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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:02 pm 
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Faramond, we cross-posted again!

I was hoping that nel or yov might be able to better explain what was troubling about that chapter.... for me it's a sense that they are claiminig to profess one thing but designing their argument such that the result is to convince people of the opposite.

An atheist would not design an argument defending homosexuality as a dialogue with God. And someone truly interested in defending homosexuality would not do so by comparing it to having red hair. A rationalist would not defend logic by trying to convince people they are illogical.

There's something off about the whole picture. The chapter is supposed to be a defense of homosexuality but the arguments against it are more cogent and more true to the actual position of proponents than are the arguments in its favor. The author is damning homosexuality with faint praise, and praising religious bigotry with faint damns.

But I expect people are tired of hearing me say this. It takes the fun out of the game.

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:04 pm 
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Faramond, the quiz feels very much like something a high school kid would do. They hear about this "trap" they can pull on someone, they run said person through the "trap" and then gloat when the other person is confused and angry... "ha ha, you're beliefs are wrong."

When in reality, once you've heard the "trap" you can sidestep it in the future. There's not really any "reality" in the trick. There's nothing to learn about it. It doesn't increase anyone's understanding of themselves, their beliefs or anything else. It's a trick so one person can make themselves feel superior to another.

Most people that actually care about discussing such things outgrow such tricks the moment they learn how to spot them. I think that's what is getting to some of us here. We can spot the tricks, we can spot what the quiz-makers are doing. It doesn't matter what their actual motivations are... they may just want people to think about their own beliefs... but they're using an immature trick to do so.

It's frustrating to have the "trick" played on you in an online quiz, because if it were in person you could say... "that question is bogus and here's why," but online, you can just say "true or false" and then they slam you with an inconsistancy that you didn't really have.

If the quiz-writers were out to make a fun quiz that "got" everyone... ho hum... but if they were really trying to make people think... they did a pretty bad job of it...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:07 pm 
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Yes, I think hal caught the emotional reaction of most people.

What feels deceptive about it to me is the argument from authority, because the answers are not in fact consistent with the rules of logic.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:12 pm 
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I was hoping that nel or yov might be able to better explain what was troubling about that chapter.


I'm not sure what specifically you're referring to. Can you repost the link or whatnot?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:17 pm 
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What's Wrong With Gay Sex

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:20 pm 
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The chapter is supposed to be a defense of homosexuality but the arguments against it are more cogent and more true to the actual position of proponents than are the arguments in its favor.


The chapter is not a defense of homosexuality, but rather a rebuttal to common attacks on homosexuality. So of course the arguments in question are closer to the position of those arguing against homosexuality!

The author claims that homosexuals are less likely to have long-term relationships, but I know of nothing to back that assertion up. That's something I didn't catch the first time I read through it.

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An atheist would not design an argument defending homosexuality as a dialogue with God.


I think the author's intent is to give opponents of homosexuality all their initial assumptions and arguments and then systematically demolish all of them. I don't think this is the best approach, but it doesn't make him a ringer.

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And someone truly interested in defending homosexuality would not do so by comparing it to having red hair.


I've read enough philosophical essays in college to know that philosopher make all kind of weird comparisons. I think you read too much into that.

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A rationalist would not defend logic by trying to convince people they are illogical.


See, this is what gets to me, that you assume the worst possible motivation becaue you don't agree with their reasoning. I think they are trying to get people to think about common assumptions, and maybe convince them that they aren't illogical, but their arguments might be. I'm not saying they succeed. But improper execution is not the same as deception.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:27 pm 
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Faramond wrote:
But improper execution is not the same as deception.


I've got to run to the bank before it closes but I'll come back and try to respond to this (rationally). :)

The answer is: it depends. Depends on how improper the execution, how often it gets repeated, what the net result is. One begins to suspect that all is not what it seems. I'll give you an example when I get back of why I read this the way I do but it will take a longer post than I have time for at this moment.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:33 pm 
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I was annoyed too when I ran through the test, by the way. They don't define their terms at all, and use definitions that I wouldn't use.

Upon reflection, I think I can agree that the whole setup of trapping people is deceptive.

Honestly, though, I think most of these people are atheists who spend too much time and make too much money fighting with theists and not giving healthy affirmative arguments for their own philosophy. That's what the structure of the argument for homosexuality from that book feels like to me.

edit: split off deceptive maths topic into new thread in Lasto


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:02 pm 
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I read the boring article. It sounded like one of countless Manwë threads I participated in.

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An atheist would not design an argument defending homosexuality as a dialogue with God.


Yes they would. Seen that a bunch of times in Manwë.

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And someone truly interested in defending homosexuality would not do so by comparing it to having red hair.


Yes they would. Seen that a bunch of times in Manwë. nel recently did a great analogy to being left-handed.

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A rationalist would not defend logic by trying to convince people they are illogical.


What?? Of course a rationalist would try to expose logical inconsistencies. Seen that a bunch of times in Manwë.

I get the impression you know little about how these sorts of atheists (of which I was one, once) think and act.

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The chapter is supposed to be a defense of homosexuality


Uh, no it's not. It's entirely neutral about homosexuality. What it's about is exposing logical inconsistencies of the homo-haters.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:13 pm 
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Very well, I'll go into more detail. Here is a suspicious reading of the chapter. I would say that what follows would be the strongest argument I could make in support of Jn's position. Before I adopt it as my own, I would want to know more about who the author is, what level of experience he has with the gay community, and what his background and motivations are.

Appeal to the Bible: I didn't see this part as problematic; it is the same, tired "God hates shrimp" argument long-used by liberals to point out the inconsistency of virtually all Christians and all but the most Orthodox Jews who rely on Leviticus to establish the immorality of homosexual acts between men - that almost no modern adherents to the Judeo-Christian tradition accept all the commandments in Leviticus as applicable. I think that virtually all who will be convinced by this argument (liberal Christians and Jews) have now been. Christians who believe in the immorality of homosexual acts jump through this hoop, pro forma, by pointing to Paul's writings. Orthodox Jews who purport to accept the entirety of the Torah - who, for instance, do not eat shellfish and do not mix prohibited types of cloth - do not have the inconsistency problem, at least in theory. Conservative Jews are in transition; as of last week, the movement has okayed the ordination of openly gay and lesbian rabbis and the consecration of same-sex unions -- although they have retained the prohibition on M/M anal intercourse, I think its remaining years are in the single digits. So this part is not problematic so much as yawn-worthy, misdirected -- or more accurately, not directed at anyone because there is no one left to convince, and thus irritating to all.

Unnatural: The facially "pro-gay" arguments in this category are weak and easily rebutted. The writer begins by citing "red hair" as an "aberration from the norm," a laughable analogy (if it merits the word). The author has largely framed the discussion - by beginning with Leviticus - in terms of homosexual sexual acts, rather than any other aspect of homosexual identity. Yet he now is comparing a sexual (volitional) act to an immutable, genetic condition (red hair), thus actually bolstering the religious argument for "hating the sin while loving the sinner" - "After all," the religious-person-who-believes-homosexuality-is-wrong can say, "if the person was born with homosexual tendencies (like red hair), I do not think there is anything wrong with or lesser about that person for their deviation from the norm. I only condemn their participation in illicit sexual activities, which the Bible tells me are wrong." Of course, said religious person can now proceed to dismiss the other analogies in this section - cleanliness is not condemned, but extolled by the Bible, and piercings are a neutral. So, it is not all unnatural acts that are wrong, the religious person can say, but unnatural acts that the Bible condemns as abominations! (Granted, facially the argument is set up to make the point that we do not condemn acts solely because they are "unnatural" to human beings, but it is designed in an incredibly weak manner.)
[ETA: yov, but my analogy was different. I was comparing "openly left-handed acts," as I sardonically called them, to "gay acts," to illustrate the absurdity of saying, "You can be left-handed so long as you do not actually write with your left-hand. But, you have the same right to write with your right-hand as everyone else!" Whether or not the argument had merit, at least it compared apples and apples - volitional acts based on a preexisting orientation, to volitional acts based on a preexisting orientation. Red hair does not fall in the same category.]

Dirty: no major problems with this section.

Unhealthy: no major problems with this section.

Corrupts the young: perhaps my reading of this section is too sensitive/suspicious, but it seems to advocate for the following idea: there is nothing wrong with older homosexuals "preying" on "innocent young men" (of unknown age), because even if it predisposes said innocent young men to have gay tendencies they would not otherwise have had, there is nothing wrong with the young men acting on these tendencies and so nothing wrong about the older men's actions - the only wrong is that of the society that condemns gayness. First, it does not sound as though the "innocent young men" in question here are eighteen. Second, it advances an idea that is easily shot down by almost everyone, including me: that there is nothing wrong with older people "initiating" (exploiting) much younger people, even in ways that would alter their sexuality. (As I stated in a previous thread, for me this is true regardless of the sexualities involved: if a young lesbian in her teens is molested by a heterosexual man and comes to desire heterosexual intimacy, that is as egregious and horrific a violation (albeit one that society would pay no attention to, as such.))

In any case, this paragraph subtly reinforces the idea of older homosexuals "preying" on younger men and "turning" them gay - and, in suggesting there is nothing wrong with this, potentially makes the reader all the more likely to condemn "it" - although the reader's condemnation may easily reach beyond the predators described to all gay people, or all gay men.

Promiscuity: again this provides a subtle reinforcement of anti-gay stereotypes ("Women act as a natural brake on the male’s impulse to have sex fairly indiscriminately. For male homosexuals this brake is missing.") Here, the suggestion is that gay men will have indiscriminate sex given their lack of "female brake" (yes, some can commit to each other, but in general, you know how those men are!)...but there is nothing wrong with "Boys Gone Wild!" "Oh yes, there is," most readers respond. Again, a setup that provides the anti-gay person with an easily-embraced stereotype ("Gays are promiscuous and can't commit") and an easily-rejected conclusion ("...but there's nothing with that!") To me, it was especially telling that despite the mention of male heterosexuals, female heterosexuals, and male homosexuals, there was no mention of female homosexuals' ability to commit or (lack of) promiscuous behavior - which, incidentally, would weaken the stereotype advanced.

Means not ends: now the reinforcement of anti-gay stereotypes becomes less subtle. We begin with a mention of San Francisco bathhouses in which male orgies take place (which, the author fails to mention, have been closed for nearly twenty years since the HIV pandemic devastated the city's gay community and are now barred by city ordinance). And then, we have sweeping, unqualified, unsubstantiated statements about homosexuals' ability to commit (with, again, no mention of female homosexuals that would interfere with the stereotype, nor of the many male homosexuals who would as well):
- God: Homosexuals are less likely to enter into lasting, monogomous (sic) sexual relationships. They are, perhaps, more likely to engage in casual sex with a complete stranger, on a whim.
- Quinton: It is certainly true that long-term, morally and personally profound relationships are less common among homosexuals.
- Quinton: But triviality is not a moral offence; it is, rather, a missed opportunity and one which, in fact, many homosexuals do not miss.
...and only after these three sweeping, unqualified statements, we have an acknowledgment by "God" that we are only talking about "some" homosexuals.

Family values: At the end, the author again pays lip service to the idea of homophobia by suggesting that anti-gay sentiment is driven by an irrational revulsion on which morality cannot be based. However, this comes on the heels of paragraph after paragraph in which the author has subtly provided purportedly rational reasons for disliking homosexuality - the inability to enter into committed, emotionally-based relationships; promiscuous, high-risk, anonymous sex; older men "preying" on younger men and "initiating" them into homosexuality. Indeed, the author has given the alleged homophobe many supposed bases on which to refute the charge of homophobia, defined as an irrational fear of homosexuals.

Lastly, the end could be taken to support either religion or atheism. It is written rather crassly, which makes it more difficult for me to tell what the author is doing. If someone really took the writing at surface value, it could support atheism, since the idea of God arbitrarily condemning someone to hell in the face of so much "logic" that homosexuality is not wrong seems perverse at best. ("Lobster eaters, come on down") also seems to bolster this conclusion. On the other hand - if one ignores the crassness of the writing style, but still takes the earlier "logic" at surface value - it could serve as reinforcement that God's rules do not operate based on human logic, and we should have faith that the Bible is an expression of God's wishes even when they seem downright illogical based on limited human perceptions. Frankly, I am not entirely sure what his ultimate conclusion is ... but I feel suspicious of his motives and his message for the above-stated reasons.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:28 pm 
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Wow. Well, since I feel like 3 or 4 years ago, I could have written most of that article, I feel pretty confident in saying that none of what you're reading between the lines is there. Be back with more...

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:34 pm 
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Faramond wrote:
Honestly, though, I think most of these people are atheists who spend too much time and make too much money fighting with theists and not giving healthy affirmative arguments for their own philosophy.


Yes, I agree. Dawkins' approach does not impress me either, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

"Deception" might be a stronger word than I would want to use for Law and his ilk. "Diddling" might be closer to the mark. ;) Taking a closer look at Law's career and publications, and his success in squeezing this spin-off popular magazine out of the Royal Academy, the opinion of him that I'm sort of formulating is that he's built his career out of publishing controversial stuff for popular consumption. This is a path one can take, right? It's not a particularly admirable path for a professional, but it's a path that lots of people are taking these days.

However, he does accomplish things that are contrary to his stated aims, and when a supposedly educated person does this across the board it makes me question their stated aims.

The reason I brought up earlier the fact that this magazine devotes an issue to Intelligent Design is because the single largest impediment facing the ID people is the fact that they can't get their position published outside of religious tracts, and particularly not in peer review journals.

They've founded one peer review journal of their own (where all the peers are ID supporters) so that they can claim to publish results, but so far the scientific and legal communities (and ordinary citizen communities for the most past) realize that this is an end-run around the peer review process and don't fall for it. (ID people are not the only ones who do this, by the way - that is, start ostensible peer review journals so that topics that can't make it into the mainstream literature can get published under ostensibly legitimate circumstances. I have very mixed feelings about this ... usually the problem is methodological and it can be helpful to have a backwater where a methodology is refined, but sooner or later the topic and the method have to enter the mainstream in order to be accepted.) Anyway, the reason ID does not get published in science journals is not only because the methodology is not scientific but because it has no empirical evidence to present.

So ... let's discuss ID as a logical proposition instead, right?- a proposition that has as yet no empirical evidence but might have some in the future.

Nothing wrong with this ... until you start asking what is required of a logical proposition in order for it to be accepted by journals of logic. And it turns out that philosophy journals won't accept ID either, because even as a logical proposition it does not conform to accepted methodology.

But shucks, so many people believe in this, it ought to get discussed somewhere. And along comes Stephen Law's popular magazine, toting the Royal Academy seal of approval, and that magazine is willing to devote an entire issue to a topic that no one else in the scientific or philosophical community will touch because it simply does not measure up to professional discussion.

Now, Law's magazine is not a peer review journal and doesn't claim to be in anything that I read. But its design and its advertisements do present it as a professional journal, and looking at it one is led to believe that the topics published are legitimate topics for philosophical discussion. And the publisher is the Royal Academy, which grants its own veneer of legitimacy.

It doesn't matter if half the articles in this issue are rebuttals of ID. What the publication does is provide a citation from the Royal Academy to proponents of ID who could not otherwise get published anywhere. Behi et al put that on their resumés, and it goes on white papers to school boards, and it goes to rebuttal articles in Law Journals and it helps to build a case for the legitimacy of something that no one in the scientific or philophical community considers legitimate. The very publication of the issue becomes an act of deception toward the public, by making it appear that professional philosophers consider the issue worthy of discussion when in fact they do not.

This is why I say that Law accomplishes something contrary to his stated aim. However much ID gets slammed by articles in that issue, the very fact that an issue is devoted to ID contributes to the ID cause in the one area that they consider most critically important to their success - publication outside religious tracts.

And there is something doubly insidious about this because if Law stood on a rooftop and proclaimed himself a proponent of ID no one would take his publication seriously. They would realize that it resulted from an agenda. But the fact that he claims to be a liberal or an atheist or whatever he is claiming, and publishes articles that might be on both sides of the issue, people unaware of the details of peer review process are likely to consider him unbiased; they might even consider him to be someone hostile who has been swayed by the logic of the ID arguments, and as a result give more credence to this topic than they otherwise would.

If the Journal of Theoretical Biology spun off a popular magazine about alchemy, we would scratch our heads, wouldn't we? Something is not consistent here. So I see Law exploiting this controversy for his own ends, and doing so in a way that is damaging to his profession and to public perception. He misleads in an insidious way. Everything that has his name on it seems to carry this same approach, and I am personally allergic to this kind of approach.

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:41 pm 
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Sorry to have cross-posted with both nel and yov. Excellent summary, nel.

Yov, no doubt all those arguments are made in Manwë, but the posters in Manwë don't claim to be professional philosophers publishing books on the subject! This guy, Law, is claiming to be an expert logician.

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:57 pm 
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Which is the point - he's not arguing for or against anything in that article except consistent use of logic. He's not saying old men sleeping with yound men is good or bad, he's saying that it is logically equivalent to the hetero version. It's the same thing with all those arguments. If you look at it from the perspective of someone trying to examine logical assertions instead of trying to figure out what agenda they're pushing, the article is perfectly, blandly ordinary.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 9:27 pm 
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Yes, yov, which is why I said that it was the strongest argument I could make for Jn's position. I also understand Faramond's and your position. I know nothing about this person and have not even read the entire thread closely, so I have no basis to endorse either POV. I said that I would take "transparent enemies," solely because I was, for myself, highly put off by his unqualified use of blatant gay stereotypes and failure to include gay women in his logical discussion at all. But, he could be a gay ally who simply has not expressed himself as well as he might - I really don't know. Heck, for all I know, he could be gay himself - the next Randy Shilts.

I don't really have a stake in this discussion one way or the other. I did take the test that began this thread and took one hit, the proof of evolution vs. God hit. I did not think the test was particularly well-written or persuasive, but didn't feel strongly about it one way or the other. I was skimming this thread without reading it closely when I saw my name, and responded as Jn requested, and then a second time when she asked for more detail. Maybe he is a pro-gay and/or anti-God advocate, as you and Faramond seem to suggest, who could stand to work on his logic skills (especially with regard to that red hair example, which seems particularly flawed for a logician.) Maybe he is advancing an anti-gay and/or pro-God agenda more subtly, as Jn seems to suggest. I honestly don't know and can't conclude one way or the other based on anything I've seen in this thread so far. I'm not actually disagreeing with any of the three of you, and I understand all your perspectives. It seemed as though no one was understanding Jn's, so I tried to spell out that POV further with respect to this article, because it potentially has merit. That's about it.

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They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 9:59 pm 
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In the test, you take fewer hits if you consider the precision of their wording over the general meaning.

I certainly believe that God is omnipotent, but I chose false when they asked if he could do anything (without qualification).

I haven't taken a philosophy class, but I have read Anselm, and so was exposed to the medieval equivalent of these questions. But there - the whole point is to define your terms carefully. Anselm can prove to you that evil is nothing, so the ability to do evil is not something, so therefore....God can be all powerful even though he cannot do anything evil. Since they didn't define any terms, they were starting from scratch, or rather "trapping" you by not letting you know that be no qualifications....they meant, well, no qualifications.

If you're looking for an alternative to this quiz - read Anselm :P


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:02 pm 
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I'd prefer to read Anselm any day. :P

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:17 pm 
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The same Anselm who created the Ontological Proof of God's existence?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:36 pm 
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That was Aquinas, I think.


Probably all the Scholastics followed trains of thought that we would consider paralogical today, but they were striving in the right direction, imo, and without them the enlightenment could not have happened.

Jn

edit: would have happened much later :)

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Oh no, I'm sure it was Anselm.

It's fun to read his argument and not ask if you agree with it, but just to see if you can understand what he was getting at. It's a strange and oddly beautiful argument, in my opinion, even if it doesn't hold logical water.


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