bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 7: Definitions of “Sexual Activity”

In Part 6 of this series, I argued that the phrase “sexual activity” is unclear, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
I used examples and information about the use of this phrase in the medical and health arena.  I plan to also look at some information about the use of the phrase “sexual activity” in the legal and criminal justice arena.  But before I move on to discussing the meaning of this phrase in the legal arena, I want to dig a bit deeper into some definitions and interpretations of this phrase in the medical and health arena.
DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF “SEXUAL ACTIVITY” IN THE MEDICAL AND HEALTH ARENA
Let’s start off with the definition of “sexual activity” that is provided by Vocabulary.com:

DEFINITION 1:   

X is a sexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) X is an activity, and

(b) X is associated with sexual intercourse.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has an article on sexual activity by an expert on sex, and the article provides a definition of “sexual activity”:

DEFINITION 2: 

X is a sexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) X is an activity, and

(b) X induces sexual arousal.

 
A third definition of “sexual activity” can be inferred from an article presenting scientific research about the frequency of sexual activity:

 
DEFINITION 3:

X is a sexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) X is an activity, and

(b) a person P engaging in X on an occasion O constitutes P having sex on occasion O.

These three definitions of “sexual activity” are clearly different definitions.  It seems, at least at first glance, that they are NOT equivalent to each other, and that they have different implications.  If this is so, then there are at least three different possible definitions for the phrase “sexual activity” in relation to the medical and health arena.
Let’s put these definitions to work, in order to see if they are in fact different definitions that have different implications.
Suppose that John kisses Susan passionately on the lips for a minute or two, and suppose that Susan is not completely passive but also engages in passionate kissing of John on the lips at the same time.  Is John involved in sexual activity here?  Is Susan involved in sexual activity here?
If we try to apply DEFINITION 1, we run into some problems.  First of all, is the activity here the generic one of “kissing someone on the lips”?  or is it “kissing someone passionately on the lips”?  or is it “John kissing Susan on the lips”? or “John kissing Susan passionately on the lips”? or is it “John kissing Susan passionately on the lips on this particular occasion”?
Kissing someone on the lips can be done without any sexual desire or any intention to ever engage in sexual intercourse with the person being kissed.  Kissing someone passionately on the lips implies some degree of sexual desire or intention to arouse sexual desire.  However, sometimes people become sexually aroused or intend to arouse sexual desire in another person while having no intention to proceed on to having sexual intercourse with that person.
In fact, two people who are attracted to each other may have an explicit plan to AVOID engaging in sexual intercourse, while sometimes engaging in passionate kissing.  Perhaps John and Susan are just such a pair of people.  In that case, is this passionate kissing activity “associated with sexual intercourse”?  It is very difficult to say.  Kissing in general is remotely associated with sexual intercourse, because people often kiss each other as a prelude to engaging in sexual intercourse.  But it is also the case that people often kiss without there being any sexual desire or intention to ever have sexual intercourse with each other.
Although John and Susan apparently have some sexual desire for each other, they may be perfectly capable of controlling their sexual desires and behavior and be able to passionately kiss each other on the lips without then proceeding to have sexual intercourse.  It is simply UNCLEAR whether this activity constitutes a “sexual activity” according to DEFINITION 1.
But if both John and Susan are engaged in passionate kissing for a minute or two, then it seems clear that this activity “induces sexual desire” in John and in Susan, and thus would clearly count as a “sexual activity” according to DEFINITION 2.
Kissing on the lips, even passionate kissing on the lips, does NOT constitute “having sex” with another person, so this activity is clearly NOT an instance of “sexual activity” according to DEFINITION 3.
We can already see that these three definitions are three DIFFERENT definitions, with different implications.  DEFINITION 1 leaves us unclear as to whether the passionate kissing between John and Susan counts as a “sexual activity”.  DEFINITION 2 clearly implies that the passionate kissing between John and Susan counts as a “sexual activity”, and DEFINITION 3 clearly implies that this passionate kissing between John and Susan does NOT count as a “sexual activity.”
We have examined three definitions of “sexual activity” and discovered that they are three different definitions, and that at least in some cases they have conflicting implications.  Therefore, these three different definitions of “sexual activity” represent three different conflicting interpretations of that phrase.  I did not have to look very long to find these three definitions, so if I took more time, I’m sure I could come up with at least two or three more alternative definitions.  This is strong evidence that the phrase “sexual activity” as used in the medical and health arena is UNCLEAR, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
 
DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF “SEXUAL ACTIVITY” IN THE LEGAL AND CRIMINAL ARENA
A commenter who rejected my criticism of Hsiao’s core “argument” in PFA, claimed that the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” was self-explanatory:

Apparently, 90Lew90 believes that the phrase “sexual activity” is “completely unambiguous” and that the meaning of this phrase is OBVIOUS to most people.  We have seen above that this phrase is clearly NOT “completely unambiguous” and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
90Lew90 goes on to point out that this phrase is “also a term of law”.  Although it is true that this phrase is a term used in our laws and our legal system, concerning sex crimes, what 90Lew90 failed to realize is that our laws provide powerful evidence that the phrase “sexual activity” is AMBIGUOUS and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
90Lew90 apparently forgot that our laws (in the USA) against sex crimes are, primarily, STATE LAWS.  Thus, we have 50 different sets of STATE LAWS that define various sex crimes.  The assumption that all 50 states would define “sexual activity” in the same way is very implausible, and extremely unlikely.  In any case, a few seconds of searching on the internet reveals this assumption to be not only FALSE, but to be as WRONG as it could possibly be.
Here are just a few of the dozens of different definitions of “sexual activity” provided by different laws about sex crimes:

 

For many more definitions, see this website: https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/sexual-activity
I have examined a few of these definitions.  Some are very general and abstract, others contain lots of details and specifics.  The ones that contain specifics differ from each other on what specifics they include or exclude in the definitions.  The general and abstract definitions also do NOT all agree with each other.  So, although some of these definitions are very similar to others, some are unique, and some are different from, and disagree with, other definitions.
In pointing to the use of the phrase “sexual activity” in the legal and criminal arena 90Lew90 FAILS to establish his views about the meaning of this phrase, and instead points us to information that clearly proves his claims to be FALSE.  The phrase “sexual activity” is NOT clear; the meaning of this phrase is NOT “completely unambiguous”; the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
Rather, the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and AMBIGUOUS, and it is in need of definition or clarification.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 6: Sexual Activity

HSIAO’S FAUX ARGUMENT
Sometimes, Christian philosophers put forward pieces of crap that they pretend to be philosophical arguments, but that are just word salads that are posing as philosophical arguments.  The core “argument” in Tim Hsiao’s article “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA) appears to me to be one such faux argument.  Hsiao fails to define or to clarify ANY of the basic terms and phrases in his core “argument”, making it a string of words that cannot be rationally evaluated.
Here is the core “argument” in PFA:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This is NOT an actual argument, because every key term in the argument is UNCLEAR, making it impossible to rationally evaluate any of the three statements that make up this core “argument”.
 
HSIAO’S RESPONSE
Here is Hsiao’s response to my criticism of his core “argument”:
 

In short, his response is that “There’s no need to define the obvious.”  The unstated assumption in this response is that the meanings of all of the key words and phrases in his core “argument” are OBVIOUS.  This response leads me to the following conclusion:  The reason why the core “argument” in Hsiao’s article is a steaming pile of crap is that Hsiao is intellectually incapable of constructing and evaluating philosophical arguments.
It seems self-evident to me that all of the key terms in his core “argument” are UNCLEAR, VAGUE, and/or AMBIGUOUS.  If Hsiao cannot discern that there is a problem of CLARITY in these key terms even after I point to those key terms and object to their UNCLARITY, then he is not intellectually capable of producing an intelligent, logical, and clear philosophical argument.
 
A DEFENDER OF HSIAO’S “ARGUMENT”
One commenter on the post in which I stated my main objections against Hsiao’s core “argument” agreed with me that Hsiao’s article was crap, and yet did NOT agree with my objections against Hsiao’s core “argument”:


90Lew90 replies to my objections in pretty much the same way that Hsiao replied to my objections.  According to 90Lew90 at least three of the key terms in Hsiao’s “argument” have meanings that are “self-explanatory”.  (The whole IDEA of a term that is “self-explanatory” strikes me as absurd.)  Whatever the hell it means for a word or phrase to be “self-explanatory,” the main point appears to be that the meanings of these words and phrases are OBVIOUS.  This is implied when 90Lew90 states that my failure to agree that the phrase “sexual activity” is self-explanatory shows that I am “the one with the problem here.”
Given that 90Lew90 FAILS to discern that  that there is a problem of CLARITY in these key terms even after I point to those key terms and object to their UNCLARITY, I am forced to conclude that just like Hsiao 90Lew90 is not intellectually capable of producing an intelligent, logical, clear philosophical argument, or of rationally evaluating philosophical arguments.
 
ARE THE KEY TERMS IN THE CORE “ARGUMENT” OF PFA UNCLEAR?
Because it seems self-evident to me that ALL of the key terms in Hsiao’s core “argument” in PFA are UNCLEAR, it seems to me that I should NOT have to argue for my objections.  However, Hsiao cannot see the problem, and 90Lew90 cannot see the problem.  So, perhaps the UNCLARITY of these words and phrases is for many people NOT self-evident.
This, however, suggests that I’m incorrect in thinking that the UNCLARITY of these terms is self-evident, given that many (perhaps most) human beings would FAIL to notice the UNCLARITY of these terms, even after I point this out to them.  If I give up my assumption that the UNCLARITY of these terms is self-evident, then I have an obligation to provide REASONS and EVIDENCE to support my view that these terms are in fact UNCLEAR.
I have previously provided some evidence that the term “homosexual activity” is UNCLEAR.  One commenter provided a definition of this term which came from a well-known Catholic bishop and a respected moral theologian (Saint Alphonsus Ligouri).  I examined that proposed definition and found a number of significant problems with the definition, and I pointed those problems out in Post #5 of this series.  The fact that a definition put forward by a well-known Catholic bishop and respected moral theologian contains several obvious and significant problems is evidence that the term “homosexual activity” is UNCLEAR, and this is evidence that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious, since a well-known Catholic bishop and respected moral theologian defined this term in a way that is mistaken and inaccurate.
 
FUCK UP BY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION EXPERTS ON SEX
90Lew90 cannot see any problem with the CLARITY of the phrase “sexual activity”.  So, I am going to provide him and Hsiao (and anyone who bothers to read my posts on this topic) with evidence that this phrase is UNCLEAR, and evidence that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
First, a short story.  In 1975 the World Health Organization (hereafter: WHO) produced a ground-breaking report concerning “sexual health”: One important thing that this report did was to provide a DEFINITION of the term “sexual health” that has significantly influenced thinking and investigations about this subject for the past four decades:

Although this 1975 WHO report had significant impact on the development of thinking and investigations about sexual health, there was a significant problem with this report, as is pointed out in a 2002 WHO publication (Defining sexual health: Report of a technical consultation on sexual health, 28–31 January 2002, Geneva, p.4):

The doctors and sex experts who wrote the 1975 Report fucked up.  They FAILED to clearly define the most basic terms they were using, such as “sex” and “sexuality” and “sexual activity”.
Hsiao and 90Lew90 would not see any problem with the 1975 WHO report, since their view is that the meanings of terms like “sex” and “sexuality” and “sexual activity” are CLEAR and OBVIOUS. But as the authors of the 2002 WHO report note:

…there has been no subsequent international agreement on definitions for these terms.  

In other words, these terms are UNCLEAR, and the meanings of these terms are NOT obvious, so these basic terms are in NEED of a clear definition, which the 1975 WHO report FAILED to provide.
 
A COMMON MEDICAL QUESTION
Here is another bit of evidence that supports my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR, and that the meaning of the phrase is NOT obvious.  A common medical question that doctors ask their patients involves a phrase that is very close to the phrase at issue here:

Are you sexually active?

Many people find this question to be problematic.  This in itself is evidence for my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
But because many people find this question to be problematic, they ask experts about the MEANING of this question.  They ask health experts at Planned Parenthood, for example, and they ask other medical experts.  The response of experts generally begins with the admission that this question is somewhat UNCLEAR.  Furthermore, when these experts provide “clarification” of this question, they end up contradicting each other, by giving different and conflicting interpretations of the question.  This provides even more evidence supporting my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and in need of definition.
Here is a response to a request to a medical expert to clarify this common question:

Note that this medical expert admits that

…this question is somehow vague. 

According to this expert, if you engage in sexual activities that involve penetration of the penis into the vagina or penetration of the penis into the anus, then you are “sexually active” but if you do NOT engage in one or the other of these two types of sexual activities, then you are, according to this medical expert, NOT “sexually active”.  This seems fairly clear, but other experts understand this phrase as having a different meaning.
Here is the answer that health experts from Planned Parenthood give to people who ask for clarification of the common question “Are you sexually active?”:

According to health experts at Planned Parenthood:

…there’s sometimes confusion over what ‘sexually active’ actually means.

In other words, this phrase is somewhat UNCLEAR, and the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.  They point out that some people think this phrase “just refers to vaginal intercourse”.  But in the view of Planned Parenthood health experts, this expression, in this context, should be understood as referring to vaginal intercourse plus various “other forms of sex”, including : anal sex and oral sex.
So far, we have seen that there are at least three different interpretations of the phrase “sexually active”:

  • the person has engaged in vaginal sex
  • the person has engaged in activity involving either (a) penetration of the penis into the vagina or (b) penetration of the penis into the anus
  • the person has engaged in either: (a) vaginal sex, or (b) anal sex, or (c) oral sex

But other medical experts provide yet another possible interpretation of the phrase “sexually active”.  Here is the clarification offered by health experts at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center:

Note that, once again, the health experts admit that:

The phrase sexually active is a bit vague…

They provide a fourth possible meaning for this phrase:

  • the person has engaged in either: (a) penis-in-vagina sex, or (b) oral sex, or (c) anal sex, or (d) manual sex.

NONE of the previous clarifications/definitions mentioned “manual sex”.
So, not only do MANY people find the meaning of the phrase “sexually active” to be problematic, but health experts often AGREE that this phrase is vague or UNCLEAR.  Furthermore, different health experts provide different and conflicting interpretations of what this phrase means.  NO WONDER patients are confused about the meaning of the question “Are you sexually active?”, because medical and health experts DON’T AGREE WITH EACH OTHER about what this question means!
But the phrase “sexually active” is very closely related to the phrase “sexual activity”.  The latter phrase could easily be used in place of the former:

Do you engage in sexual activity?

Given the UNCLARITY of the phrase “sexually active” it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also UNCLEAR.  Given that the meaning of the phrase “sexually active” is NOT obvious, it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also NOT obvious.
 
CONCLUSION
In view of the fact that a careful definition of “homosexual activity” put forward by a well-known Catholic bishop and well-respected moral theologian has several significant problems, and thus fails to be a clear and accurate definition of that phrase, this is evidence that the phrase “homosexual activity” is an UNCLEAR phrase, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
In view of the fact that the 1975 WHO report on sexual health FAILED to clarify or define some of the most basic terms used by health and sex experts, such as “sex”, “sexuality”, and “sexual activity”, and given that this is now understood by health and sex experts to be a significant problem with that historical and influential report, and given that there was no consensus on the meanings of those important basic terms among health and sex experts for decades after the 1975 WHO report, there is good reason to believe that these basic terms are somewhat UNCLEAR, in need of DEFINITION, and that the meanings of these terms are NOT obvious.
In view of the fact that the common medical question “Are you sexually active?” is confusing and problematic for many patients, and given that medical and health experts provide different and conflicting accounts about what that question means, it is clear that the phrase “sexually active” is UNCLEAR and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.  Since the phrase “sexual activity” is closely related to the phrase “sexually active”, it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also an UNCLEAR phrase, and likely that the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” is also NOT obvious.
In the next post, I will present evidence concerning the UNCLARITY of the phrase “sexual activity” in the LEGAL arena, where the focus is on sex crimes.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 5: From Fake to Real

WHAT I REALLY HATE
I really, really, really fucking hate it when Christian philosophers put forward pieces of crap that they pretend to be philosophical arguments, but that are just word salads that are posing as philosophical arguments.  I really, really, really fucking hate having to dig through their bronzed turds to try to make something of intellectual value out of their lazy, sloppy, unclear faux arguments.
The core “argument” in Tim Hsiao’s article “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA) appears to me to be one such faux argument.  He fails to define or to clarify ANY of the basic terms and phrases in his core “argument”, making it a string of words that cannot be rationally evaluated as it stands.  I was happy that Hsiao responded to my objections, because I was hoping that he would shed some light on his pathetic “argument” by defining or clarifying some of the key words or phrases in his core “argument”.  But he has failed to provide any such clarification in comments, so his “argument” remains a faux argument; it was Dead On Arrival.
However, I would like to have something intelligent to say in response to this sort of Thomist argument, because this Thomist shit about homosexual sex, abortion, contraception, etc. is not going away anytime soon.  Although I really, really, really fucking hate doing this, I am going to make an attempt to turn the faux argument by Hsiao into a REAL ARGUMENT, something that has actual intellectual content, something I can sink my teeth into.
Here is the core “argument” in PFA:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

The first task we need to perform, in order to turn this FAKE argument into a REAL argument, is to spell out what the conclusion (7A) means.  We cannot rationally evaluate an argument that we do not understand.  And we do not understand an argument unless we understand the point of the argument, and that requires that we understand the MEANING of the conclusion of the argument.  The conclusion of this “argument” is a categorical claim, namely a universal generalization of the following form:

ALL Xs are Ys.

We can clarify (7A) by putting it more explicitly into the form of a universal categorical generalization:

7B. ALL instances of homosexual activity ARE instances of immoral actions.

This is a simple, straightforward logical structure, so we don’t need to spend any more time on the logical structure of the conclusion.
But we do need to understand the terms or categories that this claim uses.  What does “homosexual activity” mean?  and what does “immoral actions” mean? Until we have clear and reasonable answers to those two questions, we do not understand the conclusion of this argument, and thus we do not understand the argument.
 
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY”?
Jesus H Christ, you would think that a philosopher who is putting forward an argument against “homosexual activity” in a journal of philosophy would define or explain what the HELL it was that he was arguing against!  But that is apparently too great a burden for Hsiao to bear.  I suspect that he is intellectually incapable of providing such a definition or clarification, otherwise he would have provided it in PFA, or he would have provided it in his comments on my post #3 where I argue that his argument is a faux argument because it is so thoroughly UNCLEAR.
Although Hsiao completely FAILED to provide clarification of the key term “homosexual activity”, one of the comments by someone else in response to my objections proposes a definition of this phrase:

According to this comment by Jonathan Schwartzbauer, we should define “homosexual activity” like this:

Person A engages in homosexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

1. two people are engaged in sexual relations, and

2. those two people are of the same sex, and

3. person A is one of those two people.

This is certainly clearer than anything suggested by Hsiao, but that is mainly because Hsiao has not suggested ANY definition or clarification of this phrase.
I see a few problems with this definition right off the bat.  However, these problems might not be deadly.  Perhaps this definition could be refined to avoid the problems that I am now going to point out.
FIRST, what about when THREE or FOUR or FIVE or SIX people engage in “sexual relations” together?  This definition appears to rule out GROUP SEX by specifying that “two people” must be “engaged in sexual relations”.  But what if man A is thrusting his penis into the anus of man B while man B is thrusting his penis into the anus of man C while man C is thrusting his penis into the anus of man D while man D is thrusting his penis into the anus of man A?
In this scenario FOUR MEN are engaged in “sexual relations” with each other, not just TWO people: 
I have never tried this myself, so perhaps this is physically unrealistic.  Maybe you would need to have six or more men in order to form a simultaneous circle of anal sex (although just four men could engage in circular anal sex, if they took turns penetrating their partner, going around the circle).  But this group sex activity seems to be a clear case of “homosexual activity”, so the definition proposed above seems to be incorrect in specifying that there must be only TWO people who are engaged in “sexual relations” in order for “homosexual activity” to occur.
SECOND, the phrase “sexual relations” is unclear.  Most American adults, even those who don’t care about politics, current affairs, or American history, are probably familiar with the following English sentence:

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

This sentence was uttered by President Bill Clinton on January 26, 1998.  The woman he referred to is Monica Lewinsky.
If this sentence is unfamiliar, then you should check out this video:

Although this sentence uttered by Bill Clinton was intended to mislead and deceive the public, various lawyers wrangled over how to define the phrase “sexual relations”, and the definition blessed by the judge in Clinton’s trial was such that the sentence uttered by Bill Clinton was TRUE, at least if you understand the phrase “sexual relations” according to the definition used in his trial, even though Monica Lewinsky had sucked on Clinton’s cock until he experienced an orgasm and ejaculated semen into her mouth and/or onto her dress.
Of course, most people would take this to be a clear-cut case of Clinton having “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky.  But the precise definition adopted in his trial does not fully and accurately capture the ordinary meaning of “sexual relations” and thus provided a legal loophole for Clinton to use, making this claim by Clinton true, in that context, based on that precise definition.
This historical event suggests two lessons that are relevant to our discussion here.  First, the phrase “sexual relations” is somewhat UNCLEAR and in need of definition or clarification.  Second, it is somewhat CHALLENGING to produce a definition of the phrase “sexual relations” that fully and accurately captures the ordinary meaning of this phrase.
THIRD, the phrase “the same sex” in condition (2) of the definition is problematic.  The concepts of “sex” and “gender” are no longer as clear as they once seemed to be.  Nowadays, some people who are born with a penis decide to “become” a female or a woman.  Some people who are born with a vagina decide to become a male or a man.  Also, there are some people who do not identify as either a male or a female, and there are some people who want to be partly male and partly female.  There are many options and alternatives these days.  Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and conservative Catholics who are upset by these new options and alternatives want to establish a clear-cut criterion for determining the sex of a person, a criterion that is based on biology or on our physical bodies.  So, the temptation is to define a “male” as someone who was born with a penis (for example):

The sex of person A is male IF AND ONLY IF:

person A was born with a penis.

The sex of person A is female IF AND ONLY IF: 

person A is NOT a male.

On these definitions, every person would be either male or female, and no one would be both male and female, and no one would be partly male or partly female.  Furthermore, based on this “conservative” definition, it would not be possible for a male to “become” a female, nor for a female to “become” a male, even though it is possible for a person born with a penis to (through surgery) get rid of the penis and obtain a vagina, and even though it is possible for a person born with a vagina to (through surgery) get rid of the vagina and obtain a penis.   However, such definitions, as comforting as they may be to Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and conservative Catholics, might still be problematic when applied to our current issue.
What if a person who was born with a vagina decides to become a person who identifies as a male and that person also has surgery performed to get rid of the vagina and surgery to obtain a penis?

If this person, who now has a penis, has anal sex with a man – with someone who was born with a penis – by thrusting his/her penis into the anus of the male sexual partner, then this would NOT count as “homosexual activity” based on the above definition of what it means to be a MALE and based on the proposed definition of “homosexual activity”.  Although the sexual activity here looks just like clear-cut cases of “homosexual activity” it would NOT count as such, because these two people would NOT be “of the same sex”.  The person thrusting the penis into the man’s anus would be considered to be a FEMALE (on the “conservative” definition), because that person was not born with a penis.
In short, before we can reasonably settle on a definition of the phrase “homosexual activity”, we must first settle on a definition of what it means for two people to be “of the same sex”, and in order to settle on a definition of that phrase, we need to first determine what it means to be a MALE,  and what it means to be a FEMALE.  This is no longer a simple and easy task to accomplish, especially in this context of discussing homosexuality and other alternatives to traditional ideas and practices about sex and gender.
FOURTH, because we are dealing with moral evaluations, the concept of “intention” is important to keep in mind.  What if a man (in this case a person who was born with a penis, still has a penis, and identifies as a male) has sex with a person who appears to have a vagina, and the man does so by thrusting his penis into the “vagina” of the other person, whom he believes to be a female, but the man is mistaken (according to the “conservative” definition of MALE above) because although his sexual partner has no penis now, and has what appears to be a vagina, that other person was actually born with a penis, and then later underwent sex-change surgeries to obtain a more feminine body.
Although this sexual activity looks just like ordinary heterosexual intercourse, it would count as “homosexual activity” based on the above proposed definition.  These two people would be “of the same sex” (based on the “conservative” definition of what it means to be MALE), and they are clearly engaging in “sexual relations” (that look just like ordinary heterosexual intercourse), so this would count as “homosexual activity” and the moral condemnation of this activity would fall upon the unsuspecting man, specifically on the man who was born with a penis, still had a penis, and who identified as a male.  This man would be morally condemned for engaging in “homosexual sex” even though his intention was to engage in heterosexual intercourse and his sexual activity looks just like ordinary heterosexual intercourse to most observers (e.g. if the activity was video taped and viewed later by intelligent sexually-experienced adults).  This seems very UNFAIR and UNREASONABLE.
Intentions are also significant because RAPE and BEING RAPED, it seems to me, still counts as a sub-set of engaging in sexual relations.  If one man rapes another man by forcing the other man to bend over and have his anus penetrated by the first man’s penis, the first man is clearly doing something immoral, but that is because he is FORCING the other man to “engage in sexual relations” against his will.  The second man is NOT doing anything wrong!  He is a victim.  But the definition of “homosexual activity” that is proposed above makes no mention about the intentions of the people who are “engaged in sexual relations”, so it would count this as an instance of “homosexual activity” by BOTH men involved, and thus the victim of RAPE here would be morally condemned when he has clearly done nothing wrong.
I see at least four problems with the proposed definition of “homosexual activity”.  It might be the case that all four problems can be resolved by making some revisions to the proposed definition.  However, it might also be the case that revisions to this definition that are required to resolve these problems will themselves involve resolution of controversial issues about gender, sex, and sexual morality.  So, there might not be a quick and easy fix for the various significant problems with this proposed definition.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 3: Unclear Argument

WHAT ARE THE KEY TERMS IN THE CORE ARGUMENT IN PFA?
In Part 2 of this series, I argued that the core argument in PFA (“Defending the Perverted Faculties Argument” by Timothy Hsiao) is the following categorical syllogism:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This categorical syllogism is logically VALID, so in order to rationally evaluate this argument, we need to determine whether premise (4) is true or false, and we need to determine whether premise (A) is true or false.  If both (4) and (A) are true, then this is a SOUND argument.  But if either (4) or (A) are false, then this is an UNSOUND argument.  Also, if either (4) or (A) are dubious, or if we cannot determine whether they are true, then the argument should be rejected.
There are three terms in this argument.  In order to evaluate this argument, we must be clear about the meaning of these three terms:

“sexual activity that is not open to the creation of life”

“immoral”

“homosexual activity”

The first of these terms involves the combination of two categories, so there are actually four key terms that we need to have a clear understanding of in order to rationally evaluate the core argument in PFA:

“sexual activity”

“activity that is not open to the creation of life”

“immoral”

“homosexual activity”

If any one of these four key terms is UNCLEAR, then we cannot rationally evaluate the core argument in PFA.
Although not absolutely required, it is in general best to begin an analysis of an argument (once an argument has been identified) by identifying and clarifying the CONCLUSION of the argument.  If you do not understand the CONCLUSION of an argument, then you will never understand the argument.  Showing that the CONCLUSION is true (or probable) is the whole POINT of an argument.  So, if you don’t understand the meaning of the CONCLUSION, then you don’t understand the POINT of the argument.  If you don’t understand the POINT of an argument, then you don’t understand the argument.
Here is the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

Having identified the core argument in PFA, and having identified the CONCLUSION of that argument, the first and most important step of analysis is to UNDERSTAND the meaning of this statement that has been identified as the CONCLUSION of the core argument.

WHAT DOES “HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY” MEAN?
What does Timothy Hsiao mean by “homosexual activity”?  I did a search in the PDF of this article by Hsiao for the word “homosexual”.  There are only six occurrences of this word in the body of the article (ignoring the title of the article).  In three of those instances the word “homosexual” modifies another word that is not directly related to the idea of an “activity” (see p.755 of PFA):


These sentences talk about a “homosexual couple” and “homosexual relationships” and “homosexual couples”.  These sentences clearly do not attempt to DEFINE or to CLARIFY the meaning of the expression “homosexual activity”.  Furthermore, they FAIL to shed any significant light on the meaning of the phrase “homosexual activity”.
In only two instances of the word “homosexual” do we find the relevant phrase “homosexual activity”.  One of those instances is the statement of the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA:Obviously, simply making use of the phrase “homosexual activity” doesn’t provide us with any DEFINITION or CLARIFICATION about what this phrase means.  There is only one other use of the relevant phrase “homosexual activity” in the body of the article, and it occurs in the very first sentence (p. 751):
Once again, Hsiao is simply using the phrase “homosexual activity” here.  He is not attempting to DEFINE or CLARIFY the meaning of this phrase.  Furthermore, what he says here does not shed any significant light on what this phrase means.
There is only one remaining instance of the word “homosexual” in the body of PFA (on p.754):
Here Hsiao talks about “homosexual conduct” not about “homosexual activity”.  Perhaps he intends the phrase “homosexual conduct” to be a synonym for the phrase “homosexual activity”.  He does not, however, tell us that the phrase “homosexual conduct” has the same meaning as the phrase “homosexual activity”.  More importantly, he is NOT attempting to DEFINE or CLARIFY the meaning of the phrase “homosexual conduct” here; he is merely using this phrase.  Finally, even if we assume that “homosexual conduct” is supposed to have the same meaning as “homosexual activity”, this passage FAILS to provide any significant light on the meaning of the phrase “homosexual conduct”, and thus it FAILS to provide any significant light on the meaning of the phrase “homosexual activity”.
In summary,  Hsiao FAILS to DEFINE or to CLARIFY the meaning of the single most important phrase in his argument in PFA, specifically the key term in the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA.  This is an indication to me, that Hsiao literally does not know what he is talking about.  If Hsiao understands what the phrase “homosexual activity” means, then it would be fairly easy for him to DEFINE or to CLARIFY what the phrase “homosexual activity” means.  But he never even ATTEMPTS to CLARIFY or DEFINE what this means, even though this is the single most important phrase in the core argument that he is presenting, and thus the single most important phrase in the PFA article.  If Hsiao knows what this phrase means, then why the hell doesn’t he bother to let the rest of us know what the conclusion of his core argument means?
 
WHAT DOES “IMMORAL” MEAN?
The second key term in the CONCLUSION of the core argument in PFA is “immoral”.  I have done a search for the word “immoral” in the PDF of the PFA article, in order to see if Hsiao makes any attempt to DEFINE or to CLARIFY this key term.  The word “immoral” appears seven times in the body of the PFA article.  But Hsiao never defines the term “immoral”, and he does not attempt to clarify the meaning of this key term.
The first instance of the word “immoral” is on page 751 of PFA:
This is merely a use of the term, and provides no definition or clarification of what it means.
The second instance of the word “immoral” appears on page 754 of PFA:This is just an instance of using the word, not a definition or clarification of it.
There are two more instances of the word “immoral” on page 754:
Again, Hsiao fails to provide a definition or clarification of this word in this passage.
There are two more instances of the word “immoral” on page 755:


In these instances of “immoral” there is no attempt to define or to clarify the meaning of this term.
The seventh and final instance of the word “immoral” occurs on page 756 of PFA:As with the other six instances, there is no attempt here to define or to clarify the meaning of the word “immoral”.
 
CONCLUSION
What does Timothy Hsiao mean by “homosexual activity”?  What does Hsiao mean by saying that an activity is “immoral”?  Because these are the most important terms in the core argument in PFA, it is essential that Hsiao DEFINE what these central terms mean.  Neither of these terms is clear on its own.  Neither of these terms have a meaning that is obvious or self-evident.
But Hsiao makes no attempt to DEFINE or clarify the meaning of these two key terms.  Thus, the core argument  in PFA immediately FAILS, before we even get started.  This argument is Dead On Arrival.  Because of this fundamental FAILURE to clarify these two key terms, this argument, as presented by Hsiao in PFA, is a STEAMING PILE OF DOG CRAP.  The two most important terms, both of which are vague and unclear on their own, are left UNDEFINED and UNCLARIFIED by Hsiao.
We literally don’t know what Hsiao is arguing for, so we cannot understand this argument.  Because this argument is UNCLEAR, it cannot be rationally evaluated.  It is really, not an argument at all; it is some words that have been thrown together that appear like an argument without actually being an argument.  The problem is not that this is a WEAK or ILLOGICAL argument, nor that the premises are FALSE or DUBIOUS.  There is no argument here at all, just a stinking word salad that has no actual significance.  This “argument” is pure undistilled BULLSHIT.  The core “argument” in PFA is a pseudo argument, a faux argument. It is intellectual garbage.
Furthermore, because the terms “homosexual activity” and “immoral” appear in the two main premises of the core argument in PFA, the whole argument is infected with UNCLARITY.  Because we don’t know what Hsiao means by the phrase “homosexual activity”, we also don’t know the meaning of premise (A):

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

Because we don’t know what Hsiao means by the term ‘immoral”, we also don’t know the meaning of premise (4):

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

So, because Hsiao FAILS to define or clarify the key phrase “homosexual activity” and the key word “immoral”, we don’t understand the conclusion of his argument, and we don’t understand the meaning of either of the two premises of his core argument.  In other words, the core argument in PFA consists of three sentences, and we don’t understand any of those three sentences because Hsiao has FAILED to define or clarify the meanings of the two most important terms that are used in this argument.
I’m not going to go into more details about this UNBELIEVABLY CRAPPY article by Hsiao, but it should be noted that he also FAILS to define or clarify the meanings of the two other key terms in his core argument:

“sexual activity”

“activity that is not open to the creation of life”

So, Hsiao FAILS to define or clarify ANY of the four key terms that constitute his core argument in PFA.
This suggests to me that Hsiao is just as much a SHITHEAD as the Thomist philosophers Peter Kreeft and Norman Geisler.  This suggests to me that Hsiao could not reason his way out of a wet paper bag.
I have examined many arguments by Peter Kreeft, who is a Christian philosopher and a Thomist.  I have examined many arguments by Norman Geisler, who is also a Christian philosopher who admires Aquinas and was strongly influenced by the philosophy of Aquinas.  I can say with confidence that nearly all of the arguments I have examined by Kreeft and by Geisler are STEAMING PILES OF DOG CRAP.  Kreeft and Geisler are sloppy, lazy, illogical, and unclear thinkers who are practically incapable of presenting a clear and logical argument.  And the most basic problem with the arguments of Kreeft and Geisler is that they are almost always UNCLEAR.  They fail to provide definitions or clarifications of key terms, and use words in sloppy and unclear ways.  As a result, their arguments are uniformly WORTHLESS CRAP.
I’m NOT saying that ALL Thomists have SHIT for brains (e.g. I think Ed Feser is clearly a logical thinker, compared with Kreeft and Geisler).  However, given my experience with the horrible CRAPPY arguments of Kreeft and Geisler, I’m not inclined to give Hsiao the “benefit of the doubt”.  My experience with well-known Thomist philosophers indicates that they are NOT the sharpest tools in the shed.  The fact that Hsiao FAILS to define or clarify the two most important terms in the core argument of his article, is exactly the sort of SHIT-HEAD thinking that Kreeft and Geisler constantly spew out in argument after argument.  Is there some kind of “Thomist Coolaid” these guys are all drinking that turns their brains into mush?
I would love to CRUSH any argument that Hsiao puts forward defending traditional Christian sexual morality concerning homosexuality.  But first Hsiao needs to learn how to think clearly and logically, and he needs to learn how to construct AN ACTUAL ARGUMENT as opposed to this piece of SHIT in PFA that he pretends to be an argument.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 2: Argument Structure

Detail from “Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas over Averroes” by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420–97)

 
A THOMIST ARGUMENT AGAINST HOMOSEXUAL SEX
The argument that I will now analyze (and evaluate later) comes from an article by Timothy Hsiao published in The Heythrop Journal in 2015: “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA).  The main argument is summarized in section III of the article. Here are the main premises/claims of the argument as stated in the summary:

1. It is always immoral to misuse a bodily faculty.

2. Misusing a bodily faculty always involves rejecting the human good.

3. Sexual activity exists for the sake of procreation and unity.

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

5. Those who engage in homosexual conduct bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex.

6. Those who bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex direct the function of sex to an end that is intrinsically unfit for the direction of sex towards the generation of new life. 

7. Homosexual activity is immoral.

The fourth statement is clearly a key premise, and that last statement is clearly the conclusion.  Thus, we can initially summarize this argument using just those two key statements:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

THEREFORE:

7. Homosexual activity is immoral.

There is a key premise that is missing, however, in this initial summary of the argument in PFA.  “Homosexual activity” needs to be linked to “sexual activity that is not open to the creation of life” in order to make this summary argument logically complete or valid:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This core argument is logically VALID:

All Bs are Cs.

All As are Bs.

THEREFORE:

All As are Cs.

I take it that this categorical syllogism is the core argument in PFA.  Any other claims made in PFA are relevant ONLY IF they provide support for premise (4) or support for premise (A).  Any additional statements that don’t function as REASONS or EVIDENCE in support of (4) or in support of (A) are IRRELEVANT to the evaluation of this core argument.  In order to evaluate the core argument in PFA, we need to determine whether premise (4) is TRUE or FALSE, and to determine whether premise (A) is TRUE or FALSE.  The logic of the summary argument is VALID, so the evaluation of this argument depends on the truth or falsehood of these two key premises.
Premise (A) appears to be TRUE.  If so, then the evaluation of this core argument in PFA would come down to the one issue of whether premise (4) is TRUE or FALSE.
However, premise (A) is not entirely clear.  So, I’m not willing to accept this premise as being TRUE unless and until the meaning of this premise is clarified.
In the next post of this series, I will examine premise (A) more closely, to see if I can clarify the meaning of this premise sufficiently to determine whether it is TRUE or FALSE.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 1: A Thomist Argument

BACKGROUND
Back in August, I posted a meme on my personal Facebook page that challenged the Christian argument that sex between two men is morally wrong because this is allegedly prohibited in the Old Testament book called Leviticus.
The basic objection in the meme is that there are several things that Leviticus prohibits that Christians seem to have no moral objections against.
Eating ham or bacon or pork ribs or pork chops or pork roast or pork sausage:

7 The pig, for even though it has divided hoofs and is cleft-footed, it does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean for you. (Leviticus 11:7-8)

Eating shrimp, crayfish, crab, lobster, clams, scallops, oysters, or mussels:

10 But anything in the seas or the streams that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and among all the other living creatures that are in the waters—they are detestable to you 11 and detestable they shall remain. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall regard as detestable. 12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you. (Leviticus 11:10-12)

Planting a mixture of two different kinds of seeds or wearing clothes made from two different kinds of material or fabric:

19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.  (Leviticus 19:19)

Trimming your sideburns or beard:

27 You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. (Leviticus 19:27)

Getting a tattoo:

28 You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28)

Having sex with a woman when she is on her period:

19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period. (Leviticus 18:19)

  • Christians have no interest in passing laws against any of these other things prohibited by Leviticus.
  • Christians don’t condemn or criticize people who do these other things prohibited by Leviticus.
  • Christians themselves often openly practice these other things prohibited by Leviticus, and feel no shame in doing so.

One of my Facebook friends is a Catholic, a philosophy student, and an admirer of Aquinas.  He made this comment in response to my posting of the meme:

I asked Christopher how reason alone could show that sex between men was evil, and he responded by pointing me to an article that presented a Thomist argument against homosexual sex.
So far I have written ten posts arguing that we should ignore the teachings and laws of the book of Leviticus:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/12/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-1-outline-of-my-reasons-for-doubt/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/18/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-2-no-messages-from-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/19/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-3-no-messages-from-god-continued/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/23/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-4-skepticism-about-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/08/26/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-5-more-reasons-for-skepticism-about-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/06/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-6-not-a-message-from-god/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/11/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-7-not-written-by-moses/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/13/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-8-false-historical-claims/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/09/19/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-9-more-historical-errors/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/11/26/leviticus-and-homosexuality-part-10-internal-contradictions/
Although I plan to continue publishing posts that provide more good reasons to reject the argument that we should condemn homosexual sex because the book of Leviticus allegedly condemns homosexual sex,  the reasons I have already provided are enough to demolish this WEAK and IDIOTIC argument.  So, I’m going to begin to examine the Thomist argument against homosexual sex, at least the Thomist argument presented in the article that Christopher pointed out to me.
 
A THOMIST ARGUMENT AGAINST HOMOSEXUAL SEX
The argument that I will analyze and evaluate comes from an article by Timothy Hsiao published in The Heythrop Journal in 2015: “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex“.  The main argument is summarized in section III of the article:

Here are the main premises/claims of the argument as stated in the above summary:

  1. It is always immoral to misuse a bodily faculty.
  2. Misusing a bodily faculty always involves rejecting the human good.
  3. Sexual activity exists for the sake of procreation and unity.
  4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.
  5. Those who engage in homosexual conduct bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex.
  6. Those who bring their sexual faculties to bear on a member of the same sex direct the function of sex to an end that is intrinsically unfit for the direction of sex towards the generation of new life. 
  7. Homosexual activity is immoral.

In the next post on this subject, I will attempt to clarify these claims and the logic of this Thomist argument against homosexual sex.

bookmark_borderLeviticus and Homosexuality – Part 10: Internal Contradictions

WHERE WE ARE
In Part 8 of this series , I presented some general points in support of my fourth reason for doubting the view that we should condemn homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus:

4. Leviticus is NOT an historically reliable account of actual events.

In Part 9 of this series , I presented a number of examples of contradictions between Leviticus and other books in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) to provide additional evidence in support of this fourth reason.
There are dozens of contradictions between Leviticus and the other books in the Torah.  Nearly all of these contradictions cast doubt on the historical reliability of the book of Leviticus and also cast doubt on the historicity of the books of the Torah in general.
If the book of Leviticus is historically UNRELIABLE or if it contains a number of false or dubious historical claims and assumptions, then we can draw two conclusions: (1) we cannot rely on Leviticus to present accurate information about what Jehovah communicated to Moses (even if Jehovah actually existed and if Moses was an actual person), and (2) Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.  Both conclusions are good reasons to reject using the content of Leviticus as a basis for moral condemnation of homosexual sex.
Because the evidence for my eighth reason is similar to the evidence that I have previously given in support of my fourth reason, I am going to skip over the fifth, sixth, and seventh reasons (for now), and move on to supporting my eighth reason:

8. Leviticus contains logical contradictions.

I will use more examples from  Dr. Steven DiMattei .  He has identified and explained 74 different contradictions between passages in Leviticus and other passages in the Bible.  Of those 74 contradictions, 67 contradictions are between passages in Leviticus and passages in other books in the Torah (i.e. Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), books that are traditionally ascribed to Moses.  Some of the 74 contradictions, however, are internal contradictions, contradictions between one part of Leviticus and another part of Leviticus.
 
#180. DID YAHWEH COMMAND MOSES ABOUT SACRIFICES AT SINAI OR FROM THE TENT OF MEETING?

The Lord called Moses, and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 
2 “Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock.

(Leviticus 1:1-2, Revised Standard Version)

37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the cereal offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the consecration, and of the peace
38 which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that he commanded the people of Israel to bring their offerings to the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai.

(Leviticus 7:37-38, Revised Standard Version)

The book of Leviticus, although written by a single priestly guild—the Aaronides—does nonetheless exhibit editorial reworkings and insertions of texts most likely written at different periods.

Two traditions seem to be intertwined in the opening chapters of Leviticus—one which acknowledges that the sacrificial law code was given at mount Sinai, and one which stipulates that it was given to Moses at the Tent of Meeting. Indeed one could argue that the Tent of Meeting sat at the foot of Sinai so there really isn’t much of a contradiction here. But in actuality it does look as though we have two different textual traditions, which were later edited together. Here’s how they might have originally stood.

Exodus 40:34-35 relates how, after the Tent of Meeting is erected on the New Year, Moses was not able to go into the Tent because of Yahweh’s presence. In Leviticus 1:1, we are informed that Yahweh spoke to Moses “from the Tent of Meeting.” Furthermore, the sacrificial legislation in Leviticus 1-5 is directed to the people: “Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them…” It is quite possible that this body of literature once existed as a separate document which instructed the people about bringing their sacrificial animals to the Aaronid priest before Yahweh’s altar, and in each case—the burnt-offering, the peace-offering, and the sin-offering—what to do.

Leviticus 6-7 is directed not to the people, but only to Aaron and his sons. In Leviticus 6:1 Yahweh tells Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons about how to perform each sacrifice. The sacrificial descriptions in Leviticus 6 & 7 are solely directed at the Aaronid priesthood, and they detail how to perform each sacrifice.

It is not a coincidence, then, that each of these two texts written for/to two different groups also identifies two different locales for the giving of these laws: from the Tent of Meeting (Lev 1-5) and at Sinai (Lev 6-7).

Either Jehovah contradicted himself about where he gave Moses commands about sacrifices, meaning that Jehovah is NOT God, or else the book of Leviticus gives us FALSE information about where Jehovah gave Moses commands about sacrifices, meaning that Leviticus is an unreliable source of information about Jehovah’s interactions with Moses.
 
#185. WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR A MAN WHO HAS SEX WITH A MENSTRATING WOMAN? 

24 If any man lies with her, and her impurity falls on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

(Leviticus 15:24, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

18 If a man lies with a woman having her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has laid bare her flow of blood; both of them shall be cut off from their people.

(Leviticus 20:18, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
In Exodus Chapter 31, the similar phrase “cut off from among the people” clearly means put to death:

14 You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people
15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death(Exodus 31:14-15, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

The similar phrase “cut off from the people” appears in Leviticus Chapter 17:

3 If anyone of the house of Israel slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or slaughters it outside the camp, 
4 and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to present it as an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, he shall be held guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood, and he shall be cut off from the people(Leviticus 17:3-4, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

Here again, this phrase appears to mean “put to death”:

He shall be cut off by death, either by the hand of God, in case men do not know it or neglect to punish it, or by men, if the fact was public and evident. (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

… and that man shall be cut off from among his people; not merely excommunicated from the church of God, deprived of the privileges of his house, but even put to death; for such a man was guilty of blood, that is, of death, and therefore to be put to death either by the hand of the civil magistrate, if his case was known and came under their cognizance, or by the immediate hand of God by a premature death, which seems to be chiefly intended; (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Leviticus Chapter 18 uses the phrase “cut off from their people” the exact same phrase found in Leviticus 20: 18:

29 For whoever commits any of these abominations shall be cut off from their people
30 So keep my charge not to commit any of these abominations that were done before you, and not to defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God. 

(Leviticus 18:29-30, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
Some commentaries interpret this phrase in this passage to mean that the perpetrator is to be put to death:

29. the souls that commit them shall be cut off—This strong denunciatory language is applied to all the crimes specified in the chapter without distinction: to incest as truly as to bestiality, and to the eleven cases of affinity [Le 18:7-16], as fully as to the six of consanguinity [Le 18:17-20]. Death is the punishment sternly denounced against all of them. No language could be more explicit or universal; none could more strongly indicate intense loathing and abhorrence. (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary )

…and will cut him off from among his people: that is, supposing him to have been guilty of the above horrid crime, and there being not sufficient evidence given of it by witnesses, or the magistrates negligent in doing their duty; and the matter being known to God the omniscient, he, according this declaration, would deal with him himself, and cut him off out of the land of the living, from among his relations, friends, and neighbours, by his own immediate hand; otherwise the law before provided a penalty, which is death by stoning, whereby he would be effectually cut off from his people, and deprived of all natural, civil, and religious privileges in this life…  (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Some commentaries, however, interpret the phrase “cut off from their people” in this passage to mean excommunication (see for example, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).  Whether the phrase “cut off from their people” in Leviticus 20:18 means put to death or excommunicated, it is clear that this is a more severe punishment is decreed for sex between a man an a woman during her period than what was previously stated in Leviticus 15:24.  So, either Jehovah contradicted himself in Leviticus, which means that Jehovah is NOT God, or else, Leviticus contains FALSE information about the words and messages of Jehovah, which means that Leviticus is an unreliable source of messages from Jehovah.
 
#189. WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR HAVING SEX WITH AN ANIMAL?
(Ex 22:18; Lev 20:15-16 vs Lev 18:22-23 vs Deut 27:21)

Leviticus 18, however, lists the punishment for this offense, together with others, as that of being “cut off” (18:29). It is an aberration. According to this author, it violates the borders, which Yahweh created himself at the creation, between the pure and the impure (see #183). And Deuteronomy 27:21 merely denotes such an individual as “cursed.” 
[…]

…What does it mean to be “cut off”? Presumably, we would understand that the individual is cut off from the people of Yahweh, and perhaps also the land that Yahweh gave to his people according to this writer. …

[…]

…these “crimes” were punishable by expulsion/exile from the community.

Here is the relevant passage from Leviticus Chapter 18:

19 You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.
20 You shall not have sexual relations with your kinsman’s wife, and defile yourself with her.
21 You shall not give any of your offspring to sacrifice them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.
22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
23 You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it: it is perversion.
26 But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and commit none of these abominations, either the citizen or the alien who resides among you
29 For whoever commits any of these abominations shall be cut off from their people.

(Leviticus 18:19-23, 26, and 29, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
If “cut off from their people” means “exiled”, then either Jehovah contradicted himself, and is thus NOT God, or the book of Leviticus provides us with FALSE information about what Jehovah has declared, meaning that Leviticus is an unreliable source of information about messages from Jehovah.
However, if “cut off from their people” means “put to death”, then although this particular example would not involve a contradiction, it would provide additional support for contradiction #185 discussed above, because if the phrase “cut off from their people” in Leviticus 18 means “put to death”, then that is powerful evidence that the phrase “cut off from their people” in Leviticus 20 also means “put to death”.
 
#191. WHO ARE DEEMED HOLY: ALL THE ISRAELITES OR ONLY THE AARONID PRIESTS?
(Lev 19:2 vs Lev 8; Num 3)

There is the literature that is P proper, Leviticus 1-16, and then there is what has come to be labeled as the Holiness code or H, Leviticus 17-25. The latter, H, exhibits some minor differences when compared to its parent tradition P.

In P, there is a heightened emphasis on the holiness of the Aaronid priests, and only the Aaronid priests (Ex 40:12-16; Lev 8:13, etc.; see #148-149#153-154). Only the Aaronid priests may minister before Yahweh, enter the Tent of Meeting, and touch the holy sancta. In other words, in this strand of the P source, even the Levites, who minister to the Aaronids, are not allowed to enter the Tent of Meeting nor touch any of the Tabernacle’s sacred objects (see particularly Num 3; #152).

In H, however, the term holy (qodesh) is extended in its use to include all the people. This best comes through in the repeated refrain throughout H: “You should be holy, because I, Yahweh, your god, am holy.” This declarative statement is the heading of H’s moral legislation, i.e., the Holiness code. In other words, all the moral or ethical legislation in this strand of the Priestly source stress that any violation of Yahweh’s commandments is in reality a breach from their, the people’s, state of holiness. 

 
MORAL CONTRADICTIONS IN LEVITICUS
I have previously focused mainly on factual and historical contradictions between Leviticus and the other books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and between different passages within the book of Leviticus.  But there are some striking contradictions between some of the moral principles asserted in Leviticus, and some of the laws and practices promoted in Leviticus.  Let’s begin with some of the moral principles asserted in Leviticus:

18. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself...

(Leviticus 19:18, New Revised Standard Version)

33. When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.
34. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt…

(Leviticus 19:33-34, New Revised Standard Version)
These are admirable principles that modern educated people find appealing.  But many of the laws and practices promoted in Leviticus are clearly contrary to these lofty moral principles.  God, if God exists, is perfectly good and is all knowing, so God would not teach such lofty moral principles in Chapter 19 of Leviticus, and then also teach laws and practices that are clearly contrary to these principles.  Thus, this is powerful evidence that the book of Leviticus was NOT inspired by God, and thus we have another good reason to reject the condemnation of homosexual sex by the book of Leviticus.

The Sabbath-breaker Stoned. James Tissot c.1900

According to Leviticus, a child who curses his/her parents should be put to death:

All who curse father or mother shall be put to death

(Leviticus 20:9, New Revised Standard Version)
A child who curses his/her parents should be punished or corrected, but putting a child to death for such misbehavior is clearly the OPPOSITE of loving that child, and is clearly the OPPOSITE of loving the child as one loves oneself.  Nobody wants to be treated with such cruelty and violence for losing one’s temper and saying something mean or disrespectful.  So, this law is CONTRARY to the moral principle taught in Leviticus 19:18, and thus the book of Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.
According to Leviticus, if a man has sex with another man’s wife, then both that man and the wife should be put to death:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.

(Leviticus 20:10, New Revised Standard Version)
Many Christians believe that only people who are married to each other should have sex, and that it is bad for a marriage for the husband or the wife to have sex with someone else other than their spouse.  It is NOT obvious that this belief is true.  Some people appear to find happiness in life by having sex with others but never getting married, and some people appear to find happiness in life by getting married and yet sometimes having sex with someone else other than their spouse.
But suppose for the sake of argument that the traditional Christian view is correct, and that people would in general be happier if they only had sex with someone with whom they were married.  Nevertheless, it is obviously tempting, even for devout Christian believers, to sometimes have sex with someone who is not their spouse.  Given that this can be a great temptation, a reasonable husband or wife would want their spouse to have some grace and mercy on them if they gave into this temptation once or twice in a lifetime.
Since any reasonable married Christian would hope and desire their spouse to forgive them if they did give in to this temptation once or twice, the principle that one should love others the way one loves oneself, would require that a married Christian be willing to forgive this failure of his/her spouse.  In any case, no reasonable Christian believer would want (or expect) his/her spouse to KILL him/her for giving into such a temptation.   At the worst, the offended spouse would be expected to leave the relationship and divorce the offending spouse.
To desire and seek the EXECUTION and DEATH of one’s spouse simply because he/she gave into the powerful temptation to have sex with someone else, is the OPPOSITE of loving that spouse, and the OPPOSITE of loving that spouse the way one one loves oneself.   So, a law requiring the EXECUTION of both the offending spouse and the sexual partner of that spouse is CONTRARY to the moral principle asserted in Leviticus 19:18, and thus God did NOT inspire the book of Leviticus.  So we have another good reason to reject the teaching of Leviticus on homosexual sex.
The book of Leviticus clearly teaches that it is OK to enslave foreigners but NOT to enslave fellow Israelites, and that it is OK to mistreat foreign slaves but NOT to mistreat servants who are Israelites:

39 If any who are dependent on you become so impoverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves.
40 They shall remain with you as hired or bound laborers. They shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee.
41 Then they and their children with them shall be free from your authority; they shall go back to their own family and return to their ancestral property.
42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt [i.e. Israelites]; they shall not be sold as slaves are sold.
43 You shall not rule over them with harshness, but shall fear your God.
44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves.
45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.
46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

(Leviticus 25:39-46, New Revised Standard Version)
This is clearly CONTRARY to the moral principles above that require Israelites to “love the alien as yourself” and that aliens “shall be to you as the citizen among you”.
Leviticus Chapter 25 teaches that Israelites are to be treated much better than “aliens” who reside among the Israelites and foreigners from other countries.  Aliens may be purchased as slaves, treated as property, and may be ruled over with harshness.  Fellow Israelites, however, cannot be purchased as slaves, or treated as property, and are not to be ruled over with harshness.  Thus, what Leviticus Chapter 25 teaches is CLEARLY CONTRARY to the moral principles that are taught in Leviticus 19:33-34.
God, if God exists, is perfectly good and is all knowing, so God would NOT blatantly contradict himself in this way.  This is another powerful piece of evidence showing that Leviticus was NOT inspired by God, and thus that we should ignore the teachings of Leviticus about homosexual sex.

bookmark_borderEvaluation of the Christian Answer to Worldview Question #1

In this post I’m going to give you the Reader’s Digest version of my Podcast #6 (and the PowerPoint that it is based upon).
 
THE FOUR BASIC WORLDVIEW QUESTIONS
There are four basic worldview questions, four questions that can be used to analyze the content of a worldview:

Q1. What are the most important problems of human life? (Symptoms of Disease)

Q2. What is the root-cause problem of what are (allegedly) the most important problems of human life? (Diagnosis of the Disease)

Q3. What is the solution to what is (allegedly) the root-cause problem of what are (allegedly) the most important problems of human life? (Cure for the Disease)

Q4. How should we implement what is (allegedly) the solution to what is (allegedly) the root-cause problem of what are (allegedly) the most important problems of human life? (Treatment Plan for the Patients)

 
CHRISTIAN ANSWERS TO THE BASIC WORLDVIEW QUESTIONS 
The following is a short version of what I take to be the Christian answers to the four basic worldview questions:

Q1. What are the most important problems of human life? (Symptoms of Disease)
Alienation or separation from God, conflict and disharmony between people, mental and physical suffering, disease, death, and in the next life: divine eternal punishment.

Q2. What is the root-cause problem of what are (allegedly) the most important problems of human life? (Diagnosis of the Disease)
Sin (wrongdoing and disobedience to God and the human propensity towards wrongdoing) is the root cause problem of separation from God, conflict and disharmony between people, mental and physical suffering, disease, death, and ultimately results in eternal divine punishment.

Q3. What is the solution to what is (allegedly) the root-cause problem of what are (allegedly) the most important problems of human life? (Cure for the Disease)
Out of love and mercy for human beings, God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross and to rise from the dead in order provide salvation from sin, to atone for our sins, to reconcile us with God, and to provide eternal life to human beings.

Q4. How should we implement what is (allegedly) the solution to what is (allegedly) the root-cause problem of what are (allegedly) the most important problems of human life? (Treatment Plan for the Patients)
If one repents of one’s sins, and believes in Jesus as the divine savior of humankind who died for our sins and rose from the dead, then one’s sins will be forgiven by God, and the process of salvation from sin will begin, ultimately completing when Jesus raises the dead and gives eternal life in heaven to those who believed in him.

 
FURTHER ANALYSIS OF THE CHRISTIAN ANSWER TO WORLDVIEW QUESTION #1
The Christian answer to worldview question #1 can be analyzed into four categories: spiritual, physical, mental, and social (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):
 
EVALUATION OF THE CHRISTIAN ANSWER TO WORLDVIEW QUESTION #1
I have no significant objection to the problems identified by the Christian worldview in the categories of PHYSICAL, MENTAL, and SOCIAL.  Those problems identified by the Christian worldview are real and serious problems, and it seems to me that it is reasonable to consider those problems to constitute many of the most important problems that humans face.  So, the Christian answer to worldview question #1 is at least PARTLY correct.
My problem is with the alleged problems that fall under the category of SPIRITUAL:

  • Alienation or separation from God in this life
  • and in the next life: divine eternal punishment

These are actual problems ONLY IF God exists.  Since I do not believe that God exists, I do not believe that these are actual problems that humans face, and thus there is no need for a SOLUTION to these non-existent problems.
Furthermore, even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that God exists, these alleged problems would still NOT be among the most important problems that humans face.
Alienation or separation from God in this life might be a minor problem, but many atheists and non-religious people are happy and virtuous people, and many Christians and other religious people are unhappy and lacking in virtue.  So, Christianity and religion are NOT the keys to happiness and virtue.  At most, they provide some modest degree of help to some people to obtain happiness and virtue in this life.  Alienation from God is NOT a major problem in this life, even if God exists.
The other spiritual problem, namely the threat of divine eternal punishment in an afterlife, is clearly NOT a problem at all.  God is by definition a perfectly morally good person, but no person who is perfectly morally good would ever inflict eternal punishment on a human being.
Furthermore, a perfectly morally good person would never allow anyone else to inflict eternal punishment on a human being, if that perfectly morally good person had the power to prevent this from occurring.  God is by definition all-powerful, so if God exists, then there is no such thing as Hell, and there never will be such a thing as Hell.  The belief that God exists is logically incompatible with the belief that Someone will inflict eternal punishment and misery upon some human beings.  In other words, the belief that God exists is the strongest possible reason for rejecting the idea of there being a threat of eternal punishment in an afterlife.
Therefore, neither of the SPIRITUAL problems identified by the Christian worldview is among the most important problems that we humans face.  This part of the Christian answer to worldview question #1 is clearly WRONG.
 
CONCLUSION
The Christian answer to worldview question #1 is partly TRUE and partly FALSE.  The problems identified by Christianity that can be categorized as PHYSICAL, MENTAL, or SOCIAL are legitimate and important human problems that need to be solved.
However, the SPIRITUAL problems identified by Christianity are NOT among the most important human problems.  They are non-existent problems, because these are problems only if God exists, but God does not exist.  And even if we assume that God exists, one of the problems (alienation from God in this life) would be only a minor problem, and the other problem (eternal punishment) would NOT exist because it is logically incompatible with the claim that God exists.
Furthermore, each of the PHYSICAL, MENTAL, and SOCIAL problems identified by Christianity as being among the most important problems humans face, is an example of EVIL, and this raises the problem of evil, which represents a powerful objection to the belief that God exists.  Thus, this part of the Christian worldview, by acknowledging the existence of many serious problems/evils experienced by human beings, points to powerful evidence AGAINST the existence of God, and thus against the existence of the SPIRITUAL problems that Christianity identifies as being important human problems.
It should be noted that the problems that Christianity correctly identifies as being among the most important human problems (i.e. Physical problems, Mental problems, and Social problems), are obviously serious problems, so we don’t need a prophet or divine revelation (e.g. the Bible) in order to figure out that those are serious problems that need to be solved.  We don’t need Moses or Jesus to tell us that diseases and wars, for example, are bad problems that humans face.

bookmark_borderLeviticus and Homosexuality – Part 8: False Historical Claims

WHERE WE ARE
In this present post I will support my fourth reason for doubting the view that we should condemn homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus:

4. Leviticus is NOT an historically reliable account of actual events.

God, if God exists, is all-knowing and perfectly good, so any book inspired by God would not contain false historical information, and clearly no book inspired by God would provide historical accounts of alleged events that never happened or highly unreliable accounts of historical events.
 
FOUR GENERAL OBJECTIONS TO THE RELIABILITY OF LEVITICUS
In this current post, I will present four general objections against the historical reliability of the book of Leviticus.  In the next post, I will present several more specific problems with historical claims made by Leviticus.
1. Moses is probably a legendary figure; there probably was no historical Moses (see Part 7 of this series). So, the 80 verses that refer to Moses in Leviticus are probably all fictional, not historical, and thus present false historical information.
But God, if God exists, is all-knowing and is perfectly good, so God would know that there was no historical Moses, and thus God would not communicate false historical information about a fictional character as if that character were an actual historical person. Thus, if Moses is fictional, then the book of Leviticus was NOT inspired by God.
2. There are 32 verses in Leviticus that contain the phrase “the LORD spoke to Moses” (in the New Revised Standard Version) and 3 verses that contain the phrase “the LORD said to Moses”.  Because many of these messages are false, evil, or morally wrong, they clearly did NOT come from God.
“LORD” is how the translators of the NRSV translate the name of God (i.e. Jehovah or Yahweh).  According to Exodus, Jehovah is the creator of the world:

…for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.  (Exodus 20:11, American Standard Version)

Since Christians believe that Jehovah “made heaven and earth”, Jehovah must be God, from a Christian point of view. There is only ONE creator of the universe and that is God, so if Jehovah “made heaven and earth”, then to be logically consistent Christians must infer that Jehovah is God.
So, whenever Leviticus states that “Jehovah spoke to Moses” Christians take this to mean that “God spoke to Moses”. But it is clearly FALSE that God said the things that Leviticus claims “Jehovah spoke to Moses” because many of those thing are FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG (as we shall see in this post and in future posts). God is perfectly good and God is all-knowing, so God would not say things to Moses that were FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG.
If according to a passage in Leviticus Jehovah said something that was FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG to Moses, then either (a) that passage is itself FALSE, because it is not the case that Jehovah said that something to Moses, or else (b) that passage is TRUE, because Jehovah did in fact say that something to Moses. But if Jehovah did in fact say something FALSE or EVIL or MORALLY WRONG to Moses, then Jehovah must not be God. If Jehovah is NOT God, then Moses is a false prophet who did not receive messages from God, and we can ignore the book of Leviticus as being just another book containing messages from an ordinary human being who was NOT communicating messages from God.
On the other hand, if the passage from Leviticus that claims Jehovah said something to Moses is making a FALSE claim, because it is not the case that Jehovah said that something to Moses, then the book of Leviticus is providing false historical information about Moses and about messages allegedly received by Moses from Jehovah. In that case, we have good reason to doubt the historical reliability of Leviticus, especially concerning messages that Moses allegedly received from Jehovah.
The more such FALSE claims that Leviticus makes about messages that Moses allegedly received from Jehovah, the stronger our reason to conclude that Leviticus was NOT inspired by God (because God is all-knowing and perfectly good and so would not inspire a book full of false historical claims, especially concerning religious and moral issues), and that even if God had communicated important messages to Moses, Leviticus is an UNRELIABLE source to use to determine the content of those messages.
3. There are at least 11 verses in Leviticus that refer back to the Exodus out of Egypt: 11:45, 18:3, 19:34, 19:36, 22:33, 23:43, 25:38, 25:42, 25:55, 26:13, 26:45. But there probably was no Exodus out of Egypt (see Part 7 of this series), so these 11 verses are all probably making false historical claims.
Since these claims are all, or nearly all, statements made by Jehovah (according to Leviticus), that means that Jehovah is making false historical statements, according to Leviticus. So, either it is the case that Jehovah made these historical claims or it is not the case. If Jehovah made these claims, and the claims are false, then we must conclude that Jehovah is NOT God, because God is all-knowing and perfectly good, so God would not repeatedly make false historical claims. But if Jehovah is not God, then we must conclude that Moses was a false prophet and that we should ignore the commandments and teachings found in Leviticus.
On the other hand, if Jehovah did NOT make these historical claims, then the author of Leviticus has repeatedly put false claims into the mouth of Jehovah, claims that Jehovah never made, and this means that the book of Leviticus is highly UNRELIABLE, and we cannot trust that what this book claims to be messages from Jehovah were in fact messages from Jehovah.
In either case, it would be unreasonable to rely on Leviticus as a source of divine messages or divine commands.
4. Old Testament scholars generally agree that the practices of sacrifices made by priests that are spelled out in Leviticus are anachronistic, that they were NOT from the historical period of the time of Moses, but were from a later historical period. In that case, the book of Leviticus is entirely or almost entirely fictional.
The practices of sacrifices described in Leviticus do NOT fit with the circumstances of a nomadic tribe that was wandering in the desert:

One thing is certain, these are not the customs of the time in the desert, but rather, an entire code of conduct for priests and Levites who serve at the temple in Jerusalem. The sacrifices and offerings demanded for great feast days can only come from a farming people. The very size and types of sacrifices and festivals mentioned presuppose a large population raising many herds and crops in the promised land. (Reading the Old Testament by Lawrence Boadt, p.188)

Based on this view, the book of Leviticus is entirely, or almost entirely fictional.  This view is not limited to Lawrence Boadt, but is a widely held view among Old Testament scholars:

Thus a widespread scholarly view holds that the sacrifices detailed in Leviticus 1-16 were introduced only after the [Babylonian] exile, and that the stress in Leviticus on purity and atonement reflects the mood of the post-exilic community in Judah.  (The Old Testament World, 2nd edition, by Philip Davies and John Rogerson, p.152)

The Babylonian exile began 597 BCE, and “in 539 BCE exiled Judeans were permitted to return to Judah.”  ( “Babylonian captivity”  in Wikepedia).  Reasons for this view, according to Davies and Rogerson include:

  • “there is hardly any evidence in the Old Testament outside of passages such as Leviticus 1-16 that the sacrifices as prescribed were ever offered.” (The Old Testament World, p. 151)
  • “there is no reference to them [the regulations for sacrifices found in Leviticus] in other parts of the Old Testament.”  (The Old Testament World, p. 151)
  • “the very existence of the Tent of Meeting [where the initial sacrifices allegedly took place in Moses’ time] is problematical.”   (The Old Testament World, p. 151)
  • According to the Old Testament, Manoah, Saul, David, Solomon, and Elija “all offered sacrifices, whereas none of them was a priest.”   (The Old Testament World, p. 152)
  • These non-priestly sacrifices were “primarily burnt offerings” and there is no mention of “sin offerings” in those stories.   (The Old Testament World, p. 152)

In the textbook A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament (2nd edition), four OT scholars agree that

Scholars commonly conclude that these texts [the Priestly (P) tradition which was used by the author of Leviticus] reflect an exilic or post-exilic situation, though recent attempts at an earlier dating have been made.  Generally, these texts may reflect understandings and practices built up over the time of the first temple (957-587 BCE), but they were given decisive shape during the exile…with subsequent redactions likely. (A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, 2nd edition, p. 131)

King Solomon dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem by James Tissot (or follower) c. 1896–1902

The “earlier dating” that they refer to was proposed by Jacob Milgrom. Although Milgrom argues for a pre-exile date for P, he agrees that Chapters 17-26 of Leviticus were based on the “Holiness Source” or H, and that H came from a priestly school that developed “at the end of the eighth century BCE.” (Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics, p.175).  So, Milgrom’s view is that Leviticus was composed sometime after 700 BCE, at least five centuries after the time of Moses.
Thus, based on the consensus of OT scholars, Leviticus was composed long after the time of Moses, and therefore is entirely or almost entirely fictional.  Therefore, the historical information in Leviticus is entirely or almost entirely FALSE, and it is thus an UNRELIABLE source of historical information.

bookmark_borderLeviticus and Homosexuality – Part 7: Not Written by Moses

WHERE WE ARE
Should we view homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus?  In Part 1 of this series I outlined a dozen reasons to doubt this viewpoint.  Here is the first reason:

1. God does NOT exist, so no prophet and no book contains truth or wisdom from God. 

In Part 2 of this series I explained my reason for skepticism in general (i.e. CYNICISM), and I explained my reasons for skepticism about supernatural claims.  In this Part 3 of this series I explained my reasons for skepticism about religion.  In Part 4  and Part 5 of this series I presented my reasons for skepticism about the existence of God.
Here is my second reason for doubting the idea that we should view homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus:

2. Leviticus is NOT the inspired Word of God.  (Leviticus is just another book written by ignorant and imperfect human beings).

Since most of my dozen reasons provide support for this second reason,  I did not attempt to make a comprehensive case against the divine inspiration of the book of Leviticus in Part 6 of this series, but did provide some reasons to doubt that Leviticus contains a message from God.
In this present post I will support my third reason for doubting the view that we should condemn homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus:

3. Leviticus was NOT written or authored by Moses.

 
A. MOSES PROBABLY DID NOT EXIST
There probably was no such person as Moses, in which case NO BOOK has ever been written by Moses, including the book of Leviticus:

The modern scholarly consensus is that the figure of Moses is a mythical figure, and while, as William G. Dever writes, “a Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan in the mid-late 13th century B.C.”, archaeology cannot confirm his existence. Certainly no Egyptian sources mention Moses or the events of Exodus–Deuteronomy, nor has any archaeological evidence been discovered in Egypt or the Sinai wilderness to support the story in which he is the central figure. …

Despite the imposing fame associated with Moses, no source mentions him until he emerges in texts associated with the Babylonian exile. [i.e. around 600 BCE]   (from the article “Moses” in Wikipedia)

One important reason for doubt about the existence of Moses is doubt about the historicity of two key events that are closely related to the life of Moses: the Exodus from Egypt and the Conquest of Canaan.

Moses with the Ten Commandments, by Rembrandt (1659)

According to the Old Testament, Moses led a rebellion of Hebrew slaves in Egypt. The Hebrew slaves left Egypt and headed for the “promised land” (Palestine) under the leadership of Moses (the Exodus from Egypt). When they finally arrived (four decades later) on the outskirts of the “promised land,” Moses passed his leadership role on to his protege Joshua, and Joshua then led the descendants of the Hebrew slaves to conquer (i.e. mercilessly slaughter) the peoples who had previously settled in the “promised land” (the Conquest of Canaan).
The problem here is that the historical and archaeological evidence does NOT support the story of the Exodus from Egypt, nor the story of the Conquest of Canaan.  Thus, two key historical events tied to Moses by the  Old Testament appear to be legends, to be fictional events:

The consensus of modern scholars is that the Bible does not give an accurate account of the origins of the Israelites, who appear instead to have formed as an entity in the central highlands of Canaan in the late second millennium BCE from the indigenous Canaanite culture.  Most modern scholars believe that the story of the Exodus has some historical basis, but that any such basis has little resemblance to the story told in the Bible.  (from the article “The Exodus” in Wikipedia)

The prevailing scholarly view is that Joshua [the OT book that describes the Conquest of Canaan] is not a factual account of historical events. The apparent setting of Joshua is the 13th century BCE which was a time of widespread city-destruction, but with a few exceptions…the destroyed cities are not the ones the Bible associates with Joshua, and the ones it does associate with him show little or no sign of even being occupied at the time.
[…]
There is a consensus that the Joshua traditions in the Pentateuch are secondary additions. The spy story of Numbers 13–14; Deut. 1:34–7, in an earlier form only mentioned Caleb. E. Meyer and G. Hoelscher deny Joshua’s existence as a historical reality and conclude that he is the legendary hero of a Josephite clan.
[…]
According to archaeologist Ann E. Killebrew, “Most scholars today accept that the majority of the conquest narratives in the book of Joshua are devoid of historical reality”.    (from the article “Book of Joshua” in Wikipedia)

Because both of these key events are closely connected to the life of Moses by the Old Testament, this gives us a good reason to believe that the life of Moses is also a legend, that the story of Moses is a fictional story, and that Moses did not exist.  If Moses did not exist, then, clearly, Moses did NOT write the book of Leviticus.
 
B. LEVITICUS WAS PROBABLY WRITTEN LONG AFTER MOSES 
Old Testament scholars agree that one of the sources of the Torah (the five books traditionally ascribed to Moses) is the “Priestly source”:

The Priestly source (or simply P) is perhaps the most widely recognized source underlying the Torah. It is both stylistically and theologically distinct from other material in the Torah, and includes a set of claims that are contradicted by non-Priestly passages and therefore uniquely characteristic: no sacrifice before the institution is ordained by Yahweh (God) at Sinai, the exalted status of Aaron and the priesthood, and the use of the divine title El Shaddai before God reveals his name to Moses, to name a few. In general, the Priestly work is concerned with priestly matters – ritual law, the origins of shrines and rituals, and genealogies – all expressed in a formal, repetitive style.  (from the article “Priestly source” in Wikipedia) 

Old Testament scholars agree that Leviticus was based on a source that they call “P” for “Priestly source”:

The entire composition of the book of Leviticus is Priestly literature. Most scholars see chapters 1–16 (the Priestly code) and chapters 17–26 (the Holiness code) as the work of two related schools, but while the Holiness material employs the same technical terms as the Priestly code, it broadens their meaning from pure ritual to the theological and moral, turning the ritual of the Priestly code into a model for the relationship of Israel to God… The ritual instructions in the Priestly code apparently grew from priests giving instruction and answering questions about ritual matters; the Holiness code (or H) used to be a separate document, later becoming part of Leviticus, but it seems better to think of the Holiness authors as editors who worked with the Priestly code and actually produced Leviticus as we now have it.   (from the article “Book of Leviticus” in Wikipedia)

And most Old Testament scholars date P to around the time of the Babylonian Exile:

Good cases have been made for both exilic and post-exilic composition, leading to the conclusion that it has at least two layers, spanning a broad time period of 571–486 BCE.   (from the article “Priestly source” in Wikipedia) 

In the last decades of the 20th century, some Jewish scholars have argued for an earlier date for P:

While most scholars consider P to be one of the latest strata of the Pentateuch, post-dating both J and D, since the 1970s a number of Jewish scholars have challenged this assumption, arguing for an early dating of the Priestly material. Avi Hurvitz, for example, has forcefully argued on linguistic grounds that P represents an earlier form of the Hebrew language than what is found in both Ezekiel and Deuteronomy, and therefore pre-dates both of them. These scholars often claim that the late-dating of P is due in large part to a Protestant bias in biblical studies which assumes that “priestly” and “ritualistic” material must represent a late degeneration of an earlier, “purer” faith. These arguments have not convinced the majority of scholars, however.   (from the article “Priestly source” in Wikipedia, emphasis added)

So, it appears that most protestant OT scholars date P to between 600 BCE and 400 BCE, but some Jewish scholars date P earlier, namely in the 1st Temple period:

The period in which the First Temple presumably, or actually, stood in Jerusalem, is known in academic literature as the First Temple period  (c.1000–586 BCE).  (from the article “Solomon’s Temple” in Wikipedia)

If there actually was an historical Moses, then he probably lived around 1250 BCE, so if the author of Leviticus used P as a source, and if P was written between 600 BCE and 400 BCE, as most OT scholars have concluded, then obviously Moses did NOT write Leviticus.
But what if P was written in the 1st Temple period, like some Jewish scholars argue?  In that case the earliest P could have been written would be about 1000 BCE, but that is still 250 years after the time of Moses.  So, even on the early dating of P, it is clear that Moses did NOT write Leviticus.
Furthermore, the chapters in Leviticus that we are most interested in are considered to be from a specific source within P called “the Holiness code”:

The Holiness Code is a term used in biblical criticism to refer to Leviticus  chapters 17–26, and is so called due to its highly repeated use of the word Holy (Hebrew: קדוש‎ qəḏōš). Critical biblical scholars have regarded it as a distinct unit and have noted that the style is noticeably different from the main body of Leviticus. Unlike the remainder of Leviticus, the many laws of the Holiness Code are expressed very closely packed together, and very  briefly.

According to most versions of the documentary hypothesis, the Holiness Code represents an earlier text that was edited and incorporated into the Priestly source and the Torah as a whole, although some scholars, such as Israel Knohl, believe the Holiness Code to be a later addition to the Priestly source. This source is often abbreviated as “H”.  A generally accepted date is  sometime in the seventh century BC, when it presumably originated among the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem.  (from the article “Holiness code” in Wikipedia, emphasis added)

Again, if the author of Leviticus used H as a source, and if this source did not come into existence until the 7th century BCE, then Moses did NOT write Leviticus.
 
C. OTHER BOOKS IN THE TORAH WERE PROBABLY NOT WRITTEN BY MOSES
The tradition that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament is wrong concerning the other four books according to the consensus of Old Testament scholars, so the tradition claiming that all five books were written by Moses has no credibility.
The book of Deuteronomy was based on a source called D:

The Deuteronomist source is responsible for the core chapters (12-26) of Book of Deuteronomy, containing the Deuteronomic Code, and its composition is generally dated between the 7th and 5th centuries BCE.  More specifically, most scholars believe that D was composed during the late monarchic period, around the time of King Josiah, although some scholars have argued for a later date, either during the Babylonian captivity (597-539 BC) or during the Persian period (539-332 BC).  (from the article “Composition of the Torah” in Wikipedia)

So, Old Testament scholars agree that D was composed sometime between 640 BCE (the start of King Josiah’s reign) and 332 BCE (the end of the Persian period).  If Moses was an actual historical person, then he lived around 1250 BCE, hundreds of years before D came into existence.  Clearly, Moses did NOT write the book of Deuteronomy, based on the conclusions of OT scholars.
Genesis and Exodus both make use of the P source, and so like the book of Leviticus, they could not have been written before the P source came into existence.  Most protestant OT scholars date P to between 600 BCE and 400 BCE, but some Jewish scholars date P earlier, namely in the 1st Temple period (c.1000–586 BCE), in either case P did not exist until long after the time of Moses, so Moses could NOT have written either Genesis or Exodus.
What about Numbers? Both Exodus and Numbers make use of the Yahwist (J) source:

The Book of Exodus belongs in large part to the Yahwist, although it also contains significant Priestly interpolations.  The Book of Numbers also contains a substantial amount of Yahwist material, starting with Numbers 10–14.  (from the article “Composition of the Torah” in Wikipedia)

Traditionally, scholars viewed J as the earliest of the sources used in composing the Torah. It was believed to have come into existence in the Solomonic period (about 950 BCE).  That would be about 300 years after the time of Moses.  So, on this traditional view, Numbers and Exodus could NOT have been written by Moses.
More recently, some scholars have argued that J is from a later period of history:

Van Seters and Schmid both forcefully argued, to the satisfaction of most scholars, that the Yahwist source could not be dated to the Solomonic period (c. 950 BCE) as posited by the documentary hypothesis.  They instead dated J to the period of the Babylonian captivity (597-539 BCE), or the late monarchic period at the earliest.  (from the article “Composition of the Torah” in Wikipedia)

So, according to Van Seters and Schmid, the earliest date for J would be after about 850 BCE, and was more likely after 600 BCE.  Clearly even their earliest date for J would be 400 years after the time of Moses.
Whether we use the traditional date for J of around 950 BCE or the newer dating of after 600 BCE, it is clear that Moses did NOT write the book of Exodus and did NOT write the book of Numbers.
 
D. OLD TESTAMENT SCHOLARS REJECT MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP OF LEVITICUS 
Old Testament scholars agree that Leviticus was not written by Moses:

The composition of the Torah (or Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) was a process that involved multiple authors over an extended period of time.  While Jewish tradition holds that all five books were originally written by Moses sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE, by the 17th century leading scholars had rejected Mosaic authorship.  (from the article “Composition of the Torah” in Wikipedia)

Given that Old Testament scholars also agree that Leviticus was not written by Moses, it is likely that Leviticus was NOT written by Moses.
CONCLUSION

  • Moses probably did not exist.  
  • Even if Moses did exist, Leviticus was probably written long after Moses.
  • According to Old Testament scholars, the four other books in the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) were NOT written by Moses.
  • According to Old Testament scholars Leviticus was NOT written by Moses.

Based on these facts, it is probably NOT the case that Moses wrote the book of Leviticus.