William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Why Is Rape Wrong? Science Has No Answer

The sobbin’ women.

Rape, right or wrong? Depends on how you define rape, you might say, Very well, define it how you like. Now answer the question: right or wrong?

Here is what science tells us about rape. It occurs more often at this time of day than at that time. It is, science might say, more likely to be perpetrated by a person known to the victim than a stranger. Women in the years from twenty to fifty have a better chance of being raped than women younger or older. Women commit rape at rates less than men. Rape is common in prisons of a certain sort. Men will rape women and other men. Rape in times (so-called) pre-historic, rape accounted for some non-negligible proportion of births.

When a woman is raped, she undergoes the following list of traumas, some physical, some psychological. These traumas will very in severity based on this set of circumstance. Pregnancy via rape occurs at such-and-such a rate, depending on these mitigating factors. Women who are raped abort their babies this number of times more than women who conceive absent rape. The children produced from rape are like compared to children conceived in absence of rape. Women almost always view their rapists in a negative light, but sometimes this emotion softens over time, as in the case of the Sabine women. Some, both men and women, submit to rape in order to avoid more drastic violence, like a beating or a murder. Some submit to rape because of blackmail.

Men rape for the following reasons, and women for these. The observed rates of these reasons varies according to this formula, which accounts for a given set of circumstance. To prevent rape or to greatly reduce its likelihood, follow these guidelines. Men who are convicted of rape are seen to serve the following sentences. The punishment women rapists face differs in this and that degree, and matching here. A man who has raped before is this much more likely to rape again, and that much for women recidivists.

Now all these rates, proportions, severities, lists, circumstances, mitigating factors and so forth, can be quantified to various degree, some being fairly certain, some carrying substantial doubt. The list of subjects tracked and observed can be added to or subtracted from. Predictions can be made based on the uncertainties in any of these things, and these predictions can be verified. The models responsible for the predictions can tweaked, fixed, abandoned, or be validated.

But here is what science says when asked whether rape is right or wrong. Nothing.

Whether rape is moral or immoral, good or sinful, legal or illegal, is not something which can be decided by science. Science, you will recall, tells us what is or what might be about the contingent. It never says what should be.

Now rape occurs at a rate of x per 1,000 (this figure is also conditional on some set population). Does that mean rape is x/1000% moral and 1-x/1000%? That implies if we found ourselves in a (let us call it) robust land where there was lots of rape (x is large), then rape would be akin to speeding on the freeway. Such “lands” exist, for instance in countries beset by large-scale war. Rape is war is mostly good, not evil. But then in a quiescent land, where x=0, a rape, should it occur, would be infinitely bad.

Women rape at rates less than men. Is a woman caught raping guilty of a lesser crime because women on the whole rape less than men? This would be like saying a Dane who murders is guilty of a lesser crime than a United States citizen who murders, because Americans murder with more frequency than the Danish. The exact severity of the crime in either instance can be quantified (to whatever degree) based on some function of the observed rates.

Maybe rape is wrong because it can cause “unwanted” pregnancies? If that is so, women cannot be guilty of rape, and neither can a fertile man having unwanted sexual intercourse with a pre-pubescent girl or a post-menopausal woman be considered rape. Either way, that a pregnancy is not desired is not a scientific question. Whether human desire can be crudely quantified is a scientific question; whatever that quantification is is not.

Yet rape is good way to pass on genes. A man who can successfully rape lots of women heightens his chance of passing on his genetic material. And does not science say that the “goal” of life is to pass on genes? If so, then whatever boosts the opportunities of sexual transmission is good. The more a man can rape, and not be prevented in doing so, say by being restrained, the better his actions are. This is tricky because having acting towards a “goal”, or rather calling that goal good, is extra-scientific; it is itself a judgment. One might say that rape is not good for the species as a whole, perhaps arguing that the rapist cannot care for his progeny adequately. But the good of a species, whether that species thrives or expires, is again a judgement and is not scientific.

This exercise can be continued for every trait thought related to rape, and the answer will be the same in every instance. Science cannot extrapolate from the observation to morality. And there is another difficulty, Even the list of traits thought related to rape is not free of moral judgment. A man is convicted of statutory rape. “But judge,” he pleas, “She told me she was sixteen—and just look at her!” Whether the judge is right to consider this a mitigating factor, and whether he alters his judgment based on that factor, is also not a scientific question, even though science can (perhaps) quantify how likely fifteen-year-old girls pass for sixteen.

Two choices are thus possible. If ones want to swear allegiance to reason and science only and to nothing else, then one has to admit rape is not wrong, and it’s not right, either. It just is. Worse, it depends on a subjective definition, which itself has no scientific bearing. Rape happens, and that is that. Even the word rape is a prejudice. Some people have sex in this way and some in that, and that the best that can be said. This view is scientism, the argument that only scientific judgments count. Yes, science will say, some people claim rape is wrong, evil, or sinful. But that is merely yet an another emotion that can be quantified. One can make decisions based on the measurement of these emotions, of course. Don’t try to have this kind of sex in this place, because the natives will call it “rape” and punish me. But the desire not to meet this punishment is itself not a scientific judgment; it itself is only another prejudice. Indeed, every action you—or anybody—takes about anything is prejudice and wholly arbitrary.

The second choice is to look outside science, to philosophy, metaphysics, and religion. There why rape is immoral can be discovered. This is acknowledgement that science cannot provide the answer. Rape really is wrong because of a principle derived or deduced from these areas of knowledge. How to make these deductions is non-scientific, although science, via observation or projection, can inform these deductions. Science is not useless in deciding morality because we all these deductions move from the observed to the principle. But the deductions and derived principle is not itself scientific.

Rape was chosen as an example because it so obviously wrong.

33 Comments

  1. Struggling with this paragraph a bit – can’t tell if it’s my dullness or your enemies’ typos.

    Should it be “1-x/1000% immoral” ?

    And “Rape is war is mostly good…”

    “Now rape occurs at a rate of x per 1,000 (this figure is also conditional on some set population). Does that mean rape is x/1000% moral and 1-x/1000%? That implies if we found ourselves in a (let us call it) robust land where there was lots of rape (x is large), then rape would be akin to speeding on the freeway. Such “lands” exist, for instance in countries beset by large-scale war. Rape is war is mostly good, not evil. But then in a quiescent land, where x=0, a rape, should it occur, would be infinitely bad.”

  2. Such a perspective can also be derived independently of scientism, from other rather dubious philosophical perspectives like moral skepticism and pure materialist determinism, the latter actually quite in vogue these days with certain types on the right.

    Nevertheless, your post was a needed reminder, and especially as a good rebuttal for those who argue about a “science of morality.”

  3. Morality requires Authority, someone to declare right and wrong. Things are not right and wrong of themselves.

    Right and wrong relate to expediency, and that relates to goal or desired outcome. But whose desire? Ultimately it is God, but except in the uncommon instance of you hearing it direct from God, it is a human person that declares it.

    There is some merit in the idea that morality evolved; if you started with ten civilizations each of which has a different moral code, eventually one would be a better fit to circumstances and however it got there would be “right”; but in that case a better word is “fit” or “optimum” since right and wrong require a judge, and a law, and an Authority.

  4. Very strange essay —

    “Science cannot extrapolate from the observation to morality” — and so what? Botany cannot extrapolate from the observation to auto repair….

    The fact that a discipline has some insights to offer on a topic of interest, but is mute on certain facets of that topic does not broadly diminish that discipline.

    What to make of this remark:

    “Two choices are thus possible. If ones want to swear allegiance to reason and science only and to nothing else, then one has to admit rape is not wrong, and it’s not right, either. It just is. Worse, it depends on a subjective definition, which itself has no scientific bearing. Rape happens, and that is that. Even the word rape is a prejudice. Some people have sex in this way and some in that, and that the best that can be said. This view is scientism, the argument that only scientific judgments count.”

    Whatever that is called that ain’t “scientism.” — That’s pretending to put science in a place where it does not purport to go, then pretending to critique that non-existent arrangement with the intent of undermining science. There’s a scene like that in the movie, Devil’s Advocate (starring Al Pacino & K. Reeves), where the innocent wife is trying to pick out paint colors and they’re being rejected for nonsensical reasons (e.g. doesn’t match your eyes).

    The real issue is that some try & apply things, science being the recurring topic here, to areas they have no business being applied [often with willful intent to deceive] — that’s a reflection on the people doing that, not on the thing [science] they’re doing it with.

    Very strange that so much focus and emphasis is placed in this blog on immoral behavior by people — with the recurring notable exception of when such behaviors can be twisted to bash an approach to analysis [science], at which point the misapplication by people [again, often willfully to create a false impression] is ignored to bash that method [to bash science]. It is insightful that that tactic (repeatedly used by Briggs with regard to science) is, in the above movie, portrayed as being applied by a demon.

    Setting aside the bit about science entirely & picking up at the end:

    “Rape was chosen as an example because it so obviously wrong.”

    How’s that?

    One can easily look up & verify numerous passages of the Bible where rape is condoned, where rape victims are to be punished, where the rapist is rewarded, etc. Modern Christians do not / modern society does not endorse any of these accommodations, such as they are. So where does that higher standard of behavior held by Christians come from? Certainly not God as His reference guide hasn’t changed (ref Matt 5:17); not to mention that that same higher modern standard is equally held by unbelievers. Thus, the idea that morality must come from God is as demonstrably false as is the notion that since science does not address morality it is defective.

  5. Now in the bible the Israelites are ordered by God to take the women of the conquered enemies as their brides. That’s an euphemism for rape ordered by God Himself.

    (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

  6. Ken writes “the idea that morality must come from God is as demonstrably false as is the notion that since science does not address morality it is defective.”

    Try harder to demonstrate that morality does not need to come from God.

    What exactly makes a wrong thing “wrong”?

    Ultimately it is because you believe it to be wrong. But your belief may well not be that of your neighbor. So while your own private morality is created by you and thus exists, a shared morality held by society can only be established by an Authority whose opinion of morality you might not share.

    As to Matthew 5:17, I looked it up. It is useful to do that when someone tries a Saul Alinsky trick. Anyway: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

    It is not clear to me how this relates to rape. In my own church/religion, it speaks to fulfillment of ancient prophecies regarding the advent of a messiah; in particular Isaiah’s prophecies.

    Also, “the law” doesn’t mean all of the laws of Moses. It means “the law”, the one and only, the ring that rules them all. I’m not entirely sure what it is or that it can be meaningfully expressed in English anyway.

  7. Hans Erren writes: “Now in the bible the Israelites are ordered by God to take the women of the conquered enemies as their brides.”

    Had they obeyed God in all matters there would be a lot less conflict in the middle east then and probably today.

  8. Hans Erren writes: “Now in the bible the Israelites are ordered by God to take the women of the conquered enemies as their brides.”

    What you believe ought to have been done with all those widows? Perhaps you can show examples of women forced to have sex against their wishes so that your implication or imputation of rape from bride can be established.

    And if you manage all that, good for you. I’ll be mindful of possible behaviors of ancient Israelites should I happen to meet one.

  9. Re: Hans

    Because setting forth laws guaranteeing a captive woman certain rights in the event that a man decides to marry her is the same as commanding the man to rape the woman.

    Thanks for letting us know we can safely disregard any factual claims you make. In the future, you might want to try actually reading the passage in question.

  10. Thomas Kenned

    May 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Whoever wrote this article doesn’t understand the premise of science, its purpose is to analyse data and make conclusions, morals (right and wrong) are completely different to science. Theres the old saying science is the key that opens the gates of heaven and hell, it is up to us which gate we open. Science doesn’t state whether something is right or wrong, just tht something logically makes sense or not. This whole article is just a biased opinion about science an opinion which is false and blames science for not outlining a moral decision. Well ofcourse it doesn’t because that is not the purpose of science. This leads me to the conclusion that the author of this article, knows no more about science than a child does.

  11. Thomas Kenned writes: “This whole article is just a biased opinion”

    Can you think of an unbiased opinion? Probably not.

    Can you think of a blog that is something other than biased opinion? Probably not.

    “blames science for not outlining a moral decision.”

    On the contrary; blames (some) scientists for implying, or even declaring, that science does and can produce moral decisions. The conspicuous example is in the realm of global warming. The Climate March is a conspicuous example of using science as a virtue signal.

  12. Should it be “1-x/1000% immoral” ?

    It is written correctly but requires to read the paragraph to get context. The argument is that common things are considered “moral” and rare things are considered “immoral” IF you were to use some sort of democratic approach to such things, as I think many people do.

    Thus, morality (not immortality) is directly proportional to X as for example x/1000, small values of x lead to low morality (high immorality) but high values of X lead to higher morality and less immorality (such as liquor drinkers). When the proportion reaches “1”, namely everyone does it, the immorality vanishes.

    But the argument presumes that a group of people decide their morality which seems more true for People of the Left.

  13. swordfishtrombone

    May 12, 2017 at 8:10 am

    “Rape was chosen as an example because it so obviously wrong.”

    It’s a good thing it’s obvious as Jesus had nothing to say on the subject.

  14. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. – Matt 5:17

    “It is not clear to me how this relates to rape.” – Michael 2

    How: Law specified in Deuteronomy, and elsewhere, proscribe values & behaviors that condone rape. Jesus said he was not abolishing the Law–meaning even those proscriptions were endorsed — by God. But, today, society soundly rejects such divinely-acceptable modes of conduct. Make of that what you will.

  15. “In my own church/religion, it [Mat 5:17] speaks to fulfillment of ancient prophecies regarding the advent of a messiah; in particular Isaiah’s prophecies.” – Michael 2

    Anyone brought up in a “Christian” church, like I was, has heard that Jesus fulfilled the scripture prophecies and so forth. This is repeated endlessly in sermons, and is found even in some NT statements.

    I bet, besides me, at most only a handful of “Christian” readers of this blog has actually researched each & every assertion of scriptural fulfillment to validate the assertions! There’s one or two such assertions having no known basis (i.e. asserted scripture fulfillment where no such scripture can be found), and many/most simply do not match. If not studying the assertions, rather than taking them on faith & parroting them mindlessly, have any of you read Jewish expositions on why the messiah and Jesus cannot be the same? Its almost the same analysis.

  16. Swordfish et als from both sides,
    You are right. Jesus had little say about matters sex. This is not allowed to interfere with the self righteous twits, though. He had something specifically to say about the treatment of others with respect to their morality when he chastised the attendant company who rebuked him for not condemning the prostitute. Vengeance belongs to God.

    “let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”
    Jesus also had nothing to say about the death penalty!

    The message is clear from the bible about authority of laws of the kingdom. When Jesus was condemned he did not claim unfairness or pontificate about the law.
    “my kingdom is not of this world”

    Criminal law, certainly in this country does not mention rape. the crime is described graphically to cover the act of penetration by the penis into the vagina without consent and against the will of the victim. the same is covered with respect to other anatomical parts that are used in lieu of a vagina. Forcing is not mentioned, insertion is the word used.

    There is no ambiguity.
    The point about rape being, as it ought to be intuitively wrong in civilised society is the abhorrent concept of infliction of pain and injury on others, of the deliberate removal of dignity from another by means of humiliation and overpowering is what makes the crime of rape so inarguably wrong.
    The motive for the crime will differ in every example. A woman cannot rape a man. there is the crime of sexual abuse and other injury which would cover the case of a woman inflicting harm on a male of a sexual nature. It is the misuse of the word rape which is problematic here and in many media treatments of the subject.

    As to the moral argument and science’s contribution? It is a false debate and one which no intelligent scientist or religious person or both would indulge unless a false media were to dish it up!

    There is no conflict. The two arenas are quite separate.

    If a court case uses DNA evidence which is scientific it is not to prove the immorality or horror of the act.
    OBVIOUSLY! the atheist, the scientist and the religious must agree on this distinction unless they are irrational.

  17. Ken writes: “Make of that what you will.”

    Of course. What else would I do? I do not get “rape” out of it; you do. That reveals more about your state of mind than anything objectively contained in the words.

    “But, today, society soundly rejects such divinely-acceptable modes of conduct.”

    There is no such thing as “society”. Instead, many such things exist, usually defined by the person using the word and to his benefit and purpose.

    Your reasons for doing this are biological; you wish to elevate your breeding opportunities by showing how wise and smart you are and how depraved and stupid is your competition.

    I suspect that you consider the bible to be largely a work of fiction and thus no real purpose exists to this conversation beyond that instinct or urge to do so. It is also very nearly certain that since you are not bound to the bible or its words, trying to change your mind about any of it is as likely to succeed as talking to a duck will change its behavior.

    Still, others are reading these words. The short version is: Adam fell, then for thousands of years prophets looked for a redemption and fortold it. The law existed to remind people of both events; the fall and the redemption. For instance, sacrifices existed as a metaphor for the sacrifice of the redeemer. When he came, he fulfilled that law (sacrifice) and prophets (his coming). This was alarming to the religionists of the time that he set himself up as the son of God and they set about to accomplish the very sacrifice that was foretold.

    I am not even going to struggle to figure out how you get “rape” out of that but your mind seems a bit twisted.

  18. Ken “Law specified in Deuteronomy, and elsewhere, proscribe values & behaviors that condone rape.”

    I suppose so, but I wonder if you are using “proscribe” correctly?

  19. Ken writes: “I bet, besides me, at most only a handful of Christian readers of this blog has actually researched each and every assertion of scriptural fulfillment”

    I didn’t expect to see confirmation of my judgment of you in the very next message. You are wise and smart and there’s only a dozen other people as wise and smart as you.

    “have any of you read Jewish expositions on why the messiah and Jesus cannot be the same?”

    I cannot read Jewish, not that I would put a lot of stock in such argument. The problem is that of “wresting scriptures” or swallowing camels while straining at gnats.

    While being wise and smart is a very fine thing, being at the receiving end of revelation is immeasurably superior.

  20. Joy wrote: “Jesus had little say about matters sex.”

    Maybe. I don’t know what Jesus said and neither do you. What we have are words transcribed nearly a lifetime after those events, written in languages I do not read, on original documents long since lost.

    What survives appears to be what all considered unique and important; namely, charity or loving your neighbor.

    “let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

    That would be a risky approach in modern times. It would be a race to be first.

    “my kingdom is not of this world”

    Thank you! That is a crucial understanding and permits Christianity to operate under a variety of political systems because it does not compete against political systems.

    “A woman cannot rape a man.”

    Not many men would complain seems to be the problem. However he has an anus and inserting objects into his anus against his will is approximately equivalent. However, pregnancy cannot result from it and that is the essential element of wrongness unless of course for you the badness of it emanates from something else.

    “It is the misuse of the word rape which is problematic here and in many media treatments of the subject.”

    Agreed. The word “rape” is almost devoid of meaning. Forests are raped. The Earth itself is raped (digging for coal, drilling for oil). Some feminists deny that consent can exist and that all sex is rape.

  21. Yeah sure, google this:
    “Does Deuteronomy 21:10-14 condemn rape or does it sanction rape-forced marriage?”

  22. Meant to type:
    Jesus had little to say on matters of sex” but I type too quick and my checker helps, too. The way that was written seemed to imply that Jesus had ‘little say’ and it wasn’t what I meant.

    “Maybe. I don’t know what Jesus said and neither do you. What we have are words transcribed nearly a lifetime after those events, written in languages I do not read, on original documents long since lost.”

    Michael we are all reliant upon the work of others. The ideal words “Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent” must be set aside for practical purposes.

    I’m rely on the authority of scholars who have over and over revised and revisited the texts of the bible. They still do so in the case of John Lennox and they consult with language scholars, Hebrew experts and historians of even atheist persuasion who cannot as yet find anything but the truth of the existence of Jesus and nothing which contradicts the most important part, the resurrection.

    Regarding the existence of Jesus even Dawkins conceded in debate that he did exist. It is all about whether what he said is true.

    The meaning of the term rape is often used by women to exaggerate appallingly; in which case the man then becomes a victim . It also allows men to excuse themselves in case of the criminal act. Really though, when rape occurs, there’s no doubt about it.

    Regarding the poetic use of the word, well that is how poetry works. It’s inexactitude is a main factor. Not all poets are clean hearted.

    “some rich men came and raped the land
    put up a bunch of ugly boxes and Jesus people bought’em..”
    It refers to the theft of original beauty of the land in it’s pristine state, a parallel to real rape.

    On the matter of the essence of what is wrong with rape, you take a man’s view.
    The horror and outrage of rape is only compounded if a pregnancy arises as a result. It is not so much the objectivity which makes rape ‘obviously wrong’. I’m not blaming you for taking that line. It’s atypical man thing to say.

    The example of the woman which you give, it is sexual assault. Men joke about dreaming of such a thing but of course there have been cases where women are involved in the most appalling acts of cruelty on men and I’m not trying to make women look all innocent; particularly in current political climates.

  23. acricketchirps

    May 12, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Yeah sure, google this:
    “Does Deuteronomy 21:10-14 condemn rape or does it sanction rape-forced marriage?”

    to find out what mahometans think about it.

  24. Acricketchirps: moderation did not allow a link. Well yes it a muslim site. But please read the analysis of the hebrew, which makes a good case for reasoning why conquered virgins were not killed in bronze age times: it was because of mere lust of the winning army. The authors of Deuteronomy simply codified a custom and gave it a heavenly stamp.

  25. Joy wrote: “I’m rely on the authority of scholars who have over and over revised and revisited the texts of the bible.”

    That is the common or normal approach to it. The uncommon approach relies on the authority of God himself, in the rare occasion he chooses to inspire or reveal. Between those revelations one might as well review the work of scholars and prophets.

    “Regarding the existence of Jesus even Dawkins conceded in debate that he did exist. It is all about whether what he said is true.”

    I appreciate your uncommon insight. That is indeed crucial.

    “It refers to the theft of original beauty of the land in it’s pristine state, a parallel to real rape.”

    The land does not know that it is pristine. The land therefore does not have a pristine state of itself, it just exists. It takes a human (or perhaps divine) appreciation to decide that a particular state is pristine, good, desirable — and what makes it desirable? To occupy! Harvest food, water, shelter.

    “On the matter of the essence of what is wrong with rape, you take a man’s view.”

    Naturally. Once you depart from objectivity anything goes and the word loses meaning at least in a social setting. It always has meaning to the person using it.

    I try to anchor the wrongness in something ancient and not necessarily religious. That wrongness is biological; the desire and instinct of husband to raise his children but not that of some other man. Its in the DNA. But also in that DNA is an instinct to suppress competition and that can be done by persuading people to not breed in the first place and if they do, persuade them to terminate the result while it is still legal.

    Marriage exists to advance human reproduction and provide a social structure to encourage it and resist threats to it. This word is also used poetically as a metaphor, but too many people use it where it does not belong.

    Inbreeding is/was a problem for tribal societies. Should it happen that Deuteronomy implies or even declares authorization for forcible sex on prisoners of war, I note that this action is still under the auspices of marriage, to produce genetically diverse children and care for the mothers of those children. That the women in this instance don’t have a lot of choice is fairly obvious and I suppose you can be glad not to be an ancient Israelite.

  26. Hans Erren writes “Does Deuteronomy 21:10-14 condemn rape or does it sanction rape-forced marriage?”

    Try door number 3, none of the above.

  27. Michael 2
    Give me a mo…

  28. Michael 2
    On the pristine land, I was giving an example of the way that the word is used poetically to convey the emotion of the singer. That’s how it reaches me, I don’t take a political lesson from it but see the writer in that case the poet as giving his view.

    As to nature and idealising it’s appearance? A gardener can’t avoid doing this. It’s part of the charm and puzzle of gardening. Pastoral scenes and the love of scenery or landscape which is untouched by man or, in fact touched by man in case of the view of much of the English countryside have been a muse for so much poetry, music and art in general around the world.

    What a shame that the eco fanatics have muddied the water! To make people so jaded by the concept of nature. It belongs to everybody not just the liberals.

    ~~Between those revelations one might as well review the work of scholars and prophets.~~

    I agree with that completely but have become shy of speaking about any revelation because it alters nothing for those who’ve already made up their minds, which is pretty well everybody and is saved for private conversation and or consideration. This kind of revelation is evidence for oneself.

    As to the points you make about DNA and desire of men to control the behaviour of other men, I agree. It seems to me to be an entirely male concern so the word man I mean literally there. I do not hold the view which you do about marriage though. I see the point but realistically can’t see the ‘attraction’ for women, who are really in charge in that department, of having children as ending any time soon.

    Marriage existed before Christianity. The idea that society organises itself in such a way as to settle once and for all who belongs to who for want of a better way of putting it, and that this gave stability for the woman and a convenient housekeeper and general mopper upper for the man. Keeping in touch with one’s sons for a man means there’s more help prop everything up. Sons have always been vital.
    It is modern society that’s changed family dynamics and I don’t believe it’s all because of attitudes to marriage. There’s even a grumpy old man view doing the rounds,
    “I’ve put up with it so why can’t everybody else”. “if i’m going to suffer so can you.”

    The Amish are living proof that the old ways simply do not promote everything that is good. They have to rely on everybody else when they want life saving surgery, antibiotics, blood transfusions, police support and on and on. Just like the Buddhists (spellchecker offered nudists, …same thing) who would sit cross legged whilst everybody else does the dirty work. Furthermore, they don’t believe in beauty as far as I can tell.

    I’m not remotely anti marriage. I just think certain sectarians not a million miles away have thing boxed up.

    Rape was also wrong historically and nobody hated it more than the man who’s daughter was raped. I don’t suppose he would have been saving her for himself. It is innate in mankind to know that incest is wrong. All the best ideas stick., those based on truth.

  29. Joy wrote: “On the pristine land, I was giving an example of the way that the word is used poetically to convey the emotion of the singer.”

    Yes; precisely so. Without the poet the concept of pristine vanishes. Every plant, every animal *in* the pristine land does not see it as pristine (or so I suppose), instead, each goes about its life eating other life before it is itself eaten, except in the life of plants; they eat sunshine and carbon dioxide but even plants compete for sometimes scarce soil resources (water, minerals).

    Pristine is a judgement; widely shared I will admit hence my sense that it is in your DNA since we are likely to agree on what is pristine even without much discussion. It is at the very root of the left/right divide: Four legs good (pristine), two legs bad (from George Orwell’s little book, “Animal Farm”).

    “Pastoral scenes and the love of scenery or landscape which is untouched by man or, in fact touched by man in case of the view of much of the English countryside”

    That is the biological factor that makes some pristine have greater desirability than the pristine nature of the Sahara, Sahel or Siberia. But even those places have their charms (two legs bad, four legs dangerous!).

    “I agree with that completely but have become shy of speaking about any revelation because it alters nothing for those who’ve already made up their minds, which is pretty well everybody and is saved for private conversation and or consideration. This kind of revelation is evidence for oneself.”

    Exactly so. To anyone else it is just another anecdote. But the existence of this phenomenon is worth mentioning as it is completely absent from the work of scholars. Robert Altemeyer, for instance, when surveying Christians why they believe in God did not ask the most obvious questions of all; whether they knew God because God knew them (voice, spirit, some other meaningful indication). In his mind the only possibilities included a natural gullibility to believe in someone else; and some of the answers were cynical; namely, did not believe in God but obtained social benefits by pretending to.

    “As to the points you make about DNA and desire of men to control the behaviour of other men, I agree. It seems to me to be an entirely male concern so the word man I mean literally there.”

    A desire to control the behavior of others is hardly limited to men. Men are, in my opinion, also more likely to be libertarian and allow you to make your choices as they make theirs. My Navy experience with women officers shows they generally have a very strong desire to control the behavior of others, particularly men.

    “I do not hold the view which you do about marriage though.”

    I expect little else. Societies evolve just as species evolve. Societies who discover that man and woman, raising their own offspring in a social fabric designed to encourage and enhance that behavior, obtain advantage over those that do not. In other words, the existence of it is proof of appropriateness or fitness for purpose.

    Or you can simply do what God, in the western traditions, has appointed. It is remarkably similar.

    “Marriage existed before Christianity.”

    Yes. All animals reproduce; some have bonds of affection and duty that go beyond merely breeding.

    “The idea that society organises itself in such a way as to settle once and for all who belongs to who for want of a better way of putting it, and that this gave stability for the woman and a convenient housekeeper and general mopper upper for the man.”

    Cart before the horse, but yes, it ends up that way. We *start* with the family and *end* at society; families created society, not the other way round.

    “The Amish are living proof that the old ways simply do not promote everything that is good. They have to rely on everybody else when they want life saving surgery, antibiotics, blood transfusions, police support and on and on.”

    I believe they would rather avoid those entanglements. But you are right in the sense that to maintain a garden of Eden in a wicked world, around the edges of the garden is going to have to be armed guards. Eden cannot co-exist in a competitive world.

    “Just like the Buddhists who would sit cross legged whilst everybody else does the dirty work. Furthermore, they don’t believe in beauty as far as I can tell.”

    Buddhists seem to take care not only of themselves but of others and have a fine sense of beauty. Perhaps you were thinking of Hindu Jainism.

    “It is innate in mankind to know that incest is wrong. All the best ideas stick., those based on truth.”

    I sense that your use of the word “truth” differs from my understanding. Truth is a knowledge of things as they are, and as they have been, and as they are going to be. “It is what is” but is not the reasons for what is. Practicality or the avoidance of what the old testament calls confusion is the grounding of some of the most ancient taboos whose original reasons we can only surmise.

  30. Michael 2,
    Quite a bit of assumption in your remarks in this comment but i think I’m guilty of the same thing. Of course I’m familiar with Animal Farm, 2nd year English lit, aged 12.
    Plants eat insects, notice the choice of the cynical but rather cute name ‘Venus fly trap.’
    Would poetry be outlawed in Michael’s world?

    ~~A desire to control the behaviour of others is hardly limited to men. Men are, in my opinion, also more likely to be libertarian and allow you to make your choices as they make theirs. My Navy experience with women officers shows they generally have a very strong desire to control the behaviour of others, particularly men.~~

    I was particularly referring to matters of sex and ‘concerns ‘ regarding behaviour in that regard. Some men even feign this in order to seem more manly. Some just like to be irritating but the religious and the politicians, not the truly good are historically the ones who decree from on high how people must behave. They are the ones who shaped society and controlling reproduction is key. I am particularly referring to politicians, churches, kings etc. The Catholics have a lot of blood on their hands in Africa, for example with respect to the idealism of their silly condom rule. Idealism masquerading as something godly, which it isn’t.

    As to your Navy females, I had only a very short time working for the Royal Navy at HMS Nelson and the female officer I met at dinner was positively scary, cold and dead pan. I didn’t doubt her abilities, actually, but in general women are not best placed in positions of power over groups of people.

    Women have their own ways of exerting control which is rather more covert. Thy are called feminine wiles.

    However simply being annoyed that women now have power isn’t enough. If men are cleverer they will sort it all out. (using their intellect and not brute force, although reversion to that always seems most likely.). The backlash will come and it will come for the least deserving women. It’s the way of things, so the battle continues.

    As to carts and horses and family. You rather lost me.
    We are discussing marriage as a word which preexisted any religious overtones. OBVIOUSLY, Michael if one contemplates ancient man wandering in the wild, he, she has to find another human, they mate and form a. family and so on. It hardly needs pointing out. It is neat in mankind to form bonds rather than drift about wildly nilly.

    The fact is that men have certain abilities as do women. A day long discussion about which is best would lead nowhere because it would be based on value judgements and those kind of arguments based on taste usually come down to a vote situation as opposed to a proof or an unarguable truth.

    Men concentrate on one thing very well and to a level which women cannot. However men cannot without extreme stress and or a secretary or staff, manage many things at once. Prioritisation for a man requires some external assistance. That’s my summary. I remember the day I noticed my concentration disappeared at fifteen almost in a moment. It had nothing to do with boys, they were banished from school. Something happens probably in the endocrine system, at a guess. I never asked any women whether they experienced the same thing. I suspect they wouldn’t notice.

    When a man has his secretary, his staff or his wifey, he is a fully functional man! The problem is that the staff have become restless, like the natives did.

    As long as the men are polite and keep the wacker out of proceedings I will be on men’s side come the day. Only grown up men need be involved.

  31. …and that was innate in man and willy nilly…I have a very difficult male voiceover that didn’t like the comment. Totally rubbish Apple software, can’t multitask.

  32. Joy writes “Would poetry be outlawed in Michael’s world?”

    Very little would be outlawed in michael’s world. I have a strong affinity for the two great commandments, and the first becomes the second, so really there’s only one, loving your neighbor. That can be interpreted rather widely; it doesn’t mean (to me) sacrificing yourself for neighbor, but rather to consider your neighbor often as you go about your life so as to minimize negative impacts and amplify positive impacts. Hopefully your neighbor is doing likewise but if not, I have my honor and will still be a good neighbor.

    So it is that one positive law (do) is simple and avoids having to imagine all the possible negative laws (don’t) that might have to be imagined.

    As poetry is particularly susceptible to vague meanings I don’t have a lot of use for it, with some notable exceptions.

    “No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

    After which Fred says, “That’s nice, but who died?”

    “The Tyger” ([https]://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tyger) came to my attention in a Batman animated cartoon. I remember nothing of the cartoon but the poem made a strong impression.

    Then there’s the poetry of Douglas Adam’s. He manages to maintain some semblance of poetic structure while at the same time mocks meaningless poetry; people that write structured gibberish and call it poetry. It’s a bit like comparing Picasso to Rembrandt. Once in my life I studied a Rembrandt up close and was astonished by it; beyond natural to supernatural it seemed. Amazing color and light but beyond that it had a sense of life or vibrance that I seldom see in paintings. Picasso, on the other hand, is more akin to a computer that needs anti-virus and a reboot.

  33. Well then Michael 2 can be in charge! I said so.

    John Donne though? very angry man, very bitter and twisted…better stop there.
    “batter my heart three person’d God.”
    Joh Donne Anne Donne undone. If I’m allowed to hate somethings John Donne would be amongst them. He’s just what you don’t need when you’re seventeenth and forced to study him. The braille book had stick on dots and I used to pick them off! Oh dear.

    Most poetry is rubbish in my view and is the hardest of arts to master. Best just read a compendium such as Wavell’s ‘other men’s flowers which is purported to be filled with poetry than men in particular appreciate.

    I think we essentially agree, what a relief.

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