[extropy-chat] it's not natural!

Darin Sunley dsunley at gmail.com
Tue Oct 31 01:14:20 UTC 2006

On 10/30/06, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:
> Damien Broderick wrote:
> > A Pentecostal priest
> > lashed out at the exhibition saying tax payers'
> > money used for it would have been better spent
> > helping the animals correct "their perversions and deviances".

Sigh. Even within the Christian worldview, those outraged priests are
hopelessly confused. They demonstrate quite clearly that, even within
their own professed worldview, they have no idea what sin actually is.

Sin, to the Christian, is NOT "unnatural behavior". Quite the
opposite. Christians believe that, as a result of certain ancient
events, the natural world, including humanity, is afflicted by a
systemic bias towards evil.

Homosexuality, as demonstrated by this exhibition, may very well be
perfectly natural. This, if demonstrated, would in NO WAY WHATSOEVER
affect whether or not homosexual behavior was sinful.

There are many, many perfectly natural human behaviors that are
unambiguously sinful, within the Christian worldview. Lying,
selfishness, hatred, promiscuity, adultery, rape, murder. These are
all perfectly "natural" behaviors. They occur spontaneously throughout
the animal kingdom, and even among human children. No child, anywhere,
has ever needed to be taught to be selfish, or to lie. It comes
perfectly naturally, to all of us. To suggest, as these "Christians"
do, that a behavior must be unnatural for it to be sinful, or
conversely, that if a behavior can be proved to be natural would
disqualify it as sin, is. as Pauli said, "not even wrong."

Within the Christian worldview, this is why everyone needs a savior.
We all have this built in bias towards evil behaivior, and we all do
these things instinctively, on a continuous, ongoing basis.

> That's pretty damned amusing.  So now suddenly Nature is perverted and
> deviated, instead of a normative standard.  One suspects that some
> pre-existing, Nature-independent criterion is in use here to decide
> whether Nature is a "good" or "bad" example in any given case.

Yes. As someone raised within the Orthodox Jewish tradition you know
all about this one. It's called, in English, the Ten Commandments.

1. You shall have no other Gods beore me.
2. You shall not worship idols.
3. You shall not blaspheme God.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5. Honor your mother and father.
6. You shall not kill.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not lie.
10. You shall not covet.

We all break these, to one extent or another, on a continuous, ongoing
basis. It's natural to us. But it being natural doesn't make it right.
That we do wrong things on a regular basis, and don't even seem to
care, and even if we care, we don't seem able to stop, and that there
are eternal consequences for this, is the problem Christianity offers
a solution for.

>> This case is worth remembering and citing whenever someone drags up
> Nature as an example.

Agreed. It's also worth remembering (always worth remembering) that
one can't judge a movement by the fools it attracts.

> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                          http://singinst.org/
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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