Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Invaders from the Womb

In an article in Columbia (a magazine for Catholic men), Catholic theologian Stephen Patton makes the case that contraception is bad in Why Contraception Matters: The Surprising Consequences of a Sterilized Church.

And his main point is that "God designed sex" to make babies and bond people in love, and argues that sex is better if you do it with someone you love and if it might result in a baby. But of course, if Patton's claim made any sense, it wouldn't be "surprising." If unprotected married sex was truly better, everyone would already know about it. So Patton's argument is undermined by its very existence and the only surprise here is why he's bothering at all.

As Patton says:
Many assume that by freeing their intercourse from the fear of pregnancy, they will enhance their emotional bond. But like drinking salt water to quench one's thirst, engaging in sterilized sex will not quench the human thirst for love. Not only is this deep need not met, it is worsened. Our culture has left us bloated with sex and dehydrated for love - and therefore more inclined toward divorce.
Yes, we're bloated with sex. And of course, that's just fucking stupid. Honestly. How could such a big thing have gone unnoticed for so long? I mean, if the pill, condoms, or sterilization made sex significantly worse, it's unlikely they would ever have gotten out of the medical testing stage. And adultery would be almost non-existent. Patton has made an empirical claim that is laughable on its face, and which has been thoroughly rejected by billions of people.

Curiously, Patton's God designed us so that the seemingly innocuous act of drinking salt water Patton cites is more dangerous for us than the supposedly "love and life" threatening act of using birth control with your spouse. I can think of no good explanation for this; not if we're assuming a rational God who designed things as Patton says He did, anyway. And Patton's citation of John Paul II's opinion on the "love-giving meaning" of sex is less than authoritative, coming from a man who apparently has zero experience on the subject. I'd just as soon learn about art from a blind man.

Everyone Get Pregnant!

And here's one explanation for the dangerousness of birth control (emphasis in the original):
When contraception fails - as it often does - and a pregnancy results, a couple will tend to think that the baby is there not because of their actions, but there in spite of their actions. The baby is not so much their child that they conceived, but rather an invader that they tried to repel, yet failed.
An invader? What planet is this dude from? He goes on to suggest that this is the reason these people are more likely to have an abortion. And while I agree that such people are more likely to have an abortion, it'd be my guess that they'd do this for the same reason they used birth control: They didn't want to have a kid. Duh. And what's pathetic is that Patton never once discusses the reasons why people might not want to have kids. Apparently, anyone who believes that it would be a mistake to have a kid is just wrong. They're weakening their marriage, endangering humanity, and having sucky sex.

And needless to say, Patton never discusses the issue of married couples who can't have children. But of course, these cultural warriors rarely do. These discussions are always reality-free zones in which marriages are always God-sanctioned events which eventually lead to ten or more kids. Anything else would be an affront to humanity. I have absolutely zero faith that anyone truly believes such nonsense, yet it's the only argument they've got, so they make the best of a dumb situation.

Thesaurus Time

Patton ends his piece by claiming that Roget's International Thesaurus "groups the word contraception into the word category, 'Unproductiveness'" and then points out that the words associated with "unproductive" are negative, while the words associated with "productive" are positive. He then concludes with:
Which category presents the true image of what we, the mystical Body of Christ, are supposed to look like? Which can offer the world a vibrant, uncompromised, and compelling witness to the true meaning of sexuality, the sacred permanence of marriage and the value of all human life?
Yes, when all else fails, go for semantics. God might not have actually designed us the way that Patton pretends we were designed (or else his argument would have been entirely unnecessary), so he resorts to word games. Apparently, the folks with the most kids are the best, while those of us with fewer than five kids totally suck eggs; because we're just not as productive.

Oddly, I can't find an online thesaurus that even contains the word "contraception," including the online version of the one Patton supposedly used. In fact, I'm holding a Roget's Thesaurus right now, and can go from "contrabandist" to "contract" without finding the word "contraception." That's not to say he invented the connection, but it really isn't the sort of word I'd expect to find in a thesaurus. Yet this is Patton's closing argument. Pathetic.

Oh, and should it be mentioned that Catholic priests, nuns, and monks aren't supposed to get married, have sex, or make babies; yet they're considered to be closer to God than any of us married folks? Or should I mention that 1 Corinthians specifically states that it's better to not be married or have sex? And should it be mentioned that Patton's argument implicitly states that childless folks are immoral? Yeah, I think it should be mentioned. For as much as they pretend this is about having kids, it's quite obvious their argument is only limited to forbidding "bad" sex; as defined by these particular moralists.

It's obvious that the Catholic Church doesn't really believe that procreation is a moral obligation, and anti-contraception freaks like Patton are just embarrassing themselves by suggesting otherwise. They can pretend they're trying to prevent the end of humanity, but it's obvious they're just silly panty-sniffers desperately rationalizing an irrational policy. They're going to need to do better than Patton if they expect to have any success in this.
Update: Here's a study that found that 90% of married couples said their satisfaction with their marriage dropped after the birth of the first child, more so than with couples without kids. And that certainly undermines the argument that the purpose of marriage is to have children.


Mahakal / מהכאל said...

It's a lie established by the Roman church. Jesus never opposed contraception, abortion or gay marriage for that matter.

Word verification: "mated". :)

Doctor Biobrain said...

A lie, Mahakal? I thought you didn't believe that other people's religious beliefs were wrong. Yet many folks believe quite firmly in this so-called lie. Besides, if reality is subjective, then there can be no lies. Jesus did and didn't oppose these things, depending upon the beliefs of the believer.

Not that I'm wanting to restart that discussion, but thought I'd just mention what appears to be an inconsistency, in case you weren't aware of it.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

I'm in no sense saying that anyone's religious beliefs are wrong, but that there is no scriptural basis for the Roman church's position.

You can believe that contraception, abortion and gay marriage is a sin, but if you claim that Jesus gave any evidence of believing so, that is a lie. And in the case of the Roman church, it is a deliberate fabrication.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mahakal - You're saying that millions of people's religious beliefs are based upon lies, but the religious beliefs that are based upon those lies AREN'T wrong? How does that make any sense? How can a truthful religious belief be based upon a lie?

Or are you using a different meaning of the word "religious belief" than everyone else uses? I mean, while I agree that the ban on abortion and homosexuality isn't actually bible-based, these people believe that it is. Therefore, these are their religious beliefs. You think these beliefs are wrong, yet say they're not wrong. I can make no sense of this.

And your problem here is that you've decided to believe in a religion. So you picked one that incorporated all the other ones (or something), added a dash of science, and topped it with a shot of superiority; from the "knowledge" that you finally found the universal religion that all the others were searching for. (Or so I'm guessing from the little you've told me.)

And so now you're stuck trying to defend the idea that these people's beliefs aren't wrong (because your religion incorporates their beliefs), but ARE wrong (because they believe things you don't believe). And so you'll say that their beliefs aren't wrong, while saying that the basis for their beliefs are wrong. And all because you've chosen to have a religion, but want one that makes more sense to you.

But why? If you don't know the answers, why guess? Why not do as I do and abstain? As I've said before, I find the subject of religion to be much too fascinating to get stuck on just one. I mean, I'm not anti-religion. Nor do I believe that there are no gods. I have no belief on the subject. Zero. And that's the easiest position to defend, because there's nothing to defend. And all the other positions are indefensible, and you end up with weird contradictions that you can't explain. Why? Because you're guessing. And that's something I don't understand. I've never understood the need for religion. Perhaps it's time you ask yourself why you do.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Your assumption that I am only guessing is what is wrong. However, no words could convey understanding to someone who is unwilling or uninterested in perceiving the truth for him or herself.

I have told you that you can find this for yourself. I have told you how you can do so. Whether you choose to look or keep your eyes closed, is up to you.

Doctor Biobrain said...

I have told you that you can find this for yourself. I have told you how you can do so. Whether you choose to look or keep your eyes closed, is up to you.Yes, by blindly accepting what you say, I can discover "truth." Excellent. Might I ask why I'd want to blindly accept truths that I'm not allowed to question?

And I'm sorry, but your "truth" is so far from being convincing that I find it almost insulting that you keep trying to convince me of it. Why would you bother reading this blog if you think I'm so easily swayed? And seriously, what would be so hard about defending your statements? I'm perfectly willing to listen to what you have to say, but you never say it. Instead, you tell me to read books and websites that I can't question. Sorry, but that's just not how I do things. I question everything.

And I find the certainty of your beliefs to be somewhat frightening. Seriously. You might not even exist, yet you're certain of your beliefs? I find that mindboggling. You really need to start asking a few questions yourself.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Never did I ask you to blindly accept anything, and certainly not to believe what I say because I say it. I have said to see for yourself, and you refuse. So be it. None are so blind...

Doctor Biobrain said...

See WHAT for myself? I see quite clearly that the answer ain't there. And it is entirely inconceivable that you "know" the answer. That is a complete impossibility. I understand and accept faith, though I can't do it myself. I absolutely refuse to acknowledge any "knowledge" you could possibly have on this subject.

I mean, how can you "know" that you're not being deceived? You can't. You might be in Hell right now, being deceived by the Devil into "knowing" these things. Or being tricked by aliens or Obama's evil goons at Gitmo or maybe you're just an electric energy field inside a galaxy-sized supercomputer. It's impossible for you to "know" that these things aren't true. How can you possibly be so blind to these alternate possibilities? You can have faith in your beliefs all you want, but you can never "know" that they're true. It's simply impossible.

But please, go ahead and ignore everything I write and pretend that I'm the blind one. Your choice.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Can you describe a strawberry to someone who has never seen or tasted one?

Wouldn't it be better just to eat the strawberry and find out what it is like?

You want me to tell you what you will see, but I cannot substitute for your own perception.

Meditate, and if it's hard to find your insight, I suggest taking some cannabis first. At least you might enjoy yourself a bit.

Good luck and have fun!

Doctor Biobrain said...

Look, I really wish we could meet, as this is definitely the wrong forum for what we're trying to do, but you've got to believe me when I say: I'm one of the most in-tune guys you're going to come across. I don't need to meditate. People don't get much more open and free-thinking than me. And if I can just fix my minor financial woes and few kid-based headaches, I would literally be trouble-free. I'm just a happy guy who enjoys life and enjoys making other people happy. It's my thing and I totally own it. I mean, I'm the coolest fucking guy in the coolest fucking neighborhood of the coolest fucking city on earth. And my regular state of consciousness is far deeper than most folks at their most meditatedness. You've got to believe me when I say that I really know what I'm talking about. And for me to truly accept what you're talking about would require me to be a completely different person than I am. I am what I am and the world is a much better place for it. I'm willing to listen to your viewpoint, but I can never adopt it as my own. It's an impossibility.

As for your final suggestion, let's just say that it's totally unnecessary. That's not a topic I'm willing to write about, but trust me when I say that the suggestion is quite comical, to say the least. And if anything, I've wondered if you might have a problem of excess usage, which, from what I understand, can screw with your head in bad ways if used for long enough...or so I've been told. But again, I prefer to not write about that topic here.

Slightly different subject, but I really wonder if there's something wrong with my writing style, as the impression I seem to make with people online doesn't match me at all. But then again, I think maybe I need to be seen to be believed. I guess it's a package deal. I keep thinking about doing podcasts, as I write in my speaking voice, but think things get lost in translation to the written form. Maybe I could even get a radio gig from it, as I could totally do that sort of thing. I've got a good voice and can riff for hours on any subject without getting boring. If only I wasn't so lazy...

But anyway, maybe if you're in Austin sometime, we can hook-up and you can bask in my glory. And yeah, I talk like that in person too. And I'm so fucking awesome that it's totally believable. We might all be separate entities within a single consciousness, but it's obvious that some entities were given more to work with than others.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Not much interest in coming to Austin, or Texas generally. I'm sure your superiority and magnificence overflows the place, though.

I've said my piece, you have no interest, and are satisfied with your life as it is, without more.

Enjoy the path you are on, it leads to the same place, as all do.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Enjoy the path you are on, it leads to the same place, as all do.That's actually a point I tried to make earlier. Why bother with the religion stuff? If both of us are dealing with the same day-to-day headaches and victories, why bother discovering the "ultimate" truth underneath it all? For me, life is about happiness; both receiving and giving it. I've found no need to delve deeper than that, other than to explore theoretical possiblities. If everyone had my attitude, the world would be a much, much better place.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Well, some paths are more direct than others, and some are more pleasant, and some might take a few lifetimes...

I'm not saying all paths are the same. I'm saying they lead ultimately to the same place. This goes for you and for George Bush, too.