Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu

The news about the so-called swine flu is not encouraging.

I am told the best place right now for sine flu news is Effect Measure, with regular updates from an informed perspective on the news and on emerging information from the CDC.

Why We Believe in Gods

I like this talk by Andy Thomson on the biological and psychological origins of religion.I also suspect that a connection can be made between the factors of belief and the process of textual interpretation generally.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Atheism and Morality (Again)

A silly post by Barry Arrington on the alleged ultimate immorality to which atheism "logically" leads:
In an earlier post I lamented the apparent extinction of what I called “Nietzsche atheists,” by which I meant atheists with the courage and honesty to accept the bleak conclusions logically compelled by their premises. Some of our atheist friends seemed to not know what bleak conclusions I was referring to. Here is a comment that sums it up nicely. This post is adapted from kairosfocus’ comment to that earlier post. He refers to Hawthorne on ethics and evolutionary materialist atheism and writes:

Make two assumptions:

(1) That atheistic naturalism is true.

(2) One can’t infer an “ought” from an “is.” Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.

Given our second assumption, there is nothing in the natural world from which we can infer an “ought.” And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s nothing in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action. This is just the standard inferential scheme for formal deontic logic. We’ve conformed to standard principles and inference rules of logic and we’ve started out with assumptions that atheists have conceded. And yet we reach the absurd conclusion: therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan “if atheism is true, all things are permitted.” For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.
I made two responses to this. First, I said
Responding to this: “for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted.’ For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.”

As an atheist, I think all things are potentially permissible. We have seen plenty of societies that have permitted and even encouraged all sorts of atrocities against targeted groups and individuals. But this is why societies need to establish laws and determine for themselves what actions and behaviors will and will not be tolerated.

In America, we permitted slavery, then Jim Crow. We denied women the right to vote. We allowed polygamy in some parts. We interred our own citizens in camps. We know what Nazi Germany permitted, what Stalinist Russia permitted, what the Puritans permitted, and so on.

Everything is indeed permissible except for what a society prohibits. The role of public discourse is to help shape what we decide is permissible and prohibited. To me, this is the very opposite of bleak. Instead, it would be bleak if injustices and inequities could never be redressed because of an exaggerated assignment of authority to some ancient collection of tales and wisdom now taken to be sacred.
I wrote later
I believe in entry 17 of this thread I provided a direct response to the original post.

Everything Hitler did was permissible. Germany allowed it. Pope Pius allowed it. England allowed it. Russia allowed it. The US allowed it. It was able to be permitted and it was in fact permitted.

Make no mistake, Hitler’s was a religious crusade against a set of religious targets. We see similar such crusades emerging right now in parts of the US that are inventing so-called “liberal” bogeymen who want to come and take their freedom in the night.

In my experience and understanding of history, the commitment to reason and the free ability to question authority openly have been prized in atheistic viewpoints and admonished in religious.

Only calm, reasoned dialogue - not debate, pace JAD - by parties that want to live together can save us now. Increasingly, it seems to me that creationists, atheists, liberals, and conservatives are choosing instead to opt-out and not to seek mutual reconciliation.

I wonder if this site considers itself part of the solution or part of the problem?
Unfortunately, I received no direct response to these, but it's not surprising because most of the UD posters prefer hand-waving to real discourse. In any event, I think the whole thread was put to bed nicely by Allen MacNeill
This entire thread has focused on the question of whether a belief in God is necessary for being a moral person. Based on my own experience, I believe that this question is entirely logically separate from the question of whether some supernatural entity participated in the creation of life on Earth and its evolution to current forms. Indeed, there is no logical contradiction whatsoever between believing that a supernatural entity (or entities) provide(s) the foundation for moral prescriptions and the simultaneous belief that including the participation of a supernatural entity (or entities) in the evolution of life on Earth is unnecessary in a logically consistent explanation of how such evolution has occurred. This is especially the case if, as most people have already agreed, it is invalid to derive an “ought” statement (i.e. an ethical prescription) from an “is” statement (i.e. a description of nature).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Irrefutable Ontological Argument for G-d

I like to read sophisticated arguments for G-d's existence. The Prosblogion is one of the better places to get these. It's a philosophy of religion site for real philosophers, the kind who do hard-nosed logical reasoning. These guys are good and I respect them a lot.

Here's "An Irrefutable Ontological Argument" from Mike Almeida, who is one of the ring-leaders over there.

I mean to beg no questions in claiming that (1) is an easily observed a priori truth.

1. <>(Ex)(x is maximally excellent & x is necessarily existing).

I do not take the proposition that x is maximally excellent to (obviously) entail that x is omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent or creator of everything that exists. I take (1) to entail that there is something that necessarily exists and is such that there is nothing that is more excellent (than it).

Still, observing that (1) is true is important. Now we avoid altogether the hackneyed objection that, “well, it is possible that a maximally excellent being does not exist, too”. The only question in dispute is what are the maximally excellent compossible properties.

But that too is an avoidable question. There are only certain sets of properties that we are actually concerned about and we can, without begging any questions, focus on them. Observe that it is equally undeniable that there is some degree K of knowledge that (more or less closely) approximates omniscience, some degree P of (essential) power that approximates omnipotence, some degree G of (essential) goodness that approximates (essential) omnibenevolence such that Px & Kx & Gx are compossible with necessary existence, Nx. So, the only question that is open is what is the greatest degree of each that is compossible with necessary existence. Let’s put it more exactly, quantifiying over degrees of such properties and beings that might possess them.

1. <>(EK)(EP)(EG)(Ex)([]Kx & []Px & []Gx & Nx)

(2) states that there is some maximally excellent set of compossible properties. Since those properties are compossible, they are obviously instantiated in some world. But then the being that instantiates those properties actually exists. Such a being actually exists, but what being is it? We can rule out human beings, each of whom has those properties to some degree, but none of whom necessarily exists. We can rule out any natural being, since every natural being contingently exists. We can rule out abstract beings such as numbers, properties, propositions and the like, each of which has necessary existence but none of which has the remaining properties. It’s beginning to look like any being satisfying all of those properties would have to be non-natural or supernatural, since there is no natural being that has the property of necessary existence and there is no abstract object that has the properties P, K, or G. Call that being God-.

Notice the difficulty in attempting to refute that there is such a maximally excellent being. You would have to show that every interesting degree of K, P and G fails to be compossible with N. I submit that there is no reason to believe that there isn’t some interesting degree of those properties that is compossible with necessary existence. Now imagine believing that this supernatural being God- exists, but refusing to believe that God exists. That would be strange.

I think several commentators have misread the initial premise and not quite followed the argument thereafter. The proposition in (1) states (just) that there is some necessarily existing thing, and this thing is, in some deliberately unspecified sense, a maximally excellent thing. I’m happy to say that it is at least as good as any other necessarily existing thing. Maybe none of them has any value at all. So, if there are abstract objects that are at least as good as any other necessarily existing thing (maybe at least as good as any other abstract object), then (1) is true.

That’s the first step in the argument. I explicitly skip all talk of the value or greatness of this being. I say “the only question in dispute is what are the maximally excellent compossible properties” and quickly add “but that too is an avoidable question”.

The argument is now captured in one question: what is the greatest degree of Px, Kx, and Gx that is compossible with necessary existence? That’s all I ask. I note that I’ve never seen an argument that shows (or even attempts to show) that every interesting degree of Px, Kx, and Gx is incompossible with Nx.

My conclusion is effectively that the psychological obstacles that (I think) inhibit nontheists from believing in God are removed once the nontheist believes that there is something God-ish in existence. And I do think that most of the reasons that keep nontheists from believing are psychological reasons (not epistemic ones).
I don't buy this argument, but I don't quite have the language to express why. I just don't see why Almeida's first proposition is acceptable on its face. Almeida concludes that "that the psychological obstacles that (I think) inhibit nontheists from believing in God are removed once the nontheist believes that there is something God-ish in existence."

But here's the problem: I don't believe there is something God-ish in existence. I think it's false to suggest so because calling something "God-ish" is nothing other than an imposition of human-derived values and qualities onto/into the universe.

If Almeida is trying to reach people who want to believe, then I guess I see where he's going. To believe in God you have to believe in the natural existence of qualities like benevolence, knowledge, justice, and so on. And you have to believe that these qualities are stable. These are nice fairy tales and quite sophisticated, but as always reality butts in and levels it all. I fail to see any reason behind the natural, as opposed to the social, existence of the so-called Godly qualities.

Almeida's final statement bothers me because it presumes that non-theists should believe - that belief is the natural, default or desired state, and it would happen only if some psychological obstacles were removed. I don't think this is true at all. I look at my 6-year-old daughter accumulating religious doctrine, including xian doctrines on Satan, and I see the whole religious worldview as potentially derailing her ability to address reality rationally. Religious belief, and its accompanying way of looking at the world, does not come about naturally, it gets introduced and drummed into people. There's only something God-ish in existence after a God concept gets fed into a person.

Poetry: At the Fishhouses by Elizabeth Bishop

This is one of my favorite poems, although I must admit not having read it repeatedly like I have other favorites. But I enjoy knowing a poem can haunt a person for years. The last line is breathtaking.

At the Fishhouses

Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
The air smells so strong of codfish
it makes one's nose run and one's eyes water.
The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
to storerooms in the gables
for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
among the wild jagged rocks,
is of an apparent translucence
like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
growing on their shoreward walls.
The big fish tubs are completely lined
with layers of beautiful herring scales
and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
the blade of which is almost worn away.

Down at the water's edge, at the place
where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
descending into the water, thin silver
tree trunks are laid horizontally
across the gray stones, down and down
at intervals of four or five feet.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
element bearable to no mortal,
to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
I have seen here evening after evening.
He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
like me a believer in total immersion,
so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
He stood up in the water and regarded me
steadily, moving his head a little.
Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
as if it were against his better judgment.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
the dignified tall firs begin.
Bluish, associating with their shadows,
a million Christmas trees stand
waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended
above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
icily free above the stones,
above the stones and then the world.
If you should dip your hand in,
your wrist would ache immediately,
your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
as if the water were a transmutation of fire
that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Religious Doctrines Fail

Once again, I have played the part of masochist and read a blog article by Denyse O’Leary. She talks about five reasons why people accept religious doctrines. I’ll present each reason – though I must say that in some cases I have not given O’Leary’s full entry – and then give a response.
1. Some doctrines are based strictly on evidence. The existence of G-d, for example, is attested by the nature of the universe.
Of course the problem here is that the nature of the universe does not attest to the existence of G-d. The G-d hypothesis is one way to explain the nature of the universe, and at a very basic level – I’m thinking something like deism – the explanation has plausibility. But O’Leary is quite disingenuous to suggest that modern self-proclaimed monotheistic doctrines have a strict basis in evidence. It just ain’t so. To them, everything attests to the existence of G-d; nothing does not. G-d is inescapable.
2. Some doctrines are based on logic. For example, why are there not Two G-ds? Well, what happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object? The point is, it can’t happen. So there are not Two G-ds. Or Many.
Some doctrines are indeed based on logic. Religious doctrines can be, but O’Leary is definitely not the best person to articulate that logic. Why aren’t there two G-d’s? Because there can’t be. Oh, that clears up everything. Perhaps she’s suggesting that by definition G-d is one and only one, and cannot be two. Let’s forget that this troubles the idea of a trinity and simply point out that defining G-d is terrific but doesn’t mean anything in the context of reality. I can make “long noodle-like appendages emerging from the forehead” as part of the definition of human. No effect, however.
3. Some doctrines are based on reason. One of the sillier new atheist arguments is “Who designed the designer?” Well, any series can have a beginning. If, as most now think, the Big Bang started the universe, there must have been a wider context. It is reasonable to think this context was the will of G-d, based on the fine-tuned universe we actually see.

The question of God’s origin, if even askable, lies outside this universe and outside anything the human mind can think. That is why God was traditionally called, in philosophical contexts, the First Cause. That’s like the number 1. Don’t ask which natural number comes before it. The answer is none.
O’Leary has hopelessly confused reason with rationalization and speculation. By the way, the number 1 is our human convention for expressing the concept of an initial natural number sequence. I suspect G-d is also a man-made convention.
4. Some doctrines are based on the testimony of reliable witnesses - sane, stable people with no record of deceit, who would rather lose their property, liberty, or life than deny what they saw or heard, and have nothing to gain from promoting a story that would cost them all that. The usual way they explain it is “We must fear God rather than men.”
From her Jesus, to Peter, to Paul, to Augustine, to Ratzi – all of questionable sanity and stability, and all with a record of deceit. Paul is one of the first exponents of “lying for Jesus” – it’s in 2 Corinthians.
5. Some doctrines are based on experience - a form of evidence. I have observed that a great many people who come to an active faith later in life had an experience that they could only account for by returning to the practice of their faith (or finding a new one). An unexpected healing, perhaps?: The doctors have pronounced the patient’s case hopeless but the patient has decided to try prayer and repentance, and suddenly the burden of illness lifts. After that, the patient takes little interest in the views of new atheists, or the views of any atheists at all, on a permanent basis.
Some doctrines are indeed based on experience. But what O’Leary cites above is complete argument from ignorance stuff: I don’t know how I was saved (even though the other equally penitent patients died), so it must have been G-d.

So, can we dispense with the shenanigans? Religious doctrines do not really use as their basis evidence, logic, reason, testimony of witnesses, or experience. They use emotion and willful naïveté; they rely on a person’s wonder and that person’s unwillingness to investigate sources or wonder outside the context of religious thinking.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Stones Pwn Rock and Roll (My Music Retrospective - The Rolling Stones, Part 2)

The first recording by the Rolling Stones I ever owned was an import cassette tape called Satisfaction. The tape contained their greatest dozen or so hits of the sixties, including the eponymous tune that gave modern rock and roll its stamp. It also had a few unusual tracks, one of these being the deliciously wicked “Memo from Turner”:
Didn't I see you down in San Antone on a hot and dusty night?
We were eating eggs in Sammy's when the black man there drew his knife.
Aw, you drowned that Jew in Rampton as he washed his sleeveless shirt,
You know, that Spanish-speaking gentlemen, the one we all called "Kurt."

Come now, gentleman, I know there's some mistake.
How forgetful I'm becoming, now you fixed your business straight.

I remember you in Hemlock Road in nineteen fifty-six.
You're a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick.
You're a lashing, smashing hunk of man;
Your sweat shines sweet and strong.
Your organs working perfectly, but there's a part that's not screwed on.

Weren't you at the Coke convention back in nineteen sixty-five
You're the misbred, grey executive I've seen heavily advertised.
You're the great, gray man whose daughter licks policemen's buttons clean.
You're the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine.

Come now, gentleman, your love is all I crave.
You'll still be in the circus when I'm laughing, laughing on my grave.

When the old men do the fighting and the young men all look on.
And the young girls eat their mothers' meat from tubes of plasticon.
Be wary of these my gentle friends of all the skins you breed.
They have a tasty habit - they eat the hands that bleed.

So remember who you say you are and keep your noses clean.
Boys will be boys and play with toys so be strong with your beast.
Oh Rosie dear, don'tcha think it's queer, so stop me if you please.
The baby is dead, my lady said, "You gentlemen, why you all work for me?"
I heard this song the first time, it must have been 1983 or 1984, and got completely knocked over. It was so…decadent. As I mentioned in a previous post about the Stones: They really committed to their image, that is, to the act of being anti-bourgeoisie. They delighted in it and did it really well. In their best songs, they smile at us from out of the widening gyre, presiding over the loosing of mere anarchy upon the world:
I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right. I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash,
It's a gas! Gas! Gas!

I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,
I was schooled with a strap right across my back,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right, I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash,
It's a gas! Gas! Gas!

I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead.
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled.
I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I was crowned with a spike right thru my head
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right, I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash,
It's a gas! Gas! Gas!
Melodically, lyrically, and conceptually, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” takes “Satisfaction” to its logical end. The 1968 song revises the earlier riff, making it sleek and sinewy. Instead of wailing about being unable to get satisfaction, Jagger now yawls about embracing that condition. He draws strength and power from it. His Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a child of the storm but in no way dour or morose. He’s cool, happy, and he just don’t care.

Conceptually, then, the song tells of turning away from all bourgeoisie morality and hang-ups. Jumpin’ Jack Flash is too cool to reject these things and thereby give them some due. The song instead summarily closes the door on middle-class values and joyfully steps into the whirlwind of new standards: life, spirituality, obligation. All of these concepts become wiped clean, erased for new standards based on experiencing happiness. It's a terrific and infectious song, made all the better by being tied (at least in my mind) to “Satisfaction.” I still think “Satisfaction” defines the quintessential rock and roll posture, but “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” establishes the quintessential Rolling Stones posture - which is even better.

And 1972's Exile on Main Street remains the definitive extended statement of the Rolling Stones posture. It’s a beautiful work, a devastating journey in and through rock and roll’s heart of darkness. This is no album from a studio band, no record from a touring outfit. This is the Stones, a band in the truest sense, playing together in a bunker because there's nowhere else to go. After Exile, the Stones would never return to that place again. I don't see how they, or anyone, could have.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Why Creationists Think Stupid Things

Occasionally, I visit Uncommon Descent to see what the ID community is up to. Every now and again, an interesting article pops up with thinking that's worthwhile to study and consider.

This is not one of those times.

As I've learned, Denyse O'Leary is a rabid anti-evolutionist. I fancy that somewhere in her past she slept with an evolutionary biologist who never called back.

Her latest piece displays the sort of illogic I've come to expect from the religious and the anti-evolutionists. Watch her go:
Where I differ with the exponents of “Evolution” is:
  1. I am not an atheist or a “liberal” Christian.
  2. Therefore I do not need to prove that there is no design in the universe or life forms.
  3. Therefore, I can acknowledge that design is evident in the universe and in life forms.
  4. Therefore, I do not need to pretend that my method for weeding out loser plants in my garden actually creates any new information. All it does is distinguish between good and bad examples of the information that already existed.
  5. I think that once we get things like that straight, we will be on the verge of another science revolution. But as long as we are stuck with no-design nonsense, we will be stuck with stupid projects about stuff we know that ain’t so.
So in her warped mind, atheists and liberal xians cannot - they just can't - acknowledge that design is evident in the universe and in life forms (1,2). Oh OK, never mind that it's not evident at all. We'll just say those bad people simply can't bring themselves to admit it. But I guess if you are a theist or the right kind of xian you can - oh joy - see, see, see that design is everywhere (3). It's everywhere, all right, except when someone tries to prove it with evidence (note that evident and evidence share root words).

O'Leary starts to get super-daffy by making a vague equivalence between evolution and what she does to "loser" [?] plants in her garden (4). Is there any chance that she is using "garden" as a sexual euphemism?

True believers, do not lose ye hope, for Saint O'Leary prophesies the future: Someday, we will approach another scientific revolution, once we've rid ourselves of those pesky folk who refuse to admit design (5). Until that day, wolves will molest lambs and science will churn out projects that seem headed in the right direction, but really aren't - all because they don't say "Hey, this could be evidence of design."

Now we can easily laugh at the silliness of O'Leary's thinking, but unfortunately too many people actually take her seriously. Even worse, a few will respond to her as if she's scored some points. In fact, I see 44 comments and not one of these posts even slightly suggests that O'Leary's logic stinks. Instead, it's all a series of "I'm a scientist...really!" and "Thus saith the Lord" collective jerking off.

O'Leary needs to be permanently banned from posting on the Internet and having conversations with people, unless these conversations happen in a rest home. Surely, the day of her convalescence is coming soon?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Relegious Believers Sublimate Homosexual Desires

I've been causing trouble on the Internet. On an board I recently posted this:
No one - not one single person, ever - has provided the slightest evidence to support the creation hypothesis. I'll sit back now and listen to the crickets chirping while you try to look for something that might be considered evidence.

Believe me, if you have it, I'd love to see it. I'd enjoy seeing a viable creation model. I'm open to it, as all science-minded people are.

But you'll need to show something, not just spout the ol' "god is everywhere. He is perfect goodness and oneness. He can only be seen by the chosen few. Only the real believers can know him in his essence...." That all reads like psycho-sexual garbage to me.

Really, I think that all those religious types are actually just sublimating homosexual desires, which they then project onto a magical Pappy figure. Just go kiss some dude for $20 in a back alley somewhere and get over yourself.
I was quite proud of this and went over to the Jewish Philosopher blog to see if others agreed. Here's what I posted:
People don't need to believe in a supreme being. Often it's a psycho-sexual thing. Many believers simply project inner homosexual desires, which they abhor, onto an imaginary father figure. They love him and long for him without having to feel guilty about it. Yet they do feel slightly guilty, which often then manifests itself in a preoccupation with other people's sexual lives. This is one reason why theists often blurt out of nowhere that atheists are atheists only to be sexually "free." This of course is utter nonsense.
The response came quickly:
That's supposed to be a joke, right?
To which I responded thusly:
No, I think it's quite accurate. Certainly you don't disagree?
And now I get to read that response. How fun!
And women who believe also want to have sex with God?

Actually, I think evolutionists believe in Darwin because they all have a crush on him. It's the beard.
Poor man, his wires have been fried. Of course I didn't say believers wanted to have sex with their imaginary friend. OK, let's see what happens if I post this:
You're resisting. How else can you explain it?
I'll wait, but I don't think I'll get a good answer. Ah, well. I'll have to troll elsewhere.

Oh, wait. I had more to say to JP:
Theists want to have sex with other people of their gender, not with the deity. The deity merely allows them to construct scenarios of intimacy that, theoretically, they do not need to feel guilty about.

If you don't agree - and I'd be genuinely shocked if you didn't - then I'd like to hear your sense of the relationship between the theist and deity. Isn't it intimate? Aren't you a bride to him? Don't you yearn for his embrace?