Settled sense

Light is Right Joe Campbell

Light is Right Joe Campbell

I don’t agree with settled science. But I’m not entirely disagreeable. I do agree with settled sense.

Settled science is unscientific, as new experiments commonly falsify old conclusions. Even children learn that unless a hypothesis is falsifiable, it’s not scientific. I thought everyone knew that all scientific theories, from macroevolution to global warming, are provisional.

If they weren’t, we might still cling to the scientific consensus that life emerges spontaneously from non-living matter, that earth’s major geological features are fixed, and that stress causes gastric ulcers. Thanks to biological, geological and medical deniers, the theories that supported a consensus on these matters are no longer credible. Today, the scientific consensus is that life emerges from the living, whole continents are on the move, and bacteria cause most gastric ulcers. So much for settled science.

Settled sense is altogether different. Consider, for example, the observation that when things operate according to what they’re for, they’re in order; when they don’t, they’re out of order. We don’t prove this by experiment or argument. We don’t have to. We recognize it by inspecting the terms: “in order” implies “operate according to what they’re for”; “out of order” implies the opposite. The observation is self-evident.

Knowledge of this kind is common to everyone, even scientists. Maybe that’s why we call it common sense. But common to everyone doesn’t mean accepted by everyone. For reasons personal or political, many reject the obvious. Some make a career of it.

If you’re out driving and your car stops running or you’re in eating and your stomach starts heaving, you’re not likely to deny that both are out of order. Not if you’re of sound mind. You’re almost certain to accept as obvious that neither is operating according to what it’s for. You accept, in other words, that cars are for moving, not stalling, stomachs are for digesting food, not expelling it, and when cars move and stomachs digest they’re in order.

What is true for cars and stomachs applies to all man-made and biological systems: they’re ordered if they operate according to what they’re for; they’re disordered if they don’t. It goes without saying, or it ought to, that the rule is about what they do principally, not peripherally. TV sets that no longer function as coffee tables but still change signals into images are in order. So are legs that no longer function as platforms for tattoos but still facilitate standing and walking.

It also goes without saying that if your beloved beagle refuses to discuss the news with you, it doesn’t mean his tongue is out of order. Canine tongues are not for speaking. Similarly, if you can’t soar south for the winter with your cherished Canada geese, it doesn’t mean your arms are out of order. Arms are not for flying.

As the principle governing what’s ordered and disordered is universal and conclusive, why dwell on it? Well, I have to dwell on it because many who should know better ignore or deny it.

Not universally, but selectively. They generally accept the principle with respect to conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and pica (the consumption of nonfoods). That is, they recognize that because the digestive system is ordered to sustaining life, it is disordered if consumption is deficient or excessive or if appetite and digestion are out of sync.

Surprisingly, however, they disregard the principle with respect to conditions like gender dysphoria and homosexuality. That is, they don’t recognize that because the sexual system is ordered to procreating life, it, too, is disordered if genitalia are ambiguous or if inclinations and organs are out of sync.

Sex, as I’ve frequently acknowledged, is not just about procreating life. It’s also about intimate love and venereal pleasure; and eating is not just about sustaining life. It’s also about fellowship and gustatory pleasure. But life is a fundamental human good, so acting against the principal functions of what the sexual and digestive systems are for, is fundamentally evil.

Maybe there’s more than sexual disorder involved here. Maybe the selective acceptance of a universal principle reveals a perceptive disorder. A mistaken view of intimate relations, together with false benevolence, may render the afflicted partially blind to the self-evident truth. But without truth, as one of my mentors declared, love degenerates into sentimentality; and he might have added, as a corollary, that without discipline compassion degenerates into indulgence.

Besides, love and sex are not inseparable. You can have either without the other and many do. Love among practicing LGBTQs does not justify disordered sex anymore than honour among thieves justifies theft.

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