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New Video! “If Evolution is True, is Rape Wrong?”

Original story found at Raw Story

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Sort-of-transcript:

Creationist Darek Isaacs went on the show “Creation Today” and said that according to his learned studies, the theory of evolution excuses rape.

“You have to start asking questions: Well, if evolution is true, and it’s just all about the male propagating their DNA, we had to ask hard questions, like, well, is rape wrong?”

A few things, here. First, evolution isn’t “all about the male propagating their DNA.”

Second, no, that isn’t a hard question.

Finally, YES, rape is wrong.

Let’s put this another way. I’ve read the Bible, and according the Bible the Lord gave humans a very specific command: be fruitful and multiply. It’s right there, in the first god damn chapter of the first god damn book. So if Christianity is all about filling the earth with babies, is rape wrong?

YES, the answer is still yes.

It’s also still wrong to poke holes in a condom or otherwise spermjack your sexual partner.

If that analogy isn’t enough for you, here are a few more.

If the second law of thermodynamics is all about the universe moving toward disorder, is cleaning my room wrong?

If Newton’s third law of motion is all about every action having an equal and opposite reaction, is it wrong to poop on a baby who just pooped on me?

If Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is all about not being able to know both where you are and how fast you’re going, is it wrong to break the speed limit?

And finally, if the Bible mentions slavery all the time but never says it’s wrong, is it wrong to own slaves?

In other words, misunderstanding a scientific concept and then using that misunderstanding to inform your moral stance will get you just about as far as actually understanding a religious concept and using that to inform your moral stance.

And by all means, Mr. Isaacs, if believing that God made the Universe in 7 days is the only thing keeping you from raping someone, then by all means, please continue with that delusion.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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21 Comments

    1. Gravity means all massive objects are attracted to each other. (Yeah, I know, that’s the version we tell primary school kids.) Therefore, I must confess to the sin of being repulsed by Derek Isaacs.

  1. Want to know what is depressing yet unsurprising? The last I met with our (male-dominated) skeptic group this is exactly what we ended up discussing. They kept telling me that rape is “natural”, it’s “how we evolved”.

      1. Evopsych strikes again. This is a complex issue, but I’m guessing those fellows don’t know much about actual primate behavior (and are getting their ideas from movies about sexy cavemen). Our closest relatives, chimps, bonobos, and gorillas, are not known to commonly engage in sexual violence, although orangutangs are (they are a more distant relative). In fact, in most primate species, females are the initiators of sex.

        Not that any of that really matters. There’s a pretty simple logical fallacy that addresses these types of claims http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature

    1. “Natural” is a funny word. For certain definitions of “natural”, I suppose rape is “natural”.
      Like trees.
      And hemlock.
      That doesn’t make it a good idea, or a proper way to run a society. Nor does it make it a valid excuse for treating women like crap.

    2. In a group where everyone is supposedly celebrating logic and reason, they’ve decided to have a creepy and alienating discussion founded entirely on a logical fallacy. Communicating that you literally don’t understand the simplest of ethical concepts is a great way to attract new members and demonstrate that the stereotypes about us are wrong.

      Lately, I’ve missed attending skeptical events. Thanks for the reminder of why I quit going.

      1. No kidding. This is the same group of white men who, when a recent (male) immigrant from Pakistan started talking about what it’s like to live in an Islamic-dominated society, interrupted him to tell HIM what it’s really like because they genuinely believed they knew more about life in Pakistan than a Pakistani.

  2. 1. Is there any biblical injunction against rape? There are Islamist like rants against premarital sex, but as far as I can recall sexual assault is just fine with both Jehova and Jesus.

    2. The notion that rape is natural is totally circular. You might as well declare diet soda, or feudalism, or gambling to be ‘natural. They exist, therefore they must be ‘natural.’ Thanks professor Pangloss!

    Whenever someone rationalizes social pathology as ‘natural’ ask them if that’s any different from claiming that it’s ‘god’s will?’

    1. There is a kind of roundabout prohibition against rape. Deut 22 talks about a few types of illicit sex:

      – if a man sleeps with a betrothed virgin in the city, then they are both put to death, because obvs she didn’t scream for help.
      – if a man sleeps with a betrothed virgin in the countryside, only he is put to death. The law assumes that she =did= scream for help and just nobody heard her.
      – if a man sleeps with a non-betrothed virgin, he has to pay her father and marry her and can’t divorce her.

      Note that the capital punishment aspect only applies to =betrothed= women, on the grounds that the rapist is messing with another man’s wife. If she isn’t betrothed, the injured party is instead her father, who only gets some cash because now he can’t sell her off to a husband.

      The “natural” argument gets as far with me wrt rape as it does wrt anything else. Medicine is not natural; neither are cars, or the ability to have a huge variety of fresh foods available every day. Except that it boggles my mind that this argument is being applied to rape of all things. At least the anti-GMO people have my welfare in mind; they think I’m going to be harmed by eating GMO food. Where is the equivalent concern for me in the pro-rape camp?

        1. I don’t know of any reason to think Dinah was raped. The biblical story really doesn’t say – the permission that want gotten was father-and-brothers and the story simply doesn’t speak to Dinah’s opinion. The story always implied, in my reading, a more likely than not consensual encounter, for a couple of reasons – because it talks about Shechem “speaking tenderly to her” and about him “loving” her, and because she was still in his house until her brothers killed all the men and came and got her. In any case, I don’t see that we can use the story to claim the bible condemns rape.

          1. As far as I’m aware, the Bible never comes out and says, “Don’t have sex with people who don’t want to have sex with you, it’s wrong and God doesn’t like it.” The prohibition is not about the act. There is silence on the topic of raping prostitutes. Rape of men is not mentioned; the only thing that would apply would be the prohibition against homosexuality, in which case the victim is punished as much as the rapist. Rape is prohibited only in the context of the violation of the property rights of the men to whom the women are attached.

            However, if you are the type of person to take a statement like “don’t stew a kid in its mother’s milk” and stretch it into an entire new sector of the economy, the statements the Torah does make on the topic of rape can be stretched out into a general prohibition against rape. But that’s why I said it was roundabout: the words are not actually there.

  3. There’s something seriously wrong that people even ask this question, but as earthboundmisfit says, it’s depressingly common, and not just among creationists. I’m going to try and answer it, in terms even the most self-centred libertarian can understand. Just to be clear, libertarian skeptics: this is not an endorsement of your habit of “just asking questions” about matters that are painful and triggering.

    1. Evolution does not make statements about right and wrong. It makes predictions about cause and effect.
    For example, evolution predicts that last year’s influenza vaccination won’t help against this year’s strains. If you work in a hospital ward full of influenza patients, what you do with this prediction is up to you. Parts of your society – like the hospital’s Human Resources department – may also have an opinion here.

    2. Immortality through reproduction is a pathetic goal for social creatures such as humans.
    If you want to change the world, spread ideas. You don’t have to buy into Richard Dawkin’s definition of “meme” to realise that J.K. Rowling has affected more lives in less time than Genghis Khan ever did. All you need is a popular idea, and a society capable of reproducing ideas cheaply and accurately.

    3. Even if your goal is specifically to spread DNA, it’s about more than immediate offspring.
    Insects manage fine with this strategy – sometimes they even die before their offspring hatch. Mice need some nurturing, but go independent in months. Humans take around 20 years to reach useful maturity. Either you must personally supervise and teach your offspring the entire time, or you need a society that does some of this work for you.

    4. Our long-term success is not in our immediate reproduction, but in the societies we build.
    Yes, I’ve been awkwardly dropping the word “society” into every paragraph for a reason. Left to our own devices, tigers would tear us to shreds, mice would eat all our food, mosquitoes would bite us to distraction and the influenza virus would make the previous three threats look trivial in comparison. The most “successful” human is not one with the strongest muscles, fastest reflexes, best memory, and most offspring. The successful human has working relationships with other humans, trusts and is trusted in return. The successful human works for their local school bake sale, voices concerns to their state representative, and pays their federal taxes. The successful human only reproduces into conditions that are safe and secure, where their offspring will be cared for and taught to be a successful human in turn. The successful human seeks relationships (including sexual relationships) that are mutually satisfying and help build a stronger society.

    For the successful social human, rape is a destructive action, as self-evidently harmful as setting oneself on fire. It harms other people, which is harm to society, which is ultimately harm to ourselves.

    1. “You don’t have to buy into Richard Dawkin’s definition of “meme” to realise that J.K. Rowling has affected more lives in less time than Genghis Khan ever did.”

      Well, besides opening up new trade routes which unintentionally spread the bubonic plague to Europe, of course.

      But yeah, evo psych is…completely untestable. I wonder if creationists and evolutionary psychologists are even aware of their similarities.

      Of course, nature is red in tooth and claw, and, a deeper shade of red, infanticide is literally as easy as doing nothing, ergo, in a Paleolithic environment, rape is a stupid reproductive strategy to begin with. Abortion’s more humane.

  4. Rebecca Watson,

    The claim that evolution is racist is just as false as the claim that evolution justifies rape, except it makes more sense to believe the first one. Some white supremacists have claimed that whites are “higher up the evolutionary ladder” so to speak. Its easy to see how the ignorant might attribute eugenics and social Darwinism to Darwin, since defenders of both have erroneously claimed that evolution justifies their position.

    However, I don’t think anyone, other than creationists like this guy have ever claimed that because evolution is true, rape is justified.

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