Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hypothetical Homosexuals

(Updated--no, none of this post is true. They really are just thought experiments.)

Some thought experiments:

(1) In 2027, using powerful new microscopes, scientists identify a pathogen which is proven conclusively to be the cause of homosexual inclinations. The pathogen is non-communicable between humans, and infects hosts only through random atmospheric transmission unrelated to coughing, sneezing, fluid transfer, skin contact, proximity, et cetera. It is shown in trials to affect developing nervous systems, alter brain chemistry and personality, and result in various stages of attraction to the same sex. Biological research and carbon dating shows that it originated around 15,000 years ago, and has been spreading ever since. The initial discoveries were made by teams headed by atheist homosexual men and women, and corroborated by dozens of universities and private labs around the world. Further research shows that, once infected, a victim of the pathogen cannot be cured, because the initial exposure causes irreversible neurological effects. However, it is cheap to eliminate the pathogen entirely from the biosphere, preventing the infection of anyone else not already infected.

Is your moral stance:

(a) Now that we know it's caused by a pathogen, the pathogen must be entirely eliminated, so that it doesn't affect anyone anymore;

(b) The pathogen should be eliminated from an uncontrolled spread, but it should be carefully stored, so that parents can choose if they want to infect their child and raise her/him to be homosexual or bisexual;

(c) Parents should be prevented from making the choice to infect a child with homosexuality, but once a person reaches the age of majority, s/he should be able to decide whether or not to be infected and become homosexual;

(d) The pathogen should be distributed to everyone, so that everyone becomes equally homosexual (or bisexual);

(e) The pathogen should be studied further, then mutated into different varieties, so that, upon reaching the age of majority, people can choose whether to remain heterosexual, or to become homosexual, bisexual, ambisexual, pansexual, attracted to desired species of animals, or attracted to inanimate objects or situations of their choosing;

(f) The pathogen should be left alone, meaning that many people will be infected when they didn't choose to be, and that others will not be infected if they would have chosen to be.

Which one? Remember--the pathogen is non-communicable, so if it's controlled and stored for parental/personal use, there is no danger of accidentally infecting someone else. Even if the labs studying and storing the pathogen all blow away in tornadoes, they all have fail-safe mechanisms so completely perfect that there is zero danger of unwanted contamination. Assume a 100% secure storage system, and that only parents or adults who choose will be infected. Also assume that, if the pathogen is left alone, people won't know how to identify if they have it, and will be unable to emotionally develop with the knowledge that they are or aren't more or less likely to be a certain way, and many who do develop, and have the pathogen, will be bitter and miserable for the rest of their lives, wondering why they could choose to not get polio, but not choose to have their development remain unaffected by a different pathogen. "Don't we have control over our own bodies and sexual identities?" they ask those who choose (f). "How could you make that choice for us?"

(2A) In 2027, the skies turn red worldwide. Every single person on Earth slows their cars, lands their planes, anchors their boats, gets off their bicycles, and falls into a gentle sleep. In their sleep, everyone has the same vivid dream, and is at once aware that all other humans are simultaneously having the same dream. They all feel as though they are floating in a diaphanous mass in the street outside U.N. headquarters in New York.

A single light shines on the U.N. building, and a giant foot steps from the heavens onto the street out front. The foot and leg reduce in size, shrinking further and further, until a wise old man is standing there--a man as tall as the U.N. building. He is handsome, wearing a simple golden crown, has a long, full, white beard, and wears a plain toga and a pair of sandals. When he gestures, the Earth trembles, though no buildings fall.

"I am He Who Is," He says, in a voice that all humans hear in their native language, "and I have come to make some things clear."

He crosses his arms.

"Firstly, thou shalt not wear polyester. Other blended fabrics are acceptable, but all polyester must be burned immediately when you wake. Secondly, I am sick and tired of Islam. When you awaken, all who called themselves Muslims will be gone. I will also turn Mecca into a church with flying buttresses and stained glass windows. The windows will portray pictures of lambs, winged babies, and other thinks which I shalt find likable, and which you shalt find likable unto me. Moreover, your program of space exploration irritates me. It is not meant to be. All of your space-tools will disappear, and you will not make them again. Also, read the Bible more. I prefer the King James Version, which describes how I created existence. In fact, I hate all the other versions."

He shifts his feet and adjusts his toga.

"Lastly, it is really gross when men put their phalluses into other men's anuses. You will all stop doing that now, or when you die, I will torture those men forever. Everyone else will have a party with me where we sing holy songs about how wonderful I am, and are constantly in ecstasy. But anyone who does that gross penis-butt thing I mentioned, for any reason, will spend eternity being eaten by ants, and other creative things like getting stretched on the rack and whipped and boiled in lava, by this one friend of mine who really gets into that sort of thing. And it will never end for them. Don't ask why, and no, it's not about bacterial infections or promiscuity, so even if you do it with only a single partner ever, after an antibacterial enema and using six condoms every time, you will suffer.

"As for the rest of you, that particular thing is so gross, and gets me so mad, that I want you to kill anyone who does it. I said their blood shall be upon them, and I mean it. Kill them or I will assume you are condoning their behavior which is against me, and will send you to eternal torture along with them, but if you kill them, I will be very pleased with you. I am not even remotely joking. He Who Is sees all and knows all. And I forget nothing. I will cure Ebola and the common cold now to make things abundantly clear to you endlessly questioning children of mine. Now, awaken."

And everyone wakes up, amazed to find that everyone else has had the same dream. Over the next few days, people watch television constantly, discovering that Mecca has indeed been turned into a mid-18th century cathedral. All Muslims on the planet have vanished without a trace. The common cold and Ebola are eliminated, and not a single case is ever reported again, except by Richard Dawkins, who later confesses to faking the sniffles in an attempt to discredit his arch-nemesis. Billions of people insist that there was once a book called "The Qur'an," but no copies remain, either in paper form, on kindle, or on any computer database anywhere. All space exploration vehicles have vanished along with the Muslims and the Korans, and even though all the Americans remember that NASA existed, all its buildings and technology are gone. Remaining behind are billions of pictures of space shuttles and space stations, Hubble Telescope images, Mars Rover images, on websites and in textbooks, but all cellular satellites are gone, and all rocket scientists claim that they "can't remember" how to build anything or do the math.

Years of painstaking research reveal that all of the bearded old man's predictions have come true. It is beyond a doubt that this immensely powerful being is God. Richard Dawkins commits public suicide the day before all churches merge into the King James Church of Christ.

Do you:

(a) Live on as before;

(b) Live on as before, but go kosher;

(c) Live on as before, don't go kosher at first, but read the KJV Bible really, really carefully to try to figure out whether kosher still applies or not.

(2B Twist) After God's appearance outside the U.N., the world has changed a lot (becoming kind of like someone's take on The Handmaid's Tale who hasn't actually read the whole book). God has revisited the planet a few times to show people how He makes inter-dimensional portals that transport the souls of the dead either to Heaven, or to Hell. Thousands of reliable, respected people have come back from Heaven to talk about how blissful it is, and how they now understand exactly why Muslims and gays are evil. Thousands of other formerly-reliable, formerly-respected people, including Richard Dawkins, have been given brief parole from Hell to talk about how incredibly terrible it is, and how they now understand exactly why what they did was wrong. God laughs mightily at them before parading them back to Hell.

God brings Satan to the U.N. a couple times for a show-and-tell, allowing Satan to demonstrate the power of his trillion-demon army of sadistic, un-killable executioners. God also appears in the form of Jesus to give an address on how He doesn't require the celebration of Christmas, but how it can be a pleasant reminder of kinship. Then He says that He will be leaving for another few thousand years, and hopes that we don't forget His rules by the next time He comes back.

The world's governments develop patrol squads to respond to allegations of underground homosexual behavior, and criminalize the act of failing to eliminate known homosexuals from society. Giant holograms of Leviticus 20 and Romans 1 play ceaselessly in cities across the world.

One day, you are going to visit a friend's apartment to return his handgun from the repair shop, when you pass by an open doorway. You glance down to see that the lock has broken, and glimpse, through the crack to the open bedroom door, two men in flagrante delicto, having anal intercourse. They hear the creak of the door from the air vent, see you standing out there with the gun, and gasp in terror.

"Wait!" begs one.

"We're in love!" says the other.

You:

(a) Go in and shoot them yourself;

(b) Avert your eyes, walk away, and call the Sin Response Squad's emergency number;

(c) Avert your eyes, walk away, and never mention it to anybody for the rest of your mortal life on Earth.

(2C Twist) Same scenario as 2B, but if you chose to walk away, the neighbor across the hall opens his door, sees you walking past, sees the crime in the other room, and grabs his phone to call the S.R.S.

Do you:

(a) Shout, "Thank God you have a phone! I was just running to my friend's place to call that one in!"

(b) Hurry back into the gay men's apartment to shoot them, thereby exonerating yourself before God as well as society;

(c) Fake chest pains and/or lamely pretend that you "didn't notice what was going on in there" when the S.R.S. shows up to question the building's inhabitants;

(d) Something else?

It's easy to say you'd choose "shoot," but do you really have it in you? It's also easy to say you'd choose (d), wrestle away the neighbor's phone, help the two guys escape, and start a revolution that ends with a bunch of your fellow revolutionaries betraying the rest of you to your death, but when you contemplate the reality of a million years of being skinned alive, followed by another million, followed by another, do you really have it in you?

15 comments:

  1. Hm, what's your point?

    All thoughtful and devoted Christians (the non-poseur, non-judgmental kind) I have ever spoken to consider the Old Testament to be complete bullshit, plain and simple, and also despise the Church. Moreover, in their view Jesus came to literally abolish that religion/law.

    Accordingly, many a Christian - in persuasion or de facto in conduct - would have "it" in them, to say "fuck it", and shoot the neighbor. This is always the minority, but so what?

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    1. As to homosexuality, there's the question of whether our support for lifestyle choices would change if we found out--for any hypothetical reason you can imagine--that it wasn't a lifestyle choice, or a genetic preference, but actually something that would be classified as a disease. It's often been called a disease, but for us modern, enlightened humans, who have such an affection for our diagnosticians, would it change our attitudes?

      In such a theoretical world, would we find ourselves defending the right of said pathogen to infect individuals regardless of their preferences? Would we change our policy preferences toward those who are already infected?

      Would it make us view other medical conditions differently? E.g., should the blind be allowed driver's licenses?

      Posing homosexuality as the result of infection (or some other "alteration" of what we might consider our "natural state") forces us to confront our impressions about other diseases in a different way. It's self evident to us that the blind should not drive, because, duh, but it was self evident to earlier generations that homosexuals were demented perverts, and shouldn't be allowed in society, because--duh.

      Which set of humans is right? Are we both wrong? Will future humans develop a different evidentiary basis toward their own, more enlightened views on sexual orientation, and view us as darkly as we view so many of the other generations before us? And does that mean that we're just another set of idiots, lost in history?

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    2. Homosexuality is interesting object for the thought experiment precisely because it is not clear how far away it is from the boundary between nature and culture. But still, it is not a very good thought experiment, because even with all the disclaimers, the starting point is that homosexuality is something bad, or at least controversial, and "now we have the proof" that it is chemically caused pathology.
      But, I'm sure you know better than to assume that there is an objective, non-socially conditioned definition of any pathology, ever.

      In other words, the thought experiment cannot provide any new information on how should we "deal" with homosexuality, if at all.

      What if it isn't homosexuality, but, say, pedophilia, or murderousness. If you discover that these are caused by "pathogens", there would be much less, if any, discussion whether to eliminate these pathogens, even though the moral issue is exactly the same.

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    3. "[T]he starting point is that homosexuality is something bad, or at least controversial..."

      Well, pretend we're lofty thinkers who can acknowledge that a cultural stigma exists, yet make our moral decisions without being influenced by such stigma. :-)

      For others who believe such stigmas have a rational basis, though, the examples are more useful. There would be a level of vindication in some people who found out that homosexuality was caused by a pathogen, and perhaps the same for some who found out that there actually was an old man in the clouds who cared deeply about issues of genital placement. Since we don't know what causes homosexuality (not that we "know" what causes heterosexuality, either, but most people would disagree with that), asking ourselves if our perceptions would change, even in the tiniest way, if we found out some "answer," is revealing.

      Everyone will think the "God" example above is laughable, but that's a failure of imagination. What if? It would take no small amount of power to be the true creator of everything. If you were actually faced with such a situation, where the person who had made all the rules and was responsible for existence, would you be able to adjudge your own opinions as superior?

      And there's the issue of Hell, too--easy to dismiss in popular culture, but what if the option wasn't being sent to "Hell," but to "Abu Ghraib" or "Pelican Bay," and placed on anti-aging drugs so that the torture could continue eternally?

      Have you ever done the thing where you get shut into a solitary confinement cell for half an hour just to try it out? How about for two days? Truly contemplating what some version of "Hell" would be like if you really had to endure it for ever has to give any sentient being at least a moment's pause.

      Kudos to you if you're willing to choose (d) in the last example, even in the face of a quadrillion years of demons' claws.

      (As to pedophilia and/or murderousness, I would presume you mean, "Acted-upon--" rather than "Only imagined and never carried out--", right?)

      For some people, homosexuality falls into that same category. But I wonder--if they approached the thought experiment honestly, would they find it just as easy to execute the homosexual couple as to execute someone they'd just caught murdering a child? If they're able to be honest with themselves and admit the answer is, "No," then they've learned something about degrees of severity.

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    4. I think these types of questions have to reveal that, no matter how honest the reflection, thee is always the moment when there is a discrete 'quantum' leap between thinking and acting, which is impossible to predict deterministically. E.g. you may have strong moral convictions that you will disobey, but in actuality chicken out, or you may even think that you have lukewarm convictions, but then something happens and you actually do start the fight.

      If we take the experiment above literally, there will be plenty of people that will find the simple show of god-force unsatisfying, and so I just know that there will always be some people who will disobey. I don't know if I personally would be among them, but then again, maybe I could be. Humans can withstand pretty much anything if they have a good reason to.
      (Unfortunately, the opposite is also true - humans can adapt to anything; and the results are often not pretty)

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  2. I do love to see you try to cloak your fantasies in "thought problems". I wonder, do you have the courage to post your answers to your own questions? You do seem rather distressed about homosexuality and speficically anal sex. I am gratified to see you fantasizing about the suicide of Richard Dawkins. You do such a great job in belying your claims on the superstitous ape blog.

    for your last question, "but when you contemplate the reality of a million years of being skinned alive, followed by another million, followed by another, do you really have it in you?"

    Happily, I do have it in me because I find the idiocy of a magical hell ridiculous.

    we see the usual sadistic fantasy of someone who hates to be shown wrong. They hope the universe will somehow punish anyone for daring to show the claimant wrong.

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    1. The idea behind the thought experiment is that you evaluate how you would act if the suggested premises were true. It doesn't mean that they are true, or that you would want them to be true. But it can help you learn more about yourself to consider what you would do if they were actually true.

      So, if in every conceivable provable way, God demonstrated His existence, and you came to believe as fully in the reality of eternal Hell as you believe that federal prisons exist and that you would be put in one if you went on a shooting spree, how would you act?

      (I'll post my own answers in a follow-up, but that won't be as interesting to you as you contemplating your own answers within the confines of the thought experiment.)

      Example thought experiment: If a dog with purple hair came to your door, and you discovered that it was natural purple hair--not dyed--and a prominent veterinarian showed up and offered you a million dollars to buy the dog as the mascot for his practice, would you:

      (1) Sell him the dog;

      (2) Refuse, and keep the dog, because you find the idea of a purple dog very interesting.

      ...?

      I'd choose (1). It doesn't seem like the vet is planning on torturing the dog--just like he wants to keep it as a pet and use it to promote his practice. Besides, as a vet, he might be able to do research on what made the hair purple, and learn something interesting about the dog.

      We've learned something about me, from the way I answered that question--that I value a million dollars more than the companionship of a random purple-haired dog. However, we have not learned any of the following:

      (1) Arka hates dogs;

      (2) Arka hates purple dogs;

      (3) Arka loves dogs and/or purple dogs;

      (4) Arka hates veterinarians;

      (5) Arka loves veterinarians;

      (6) Arka is afraid of dogs;

      (7) Arka is afraid of veterinarians.

      I could also answer that I would keep the dog, which could indicate either that I loved the dog, or that I thought I could make more than a million dollars by selling it to a genetic engineering firm instead of to a local vet. The answer, like any of the answers above, is not conclusive as to the answerer's personality; it's just a stepping stone for us to better understand our characters, and our views on dogs, veterinarians, and the utility of novel hair colors.

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  3. For posterity, logging the following quote from elsewhere, where High Arka is accused of polluting the world with "pro homo" propaganda:

    "Agnostic, If you're out there I wouldn't mind a little back up if degenerates like this are gonna troll this blog with homo fantasies.

    This blog and Castefootball.us are part of a small number of places that aren't pro homo so I'm not thrilled about this place getting polluted by this nonsense. As always, I'm grateful for your work and this blog.

    I'm done responding to High Arka; you can go intellectualize deviancy wherever it's tolerated but I hope you lay off it around here."

    That's me, the homophobic queer Christian intellectual atheist degenerate ignorant idealist. :D

    I am the gorgon's mirror.

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  4. Well, I concluded that for me, and others, it is actually very likely to not comply with the gay cleansing, for the simple reason that all that even with all the evidence of god, hell, and heaven, what we're getting is simply a proof that things are really as bad and pointless as we thought. It will be simply a jacked up version of the here and now is all there is". Made literal, this verion of the universe is incredibly impoverished, and many people will refuse to play, regardless of the consequences, at least that's how I'd feel.
    If that's the case, what difference an eternity in hell makes? Why not go down in a sad, but my own, blaze of glory instead?

    (I am reminded of a very religious friend of mine once mentioned, "Let's face it - if heaven is all about hanging out with harps and halos and whatnot, that would really, really suck" :)) )

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    1. How far does non-compliance go? Do you merely get arrested for not making the report? Do you take the Fifth and try to make it difficult for them to prove that you noticed the crime? Or do you put on a Fawkes mask?

      (=])

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    2. hey, if you gonna go, go all the way, otherwise don't even start! :*
      (But, since this can only happen once, it is not clear when and how it will, if at all.)

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  5. lol who thinks like this but a nerd who has viewed so much porn he'll literally fuck anything

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    1. clubschadenfreude, this is a good point in time for you to view the utility of ad hominem mental defenses from the other side of the issue. You see here how, by asking a question to clarify the bases behind prohibitions on homosexual behavior, this one has been accused of being "pro homo" by a certain subset of people. By believing that I'm "pro homo," this one enters a thoughtform category where they don't have to evaluate my statements, but only evaluate an imaginary version of me, where I'm a stand-in for the Other they want to believe in.

      On the other side of things, you approached the same piece of text from a different perspective, and yet, for you, it justified me as being a Christian anti-homo.

      What makes this text, by itself, so susceptible to being "proof" that High Arka is both a hypersexual homo and a repressed homophobe? The answer lies in the fact that the text is not at issue--it never was. The text is serving as a verifiable stand-in for the internal battle between some readers and the spirits they wish to see; a Rorschach of words.

      (People more experienced with this will note how the sense of atomized individual correlates with a need to regularly verify the existence of hostile others; the atomized mind is, for all its apparent strength, deeply reliant on an external focus point to keep believing in itself. The Achilles heel of solipsism, if you will--the fact that you even more desperately need others than you do if you have already accepted that interconnection.)

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    2. more like you are a raging sperg (it means you have a touch of the 'tism)

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  6. High Arka, more like High Autism

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