The Kiss, by Francesco Hayez, 1859. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

It's time for a sexual counterrevolution

(RNS) — After radio host Garrison Keillor was dumped from his media throne for sexual misconduct, a friend of mine quipped on Facebook, “Are there any old famous dudes who haven’t been sexually gross?”

They are fewer by the day. With idols falling fast in media, politics and entertainment, The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen writes that a new “sex panic” might be upon us. It takes little imagination to see how this panic could be exploited for a retrograde clampdown on all types of sexual relationships and a rollback of the hard-earned freedoms enjoyed by women and LGBT people.

Amid the current wreckage, is it time to declare the half-century-old sexual revolution a mistake? Do we need to go back to the more restrictive sex culture of old?

That would be neither feasible nor desirable. But it clearly is time for a sexual counterrevolution, to restore what was healthy and well-intended in the original revolution and excise the malignancies that have shown up lately in the personages of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and many others, not to mention the everyday workplace occurrences of men harassing the women they work with and supervise.

Thankfully, we can find in religions and secular ethics some powerful correctives to what is broken in sex culture today. First, a brief diagnosis of what has gone wrong:

We can credit the sexual revolution for honoring the joys of sex and creating space for more people to enjoy it in more ways, provided that no one is forced or harmed. But in elevating the pleasures of sex, the revolution contributed to the development of a greedy fixation on it that now prevails among some men.

One of the ways in which the sex revolution has gone sideways is that it’s made sex too much a form of recreation, too much the spoils of power and wealth, too much a commodity that men clamor to get and have. Amid incessant messaging from media and the toxic sides of male culture, men have been sold the idea that good living means sex — lots of it, with lots of women, always on men’s terms.

When desire morphs into entitlement, as it can easily do, sex-pursuers distort the women whose bodies they want. In these men’s sight and minds, a woman becomes less a full-fledged human person, with all the intelligence and emotional complexity that implies, and more of a one-dimensional object for sexual gratification. Her body is seen as not her own but, rather, something to which these predatory men have a rightful claim.

This way of distorting women and trashing their humanity is light-years apart from the spirit of love and democratic values that we associate with the 1960s counterculture in which the sexual revolution took shape. And it’s disgusting, contrary to all of our higher principles.

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has perceptively said, this aspect of the sexual revolution “looks more like a permission slip for the strong and privileged to prey upon the weak and easily exploited. … It’s the revolution that’s been better for fraternity brothers than their female guests, better for the rich than the poor, better for the beautiful than the plain, better for liberated adults than fatherless children.”

Some “revolution.”

But despite the abuse and irresponsibility that have grown out of it, the sex revolution has done a lot of good, too.

Think about LGBT people, who enjoy rights and levels of acceptance that would have seemed unimaginable a half-century ago. Think about what the sexual revolution has done to empower women, not just to enjoy noncoercive sex on equal terms with men but to pursue careers and lives free of male dominance. Think about the millions of everyday heterosexual couples who are better able to enjoy sex in loving, relationship-enhancing ways thanks to the contraceptives that the sexual revolution made more available.

There is no need to erase all those gains.

What principles might guide a healthy counterrevolution? At the risk of being simplistic, I suggest the following.

For Christians, the answer starts with the savior at the center of their faith. The values and behavior modeled by Jesus in the New Testament, including his interactions with women in some of the Bible’s most memorable stories, are as contrary to today’s predatory sex culture as day to night. Jesus treated every person, even women portrayed as prostitutes and adulteresses, with compassion and respect — as full human beings.

This ethic is carried forward today by a bedrock Christian teaching — a teaching the church has frequently violated, it must be said — that upholds the dignity and worth of every human being. Christians are taught that all people are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with honor and respect.

Imagine how today’s broken sex culture would change for the better if that were the prevailing ethic.

Judaism offers much the same: a conception of sex as not merely a means of reproduction, but a source of joy and companionship between partners provided they approach one another without coercion, abuse or selfishness.

Islam promotes peace, love and compassion in human relations. Apply that to sex, and you get something quite different from the tales of abuse filling our news feeds.

Humanism offers principles as transformative as they are simple: equality between the sexes; an embrace of the inevitability and benefits of sex; and acceptance of nontraditional sexualities, so long as sex is consensual and no one is hurt or abused.

The sexual revolution proclaimed, “If it feels good, do it.” The overdue counterrevolution rightly adds, “but only if it feels good for the other person, too.”

(Tom Krattenmaker is a writer specializing in religion in public life and is communications director at Yale Divinity School. His latest book is "Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower." The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)


  1. “the revolution contributed to the development of a greedy fixation on it that now prevails among some men.”

    Sorry, that greedy fixation on it has been the stock and trade of the human race since forever.

  2. “We can credit the sexual revolution for honoring the joys of sex and creating space for more people to enjoy it in more ways….”

    What Country do you live in!

  3. Religious view points on sex always defaults to the sexual revolution as the cause. The pedo priests and especially the RCC blamed it for their behavior too. Anything but personal responsibility.

  4. Men need to get a new hobby, way of life instead of being so sexually fixated. If one was to remove any possibility of sex the whole male culture would crumble and blow away in the wind. Men need to start being more than sex, wanting sex, etc. People, especially men themselves, may say they have no control over it, but in fact they have become so weak and feeble in their abilities to find meaning in life beyond sex they have fallen into a pit of repetitive sexual needs. It is an addiction that has not been labeled as such and men need to be more than sex purveyors.

  5. We’re 100% in agreement.

    The sixties are toblame, except that the sixties can’t argue the their case.

  6. Everyone and every thing in the world is now being exposed for who and what they “truly” are in these “last days” of a wicked era we are living in (Matthew, chapter 24; Mark, chapter 13; Luke, chapter 21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5)!! This should be no surprise!

  7. What an excellent and non-biased explanation of the benefits of the sexual revolution and the problem with coercive sexual tactics used by some men in our culture. You are making it clear that the problem is not a men vs women issue but rather an abuse of power issue with the powerful one exploiting the less powerful. With a clear perspective like this one, we have a starting point for making some real corrections and the real possibility for healing.

  8. Long before the Sexual Revolution, long lived Fornication & Adultery.

    And long after this Sexual Counterrevolution, shall long live Fornication & Adultery.

    To quote Master Jesus:

    “O you adulterous and wicked generation!”

    He offered THE solution, though. Death to, and death of, Fornication & Adultery by His death. So that upon our resurrection with Him in the here and now & Beyond, we end up only satisfying the Desires of the Holy Spirit of God.

    Don’t ask my fellow born-again Christian brothers Roy Moore & Paul Pressler, though, how that works.

  9. Last days? We’ve been living in “last days” of wickedness for quite a long time.

  10. The sexual revolution did not create sexual harassment, molestation of children or rape. Those things have been happening for centuries. What we need in a counter revolution is an approach to sexuality that includes the sacred.

  11. Best part of two thousand years – and, assuming we’ve not committed species suicide by then, I’m sure there will be a few saying the same thing, and quoting the same sources, in another two thousand years.

  12. What do you mean by “sacred” and how do think that would help. (First two sentences are spot on).

  13. What the sexual revolution has wrought which highlights the problem dramatically:

    The CDC estimates there are on average 19 million cases of STDs in the USA every year. That is 190 million cases in ten years and 380 million cases in 20 years showing that either many citizens get more than one STD infection or that almost every citizen has had one STD infection in their life as the USA population is ~320 million. And in most cases such infections could have been prevented by the proper use of a 50 cent condom. And of course those same condoms could have prevented many of the unplanned pregnancies many of which resulted in abortions. (Of course, there is always masturbation or abstinence as other means to reduce the number of STD infections and abortions.)

  14. But did your Master Jesus really utter these words? No he did not according to rigorous historic testing: e.g. And Matthew obviously added the words “adulterous and wicked” to Mark’s passage. Ditto for Luke in adding “evil”. And note Mark’s gospel is the more historical document with Matthew, Luke and John being embellishments or plagiarized passages of Mark’s gospel.

    (2) Mark 8:11-13 = Matt 16:1,4b = Luke 11:16

  15. The toxic masculinity, so well exposed today, would suggest that the ‘sexual revolution of the sixties was an illusion, and did more to commodify and exploit human sexuality than anything to improve on it. And in that sense, religion has done nothing at all. What would necessary for any ‘counter revolution’ is the transcendence necessary to turn an evolutionary remnant, a material, biological response of male sexuality, into an expression of true spiritual union and fidelity. Only human nature stands in the way! Yet that wisest of Bards might have expressed an insight in his poem Venus and Adonis.

    Call it not love for love to heaven is fled
    Since sweating lust on earth usurp’d His name.
    Under who simple semblance man hath fed
    upon fresh beauty blotting it with blame,
    which the hot tyrant stains and soon bereaves
    As caterpillars do the tender leaves.

    Love comforteth like sunshine after rain
    but lust effect is tempest after sun.
    Love’s gentle spring doth always fresh remain.
    Lust’s winter comes, ere summer half be done.
    Love surfeits not, lust like a glutton dies,
    Love is all truth, lust full of forged lies.

  16. “Islam promotes peace, love and compassion in human relations. Apply that to sex, and you get something quite different from the tales of abuse filling our news feeds.”

    Yes if you are a male Muslim belonging to your local variety of Islam. Not so makes you fodder for imams.

    Dictates from the Book of Horror aka the Koran:

    o “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” (Surah 5:51)
    “Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons…he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home…” (Surah 8:12-)

    “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” (Surah 8:36-)

    “…make war on the leaders of unbelief…Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them…” (Surah 9:12-)

    “Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]…until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.” (Surah 9:29-)

    “It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith [Islam] to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters [non-Muslims] may dislike it.” (Surah 9:31-)

    “If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men.” (Surah 9:37-)

    “Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home.” (Surah 9:73)

    “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them.” (Surah 9:121-)

    “Say: ‘Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom…” (Surah 17:111)

    “‘How shall I bear a child,’ she [Mary] answered, ‘when I am a virgin…?’ ‘Such is the will of the Lord,’ he replied. ‘That is no difficult thing for Him…God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!…Those who say: ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood…” (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)

    “Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him…He has given you the name of Muslims…” (Surah 22:78-)

    “Blessed are the believers…who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)…These are the heirs of Paradise…” (Surah 23:1-5-)

    “Muhammad is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” (Surah 48:29)

    “Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?…Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents…They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets…Blessed be the name of your Lord…” (Surah 55:52-66-)

    Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

    Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.”

    And Islam gives women almost no rights and treats them like fodder for the male species as so bluntly noted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her autobiography, Infidel.

    “Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circumcised as a child, educated by radical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ensue. It’s a story that, with afew different twists, really could have led to a wretched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hirsi Ali escaped – and
    transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women.”

    ref: Washington Post book review.

    some excerpts:

    “Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly beaten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their screams resounded across the courtyards. “No! Please! By Allah!”

    “The Pakistanis were Muslims but they too had castes. The Untouchable girls, both Indian and Pakistani were darker skin. The others would not play with them because they were untouchable. We thought that was funny because of course they were touchable but also horrifying to think of yourself as untouchable, despicable to the human race.”

    “Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating.”

    “The kind on thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia and among the Brotherhood of Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves the feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hypocrisy, and double standards. It relies on the technological advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam”.

  17. Your comment is inanely sophomoric.
    What makes you think women aren’t just as fixated ?
    Inexperience ?

  18. A useful reminder that the joys of sex are easily undermined by a predatory pursuit of sex for its own sake, independent of the sound human relationships that should undermine it. What weakens this analysis, is the assumption throughout that this harmful predatory approaches, are those of heterosexual men towards women. There is no recognition that (admittedly less frequent), there are also women whose approach to men is purely sexual and predatory, (Sexual harassment in the workplace, is not restricted to men against women). Similarly, it is also not only heterosexual men whole approach to sex is purely selfish – much the same applies to many gay men.

    The core point is well made – we need to rejoice in the joy of sex, in all manner of relationships, but this must be coupled with a sense of responsibility and respect for our partner.

  19. Come again, what’s the problem with these Greek text analyses, ‘yo?

    Matthew 12:39 “an evil and adulterous generation” [genea poneera kai moichalis]

    Matthew 16:4 “an evil and adulterous generation” [genea poneera kai moichalis]

    Matthew 17:17 “O unbelieving (atheistic) and perverted (corrupted, distorted) generation” [oh genea apistos kai diestrammenee]

    Mark 8:38 “this adulterous and sinful (depraved) generation” [genea tautee tee moichalidi kai hamartohloh]

    Luke 9:41 “O unbelieving (atheistic) and perverted (corrupted, distorted) generation” [oh genea apistos kai diestrammenee]

    Philippians 2:15 “crooked and perverse (corrupted, distorted) generation” [geneas skolias kai diestrammenees]

    All these gospel truths tell us that throughout the pre-Sexual Revolution, Sexual Revolution, and Sexual Counterrevolution eras, we & all of humanity are nothing but “an evil, sinful (depraved), unbelieving (atheistic), adulterous, and perverted (corrupted, distorted) generation”!

    You have problem with that?!

  20. “Heterosexual”, my foot.

    News says Kevin Spacey and George Takei are from the Non-Heterosexual LGTBQ community, Roy Moore and Paul Pressler from the Heterosexual Christian Right community, Harry Thomas from the Heterosexual Evangelical community, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton from the Heterosexual High Society, and Catholic priests from, well, you know, the Non-Sexual Celibate Catholic community.

    Everybody’s guilty, dude. This ain’t 1 of a kind!

  21. I’m still working on Paul Pressler’s M.O., so your comment makes me wonder, How does Political Power-Tripping translate into Sexual Power-Tripping? Or do both actually synchronize in the predator’s lifestyle? Let’s see how good a “dr” thou art?

  22. You don’t know how this works. So let’s go to the armchair where you sit. Do you, Mark, anticipate global peace anytime soon? Do you desire and believe the coming of such peace? Yes to both, right? Well, there you go. That’s the way me & my fellow born-again Christian brothers & sisters wait for the Second Coming of Christ Jesus. I don’t mock you for believing in the coming global peace, and you know why? Because right after that, according to these 2 scriptures, He’ll come back. Youbetchabottom$!

    2 Peter 3:3-4, 9 – “In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ … The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

    1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 – “The day of the Lord will come … [for] while they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly … and they will not escape.”

  23. I’ve read somewhere, Givethedogabone, that you’re waiting for Worldwide Peace on Earth. Did anyone mock you for that? No, right? So why do you mock at me & my fellow born-again Christian brothers & sisters for waiting for Christ Jesus’ return to Earth? Don’t you realize you’re mocking yourself by doing that? For we too anticipate global peace, but only because right after that, according to these 2 scriptures, He’ll come back. Neat-O, yeah? Peace, ‘bruh! (For then, Glory Be to God & Jesus!)

    2 Peter 3:3-4, 9 – “In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ … The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

    1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 – “The day of the Lord will come … [for] while they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly … and they will not escape.”

  24. Two goals for a real sexual counter-revolution: eliminate elective abortion, and convince women to insist on a wedding band before sex.

  25. Actually, considering the reports from the women that dated him and his happy and faithful marriage of over thirty years, Moore would be just fine as an example.

  26. I think you are mistaken.
    I’d like peace on earth – I’m not holding my breath.
    My experience of humanity tells me that peace on earth ain’t gonna happen whilst humanity exists – indeed, depending upon your definition of “peace”, not while life exists.

    As to quoting your preferred scripture – it only has meaning for those who view it as you do. Since your view is unprovable and irrational I don’t share it.

  27. If your mindset is an attitude of one-up, one-down, and you have the power in the relationship (e.g., financial power, physical strength,
    political power), then you will naturally exploit others to keep proving you are the one with the power. One of the ways to exploit someone with less power than you, is sexual abuse. If your mindset is an attitude of win-win and equality, you will strive to use your power in a way that serves and uplifts others.

  28. Marriage. One man. One woman. Mutual respect. Love. Lifetime. Strange how I find myself seeing the value in an ancient religious institution.

  29. To Blackstefka

    A long response has appeared on my feed but I can’t see it here.

    I agree with much of what you say but, since I can’t see a definition of what you mean by “sacred” I’m slightly puzzled.

    Paraphrasing – hopefully accurately – You see the solution to the situation as being to immerse humanity in your version of theism. I see many problems with that, not least that the books on which deists tend to rely are part of the problem.
    You appear to believe in creation, in design and in miracles; all of which are at best questionable and, in reality, unproven. unnecessary and unlikely.

    I prefer a rational, education-based-on-evidence approach.

  30. Marriage, one man. One woman, or two men, Or two women. Mutual respect. Love. Lifetime. Strange how I ALSO see the value of an institution which has been secular as well as religious.

    So let’s talk about Donald Trump and his three marriages, or newt Gingrich and his three marriages, or Anita Bryant who divorce was against everything she claimed to stand for, or Floyd’s two marriages, or sandimnious’s two marriages, or Joe Barton’s two marriages with adultery in between, and……

    And and and and and and and and and and and.

    Meanwhile, I have numerous coupled gay and lesbian friends whose marriages lasted longer than all three of 2Rumps marriages, or all three of Newtie’s, or both of adulterous Joe’s,

    And and and and and and and sand and and.

  31. I’ll convince the super duper Christians, despite the clear evidence that even they aren’t interested in it.

    You can convince everyone else,

  32. So, how believable is the alleged male victim of Paul Pressler’s alleged sexual molestation for saying that he was raped because of Pressler’s political power? Evidences are plenty as to Pressler’s political power abuses covered by news media (you may wanna check RNS’ recent coverage on this lawsuit), but none exists as to his sexual power abuses, except that he and the suing individual had a previous legal case, but settled outside the court system. Mindboggling, this. I was hoping you’d have insight as to the cause/effect relationship between political power and sexual power. “Exploit[ing] someone with less power than you” won’t cut it in court on behalf of the victim; it’s quite a lame theory, actually – sorry to say.

  33. What “unpardonable sin”? Not one of the women that dated him reported any attempted sexual contact on Moore’s part at all (unless you count the kiss a couple mentioned as “sexual contact”). Going by their stories, the testimony of the women that have known him for years if not decades, and the history of his marriage the man’s a gentleman when it comes to his behavior toward women. The only ones accusing him of sexual contact/attempted rape didn’t date him, and all of their stories have issues. So yeah, given that I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to him.

  34. You are mis-understanding my intent, I do not have a version of theism at all, nor deism, I am immersed in Christianity in all its forms from Protestantism to Catholicism to Orthodoxy and deeply Johanine. If you are curious as to what I mean as “sacred” I am not sure what sort of rational education based on evidence approach could be offered, since sacred involves sanctification, and the definition of sacred is “connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.” I would offer that education based on evidence approaches to the problems associated with sex and reproduction have proved that these approaches do not seem to stem the tide of violence. They may address unwanted pregnancy and reduce the needs for abortions and such, but do not really address the objectification of sex, the commodification of sex and the violence towards women and children. Sorry you can not read the entire thread, maybe if you read it on a computer versus a phone, it might be more complete. Thank you for your kind interest, I wish you all the best in everything.

  35. I don’t believe global peace is a realistic possibility so as much as I would like it I don’t expect it will be realized. That said, we should still strive towards it because it can only benefit all involved.

    By the way, my comment wasn’t intended to mock but rather point out the lack of historical perspective. Times have always been wicked.

  36. Givethedogabone didn’t give me much leeway, but you do, Mark, kinda.

    So this is what I’m getting at by way of comparison. I’ve adapted your line of thinking to mine like this:

    “[The Second Coming of Christ Jesus] is a realistic possibility … as much as I would like it [to be] … We should still strive towards it[s eventuality] because it can only benefit all involved.”

    You follow? Even a bit?

  37. Try this one, then, Givethedogabone. Mark gave me more room to work with just now; yours, as usual, leaves me with nothing except the following the tiniest of openings:

    You say, “I’d like peace on earth – I’m not holding my breath.”

    And I say, “I’d like [Christ Jesus returning to earth] – I’m not holding my breath.”

    You say, “Peace on earth ain’t gonna happen whilst humanity exists”.

    And I say, “[Advent Two] ain’t gonna happen whilst humanity exists [as non-persecutors of Christ Jesus’ disciples]”.

    There’s something fleetingly common in your statement and mine. That’s all I was getting at, take it or leave it.

  38. Not a ‘phone – I use a desktop

    Christianity, in each of its forms, is a form of theism isn’t it?

    I do not see any value in trying to educate for a better society if you base that education on the irrational belief in god(s).

    I can’t prove that every version of theism is wrong – though it’s plain that, at minimum, all bar one must be to some extent – I’ve yet to find one that is rational enough to have the potential for truth.

    Surely education of quality depends upon respect for those who are being educated. Teaching them good things based on hopes/fears/expectations presented as true but incapable of verification is not showing the same level of respect as presenting evidence-based reasoning.

  39. I think you’re stretching the rubber band awful tight.

  40. At least now, though, you know that Advent II comes after Global Peace. And that, too, so as to destroy it.

  41. I don’t think you understand the meaning of “know”.

    I “know” what you wrote – I have no idea why you did so – it makes no sense to me.

    I don’t even “know” what you mean by Advent II – it seems the usual meaning is the 2nd Sunday in Advent but, in terms of Coming after Global Peace (sic), that doesn’t make sense either.

  42. Abortion isn’t healthcare. It’s murder. Not get pregnant if she cannot afford a child? Worked for me.

  43. Why are you on a Religion News Service site? I am genuinely curious. Theism is a belief in a god or gods, Christianity in essence is obviously a belief in a god, and I would argue it is quite rational. Evidence is an interesting term. For me, the existence of creation is evidence of the existence of god. I would invite you to explore some of the early Church philosophers, Augustine for example, who in essence reasoned his way to his belief system with logic. Religion and spirituality should involve reason and logic, many faith practices today have removed logic and reason from their practices. In ancient times, art, science and religion were as one. They became separate starting in the Renaissance, and completely separate starting after the French Revolution mainly through religious scholars at Notre Dame de Paris, because these scholars felt that passions and emotions caused the upheaval of the Revolution. They wanted clear logic devoid of emotion. Having what you and so many people call “evidence based” learning relies on quantifiably measurable phenomena based on things like math and the five senses. These methods are obviously valuable, but they are not the entire part of the story, bringing reverence into the equation is also important. Our current commodification of all aspects of life which on one level has led to the destruction of the planet, and on another level perpetrates the degradation of women and children for sexual purposes. Please explain how “evidence based” education would omit bringing in reverence and the sacred in the process? In my opinion, it is quite measurable and evident that current approaches to the problem are not really solving the problem of sexual violence towards women and children and that current educational approaches are devoid of even mentioning the word “sacred.” Such language such as “rational” the way this word is usually understood, would actually lead to the inclusion of bringing sexuality into the realm of the sacred.

  44. “Why are you on a Religion News Service site? I am genuinely curious.”
    I’m probably not capable of an unbiased response but I’d give two reasons.
    1 – to present an alternative viewpoint to visitors who are undecided.
    2 – to test my rejection of the supernatural beliefs I was taught 60+ years ago.

    “For me, the existence of creation is evidence of the existence of god.”
    IMO you make two assumptions that are irrational
    1 – “creation” – we know that the universe we inhabit started with the rapid expansion of a singularity some 13.8bn years ago. We don’t know why. The absence of a certain explanation does not validate any uncertain one.
    2 – you are saying that, if there was evidence that the universe was the result of a conscious act, you would define the entity which caused the act as a god. That would say nothing about the deity other than that it was the creator – there is no logical reason to believe that such a god would proceed to act as any of the multiple human god-concepts are claimed to do/have done. You would have reached god but not God.

    “Religion and spirituality should involve reason and logic”
    They sometimes try to but always, ISTM, based upon the prior acceptance of irrational belief – such as the existence of their deity, the value of their religious writings and the infallibility of past revelation.

    “ In ancient times, art, science and religion were as one”
    The scientific method grew out of the Renaissance – prior to that there wasn’t much (any) science as we know it today. As to art – religion always had the money (even, I suspect, when art was carving earth-mother style stone goddesses) and those with the money used some of it to impress and maintain control over those who provided their base. Abstract art wouldn’t have produced the same emotional vulnerability as a picture of torture on a cross would it?.

    .” bringing reverence into the equation is also important.”
    1 – Why?
    2- Not if it encourages the replacement of fact by wishful thinking.

    “Our current commodification of all aspects of life which on one level has led to the destruction of the planet, and on another level perpetrates the degradation of women and children for sexual purposes.”
    We evolved to live in a competitive world. Competition always produces strong and weak. Religion can, with some individuals, restrain the unbridled use of power but a) clearly fails with many and b) is only one of a range of techniques available. Since religion is based on belief it will inevitably become more and more ineffective as knowledge supersedes belief. Evidence-based education is, IMO, a wiser, more reliable and more moral way of achieving superior (not perfect) results.

    “Please explain how “evidence based” education would omit bringing in reverence and the sacred in the process?”
    Reverence of the value of others is vital – reverence of unproven and unlikely deities is not – just ignore it.

    “ In my opinion, it is quite measurable and evident that current approaches to the problem are not really solving the problem of sexual violence towards women and children and that current educational approaches are devoid of even mentioning the word “sacred.” Such language such as “rational” the way this word is usually understood, would actually lead to the inclusion of bringing sexuality into the realm of the sacred.”
    That’s because you believe in “sacred” The absence of the term “sacred” is not the cause of the problem (unless you can demonstrate otherwise using the scientific process) it is (almost certainly) merely coincidental. It cannot be rational to bring sexuality in to any area which is of dubious existence and impossible to quantify. That said, I fully accept that better methods are needed – included would be universal recognition of the value of women as equals to men (not as “an helpmeet”), the acceptance that it is a women’s right to control what goes on with her body, ready (where necessary free) access to effective contraception for both sexes, equality of opportunity and independent income and the exposure for what they are (and eventual removal of) supernatural excuses for male domination.

  45. That’s because you are full of ****. So poor couples should abstain from sex until they are middle class? That sounds like a recipe for depopulation of poor people. Who’ll flip your burgers or clean your house? Who’ll pay taxes so you can continue your holy wars?
    Who’ll fight in your holy wars? Without poor people you have no soldiers to send to there deaths.

  46. They hand out condoms for free, if you cannot control yourself because of poor resources.

  47. So poor married couples shouldn’t have children? How very conservative straight white male of you.

  48. The evidences for Christ Jesus and the gospel of salvation through His crucifixion, burial and resurrection all come from reliable eyewitness testimonies.


    (1) According to Gary L. Wells, Amina Memon, and Steven D. Penrod, “Eyewitness Evidence: Improving Its Probative Value”, Association for Psychological Science, 2006 (Volume 7, Number 2), pages 45-75:

    “DNA exonerations have proved that eyewitnesses can be absolutely positive and yet absolutely mistaken, just as was found in the experiments. But do 180-plus cases of mistaken identification prove anything? If these cases were the total, then it might be argued that this is a rather small fraction of convictions. But consider the following observations. Virtually all of these DNA exoneration cases involved sexual assault. Some also involved murder, robbery, and other offenses, but sexual assault is the common feature. It is not that sexual assault witnesses are especially poor eyewitnesses. In fact, they might be the very best at identifying their attackers, because they tend to get longer, closer views of them than do victims of most other crimes. The reason these DNA exoneration cases are sexual assault cases is because they are the cases for which biologically rich DNA traces were left behind by the perpetrator in the form of semen. (In 2004, nearly 95,000 sexual assaults were reported, with a 43% clearance rate. … ) Stranger-rape cases, in which identification is most likely to be an issue, constitute less than a third of all reported sexual assaults. More than 70% of reported sexual assaults involve an intimate partner, relative, or acquaintance, so about 30,000 cases of stranger-rape come to the attention of the police each year. In contrast to sexual assault cases, only a small fraction of murders (more than 16,000 reported in 2004) and almost no robberies (more than 400,000 reported in 2004) or aggravated assaults (more than 850,000 reported in 2004) result in biologically rich trace evidence being left behind. What can the person who was convicted of a convenience store robbery or a drive-by shooting use to prove that the eyewitness identification was mistaken? Thus, these 180-plus DNA exonerations represent a small proportion of the crimes for which eyewitness identification evidence has been used to convict people. Furthermore, only a fraction of old sexual assault convictions can now be tested, because the evidence was never collected, was collected improperly, has deteriorated, has been lost, or has been destroyed. All in all, the 180 (and growing) DNA exonerations can only be a small fraction of the total number of cases in which people have been convicted because they were mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses.”

  49. Another visible-only-via-email only response.

    “Thanks for your reply. I would add that based on your reply you are trying to evangelize your beliefs to a crowd that is quite content with their views, which sounds like proselytizing.”

    You may be right – none of us can stand back far enough to analyse ourselves accurately – but, whilst it would be nice to think that a believer had seen reality as a result of my words the truth is that I don’t think it will happen – it is often said that religious belief is not entered into through logic and is therefore unlikely to be exited via it either.

    You are, I’m sure, absolutely wrong in assuming my opposition to all (not just religious) superstitious belief is a reaction against childhood religious abuse – actually you couldn’t be further from the truth. Your suggestion that I seek psychotherapy is, I assume, well intentioned; but as a means of dealing with your inability to face reality it wouldn’t benefit either of us.

    You compliment me on the presentation of my arguments but decline to engage because they “offer me nothing”, and “it is not useful to me on any level”

    You say “Bringing the sacred into sexuality would not preclude adequate reproductive health care to women, in fact it might help the situation. If sex were approached with reverence, violence would be taken out of the equation, that is my premise” But you don’t seem to have any conviction that the situation would be helped let alone any idea as to how. Approaching sex with reverence (whatever that means to you) might work for you – I think your understanding of other people and their sexuality is rather naive.

    Add that to your suggestions that I might a) watch some movies rather than post on RNS and b) post elsewhere where my logic will be appreciated (are you this site’s proprietor/appointed arbiter of acceptability?), the disinterest unless something is useful to you, the incorrect analysis of my childhood and the helpful(?) suggestion that I seek professional help because you have a problem with what I write and then think about what that says about your attitude to us “lesser” mortals.

  50. Your definition of “reliable” is “something that someone who wasn’t there has written down many years later without quoting sources and in the same context as other claims (the rent curtain – the dead rising) which are untrue”.

    Reliable is usually defined as “Consistently good in quality or performance”.

    Using the term “reliable” in it’s usual meaning says that the whole of the Gospels is not reliable (we know that the whole born-in-Bethlehem-bit is wrong). Whilst there are reasons for thinking that the character around which the Gospel stories are assembled may have existed there is no evidence to suggest that he was a) in any way divine and b) actually did any of the things the later writers attributed to him. (A bit like Robin Hood a few hundred years later).

    As to your cut-and-paste – WTF???

    “DNA exonerations have proved that eyewitnesses can be absolutely positive and yet absolutely mistaken, just as was found in the experiments. ”

    Yup – eyewitness testimony – even when accurately reported rather than made up/mangled through many retellings – is often totally wrong – how did you ever imagine this strengthened your non-argument?

  51. You’ve stopped researching & thinking. Saying & rehashing same old, same old around here. I refuse to do that. As a result, I’m onto something uncharted before; consider yourself my privileged guinea pig in this thought-experiment.

    Hypothesis: The scientific evidence-based critique of Christ Jesus-centered religion, subjecting it to laboratory testing, is overrated. The testimonial evidence-based critique of same is the way to go, subjecting to court.

    Here’s second case study.

    (2) According to New Zealand Law Commission, “Total Recall? The Reliability of Witness Testimony”, Evidence: Miscellaneous Paper 13, August 1999:

    “While much of the research in relation to eyewitness testimony, children’s evidence and adults’ memories of traumatic events has focused on the limitations of memory, there is a danger of exaggerating that scepticism. As Lindsay and Read ([‘Psychotherapy and memories of childhood sexual abuse: a cognitive perspective’, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8] 1994:293) put it: ‘It is important not to exaggerate the fallibility of human memory. Memory is often wonderfully detailed and accurate.'”

  52. The reason it’s uncharted is because no-one else considers it worth pursuing. We know how memory works. Just because our knowledge doesn’t conform to our preferences doesn’t invalidate the knowledge.

    Memory is a series of “bullet points” around which we build, as required, a story by filling in the gaps between the between the few facts we recall (accurately or inaccurately). Memory changes over time – sometimes dramatically within a few days or weeks. Talk with people you know well who have dementia – the bullet points become dissociated with context and the stories reflect bullet points from different situations – often different locations and in different eras. It happens to all of us all the time – but more extremely as brain function deteriorates.

    As to “Hypothesis: The scientific evidence-based critique of Christ Jesus-centered religion, subjecting it to laboratory testing, is overrated.”
    What science evidence-based critique are you trying to counter. The absence of science based evidence for the basic assumptions of Christianity is total.

    No evidence of a deity, no evidence of a creator, no evidence of a simultaneously human/god being, no evidence of “soul”, “Heaven” or “Hell”.

    You appear to be making the common mental error of assuming that the lack of certainty permits acceptance of something dubious – it doesn’t

    “The testimonial evidence-based critique of same is the way to go, subjecting to court.” No it isn’t – we know that there is no testimonial based critique which is valid (you – yes you – quoted a screed which demonstrates precisely that) – and I haven’t a clue what you mean by “subject to court”.

  53. You’ll know what I mean soon enough. Next time at RNS somebody (the loudmouthed likes of you) go around with, “Bible is unscientific, God is myth, gospel claims aren’t evidence-based”, etc., etc., I’ll have this rebuttal ready, with this irrefutable thesis:

    The Reliable Testimonial Evidence for Christ Jesus and the Gospel of Salvation through His Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection: On Account of Reliable Testimonial Evidence Trumping Scientific Evidence in the Courts of Law Nowadays

    Thanks for your patience, ‘bruh!

  54. thanks for the heads up – I’ll file it

    along with

    Ten Reasons why Green is Louder than Mouse,

    The Wit and Wisdom of Sebaceous Gland


    Why Believing Silly Things makes Sense of the Koala’s Pouch.

Leave a Comment