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Essential clarification: Looking at the other side of the card

Sunday, July 28, 2019

In this current socio-intellectual climate, I notice that there is a large section of society who are trying to win the argument against traditional Christian values by simply stopping the argument in its tracks. It's easy to win the argument by not having the argument in the first place. However, if there is no argument, then how can we ascertain the truth beyond reasonable doubt.

In the Law Court, there are counsels for both complainant and plaintiff, for prosecution and defence. To make a truly objective and scientific judgement on any issue it is imperative to examine the case on either side.

There is a famous example called the Wason Verification Selection.

You see four cards on the table. Each card has a number on one side and a letter on the other.

On the table you see the cards

5, 4, A, T

The hypothesis you are given is that if a card has an odd number on one side, then it must have a vowel on the other.

Which two (and only two) cards must be turned to show whether the hypothesis is correct?

If you've not seen this before, do pause and have a go before reading further.

You will have probably thought about turning over the card marked 5. This indeed will test the hypothesis because if the other side is not a vowel, the hypothesis must be false.

Many people will then turn the card marked A to see if the other side is an odd number. This is not correct.The hypothesis to test is that odd number means vowel. This is not the same as vowel means odd number:  that is a false inference. It's the same fallacy as saying cats have four legs, dogs have four legs therefore cats are dogs because they both have four legs.

The hypothesis can only be tested by turning the card with the T. If the other side is an odd number, then the hypothesis is shown to be false.

What we have just used here is the verification by the contrapositive. The hypothesis of "odd number implies vowel" is logically the same as the hypothesis "consonant implies even number" or, more properly stated, "not-vowel implies not-odd". To verify "odd implies vowel" by turning the 5 card is not enough, we have to verify "not-vowel implies not-odd" as well by turning the T card in order to accept or reject the hypothesis.

That's logical reasoning and scientific method. In order to make a judgement both sides must be considered.

The Church has already done this to discern truths about God. The Seven Great Oecumenical Councils are testament to the process by which we have learned to understand God. Each side was put forward in each case and the truth found out by (often heated) argument.

Not to allow for debate leads to Kripkean Dogmatism which is irrational and unlikely to discover real truth.

I write this post wishing to assure all people that I do have respect for people and the battles they have. I do recognise that homosexuals have fought hard for the right not to be arrested, imprisoned or even murdered for their orientation. I am fully aware of the devastating consequences of oppressive attitudes which afflicted Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. This oppression must stop.

I also agree that, if one enters business then one simply cannot turn away a man because he is gay. I cannot side with B&B owners who dictate what goes on inside their rooms unless it really does break criminal or civil law. If these owners will not allow a gay couple to share a room, then they cannot allow an unmarried heterosexual couple, divorcés, the sexually promiscuous or any single folk who might engage in onanism on the grounds that it is the same sin - fornication, sexual immorality.

Likewise, I am fully convinced of the pain of those who believe that they don't match up to the sex which they were born. It must be agonising constantly feeling that your body is wrong at such a deep level. I understand why so many such folk commit suicide. This is why I have no problem with how anyone wants to dress if it eases the dissonance and makes them feel comfortable.

I really want to make this point clearly. I hate no-one. I want to hate no-one. I will fight to make sure that I hate no-one. I want everyone to find everlasting and true happiness. I want everyone to thrive, happily and healthily. I believe that the Westboro Baptist Church to be utterly and vilely wrong in their disgusting picketing of public occasions proclaiming God's hatred. I will fight for people to be free to choose and for them to have the same opportunity to live their lives as they please. I believe God does the same.

But I have conclusions that come from my belief in God and what He has revealed to His Church in Christian doctrine.

Christian doctrine says, has always said and will always say that all sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage is sinful. This is quite clear from when the Lord God says, "thou shalt not commit adultery" and thereby means for us to keep it in letter and in spirit.

Christian doctrine says, has always said and will always say that marriage occurs only between a man and a woman. This is quite clear from when the Lord speaks of a man leaving his parents to be united with his wife, from His blessing of the wedding at Cana, and in His being the Bridegroom of the Church which is His bride.

Christian doctrine says that it is God alone who determines a person's sex and no-one else. This is clear when God made humanity, "male and female made He them".

These are my beliefs and you are free to accept or reject them as you choose. If God has given me free-will and thus permitted me the possibility of falling into sin, then He has done so for you. I cannot convict you of any sin that I might perceive that you have committed. I have neither the power nor the authority, nor even the desire. Yet, as a priest of God, I do have the God-given authority (literally) to absolve you of any sin you might confess to God through me. I am overjoyed to be able to help a penitent receive the free gift of God's forgiveness and I thank God that I am not called to pronounce sentence over anyone. To do so would be to pronounce sentence on myself.

I have a good idea of where goodness and truth are, and know that they are of God and preached by his Church, but I do not have any monopoly on where they are to be found.

Christian doctrine says that human nature was created to love God and neighbour. This love is not a love primarily concerned with making people feel loved, but rather looking to reconcile them with God despite their feelings so that these feelings may be purified and transformed by God's redeeming love.

This is why I have no concerns about someone else's practices, pronouns or proclivities. It's why I am undisturbed by the fact my wife disagrees with me on many issues. Indeed, it is because we argue well that I feel confident in my position and understanding even if she still does not accept what I understand to be the truth. She doesn't necessarily tolerate my views, she tolerates me. She doesn't love me for my doctrine, she loves me for me regardless of my doctrine.

What I do worry about are those who disagree with me trying to silence me and legislate that I may not hold my Christian views. As Professor Jordan Peterson says, it is not the fact that one born a man wants me to address that one as her that I have a problem with. It is the one who coerces me by law to do so.

It is not the one who refuses to answer my questions that worries me, but the one who will seek to prevent me from asking the question in the first place.

It is not the one who disagrees with my research that worries me, but the one who seeks to make sure that I am forbidden to carry out the research in the first place.

I do have questions:

1) Do children with same-sex parents fare as well as those with opposite-sex parents?

2) Should children who believe that they are the wrong sex be given puberty blockers so that they can decide what sex they want to be?

3) If people need counselling in order to help them "come out of the closet", and people may be gender-reassigned, why may people not be allowed to change their sexual orientation? Why is conversion therapy unacceptable in its theory?

4) If a woman can have testes and a man a uterus, then what do the words "man" and "woman" really mean?

If I am to understand the answers to these questions then I need to evaluate evidence for and evidence against. If Amazon is banning books by authors who advocate Conversion Therapy, then I have no means to receive an unbiased answer to question (3) and to refute or defend their arguments.

The answers to these questions will do nothing to change my mind that I believe in God and that God has wanted to create every individual. Too often the research is discredited by ad hominem attacks rather than by demonstrating the intrinsic error.

I will defend the right of every person to speak their mind but to do so with reason and respect for the listener. Arguments are not won and lost; they are either convincing to some and not to others. Ultimately, arguments help us grow closer to the truth when they are conducted by human beings recognising human beings.

Anyone who accuses me of homophobia, Islamophobia or transphobia is not listening to me. I have tried hard to listen, but ultimately it will be Almighty God Who will draw me to the truth in Whom we all live and move and have our being.

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