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Author Topic: Atheist/Humanist Sexual Ethics/Transcendence  (Read 633 times)

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Offline DarklingAliceTopic starter

Atheist/Humanist Sexual Ethics/Transcendence
« on: February 15, 2010, 03:45:00 PM »
Greta Christina speaking at Purdue University on Atheist/Humanist sexual ethics & transcendence. February 5th, 2010

The lecture is approximately 50 minutes and then there is an extensive Q & A afterwards.

I think my favorite bit might be right around 25:30:
"When it comes to sex we need to be willing to listen to the people who actually have the kind of sex we are pondering. There are way too many people who are willing to make moral judgements about gays and lesbians, porn consumers, non-monogamists, consensual sado-masochists, sex workers, sex work customers, etc. without talking with, or reading the writings of, the people who actually practice these kinds of sex."

Offline Jude

Re: Atheist/Humanist Sexual Ethics/Transcendence
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2010, 05:50:36 PM »
Her talk on sexual ethics was fascinating when she got beyond typical questions and into the idea of a celibate married partner.  Definitely gives me something to think about in my own relationships.

The bit on sexual transcendence started out nicely too, I'd have to say I liked all of it but the conclusion when she started talking about how sex is a unifying characteristic of all species and so she felt close to like, all life on earth or something?  It took a completely ridiculous turn there but everything before was very nice.

I especially liked the repudiation of the sex positive movement with a religious angle.

Offline Serephino

Re: Atheist/Humanist Sexual Ethics/Transcendence
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2010, 10:20:41 PM »
I didn't watch the entire thing because it's late and I'm tired, but it was an interesting video.  Take Atheism out of it and I agree with most of it.  Saying we associate sex with spirituality because we don't know how else to process it is a little insulting...

I really like the part where she compared being against sexual practices because we don't like them to her discriminating against people who don't like broccoli.  It makes about as much sense.  I don't care what other people do in their own bedrooms as long as all parties are consenting and they don't try to drag me into it.   

Offline Artema

Re: notes (if for the sake of freedom of speach only)
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2010, 10:32:01 PM »
A few notes about the lecture from my (and I'm an educated Eastern Orthodox Christian theologian) perspective.
1) She starts by stating that various religions view sex different, but any serious study into comparative religion will show you that various religions view anything different.
2) She says that Early Christians viewed sex as a secondary, a lesser option than celibacy. It's much more coplext than that, there was a large tide in the Church, emanated from the hellinistic philosophy, which was against anything physical, and there were always in the Church a self-overcoming, which battled this tide and defended the significance of the physical. That counter-tide came from the fact that Christ incarnated physically, and that we were physical beings. The net effect was that marriage was decreed as not less than celibacy (at an Ecumenical Council) and that the practice of Byzantium and that of Christian ascetics toward the physical sins was very understanding. Christianity wanted a person to learn a better ethics, an ethics of non-betrayal, and that necessary reflected on marriage, but here Christianity tried to give something, not to take something back.
3) Her generalisations, such as when she says that "God angered when ...", are so narrow that I would say the reality is often opposite from what she says.
(As you can see, my second and third points are consequences of the first point, of the reductio ad absurdum approach).
4) She says that the practice of moderating your thoughts have the "Effect of feeling guilty and dirty and ashamed for something they can't help". That is in complete opposition to the reality of ascetic experience, where people learn to accept themselves, to overcome the feelings of guilt and dirtiness, thru the practice of humility - "knowing oneself". Of course, who generally cares about ascetics now, except few Roman Catholics and Orthodox maybe, religions ignorance always was a problem.
5) She says "we look at a random set of taboos". Very untrue. All those taboos always make sense from the context of their place and time.
Its weird seeing postmodernists removing those contexts and then saying "it makes no sense", like if they discovered something new.
6) What she says about ethics "hardwared into our brains" is so much alike to her earlier claims: that ethics comes from God, that it makes me wonder what is the point. Whether God (by controlled Evolution, for example) or uncontrolled Evolution had made the men, it becomes unrelevant as soon as she says the ethics is hardwired.
7) What she begins to say about ethics makes total sense. "Is anybody goes hurt by homosexuality"? I know psychologists who says "definitely yes", so it isn't such a simple topic as one can think. Why can it hurt? Because it might go against Evolution and the "hardwired ethics", for example. But then again, core Christianity never forbade a person to hurt itself, it just warned it about the possible consequences.
8) "Pornography is private and doesn't affect other person". That's sadly untrue. If we talk about a person who is in a single-cell prison for the rest of his life, not talking with anybody, then maybe it would be true, from the atheist point of view (if we ignore the quantum theory), but even then the person in a society affects everybody else if she affects herself. If it makes a person ill, or happy, it affects everybody else.
9) "Taboo vs. case-by-case" treatment of ethics. The case-by-case approach was always the case from the days when Christianity came out of catacombs and till today's denominations which keep to ascetic tradition: cf. ghoustly counselor ("father confessor" in modern English) in Romeo and Juliet.
10) "Taking responsibility" is very much there in the New Testament, it's what differentiate it from the Old Testament "law" approach, and it's one of the hardest parts of the New Testament there is.
11) 42th minute: She talks how "Science is design to filter out incorrect experience". It's interesting that ascetics is largely designed to filter out incorrect experience, while still inviting to have a real religious experience. Also, I want to point to a short book I like very much, God and Man, which essentially shows that the scientific method is very much required in religion.
I like that she adresses the error of seeing science and religion as opposites.
12) 46th minute "materialist view says that there's no supernatural world, only a physical world". That's another superstition she mentions, that religions generally believe in a un-natural, un-physical world. That's not the case, its just religions see that apart from visible things there is also an invisible part to the world, something of a quantum connection between things the modern physics would perceive. Her limiting of existance to just "water and earth and sunlight" is, on the other hand, is unscientific.
13) minute 52: She returns to the subjec of basing ethics on how it affects others. Something I, as an Orthodox Christian, totally agree with.

If you noticed, there's a lot of things in the lecture I agree with. In fact, I love the on-the-subject part of the lecture (and answers after the lecture).
Here's my notes. Take it or throw it. Thanks anyway.

Offline rick957

Re: Atheist/Humanist Sexual Ethics/Transcendence
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2010, 11:55:52 AM »
Haven't really had time to go through the lecture, but everyone's comments and your notes, Artema, made for a pretty fascinating read.  :)