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Monday, December 22, 2014

War of the Sexes: Part 1 - Divorce

In the wake of the UVA gang rape hoax, (and the hoax just gets worse and worse and worse), my concern was not with the hoax or the false accusations or the poor reporting and fact checking, but with the acceptance and enthusiasm for this "fake but accurate" narrative.  I decided to look a bit more into male-female relationships and am baffled, bewildered, and bemused by what I see.

The main problem with any analysis like this is that very few, if any, statements or facts apply to major group aggregations (like all men, for example), and once the group aggregations are broken down far enough (40-45 year old, male, divorced once, protestant, lower middle class, Midwestern, ...), there's not much data and considering the interactions between all of these smaller groups is very, very complex and, at least to me, not decipherable.

So this means that pretty much all analyses of the subject, including not only this post and the related series, but also every other article in old and new media, and I'm betting even most peer-reviewed papers on the subject, are mostly bogus.  Unfortunately, it's also one of the most important topics with major impacts on many aspects of everybody's lives, so that there's little choice but to at least try to get an inkling of what's going on amid the inherent massive uncertainty.

Moving forward, with that background and those caveats, and realizing that each statement and statistic is at least partially bogus (I won't remind you of that again), let's start with divorce, which is the major front in the War of the Sexes.

Who's on the offense and who's on the defense at this particular front?  Clearly women are on the offense since "[w]omen initiate between 66% and 90% of all divorces." One might be tempted to jump to the conclusion that the reason for women initiating divorce more often is that men are philandering, drunken, drug-addled louts forcing women to take drastic action, but there are at least a couple of things that don't fit that narrative.

First, "among college-educated couples, the percentage of divorces initiated by wives is a whopping 90 percent."  It's unlikely that college-educated men are more drunken and drug-addled than the general population of men.  When I first discovered that statistic, I was incredulous. But looking around, I noticed it's true that every single divorce among my group of friends was indeed initiated by the woman, so I'm finding it more believable.

Second, divorce has been significantly higher under "no fault" divorce law. It's when women can initiate divorce without real reason that there are more divorces. (There are more divorces initiated by men as well). If women need a "real" reason to divorce men, it's a lot harder to find.

Divorce is the front in the war where there are real casualties.  For example, "divorced and separated men were nearly 2.4 times more likely to kill themselves than their married counterparts" and "over eight times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women."  Depending on assumptions, this works out to hundreds or possibly even thousands of men dying because of divorce each year from suicide alone.  This is roughly the same number of men in the United States military who typically die in active combat in a given year for the past several decades.  So the war of the sexes is as deadly to men as any other war.  There are other serious health and mortality impacts to men from divorce as well.

And beyond worrying about men, like other wars, this war is causing a great deal of destruction to families, communities, and inner cities. It possibly is even weakening western civilization as it seems that men (and women) are increasingly avoiding marriage and starting families.  So war is not really just a euphemism for the conflict between the sexes as there is substantial death and destruction associated with it.

How about divorce and religion?  My virulently anti-religious friends have long enjoyed pointing out that divorce rates are higher for Christians than for atheists.  Indeed, I had heard this so many times that I came to believe it as the truth.  Well, it is the truth, but it's not the whole truth:
Consider, as a case study, the data on divorce. Earlier this year, a pair of demographers released a study showing that regions with heavy populations of conservative Protestants had higher-than-average divorce rates, even when controlling for poverty and race. 
Their finding was correct, but incomplete. As the sociologist Charles Stokes pointed out, practicing conservative Protestants have much lower divorce rates, and practicing believers generally divorce less frequently than the secular and unaffiliated. 
But the lukewarmly religious are a different matter. What Stokes calls “nominal” conservative Protestants, who attend church less than twice a month, have higher divorce rates even than the nonreligious. And you can find similar patterns with other indicators — out-of-wedlock births, for instance, are rarer among religious-engaged evangelical Christians, but nominal evangelicals are a very different story.
I am mixing a lot of categories here: atheists versus non-religious, conservative Protestants versus Christians, etc., but ultimately, looking at the data, it looks to me that if you want to get married, start a family, and stay married, find someone who is reasonably devoted to a religion and practice that religion with him or her, at least to the point of regularly attending services. Even though I'm non-religious, if I were looking for a wife, I might take that approach - I might not believe the dogma, but attending services is a really small price to pay for avoiding divorce.

44 comments:

erp said...

One reason that among college educated couples, wives initiate 90% of divorces may be that it's lucrative, especially in your state Bret where women are always innocent victims and men are always uncaring brutes. I've been stunned by the family court system in California where my son has been fleeced by his ex-wife with the blessing of serial judges. Since he’s obliged to pay her costs as well as his own and there’s no down side to these frivolous suits, there’s every reason for her to bring suit after suit.

Bret said...

erp,

Good point. I meant to add that, and I'll likely update the post later.

Certainly, no matter the reason or truth, the (perceived) value of divorce is higher for women, otherwise they wouldn't do it so much more than men.

But is California that much worse than any place else? The judges might be worse, but I don't think the law itself is. My impression is that the laws and courts are very favorable to women in all 50 states.

erp said...

Perhaps, but California is more “progressive” than most other states. The stories about family court are positively Kafkaesque! I have two family members to compare. My niece in New Jersey, hardly a conservative state, lost her family home to her philandering husband who now has his second wife and her kids installed in the family home while she's in a small apartment so that the kids can stay in the same school district.

On visits to their father, they stay in the guest room while their father’s step kids live in their former rooms and enjoy their former spacious very upscale house. My niece, the blameless one, gets a small monthly check and has gone back to work to make ends meet while my son who was blameless here shells out almost ten thousand a month plus thousands more for other necessities while his ex-wife, allegedly a professional woman, sits around playing lawyer preparing actions to serve him with.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Maybe you should introduce your niece to your son's ex-wife, since she obviously could learn a thing or two.

Or, along other line, we could use the different reactions you had to your family examples to illustrate why divorce stories are so messy. People always pick one side and no decision reached by a court will ever look far no matter what.

Clovis e Adri said...

"Look fair" as opposed to "look far" in my last line above.


Bret,

Are you following your own prescription for a divorce-proof marriage?

Bret said...

Clovis,

No, but I'm contemplating it. My wife is coincidentally jewish as well, so I have been thinking of convincing her to start going to Friday night services.

Peter said...

Bret, a little caution here. Those stats about who initiates divorce refer to commencing divorce litigation, not initiating a separation. Women initiate proceedings more because they are more likely to be the financial or custodial claimants. If you think of the guy who tells his wife he is leaving her and the kids to move in with his assistant, but hopes they will stay good friends, it's likely to be the wife who initiates the divorce action, but she obviously wasn't the one who torpedoed the marriage.

And men commit suicide in much greater numbers than women almost everywhere in the world for a bundle or reasons, so it's obviously likely more divorced men will do it than divorced women. More married men than married women too.

erp said...

Bret, it’s interesting that aog goes to services although not a believer. I don't know if he's ever said how his wife feels about religion.

I hope you'll report on what you decide.

A new wave of the future?

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "Women initiate proceedings more because they are more likely to be the financial or custodial claimants."

For sure, but I'm highly confident there's more to the story than that, especially the 90% number. As erp pointed out, women do get a much better financial and custodial outcome than the men, so in some sense we're in perfect agreement: it's much more advantageous for women to divorce than men for a wide variety of reasons.

Peter wrote: "And men commit suicide in much greater numbers than women..."

Yes, that's why I led with 2.4 ratio between married and divorced men. Not a woman in sight in that statistic.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "A new wave of the future?"

Depends on the size of the wave. I know several non-religious friends who have willingly attended church to make their wives happy. They're all still married.

On the other hand, if marriage and birth rates crater except for those who are devout believers, then attrition will mean that eventually most people will be believers. So I find it ironic that the feminist attack on marriage might one day lead to more religion and more following of religious dogma which isn't particular compatible with extreme feminism.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I thought you were using irony, but apparently you mean it.

I don't know if you noticed, but your examples usually involved a husband following a wife seeking religion - I don't know if it works the same way if both of them do not identify with that religious search.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

Heh. This discussion on a previous one both highlight how much of the Modern American Left uses claimed belief in evolution as a status marker, not something they actually believe in. Your example of losing due to failed reproduction is one example, similarly for men and women have similar desires and response to sex. Somehow, magically, humans are above such evolutionary heritage when you are a feminist / MAList.

Peter said...

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life
Never make an atheist woman your wife.
So for my personal point of view
Get a faithful girl to marry you.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I don't know if it works the same way if both of them do not identify with that religious search."

Yeah, that probably won't work - at least one of them has to actually believe at least a little bit, I think. Since women initiate most of the divorces, it's more important for men to find religious women than the other way around.

While I am serious to some extent, I also realize it probably won't work in most cases. Falling in love doesn't usually work according to formula and being so calculating may not lead to a long, happy marriage either. So it's more of an interesting concept than hard advice - when in doubt...

Bret said...

Peter responds in verse
About "for better or worse"
I never know what to say
When he responds that way!

erp said...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Never let it be said,
There's no poet in you.

David said...

We also have to be careful about causation. Without tiptoeing too close to a touchy subject in the post-Judd alliance, men susceptible to suicidality might also have more problems in their relationships and thus more likely to be divorced.

The most interesting thing said about divorce recently is that the middle and upper middle class marries late, stays together, generally has a partner who stays home with the kids, saves for retirement, and belittles the need for any of those behaviors in the lower and lower middle classes.

erp said...

The view of love and marriage from geezerland is unexpected, at least I wouldn't have guessed it.

We live in an area where there are lots more retired people than most other places. The women I know who are alone, divorced or widowed, have no interest in remarrying or even having gentlemen callers. The men OTOH who are divorced or widowers are anxious to make connections.

We think they are looking for caretakers. Our generation men don’t know how to deal with domesticity and want someone around to take care of them when they are sick. We OTOH have had our fill with both domesticity and taking care of grouchy old men, so we pass.

It's hilarious. I had to have my rings cut off due to a problem with my left hand and haven't had them resized yet because I still need a surgery or two on it. When I’m shopping without hubby, it's utterly amazing how many old guys want my advice on grocery purchases or want to help me to my car.

Of course, in my case, it’s because I’m still as cute a button and fit into size 8 jeans. :-)

Bret said...

David wrote: "We also have to be careful about causation."

Sure. Thus the caveats at the beginning of my post. My guess is that causation (re: depression) goes both ways.

David wrote: "...the middle and upper middle class ... generally has a partner who stays home with the kids..."

Not the numbers I see. For example:

"Well educated women are especially likely to be employed, despite the fact that they generally have well educated, and thus high earning, husbands. Surprisingly, the percentage of married moms staying home doesn't go up consistently as husbands' earnings go up. In fact, it is women with the poorest husbands (in the bottom quarter of male earnings) who are most likely to stay home..."

Clovis e Adri said...

David,

Why is suicide a touchy topic here?

Peter said...

Clovis, we lost a close blogging friend a few years back.

Bret:

I think you have chosen a very difficult subject to reduce to general principles and propositions. Tolstoy famously wrote Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, but as Paul Johnson noted, like a lot of progressive intellectuals, he got it backwards. If you look at failed marriages, you will see the same fairly short and dreary list of time-honoured underlying causes supplemented by a few modern new ones from the therapeutic culture, but what makes a marriage happy has confounded sages through the ages.

I think we all sense some kind of nexus between seriously religious people and the moral gravitas of a self-denying, disciplined, outward-looking life that is conducive to navigating the inevitable challenges and occasional rocky shoals of a long-term marriage. But that's not the same thing as saying regular religious observance acts as a sort of marital health tonic. Religion is religion, and what it offers is spiritual serenity and a connection to the Infinite, not material success or family harmony. There are lots of stereotypes of couples who derive marital strength and love from their faith, but lots of others pointing the other way. Every family is a novel.

Also, nobody makes personal financial decisions to help the national balance of payments and I don't think anybody is going to order their marriage and family life with a few to lowering the divorce rate or improving demographic rates. I'm sure you are aware that there are many modern progressive types who, when confronted with a 50% divorce rate since no-fault divorce, will just blithely say that proves how many miserable married people there used to be. I don't believe that at all, but don't ask me to prove it or even debate it without being heavily influenced by my own family history.

All that being said, your personal course of action has much to commend itself, and I wish you all the best. Just don't forget to lock up your copy of The God Delusion with the porn collection. It's ok for we hardy, stalwart men who can put it in context, but it gives the womenfolk strange ideas. :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

Peter;

I think it quite reasonable to view regular religious attendance and marital success as both manifestations of a underlying psychological trait(s), creating a causation rather than a causation.

David said...

Bret: The boring truth is probably somewhere in the boring middle, but that study doesn't really address this point.

The idea that, because people who go to services regularly have lower divorce rates, we can lower divorce rates by getting people to go to services regularly, is, on a societal scale, just wrong. It is a common policy (and, to borrow AOG's phrase, MAL) response to social science findings and social science just doesn't work that way.

The 50% divorce rate is also misleading. To use a social science term, the population appears to be bimodal. There's a relatively large population of people who get married and basically only divorce under extreme circumstances. There's another population that gets divorced at the drop of a hat (explaining why second or third marriages are so much more likely to end in divorce than first marriages). So while half of all marriages end in divorce (actually, the number of divorces annually is half the number of marriages annually) most people never get divorced.

What's the actual divorce rate? It's almost impossible to say. The best number to use is probably what's called the refined rate of divorce, or the number of divorces in a given year for every 1000 married women. In the US, that's about 20, or about 2% per year.

But even that number can't be used as the chance of any given marriage ending in divorce in any given year. I think that this is just a situation in which the particular overwhelms the general. All marriages are a mystery to those looking in from outside. I'm sure that we all know couples we would never have put together who never separate and couples who seem perfect together who don't make it work.

I have a theory -- which actually has some empirical support -- that happiness is an internal individual trait and not affected much by what's going on around us. Happy people are happy and unhappy people are unhappy. I think that propensity to divorce is like that; although there are extremes that would force almost anyone to divorce, for the most part there are just people who divorce and people who don't. If that's the case, than the difference that "no fault" made was to change the default in "mixed" marriages (a divorcer married to a non-divorcer) from no divorce to divorce but probably didn't much change the some total of human happiness among adults (although factoring kids into the equation, the total change was probably negative).

Bret said...

David wrote: "The idea that ... we can lower divorce rates by getting people to go to services regularly, is, on a societal scale, just wrong."

I agree.

What I said (or meant to say if I wasn't clear) was something different. That an individual male could potentially increase the odds of avoiding divorce if he chose as a wife a believer who regularly went to services and attended services with her.

That's much different than saying that getting everybody to go to church would lower the divorce rate.

Also, I'm not claiming that there exist statistics to back me up on this one. This is just my opinion from observation and experience.

David wrote: "I have a theory ... that happiness is an internal individual trait and not affected much by what's going on around us."

Oh, I'm absolutely certain that's true to some extent. My personal happiness is nearly completely unaffected by what's happening in my life. It's all internal.

I suspect from observation that the degree to which that's true of others is strongly correlated with whether they're introverts or extroverts, with introverts like myself being less affected by external circumstances than extroverts. Though perhaps this claim is tautological since I think that the definition of introvert is someone who's more internally focused and extrovert is someone who's more externally focused (as opposed to the shy versus gregarious definitions of the words).

David wrote: "...change the default in "mixed" marriages (a divorcer married to a non-divorcer) from no divorce to divorce but probably didn't much change the [sum] total of human happiness among adults..."

I think that's a bit of a stretch and at the same time, I'm not sure how that's applicable to much of anything. We have happy versus unhappy, the degree to which happiness is affected by external circumstance, divorcer versus non-divorcer, the settlement change the external circumstances of the parties (financial and custodial), etc. Too many complex interactions for that statement to be convincing to me. I've also observed too many divorces to find that statement convincing.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "Just don't forget to lock up your copy of The God Delusion with the porn collection."

Don't worry, it's all encrypted in the "the cloud."

Peter said...

David:

Are you savouring the irony of Bret's, AOG's and Skipper's new-found enthusiasm for religion and its fringe benefits? Didn't we used to hear a lot from them about the Hairy Thunderer and how a random, purposeless universe is perfectly consistent with the evidence?

David said...

Peter:

Didn't someone once say something apt about a prodigal son?

I just wish that some blogger had pointed out years ago that, leaving G-d to one side, religion plays a constructive role in keeping society stable.

David said...

Bret: If all no-fault divorce achieves is a net increase in childhood unhappiness, then maybe we should revisit it. I agree, however, that there are a lot of moving parts here, but that's a fundamentally conservative point, too.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "Are you savouring the irony of Bret's, AOG's and Skipper's new-found enthusiasm for religion and its fringe benefits? "

It's been a very long time since I've been not supportive of Judeo-Christian religion and that was many years before blogging here or commenting at brothersjudd.

Religious belief and belief that at least some religions are net-positive are very different things. I've never had the former but have consistently had the latter for decades.

So no, it's not new-found enthusiasm for me. I'll let AOG and Hey Skipper speak for themselves.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

---
Are you savouring the irony of Bret's, AOG's and Skipper's new-found enthusiasm for religion and its fringe benefits?
---

I don't think there is any irony there to savour. Their position is actually a very condescending one, or so it looks like to me.


Maybe part of the divorce rate comes from the fact that, up to very recently (and still true in many places), the idea that everyone should at some point get married is widespread. But if you look for advice by Paul himself, at the Bible (since Bret looks to think that is a good idea for at least one partner of a marriage), he clearly advised people to not marry just for the sake of it. He even advised against it at some levels...

Annoying Old Guy said...

Peter;

I'll go with old-found as with Bret - I've been a church regular since before we met. I will admit the last decade has been difficult for me with regards to envisioning a self-sustaining non-religious society. As a hard core material evolutionist I must go with what works, not what I would like to work.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...condescending..."

Condescending? How so?

Hey Skipper said...

[Peter]: Are you savouring the irony of Bret's, AOG's and Skipper's new-found enthusiasm for religion and its fringe benefits?

Let me fire up the WayBack Machine™:

From The Story of the Moral, way back in 2005:

Which is where religion (properly constrained against homicidal fanaticism) exercises a beneficial flywheel effect.

Uhh, no. We didn't. Brit's claim is that requiring the will of a Supreme Being as a precondition for morality is contains a fatal contradiction; God is no more essential to the existence of morality than icing is to the existence of cake.

[That said, I will happily concede that religion is easily the best conduit for passing the circumstantially dependent morality we do have from one generation to the next. I will also happily concede that religion provides significant inertia to morality that, generally speaking, is to society's benefit.]

That's just from thread, but I think it is reasonably representative. Back in that day, I spent a lot of pixels wrangling about religions' objective truth. That's all well and good, I suppose, and certainly many pixels died in the effort. But what changed for me was eventually deciding that the most important religious truth wasn't objective, but rather subjective.

This is not condescension. Rather, it is the belated recognition that regardless of what concordance religious beliefs about the universe have with the universe, the most important aspect about religion is its impact on people.

In that regard, in the present, religions' communitarian aspects are largely beneficial, in that religion accomplishes certain ends that other forms of social organization either cannot do at all, or do very badly. In the West, government is a very bad substitute for private religious belief, and is what makes progressives' attacks on religion so destructive.

Further, and this is more towards irony, back in the day I flogged the religious for their irrational objections to naturalistic evolution.

Again, all well and good. And, in an objective sense, perhaps true.

But I couldn't help but notice that subjectively speaking, the religious were, in the ways that matter, correct. While they may have causation all wrong, creationists assert that human nature exists, and it is fixed, which means it isn't amenable to progressive whims.

In contrast, using feminism as an example, progressives insist that evolution stopped at the neckline.

Now who's the fool?

Hey Skipper said...

Also, in ruffling through the comments of yesteryear, I stumbled upon this one:

David [Cohen]:

With regard to homosexual marriage, I completely agree with your conclusion that, based upon how those of us opposed to Divine Command theory view the sources of morality, homosexual marriage is immoral.

And I'm glad you brought that up. Not only does it clearly demonstrate how morality evolves in response to exigent circumstances, it also starkly highlights how deficient Divine Command theory is.

Where you stated [homosexual marriage] is opposed as immoral by all but a small percentage of the nation you are arguably correct globally, but less so in the details. That moral judgment is highly age dependent. No matter where you go in the US, those under roughly 40 are far more favorably disposed to the idea than those over 40.

While it is possible opinion is completely age dependent, I think it is far more likely opinion is environmentally dependent.

Those under 40 grew up in the presence of acknowledged homosexuals, and failed to find two things: any more inherently evil than the rest of us, and the virtually complete absence of people who had any choice in their orientation.

There are two results. First, it is difficult to uphold the immorality of an action in the absence of any perceived harm. In this case, familiarity has eliminated contempt.

The second effect takes aim at heart of Divine Command theory. In the case of homosexuality, Divine Command makes a very material assertion. That is, homosexuality is abominable in the eyes of G-d.

In order for this to be so, however, homosexuality must represent a choice, an active decision to violate accepted morality.

Is homosexuality a choice? If it isn't, and I submit that it takes astonishing contortions to conclude that it is, then the fact of homosexuality has no moral component whatsoever, and the supposed abomination in the eyes of God, as objective a thing as one is likely to get from the Bible, is a complete mistake.

I bet you (dinner and a bottle of single-malt Scotch) that within 20 years homosexual marriage (or a direct facsimile with a different name) will be the norm across the US, and the controversy will be a matter only of historical interest.

erp said...

... direct facsimile with similar legalities makes sense. Homosexual (gay) marriage is silly. Marriage was invented to protect pregnant women and helpless children and for men to keep track of which kids were theirs. It evolved into a religious institution for the same purpose.

It makes as much sense as paternity leave.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
This is not condescension. Rather, it is the belated recognition that regardless of what concordance religious beliefs about the universe have with the universe, the most important aspect about religion is its impact on people.
---
You are right that "this is not condescension" when you refer to your position that religion bears subjective as opposed to objective truth.

Where you are condescending is in the rest of your phrase. Or in erp's comment above following your post, if you need another example. Or in Bret's advice for young men looking for a wife, in this same thread. Or in AOG's ode to religious "memetic technology" (mostly because it is easy and simple, so that even dumb believers can follow it).

It may be true that some part of the religious people follow it mainly due to its procedural norms. Yet, when you reduce religion to that, you basically defined every believer as a member of a herd. And as if only you were smart enough to objectively judge all of its aspects (and there it is the condescension).

I may recognize the social advantages that religion sometimes bring to communities, but they are far form being the reason I follow one. Not to mention they are a double-edged sword, e.g. as the reasons for your aversion to Islam easily show.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] Marriage was invented to protect pregnant women and helpless children and for men to keep track of which kids were theirs.

Completely true, every word.

However. Invention is contingent upon circumstances. The Pill changed everything. Before, women were pawns of biology, after, women were creatures of agency. This completely severed the connection between sex and conception.

One may well argue whether, all told, this has been a good thing for women, but there is no denying that making pregnancy a matter of agency gave all the power over reproduction to women.

So the reason for the invention of marriage as an institution is no longer relevant.

Moreover, a mere generation ago, people almost universally viewed homosexuality as a choice, and therefore a matter of moral concern. Now almost everyone takes it as given that homosexuality is no more a matter of choice than hair or eye color.

In an individualist society, as I think ours should be, that matters.

[clovis:] Where you are condescending is in the rest of your phrase.

Which is: Rather, it is the belated recognition that regardless of what concordance religious beliefs about the universe have with the universe, the most important aspect about religion is its impact on people.

How, exactly, is that condescending?

For almost everybody, belief in, or disregard of, Science has absolutely no impact on their daily lives. Therefore, regardless of the objective truth of religious belief (ie., concordance with the universe), the thing that matters most, both to them and everyone else, is the material actions that follow from believers belief.

That is an observation, not condescension. In a contest between progressives, whose religiosity is always manifest, and fundamentalist Christians, I would take the latter in a heartbeat.

Isisholes, not so much.

erp said...

Skipper, I agree about the pill. It changed everything (remember I was there when it happened), but you are forgetting the children. They still, IMO, need the security of two parents in a stable marriage. That’s far different from legal contracts that gays might want. They are not the same, but in any case, I have no objection to gays marrying, but I also support the right of merchants who don’t want to provide services for gay weddings.

I had quite a few gay friends even in the bad old days and have some pretty amusing stories. One guy at college was a very good friend and astoundingly good looking. Whenever I needed a date for some event and I wanted to make all the other girls faint in their tracks (think sororities), I invited him to be my escort. He was a great dancer and poured on the romance. In those being gay never entered anyone’s head. It was lots of fun.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
How, exactly, is that condescending?
---
I guess I gave you examples enough of "how", all of them related to reducing behavior to deterministic self-serving anecdotes.

---
Therefore, regardless of the objective truth of religious belief (ie., concordance with the universe), the thing that matters most, both to them and everyone else, is the material actions that follow from believers belief.
---
No, that's not true. If you are talking about Christian believers, for many of them the "material actions that follow from believers belief" are certainly not the thing that matters most.

---
In a contest between progressives, whose religiosity is always manifest, and fundamentalist Christians, I would take the latter in a heartbeat.
---
I would rather try to see both of them as my equals, and argue with them as such too. We could even end up each of us learning something new, other than to restrict ourselves to those little boxes. Failing that, I am quite sure any group you end up with may well lead to its own hell.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] No, that's not true. If you are talking about Christian believers, for many of them the "material actions that follow from believers belief" are certainly not the thing that matters most.

In this world it does.

I would rather try to see both of them as my equals ...

My statement was unclear. I should have said "In a contest to decide with whom to have an afternoon barbeque between progressives, whose religiosity is always manifest, and fundamentalist Christians, I would take the latter in a heartbeat.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
In this world it does.
---
To the pharisees of this world, indeed.

---
I should have said "In a contest to decide with whom to have an afternoon barbeque between progressives, whose religiosity is always manifest, and fundamentalist Christians, I would take the latter in a heartbeat.
---
I would book one after another. I couldn't refuse free barbecues.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

It may be true that some part of the religious people follow it mainly due to its procedural norms.

You're mixing layers. This was Skipper's main point - from the viewpoint of a rational materialist like me, the issues of "why do people do this?" and "what effect does this have?" are only loosely related.

Consider a sheaf of realities with the same physical structure as ours , and in each on is a religious belief system constructed at random. Some of these will be successful because they structurally couple to reality, and some won't. We could, by examining the results across those realities, make judgments about the utility of those belief systems without ever knowing what those systems are which in turn means without knowing why people follow those belief systems.

All that is required is the axiom that there is an objective reality no subject to human control. I don't see that as condescension.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

To which, unwittingly, you repeat the same fallacy many times practiced by too eager public defenders of evolution: in that you can explain just about everything a posteriori by that same argument.

It is fine enough to generically theorize about paths to arrive at observed results, but when you actually want to explain those observations, you do need to describe and prove a single one path.

Otherwise you may end up assigning meaning and causation to some result that may have come as pure chance, and vice versa. Given our limited knowledge and the even more limited "number of observable realities", such problems are only worsened.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I am not trying to explain a particular taken path. I am explaining we can observe that paths are taken without knowing why. So, actually, the opposite of your interpretation.