On the Subject of Shooting Fish in a Barrel

It would be a lot easier to ignore self-evidently stupid ideas, as Megan McArdle nobly proposes that we do, if there weren’t so damn much of it. And it’s easier to ignore an idea if there’s a group of you ignoring it. But such coalitions are difficult to maintain, and so you end up pointing out that a given idea is stupid.

My complaint du jour is with Rod Dreher, who at the end of a post, casually tosses off the following line:

Here’s my question, though: If God doesn’t exist (that is, if there is no such thing as absolute moral truth), why shouldn’t the woman have sex with her brother? They’re careful not to risk reproduction, its always been consensual, they enjoy it, and they don’t feel guilty. So what’s the problem?

Interesting question how morality works without the existence of God, of course. Does Dreher ask it in good faith? Well, of course not, since if he did, he’d confront the same question that bedeviled the church fathers, namely how God’s existence or will mattered to morality. I assume that Dreher knows that “if God wanted you to do evil, would it be wrong?” is actually a very awkward question. He’s just saying this for rhetorical effect.

And the thing is, people care what Dreher says, not just people out on the “mainstream fringe” who apparently believe in divine command theory, but also people I expect to be more sophisticated.


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