Christian Carnival XXXVIII

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The 38th Christian Carnival is at Belief Seeking Understanding. As he's done before, Doug has split it into two posts. Parableman is represented, as usual, in Mark Tidbit 2: Jesus' Anger.

Nicene Theology has an excellent summary of Augusting on Justification.

hungry 4 God has a helpful reminder that one of the key elements in good apologetics isn't the thinking involved. The post focuses on a case where Christians are ridiculed for being unintelligent or anti-intellectual, and it points to some important scriptural guidelines that aren't normally associated with apologetics but really are relevant to this sort of issue. The one thing I like less than apologists who give bad arguments for conclusions I agree with is apologists who have a nasty attitude while giving their defense of Christianity. Sometimes it's much better to listen and say little, asking key questions and not arguing for much, than it is to mount a defense whose content would be quite impressive but with a manner that would cast much darkness on the content through insulting the hearer.

21st Century Reformation learns some lessons from Jonathan Edwards' life about commitment to developing godliness and character.

A Physicist's Perspective offers some insightful thoughts on harm principles in ethics. Specifically, the argument is that some people try to avoid calling certain actions wrong because of their lack of harm. This post provides some interesting ways to show that there may well be harm anyway. I'm not endorsing every detail, but I think this sort of general approach is extremely important, because it just isn't true that harm principles automatically will allow what most people want to argue that they allow. My favorite example is incest. I think sexual relations between a brother and sister are harmful, but I can't think of a good secular argument why they should be harmful in principle as long as there's no chance of conception, and both parties are consenting adults. That complicates such discussions, and both sides have something to learn from thinking carefully about that sort of thing.

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And the winner was... from A Physicist's Perspective on October 9, 2004 10:12 AM

...Finally, Kerry said another thing I'd like to commment on (and probably will say more on later): In explaining why he supports abortion, he says this "But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't s... Read More


Thanks for the link. The incest example seems to be a good one. I also enjoyed your post on Mark.
Best wishes,

Why shouldn't negative psychological and moral consequences be considered genuine harm? When the Supreme Court of Canada upheld federal anti-hate speech laws in R. v Keegstra, the majority adopted such an argument (the law in question forbids the dissemination of racist propoghanda).
You say, on the one hand, that "sexual relations between a brother and sister are harmful" and, on the other hand, that they are not harmful *in principle* - which suggests to me that you *do* consider negative psychological, moral, emotional, and social consequences to be harmful effects, even though said consequences do not neccesarily follow from incest.

Now, you must be familiar with the H.L.A. Hart - Patrick Devlin debate. Why isn't Devlin's position a "secular" defense of legislating morality? Or how about the position of the new natural law theorists?

I think the issue is that you can't show that these necessarily would lead to that harm if we didn't have cultural attitudes against it. That's what gets said about homosexuality. That's what supporters of incest could say. I think they are harmful, but I don't know of a genuinely secular argument that shows this given the constraint that it not be based on contingent facts about our culture (which the opponent thinks should be changed to favor the action being considered).

I'm not familiar with Hart or Devlin, and I know very little about any contemporary natural law theorists.

I'm not sure if the degree of psychological, social, and moral harm that incest gives rise is dependant on contingent attitudes (but the reasons used to argue that incest is harmful may not, I agree, be the same reasons one might use to argue that incest should be illegal).

As you probably know, the "legislating morality" debate began with J.S. Mill's *On Liberty*. The most interesting development in that debate during the past century is the 1960s debate between Hart and Devlin (you'll find a section on this in most introductory analytic philosophy of law books). Robert P. George's *Making Men Moral* ( is an important addition to this debate (I only know the book in summary). In it, George makes the case for political perfectionism. A more political and less legal book is Christopher Eberle's "Religious Conviction in Liberal Politics" (which is more of a challenge to Rawl's notion of public reason).

I don't think the degree of psychological, social, and moral harm that incest gives rise is dependent on contingent societal attitudes about incest, but I also don't think my view on that is demonstrable on secular premises. I don't have an argument against those who believe it is caused by such attitudes that they could accept on a secular basis.

If they're in the philosophy of law, then that explains why I've never heard of them. I know next to nothing about philosophy of law.

Whether or not the state should prohibit activity that is not physically harmful to parties other than the participants is one of the central philosophy of law questions. You miay want to delve into the literature sometime (which I am also trying to familiarize myself with).

Also, Eberle's book is very interesting (the first chapter is available at His central thesis is that although a citizen has an obligation to pursue a widely convincing secular rational for supporting a law that may be inimical to someone's liberty, he or she is under no obligation to withdraw support for the law if such a rationale is lacking. For example, citizens may be entitled to support laws that prohibit abortion, even if the *only* justification they can advance is a religious one. So offering a secular argument is not, on Eberle's view, a neccessary condition for being justified in supporting a law. That is a most controversial position, one worth examining in this whole debate about whether or not public justitication should be strictly secular.

Does Eberle say the same thing about lawmakers or just about citizens?

I agree that no secular argument should be needed for support of a law. One place where whether a secular argument is available is still important is when I want to convince others who don't have the same religious background that there should be such a law. That's why I think it's worth acknowledging when there's no decent secular argument for certain things.

I believe that my wife might have been a victim of sexual abuse as a child, probably incest, but not sure.

Where can I get information on symptons or traits that a person shows in their life if this has occurred, that I can look for to see if this is possible?

I need to educate myself in this area.

I am also looking for Christian support groups in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

Please send to my email


I don't myself have much information on that, unfortunately. If anyone does, go ahead and send it to him. I do know that a lot of what psychologists have said over the years has been strongly criticized, particularly anything involving regressive hypnosis or assumptions that it took place based merely on symptoms, so take any advice you find with a grain of salt.

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