin I have to speak from a Christian perspective because I grew up Christian, and yes, that does involve a lot of brainwashing and religious rituals. But, what I have concluded that the books are useless unless they are tools to improve your world.

    A few comments on what the Bible says:
    God is love. Jesus says love God, and love everyone like yourself

    …and it’s funny that the KKK has the Bible at their rallies.

    Enjoyed reading the arguments. Controversial topic:)

  49. Thanks for the comment, Lis :)

    I agree that, like anything, religion is what you make of it. Some people use it as an excuse to do good things (by making use of the positive lessons) while others use it as an excuse to validate their own prejudices and fear of the unknown (by clinging to the parts that are a product of their time, not of any malevolent inspiration).

    Hitler used religion for his cause, but so did Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. It is what you make of it.

  50. I couldn't agree more!

    I switched over to Disqus for this very reason..I wanted to make sure that people would be able to converse in the most convenient and intuitive way possible, and the benefits of this system seem to be conducive to that.

    There have been a few hiccups (I had to repost all the comments on this and a half-dozen other posts, which has left out the linkbacks in your names for the moment), but I think it will help spur more of this kind of (really valuable) conversation in the future.

  51. @Zachary: Religion is faith-based, not logic-based, therefore things derived from it are illogical. This doesn’t make them wrong, but it also doesn’t make them defensible in a scientifically-acceptable way.

    My issue is not with religion, but with the idea of saying ‘don’t blame me for having illogical ideas, I was told to have them.’ Governments, organizations, schools, etc etc etc all do the same thing. Hell, blogs do as well, though we don’t hold the same sway!

    Most religions (and governments and schools and on and on) won’t tell you they’re telling you to think you’re better, but they do. To build a strong group dynamic, you usually need an ‘other,’ and to build that other you need either an enemy or a focus of pity. Some focus on one more than the other, but if you look close, they’ve all got at least one.

    It’s hard to pass judgment on this, since pretty much every cause has this kind of ‘other,’ but it’s one of those sociological premises that is fairly airtight across the board. There are always outliers, but I can’t think of any for this instance off the top of my head.

    I’ll be in Chicago July 24th! Will you be around? Would be fun to meet up in person!

  52. Hm. Well I land on this blog out of cyberspace and there's no signature, no ID anywhere as to who the writer is. And the writer of this bold item does not declare himself as gay, or otherwise.

    How brave is all of this?

  53. Glad you found your way here!

    There's a lot of info in the aptly-named 'about' section you can get to via the menu up top.

    I don't know that the gay thing matters (as this is more a post about the validity of ideas, not about being right or wrong about the gay thing), but I'm straight :)

  54. I'm planning on it!! Where are you going to be that night? I still have to find a place to stay…really don't want to pay for a hotel. Might stay at my aunt's friend's place, they live downtown.

  55. Love the gays! They are people, just like everyone else, and you know what? They are having tons more fun!!

    I have a few gay friends who are the smartest, funniest, most accomplished individuals I know, far better than any straight-laced conservative Christian by far. It's due to their openness, their willingness to accept, and above all, their love.

    As John Lennon says, “Love is all you need.” Gay, straight, bi, trans, liberal, conservative, white, black, East coast, West coast, whatever, these things don't matter. What matters is love, dude. Pure and unabridged. Authentic love.

  56. Wow – reading through the comments on several of your posts… this one definitely got some pretty polarizing reactions. I'd prefer to not argue, but I'm on your side, Colin. Nice work sir. Stir it up stir it up!

  57. Why is it OK to call ancient Greek/Roman fantasy stories mythology and not those of Christianity?

    I think it's a shame that people tiptoe around religion – especially if it is in a deliberate effort to avoid offense.

    People have different views, I think that's OK. People will be offended, but that says more about them than anything else.

  58. The post isn't actually about Colin saying how much he likes gay people. It's about how by-the-book Christians lack any credibility because they (you) blindly accept what they are told in a vaunted old book of fairy stories.

    By the way, Jesus is dead my friend. Rotting corpses lack the ability to forgive.

    Why don't you want to live in the real world? It's real nice here, and it's REAL.

    I don't forgive your ignorance.

  59. “If you do something, it’s on you to face the consequences, good or bad.”

    Love that line. Take some responsibility, people!

  60. This article brings up one of the traits commonly displayed by the gay community which is hilariously ironic. In their obssessive quest to be accepted by all, they regularly try to insert the word “religion” into the explanation of why they AREN’T universally accepted. Why that’s ironic is that the MAJORITY of believers don’t really care what lifestyle others choose for themselve.

    We just don’t want it PUSHED onto us, just as the non-religious typically don’t want religion pushed onto them. The great majority of us respect that. The reason people commonly believe that the religious are pushy is that they get the great majority of their info concerning that from this very media …. the internet. Not even 1/1000th of 1% of the world’s 5+ BILLION believers ever take a notion to come onto the internet & discuss their feelings about gays …. it’s just not a great priority in their life to do so. And besides that, the very act of judging others is almost universally condemned by the world’s religions.

    However, the squeaky wheel always gets the grease. Without a doubt, there are a number of hard-core religious who make it a habit of using their belief to demonize homosexuality. Then, as this article shows, the gay community almost ALWAYS grabs that, applies it to every single believer out there, and tries to show that the entire group of those 5+ billion individuals are rabidly against any gay person. With a habit of doing that type of hypocritical action, just WHY would the gay community EVER expect the 70%+ world population group of the religious to accept the gay lifestyle?

    Here’s a hint …. if you want to be accepted, which the gay community obviously has as one of it’s very highest priorities, it’s not going to be beneficial at all to your cause by constantly & consistently spreading falsehoods, half-truths, & exagerrated claims about the very people who you claim WON’T accept you.

    I’m a highly religious person. I also have lived as next-door neighbours to 2 different sets of lesbians during the last 15 years. I have a first cousin who is gay, whom I see every single Christmas to exchange gifts with. I consider at least 2 gay males, not including the cousin, to be very close friends. I am completely straight …. and about as non-discriminating as a person can be. I have a VERY large circle of friends inside the religious community, which includes multiple representatives from the Jewish, Catholics, Christians (several branches), a few Asian religious, & a couple of Wiccans. With absolutely ZERO exceptions, NONE of these fine people are greatly concerned about anything like trying to show how homosexuality is wrong. Quite the contrary, they tend to NOT judge others, since that is looked down upon by their respective religions.

    But there’s another side to this story also. Probably well over 3/4 of them have at the very least noticed some article on the internet with a “The gay community can’t move forward, because of religions trying to break it apart” type statement. A significant number of us who are more internet-savvy have felt this type of hatred towards the religious much more personally, simply because of the fact that we ARE religious, thus “unaccepting” of others.

    The gay community needs to temporarily step back from it’s rabid attempt to make itself 100% accepted throughout the world, and do a study-group to figure out just WHY others often aren’t superly motivated to move them to the top of the “We need to help these guys overcome some obstacles” list. Good bet is that one of the things you’ll figure out early on is that the very ones who are willing to help you, are the very ones who don’t really see a reason to do that, for the very reason that they are often the first to receive the “homophobic” tag from the gay community.

    Keep doing that crap & you’ll be still be begging for gay marriage & other pro-gay rights for many decades. If you have a nasty habit of trying to demonize most everyone who isn’t gay, then you shouldn’t be too surprised when they aren’t overly anxious to go along with what you’re trying to get done.

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  63. What an excellent post! And so much reaction- love it.

    The gay issue really isn’t central to this discussion, is it? It’s about the courage to question the validity of one’s own beliefs, and if they’e invalid, be brave enough to change.

    I’ve been to gay pride parades. While they’re not for everyone, I can appreciate the exuberance that comes with the feeling you’re with a giant crowd of people who understand and accept you, flaws and all. I’ve seen the same sense of belonging in a Lutheran church basement in St. Olaf, MN (Yes, Virginia, there really is a St. Olaf, MN).

    I guess my task for the week is to be aware of my own reflexive reactions to people, and decide whether they’re valid, or just bad baggage to leave behind.

    Thanks, Colin!

  64. Hello!
    Well, here’s one. I’m gay. And I am a practicing Catholic. And I TOTALLY understand what Colin is saying.

    Religion is a powerful thing, and it takes great responsibility on the one who believes in their religion/faith/spirituality to navigate their own views and morals and judgements and so on, through their belief system. Responsibility is key to this whole religion vs. sexuality debacle.

    Knowing the source mateiral (i.e. bible, torah, et al) isn’t enough, that’s like watching the world news or reading the paper and saying you know all about history. Responsiblity in part means to take action, to truly study, to really discuss and learn about what it is your believing. Sure, there may be aspects that don’t connect with you but I have yet to come across anything that is 100% perfect and in-line with everythign I believe in my 32 years of life. And that’s okay, that’s what makes life interesting.

    Colin, this was great, and the comments where great, cause this is all part of responsibility – being able to express an opinion and then learn from it and then express your own.

    I’m not naive either, not everyone takes responsiblity as seriously as I do, and that’s okay. I can only do my part.

    Thank you,
    Damian.

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